Biology II: Non-Fiction Book Project

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BIOLOGY II: Non-Fiction Book Project

Learning to read and comprehend science based non-fiction is an important skill necessary in today’s increasingly technological world. So much of the science information we receive comes from superficial sound bites in the popular media and online that we are quickly becoming science illiterate. We often times need to go more in depth with difficult science concepts in order to truly understand them. It has also been suggested that the reading of non-fiction in general promotes life long learning. Being able to read and comprehend works of non-fiction will be an important skill needed not only for success in college courses, but in your life beyond formal schooling.

You may choose one of the following books or a different one not listed here. This is by no means a comprehensive list of science nonfiction that could be used. You must O.K. your selection with me before you begin. There will be NO DUPLICATES!
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson (2003): The ultimate journey to discover the earth, the biological world, humanity, and a brief history of science.

A Walk In The Woods, Bill Bryson (1998): An adventure and a comedy about one man’s attempt to hike the appalachian trail with a friend. You WILL laugh!
Among Grizzlies, Timothy Treadwell & Jewel Palowak (1997): The story of the “Grizzly Man” Timothy Treadwell who lived with wild bears in Alaska.
Apollo 13, Jim Lovell & Jeffrey Kluger Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 (1994): The story of NASA’s perseverance when failure is not an option.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Aron Ralston (2004) Aron Ralston’s searing account of his six days trapped in a remote Utah slot canyon and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.
Biohazard, Ken Alibek & Steven Handelman (1999): The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World told by the former Soviet Biopreparat director in charge.

Black Wave, John & Jean Silverwood, (2008): A Family's Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them.
Colony, The, John Tayman (2006): Reveals the untold history of the infamous American leprosy colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and of the extraordinary people who struggled to survive under the most horrific circumstances.

Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzales (2003): An analysis of the science and psychology of wilderness survival examines case stories of people who have survived against the odds--or failed to survive and why.

Demon In the Freezer, The, Richard Preston (2003): The story of how smallpox, a disease of officially eradicated became the biggest bioterrorist threat we now face.

Descent of Man, The, Charles Darwin, (1871) If you are up for a more challenging read, check out Darwin’s early work on his theory of evolution.
Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey (1968): An account of the author's experiences, observations, and reflections as a seasonal park ranger in southeast Utah.

Desperate Passage. Ethan Rarick, (2008): A history of the Donner party and their failed venture west incorporates new scientific evidence.

Devil’s Flu, The, Pete Davis, (2000): Describes the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that swept through Europe, India, and the United States, killing thousands.

Devil’s Teeth, The, Susan Casey (2005): A journalist's obsession brings her to a remote island off the California coast, home to the world's most mysterious and fearsome predators – the great white shark --and the strange band of scientists who follow them.
DNA: The Double Heilx, James Watson, (1969): The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist relates his monumental discovery of the structure of the hereditary molecule DNA.
Endurance, Alfred Lansing, (1959): The gripping story of Shackleton's legendary perseverance: losing his ship in the antarctic and his attempt at getting his crew out alive.

Father of Forensics, The , Colin Evans, (2008): The groundbreaking cases of Sir Bernard Spilsbury, and the beginnings of modern CSI.
Five Patients, Michael Crichton. (1970): ER in real life--circa 1969, when Crichton graduated from medical school. Five different patients are examined at Massachusetts General Hospital; each patient's story illustrates some larger aspect of the hospital system.
Genomics Age, The, Gina Smith, (2005): A guide to a startling new reality, a very near future in which science will empower us to make decisions with profound biological, moral, and ethical ramifications.
Germs, Judith Miller (2001): An inside look at how germ warfare has been waged throughout history and what form its future might take.
Great Influenza, The, John M. Barry, (2004): Chronicles the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 50 million to 100 million people.
Grizzly Maze, The, Nick Jans (2006): Traces the efforts of a passionate conservationist to protect the grizzly bear, recounting how his efforts to overturn perceptions about bear aggressiveness may have eventually lead to Timothy Treadwell's death.
Ice Master, The, Jennifer Niven (2001): The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk and the Miraculous Rescue of her Survivors in the arctic.
Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer, (1996): In April 1992 a young man hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His body was found, in early September, by a group of moose hunters.
Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer, (1997): The author describes his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers.

Kicked, Bitten, & Scratched, Amy Sutherland (2006): A look at a program that trains the people who train animals.

Lab 257, Michael Christopher Carrol, (2004): The disturbing story of the Government's secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory located on the edge of the largest population center in the United States is a ticking biological time bomb that none of us can safely ignore.

Level 4, Joseph McCormick (1999): Written by the person who was responsible for the creation of the Level 4 containment structure at the CDC in Atlanta.
Lost Discoveries, Dick Teresi, (2003): Documents scientific investigations and discoveries that were made by ancient civilizations & the roots of modern science.

Moon Shot, Deke Slayton & Alan Shepherd (1994): The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon as told by the astronauts who lived through it.
Origin of the Species, The, Charles Darwin, (1859) The book that is the foundation for modern evolutionary biology.
Panic in Level 4, Richard Preston (2008): A volume of essays features the author's journeys to military laboratories, hospitals, and jungles in search of some of science's most perplexing mysteries including cannibalism and killer viruses.

Perfect Storm, The, Sebastian Junger (1997): Detailed scientific look at the east coast storm of late October/early November 1991, one of the largest in modern times.
Radioactive Boy Scout, The, Ken Silverstein (2005): Traces a young boy's obsessive fascination with science and nuclear physics, which eventually compelled him to misrepresent himself to the government and build a small nuclear reactor in his backyard.
River of Doubt, The, Candace Millard (2006): Chronicles the 1914 expedition of Theodore Roosevelt into the unexplored heart of the Amazon river basin.

Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam, (1998): The author traces the boyhood enthusiasm for rockets that eventually led to a career at NASA, the basis for the film October Sky.
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson (1962): The first shattering look at widespread ecological degradation that touched off an environmental awareness and launched earth day and the current green movement.

Stiff: The curious Life of Human Cadavers, Mary Roach, (2003): For 2000 years, cadavers-- some willingly, some unwittingly -- have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings.

Travels, Michael Crichton, (1988): The best selling author and creator of the TV show ER recounts his first year at Harvard Medical School, his worldwide travel experiences.
Wave, The, Susan Casey, (2010): An astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out.
Wild Trees, The, Richard Preston (2007): The world of the largest and tallest organisms the world has ever sustained – the coast redwood trees is explored.
World Without Us, The, Alan Weisman (2007): An original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet that asks us to envision our Earth, without us.


Upon completion of your chosen book, you must turn in a project that demonstrates to me that you have actually read the book. You will write an essay that contains the following analysis of your selection:

  1. Summarize the science presented in the book. Explain what science field(s) the book fits into.

  2. What specifically did you learn from the book?

  3. Your reaction to the book. Likes/dislikes? Would you recommend this book? Why?/Why not?


  1. Paper should be double spaced.

  2. Margins should be no greater than 1” inch on all sides.

  3. Font should be Times New Roman.

  4. Font size should be 12 point.

  5. The paper must be at least 3 pages but no more than 4 pages in length.

  6. You must include a title page with:

Your Book Choice (Title and Author)

Your Name and Class Period


Teacher’s Name PAPER IS DUE ON: __________


  1. Plagiarism will result in zero credit!

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