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Texts on the beach: What scientists recommend for summer reading

Fiction

-- "The Dresden Files" series by Jim Butcher. "Butcher's noir-tinged series features the rough-edged Harry Dresden, a private detective on the rough streets of Chicago who happens to be a full-blown wizard. Beware, this series is highly addictive."

Nonfiction

-- "Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom From the Urban Wilderness" by Lyanda Lynn Haupt (2009). "An inspired meditation on our own place in nature . . . you will also never look at crows in the same way again."

-- "The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms: With Observations on Their Habits" by Charles Darwin (1881). "I picked this title off the shelf some time ago because I needed a boring book to put me to sleep. It had the opposite effect. The last book Darwin wrote, it shows the reader how the most unassuming creatures -- earthworms -- plowed and shaped the English countryside."

Jenifer Rhoades is the National Weather Service's tsunami program manager.

Fiction:

-- "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley (1932). "Interesting parallels to the Industrial Revolution and even our present time."

-- "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes (1966). "A classic story that shows how good intentions in general, or fueled by science, can have tragic consequences."

Nonfiction:

-- "Life Story" by Virginia Lee Burton (1962). "A good book for first- through third-graders, wonderfully written as a play with each act a specific time period of the Earth, starting with its origins to the present day. It was just fascinating to me at a very early age."

-- "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" by Erik Larson (1999). "A historical account of a hurricane in 1900 that destroyed Galveston, Texas, and claimed 6,000 lives. This story reminds me of how far we have come in forecasting the weather over the last century, but also serves as a reminder how a failure to listen to others can result in disaster."

-- "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman (2007). "One of my favorite books right now. It provides a forecast of how the world would change if suddenly humans no longer existed."

Chris Waythomas is a volcanologist in charge of the Alaska volcano observatory in Anchorage, an arm of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Nonfiction:

-- "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America" by John M. Barry (1997). "Natural hazards can be as much about politics as they are about science. The parallels with things today are impossible to overlook."

-- "To Interpret the Earth: Ten Ways to Be Wrong" by Stanley A. Schumm (1991). "A lively book that every geologist should read. . . . Too many Earth scientists today pick a favored hypothesis and are often unwilling to deviate from it, sometimes even in the face of much evidence to the contrary."


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