A Book that's Related to the Periodic Table of Elements: Staff Picks for the 2019 Reading Challenge
Are you participating in our reading challenge? So are library staff all across the city. These are some of their picks for the category "A book that's related to the Periodic Table of Elements". This category on our advanced challenge sounds intimidating at first but it really offers a lot of flexibility.
One option is to read a book about the Periodic Table like this one:
The Periodic Table in Minutes by Don Green
Or you can get creative.
Silver (Ag) is one of the elements listed. What about a book about werewolves? They are vulnerable to silver, right?
This book sounds perfect:
Sodium (Na) is another element. Why not try a microhistory of salt?
Salt: a World History by Mark Kurlansky
Gold (Au) is another possibility. In Charlotte Gray's latest book, she writes about the still-unsolved 1943 murder of millionaire gold miner, Sir Harry Oakes.
Some other suggestions:
- Nonfiction about a musician with platinum (Pt) records?
- A book set in Sudbury, home of the big nickel (Ni)?
- A book about an Au pair?
- A mystery involving arsenic (As) poisoning?
Why: While Krypton is a fictional planet, Kr in the Periodic table is a (real) colorless, tasteless and odorless gas.
Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World by Deborah Perry Piscione
Why: The name Silicon Valley was derived from the semiconductors made from Si ( Silicon) in the periodic table- the second most abundant chemical in the earths crust. Silicon Valley was also an HBO series from 2015-17.
Brush with Death: A Social History of Lead Poisoning by Christian Warren
Why: This book discusses the effects of lead (Pb) poisoning and the measures used to combat. Related to this is The poisoned city: Flint's water and the American urban tragedy. Pb comes from Latin Plumbum related to plumbing. Think, aging pipes, in the case of Flint, MI which caused lead to leach and contaminate the water supply.
Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur
Why: It chronicles the fate of Napoleons army. Tin from Latin, Stannum (Sn) of which the buttons were made, could not withstand the harsh Russian winters and crumbled to dust. Some call this "the greatest wardrobe malfunction in history"....
The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain Banks
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
Why: It's a collection of short stories and other things - essays? memoir? - each of which in some way concerns one of the elements in the periodic table. There's something really nice and gentle and sometimes profound about the way Levi writes.
Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa
I read the Silver Spoon books, which are manga and works for "a book in translation" as well as "a graphic novel".
It's about an agricultural high school in rural Japan, and a teenage boy who decides to attend the school even though he has no background in farming. He thinks that it will be "easy" and he's feeling burnt out from all of the demands and expectations of academia (and his parents). It's an interesting inside look at the farming and agricultural industry - and yes, it does get into details about the animals we eat - and how difficult life truly is for farmers.
The title refers to a silver (Au) spoon hanging above one of the doorways in the school. As of volume 9, the spoon hasn't yet been explained - but those of us familiar with the expression about being "born with a silver spoon in their mouth" may have some ideas.
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham
Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks
Why: My suggestion is a bit more literal, but I really enjoyed Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks.
Suggestions from the Facebook Discussion Group
Here are just some of the picks from our Facebook discussion group. Visit the group to see the full list!
- Losing the Nobel Prize: a Story of Cosmology, Ambition and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor by Brian Keating
- Skin Divers by Anne Michaels
- Elemental Haiku: Poems to Honor the Periodic Table, Three Lines at at Time by Mary Soon Lee
- Chemistry by Weike Wang
- The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
- Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
- The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
- The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
What books did you read for this category? Tell us in the comments!