The Best Science Books of Spring 2018

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

It’s spring, and the East Coast is finally emerging from the deep freeze that was this extended winter. But spring also means a new quarter and a new batch of science books that are waiting to be read. It was hard to narrow it down for April, May, and June because there are a lot of great books coming out. This quarter’s picks range from memoir to investigations to a hunt across the world to save rare plants from the hands of humans.

The cover of the book Does It Fart? The Definitive Field Guide to Animal FlatulenceDoes It Fart? The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence


Arrived April 3

If you’ve ever looked at an animal and thought to yourself, “I wonder whether those fart,” then this is a book you need. This is a fully illustrated guide to which animals fart (and which don’t) that is sure to delight readers of all ages. You’ll be pleased to know that sea cucumbers do not, in fact, fart, but the Lomamyia latipennis species of beaded lacewing do. And theirs are a doozy: Not only do they fart, but they actually use their flatulence to stun and kill prey.


The cover of the book Rocket MenRocket Men


Arrived April 3

The story of Apollo 11, the mission in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon, is certainly an exciting tale. But it was neither our first crewed mission to our natural satellite, nor was it the riskiest mission of the Apollo program. Both of those honors go to Apollo 8, the daring flight that took three astronauts — Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders — around the Moon on the just the second Apollo mission to lift off. It’s an incredible story, and it’s nice that it’s coming back into public consciousness for a younger generation, as this year is the 50th anniversary of the incredible feat.


The cover of the book The Plant MessiahThe Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World’s Rarest Species


Arrived April 10

This isn’t just a book about a man’s search for the most unique plants; it’s a tale of saving them. Carlos Magdalena travels the world to find the rarest species of plants and protects them. He works against the interests of wealthy collectors who hire people to track down rare plants for their private collections and works to save these plants from ecological destruction. It’s as much a memoir of traveling to fantastical places to do daring work as it is a science book, and it sounds incredibly exciting.


The cover of the book The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free WillThe Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will


Arrived April 17

Where did our reason and free will come from? What about our human consciousness? That’s what Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, seeks to tackle in this book. Some theories of evolution make it seem as though these incredibly special traits are mere byproducts of evolution. But that’s not Miller’s take; he thinks we are special beings, not like any other in the universe. It’s certainly an interesting, optimistic view, but one that’s welcome in the difficult times that we live in.


The cover of the book Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting NorthBrave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North


Arrived April 17

We know the Arctic is melting and that it will have consequences that scientists are just now beginning to understand (and others that we can’t even predict). But how did we make this shocking discovery? That’s what Mark Serreze, the Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, recounts in this book. Framed as a science adventure story, it tells the story of this new era of Arctic exploration, one in which the landscape is disappearing altogether.


The cover of the book The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost WorldThe Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World


Arrived April 24

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Given the success of the Jurassic Park franchise, it’s clear that our fascination with these weird feathered reptile birds of old hasn’t diminished. Now, paleontologist Stephen Brusatte presents a narrative history of these giant creatures that spans over 200 million years, telling the full story of how dinosaurs lived — and how they died. He traces their full evolution, starting at these creatures came to be, and takes the reader on a fascinating journey through scientific history.


The cover of the book Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to PlutoChasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto


Arrived May 1

Pluto, our friendly neighborhood dwarf planet, may have been discovered back in 1930, but it’s only in the last few years we’ve sent a spacecraft to this distant, icy world. New Horizons arrived at the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015. It was just a quick flyby, but it taught us amazing things about Pluto in the short time it was there. Now, New Horizons is continuing its journey beyond Pluto, and this new book tells the story of how this amazing mission came to be.


The cover of the book Happy Brain: Where Happiness Comes From, and WhyHappy Brain: Where Happiness Comes From, and Why


Arrived May 29

It seems like a simple question: Where does happiness come from? The answer, though, is infinitely complex. What does happiness even mean? And how might a neuroscientist approach it from a science perspective? In this book, Dean Burnett explores the origins of happiness and how they affect the brain. It’s certainly an interesting exploration of something so intangible, that can seem so easy yet so elusive at the same time.


The cover of the book She Has Her Mother's LaughShe Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity


Arrived May 29

What do we pass on to our children? What did we inherit from our parents? This book tries to answer those questions and look at heredity in an entirely new way. What we take from our genes is certainly important, but New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer argues there are other things we should consider as well. He proposes a larger view of the concept of heredity, discussing the latest scientific research but also his own experiences with his two daughters.


The cover of the book What the Eyes Don't SeeWhat the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City


Arriving June 19

It may seem strange that a book about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, would make a list of science books, but if you think about it, it makes sense. So much of science can seem abstract (even when it’s not), but this is a case where the science of the matter directly affects human lives. It’s the story of how one doctor and her dedicated team uncovered the crisis, proving that the water in Flint had lead in it, and detailing how the government failed the people of this Michigan city.




Get Moving: 11 Best Books on Running to Read This Spring

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Beautiful spring weather is on the way soon (hopefully), so there’s no better time to break out your sneakers and hit the ground running.

The eleven books below will help you to get motivated and get out there, regardless of whether you’re a marathon junkie or just starting out. They’ll guide you on your journey to fitness and shed light on the benefits of running.

The cover of the book Let Your Mind RunLet Your Mind Run

Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

Deena Kastor was a talented runner from a young age, but her career almost ended after college, when her competitive mindset nearly destroyed her. As she verged on giving up, Deena traveled to Colorado, where legendary coach Joe Vigil had started the first professional distance-running team. It was there that she learned about the power of changing the way you think – when she changed her mind to be more encouraging, kind, and resilient, she was able to run faster than ever before, eventually causing her to earn America’s first Olympic medal in the marathon in twenty years. In this book, Deena shares her amazing story, along with tips for cultivating positivity.

The cover of the book The Pursuit of EnduranceThe Pursuit of Endurance

Jennifer Pharr Davis

In The Pursuit of Endurance, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis shares her secret for maximizing endurance, in fitness and in life. Jennifer holds the record for the fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail, and in this book, she chronicles her incredible accomplishments while explaining how to take your own perseverance to the next level. The Pursuit of Endurance is an empowering read for everyone, runner or not.

The cover of the book 80/20 Running80/20 Running

Matt Fitzgerald

This hands-on guide offers insight from respected running and fitness expert Matt Fitzgerald on the 80/20 running program, in which you do 80 percent of runs at a lower intensity and just 20 percent at a higher intensity. This program is ideal for runners of all levels to improve their overall performance and stamina. With an in-depth explanation of the science and research behind the practice, 80/20 Running is an informative, life-changing book for expert runners and aspiring runners alike, with training programs for 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon distances.

The cover of the book Finding UltraFinding Ultra

Rich Roll

On the night before his fortieth birthday, Rich Roll took a long, hard look at his life: He was fifty pounds overweight and his health was suffering because of it. He decided that he needed to make a change, immediately. Rich jumped into a new lifestyle, with a plant-based diet and daily training at its center. Rich transformed – in a matter of months – from an out of shape, sedentary man to an extremely fit endurance master. Finding Ultra documents Rich’s inspirational wellness journey, and his remarkable experience with the Ultraman competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. In the years since Finding Ultra was published, Rich has become one of the world’s most recognized advocates of plant-based living. In this newly revised and updated edition, he shares the practices, tools, and techniques he uses for optimal performance, longevity, and wellness, including diet and nutrition protocols.

The cover of the book Fire on the TrackFire on the Track

Roseanne Montillo

When Betty Robinson assumed the starting position at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, she didn’t know that she was about to become a star. Though it was only her fourth-ever organized track meet, she crossed the finish line as a gold medalist and the fastest woman in the world. But when Betty reached a high point in her life and career, everything came tumbling down. She experienced a brutal plane crash that resulted in injuries so dire that she was almost deemed dead. This book tells Betty’s remarkable story of achievement, loss, and recovery, while also shedding light on the other notable women of Track and Field who made history in the sport.

The cover of the book Born to RunBorn to Run

Christopher McDougall

In this national bestseller, award-winning journalist Christopher McDougall takes an in-depth look at how the Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury; as a runner that’s frequently injured, it was especially intriguing for him. Chris takes his readers on a journey across North America, where ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit to achieve success, and to the Copper Canyons, where America’s best ultra-runners compete against the Tarahumara tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only inspire your body to move, but it will inspire your mind, and remind you that you were born to run.

The cover of the book What I Talk About When I Talk About RunningWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Haruki Murakami

In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, bestselling author Haruki Murakami takes a close look at how writing and running impact one another in extraordinary ways. This beautiful memoir came about while Haruki was training for a marathon – he decided he wanted to write about his experiences and capture his journey with running, including the moment when he decided to become a writer. Humorous, informative, and philosophical, this book is perfect for all types of readers, athletes and non-athletes alike.

The cover of the book Barefoot RunningBarefoot Running

Michael Sandler with Jessica Lee

Whenever we get ready for a run, we throw on a pair of sneakers without question and head out the door. But, is that really the best practice? Barefoot Running authors Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee argue that running in shoes is high-impact, unstable, and inflexible. The result? Weakened feet, knees, and hips, which leads to common running injuries. Barefoot running is low-impact, forefoot-centric, stable, and beneficial to your body. And with this step-by-step guide, runners everywhere can learn how to overcome injuries, run faster than ever, and rediscover the pure joy of running, all without the burden of shoes.

The cover of the book Running with MindfulnessRunning with Mindfulness

William Pullen

We’ve all heard it before: Moving your body is good for you. But why, exactly? And how can we make the most of it? In this interactive workbook, psychotherapist William Pullen teaches readers how to harness their energy using Dynamic Running Therapy (DRT) to make the most positive change in their lives. Pullen’s approach to mindfulness and fitness will help to transform our outlook on running – it’s a simple, therapeutic method for managing stress, trauma, anxiety, anger, depression, and other conditions.

The cover of the book The Running RevolutionThe Running Revolution

Dr. Nicholas Romanov with Kurt Brungardt

In The Running Revolution, Two-time Olympic coach Dr. Nicholas Romanov and creator of the Pose Method Kurt Brungardt join forces to bring runners an essential guide for going faster and farther. The Running Revolution provides both beginning and experienced runners with everything they need to know about running safely and efficiently. With this book, runners will learn how to improve their performance over their lifetime with a method that is safe, healthy, and foolproof.

The cover of the book Running with the KenyansRunning with the Kenyans

Adharanand Finn

Adharanand Finn uprooted his family and traveled to a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley of Kenya to uncover the secrets of the fastest people on earth. He longed to understand these long-distance runners, and how they do what they do. Finn ran side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren, and met a cast of unforgettable characters. This book documents his amazing experiences, and provides a fresh look at what it means to really run.

Groundhog Day!

Today is the day! The only day in February we should all be hoping for clouds (clouds mean no shadow, and no shadow means an early spring… I think… honestly, I have always been a little unclear on the whole thing). Either way, six more weeks of winter or an early spring, you can always come to the Moline Library. We’re here rain or shine, winter or spring (Mon-Sat, during normal hours of operation), and we’re here to help. Whether you want to learn about the obscure origins of odd folk holidays involving rodents and fortune-telling or you just want more information on our friend the whistlepig (aka land beaver; aka woodchuck; aka groundhog – who knew they went by so many adorable/ridiculous names?) there is a good chance we can at least point you in the right direction.


Hey, I can see my library from here!