Nine books I think you should read (plus a couple more that I need to read, myself)

The New York Times Magazine's 6th Floor Blog interviewed me about the books I'm reading now (including a climate scientist's account of dealing with evidence and uncertainty in the treatment of cancer), the science books I love (where you'll learn why it's impossible to remove the risk from risky technologies), and the books I generally recommend to everybody (try my favorite boozy novel of jazz-age New York). Overall, it's definitely a list I think the Happy Mutants will dig.


  1. Your brief description of The Patient from Hell sounded like my experience with gestational diabetes. Fortunately, the 2nd time around, I found a doctor who was a former pharmaceutical researcher. She didn’t mind me making graphs of my blood sugar (with error bars!) and when I asked why she was putting me on a particular drug she intelligently explained its suitability over the alternatives.

    1. The thing that surprised me most about pregnancy is how little the medical establishment knows about it.  It was incredibly frustrating having to do my own research to figure out if the “advice” I was receiving was evidence-based or a bunch of old-wife’s-tale malarkey.  Too much was evidence-free for my taste.  

      1. As my doc told me, “When you’re talking about pregnancy, miscarriage, and infertility, you very quickly move past evidence-based-medicine and into voodoo.” There’s just not much evidence. 

        1. At least your doc was honest.  You wouldn’t believe some of the histrionic things I was told by staff at the University of Michigan health system. 

          Now, back OT, thanks for the Octavia Butler suggestion.  I already added it to my wishlist.   

        2. Is that because we’re just not recording it? Because you can’t get IRB or regulatory approval to experiment with pregnant subjects? Or they won’t volunteer?

  2. I am SO glad you included Octavia Butler. One of my favorites. I have read all of her books and own all except Survivor which is out of print. Thankfully our library has a copy, although it was in poor condition. The poor librarian got to hear me rant about how they need to take better care of it as it cannot be replaced. The spine was falling off. Hopefully it is fixed now. 

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