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Summer Reading 2019: Lives of a Cell

Here's why Greg suggests Lives of a Cell...

In college I had no interest in sciences. Shortly after graduating I was asked by a Washington, DC, weekly to review a new book, Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by the biologist Dr. Lewis Thomas, director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute.  

I said, "Why give me this?"  The response: "If you like it, it'll sell."   

It's a thin volume with lovely and wise writing. I read it in one sitting.  It opened my life to science and the natural world. I've taught it in Naturalist as a Writer here and elsewhere. And I've given it as a gift probably more than 50 times in my life. As I write this, I realize I haven't read it in a long while, but I will look forward to doing so this summer.

About the book

The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
by Lewis Thomas

Anticipates the kind of writing that will appear more frequently as scientists take on poetic language in order to communicate human truths too mysterious for old-fashioned common sense. Elegant, suggestive & clarifying, Thomas' humane vision explores the world & examines the complex interdependence of all things. Extending beyond the usual limitations of biological science & into a vast world of hidden relationships, this book explores in personal, poetic essays to topics such as computers, germs, language, music, death, insects & medicine. He writes, "Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by & large, good for us." - Goodreads

The author shares

About the reader

  Greg Monfils, History

Greg previously recommended:

  • Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  • The Tree by John Fowles
  • Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas
  • Directed by Desire by June Jordan
  • A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry edited by Czeslaw Milosz​