Assignment Nature, Science, and Health

Narrative Nonfiction Genre Study
August 4, 2022, 2-4 PM

Assignment for Nature, Science, and Health

– Read two or more nonfiction books about nature, science, or health.  The list of books below includes some suggestions divided by famous Chicago Museums.  Try to visit different “museums” or topics, but feel free to read other titles not listed below.

Some titles to consider: 

Field Museum

  • River of the gods: genius, courage, and betrayal in the search for the source of the Nile by Candice Millard
  • Origin: a genetic history of the Americas by Jennifer Raff
  • A brief history of everyone who ever lived: the human story retold through our genes by Adam Rutherford
  • We are the middle of forever: Indigenous voices from Turtle Island on the changing Earth by Various authors
  • Krakatoa: the day the world exploded, August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester
  • The invention of nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s new world by Andrea Wulf

Adler Planetarium

  • The last stargazers: the enduring story of astronomy’s vanishing explorers by Emily Levesque
  • A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
  • Hidden Figures: the untold true story of four African-American women who helped launch our nation into space (young readers’ edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager (a memoir of a neurodiverse astrophysics; it’s a memoir but it’s filled with talk about stars, space and how we study it)
  • Astrophysics for people in a hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Museum of Science & Industry

  • The Great Influenza by John Barry
  • The body: a guide for occupants by Bill Bryson
  • Invisible women: data bias in a world designed for men by Caroline Criado-Perez
  • Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson
  • Liquid rules: the delightful and dangerous substances that flow through our lives by Mark Miodownik
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randal Munroe
  • How we die: reflections on life’s final chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland.
  • Monster’s Bones: The Discovery of T. Rex And How It Shook Our World by David K. Randall
  • The stuff of life: a graphic guide to genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz
  • Why we sleep: unlocking the power of sleep and dreams by Matthew P. Walker.
  • The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt by Andrea Wulf  (Author), Lillian Melcher (Illustrator)

Brookfield Zoo & Shedd Aquarium

  • Life on the rocks: building a future for coral reefs by Juli Berwald
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty (a diary of a neurodivergent teen eco activist and an avid birder. This book has so much about birds!)
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • The soul of an octopus: a surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness by Sy Montgomery
  • World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  • Fuzz: when nature breaks the law by Mary Roach
  • Bird brother: a falconer’s journey and the healing power of wildlife by Rodney Stotts
  • Rats by Robert Sullivan

Chicago Botanic Garden & Morton Arboretum

  • Lab girl by Hope Jahren
  • Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee (a nature memoir by a Taiwanese American woman)
  • The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean
  • Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
  • The food explorer: the true adventures of the globe-trotting botanist who transformed what America eats by Daniel Stonel
  • The hidden life of trees: what they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world by Peter Wohlleben
  • Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation by Andrea Wulf


  •  Flatland by Edwin Abbott – Mathematics “classic” that is technically fiction, but not really
  •  Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
  •  Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (or Collapse by Jared Diamond)
  • Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey
  •  Animals in Translation by Temple Gradin
  •  Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  • A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
  • The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Longitude by Dava Sobel
  • The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester

More authors to look at:

Diane Ackerman, David Attenborough, Rick Bass, Timothy Ferris, Richard P. Feynman, James Gleick, Jane Goodall, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Sam Keen, Alan Lightman, Peter Matthiessen, Bill McKibben, Oliver Sacks, Carl Sagan, Edward O Wilson

Other places to look for titles: