In honor of STEAM Week, I’ve put together a series of books on various topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Today, we’re focusing on the S: Science.

Chemistry is fascinating, and the periodic table is so much more than just a list of elements on a fancy chart. This book explores a series of interesting questions in regards to the elements. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why was Godzilla killed with missiles made with cadmium? Why is gallium the go-to element for laboratory pranks? (Hint: it has something to do with The Disappearing Spoon in the book’s title). Explore these questions and more, as we go through the various elements of the periodic table.

Once you read Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plagues Us, and Just Might Save Us, you’ll never look at algae the same way again! Did you know that there are as many algae living on earth as there are stars in the universe? Or that this “insignificant” pond scum is absolutely necessary for life on earth to continue existing as it is? Not only is algae the ancestor of all plant life, but algae and seaweed are used for everything from crude oil to toothpaste, sushi, chocolate milk, and shampoo!

Tour the beauty of the night sky with The Sky Atlas, a lavishly illustrated guide to the stars. This is a collection of celestial maps, medieval manuscripts, and gorgeous paintings. The illustrations are also accompanied by information about how the stars have influenced different cultures across the world, from sky burials to UFO sightings. This beautiful blending of history, science, and art is sure to provide hours of entertainment.

Don’t have time to slog through a big, heavy science book? Then try Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Clocking in at less than 250 pages, this slim little tome is a great introduction to various scientific concepts, presented in bite-sized chunks that every layman can understand. From dark matter to exoplanets, exploring the wide world of astrophysics has never been easier!

How dangerous is it to go swimming during an electrical storm? What would happen if the Earth’s rotation suddenly stopped? What if the moon disappeared? Or what if I pitched a baseball at the speed of light? Chock full of questions you probably never thought to ask, What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions addresses each of these (and many more) in turn, treating each ridiculous query as thought it were something far more scientific. The results are hilarious (and sometimes horrifying). But, regardless, they are sure to entertain!

If you enjoyed this book, consider checking out How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, which makes simple tasks incredibly complicated (and also hilarious)!


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.