2021 Summer reading list (science and engineering staff picks)

June 23, 2021
Two books, Littles Eyes and A Tale for the Time Being, in the grass next two a Stanford mug

It's summertime again, and we are closing a chapter of this pandemic. As you head off to visit family and friends, possibly for the first time in over a year, you might need a good book to travel with- something to take your mind off of the anticipation. You're in luck! We have been social distancing for a year, and we like to read even when there are other things to do. These staff picks from the Science and Engineering Resource Group offer the perfect distraction.




Being DeadBeing Dead

by Jim Crace

"The story of two biologists, dead, on the beach where they did their Ph.D. research. Crace masterfully intertwines timelines before and after the murder to carefully reveal the whole story. Warning: pretty morbid."

Linnea Shieh, Engineering Librarian, Data & Collections

Borrow Being Dead


Little EyesLittle Eyes

by Samantha Schweblin

"If you like Black Mirror, you'll love this. Imagine buying a Furby, knowing a random, anonymous stranger is watching through those beady little eyes. Imagine being that Furby. The author plays with this idea, showing how tech can humanize and dehumanize."

Alexandra Krogman, Engineering Librarian, Digital Services & Projects 

Borrow Little Eyes


by Robert Harris

"This riveting thriller mixes 79 A.D.-style political intrigue, geological teasers, and mysterious failures of Roman water engineering to create an explosive page-turner. Harris artfully penetrates historical science sources to illustrate the four days surrounding Vesuvius’s eruption, rendering a highly relatable world, even as it is snuffed out."

Leah Strauss, Library Specialist, Terman Engineering Library

Borrow Pompeii

The Quantum SpyThe Quantum Spy

by David Ignatius

"Intelligent cyber espionage, with compellingly imperfect heroes (the most notorious/ingenious of whom connect to Stanford Engineering) are Ignatius' specialty.  The Paladin has neural networks at its core; The Quantum Spy considers a national security destiny for quantum computing; The Director enlists a moralistic but wily super hacker."

Leah Strauss, Library Specialist, Terman Engineering Library

Borrow the Quantum Spy


written by Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire

"A fun read for Marvel fans and novices alike. Many threads and characters keep the story moving in interesting new ways. Shuri's brother goes missing. She wants to spend time in her lab, solving the mystery, but Wakanda knows she's a leader."

Alexandra Krogman, Engineering Librarian, Digital Services & Projects

Borrow Shuri

A Tale for a Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being

by Ruth Ozeki

"Ozeki’s novel brilliantly weaves quantum physics and Zen into an intriguing story connecting the past, present, and two strangers. The diary of a Japanese girl, Nao, washes ashore to be found by a writer, Ruth, who connects to Nao’s tale in mysterious ways. Superb!"

Amy Clark, Library Specialist, Terman Engineering Library

Borrow A Tale for the Time Being





Adventures of Alexander Von HumboldtThe Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt

written by Andrea Wulf, illustrated by Lillian Melcher

"This engaging graphic nonfiction brings to life Alexander von Humboldt’s travels, adventures, and discoveries. It provides a fun, informative, and engaging way to learn more about von Humboldt and his long-term impact on our understanding of the natural world."

Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Associate University Librarian for Science & Engineering 

Borrow The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt

Bottle of LiesBottle of Lies

The inside story of the generic drug boom

by Katherine Eban

"An eye-opener about various malpractices of the pharma industry."

Aparna Sharma, Operations Manager, Li and Ma Science Library

Borrow Bottle of Lies


by Dava Sobel

"Longitude is about John Harrison’s quest to create the perfect clock. Without a clock that could work in a moving ship, it was impossible to figure out the latitude of a place. His invention revolutionized navigation. Dava Sobel is a great writer, and this story is wonderfully told."

G. Salim Mohammed, Head and Curator, David Rumsey Map Center

Borrow Longitude

The PeregrineThe Peregrine

by J.A. Baker

"This unique nature documentary covers one man’s obsessive observations and encounters with peregrine falcons near his home in England. The writing is more poetry than prose, and it shares ideas with Silent Spring."

Linnea Shieh, Engineering Librarian, Data & Collections

Borrow The Peregrine

The Spirit and the SkyThe Spirit and the Sky

by Mark Hollabaugh

"A recent SLA-PAM book club pick. Humans have wondered about the sky and beyond for as long as we have been around. This account of the Lakota and their interpretation of astronomy is among the most fascinating things I read during the pandemic."

Zac Painter, Engineering Librarian, Research & Teaching Support

Borrow The Spirit and the Sky

Why We SleepWhy We Sleep

by Matthew Walker.

"Walker makes a compelling case for why, following air and water, getting enough sleep, in particular deep sleep, is the most important activity to sustain life and keep neurons 'charged'."

Aparna Sharma, Operations Manager, Li and Ma Science Library

Borrow Why We Sleep