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8 Glorious and Triumphant Novels of Scientific Discovery

Leora Bernstein is a bibliophile to the highest extent. Currently the Managing Editorial Assistant at Atria, you will often find her routing jackets with her nose in a book. Currently, she’s on a memoir kick, but she’s also been known to blast through narrative non-fiction, women’s fiction, and great psychological thrillers. Of course, she’ll never say no to a well thought out dystopia, as she believes they have the most interesting messages about how we handle each other and our world.

Your dusty old high school biology textbook might have been dull beyond redemption, but a glorious novel of scientific discovery is a different species altogether. These eight novels—seven of which were written by women—celebrate the globetrotting scientists and anthropologists whose insatiable drive for discovery and knowledge reveals universal truths about the way we live and love.


State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett’s deep research and lush worlds are nowhere more evident than in this novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice. Set in the Amazon, where pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh investigates the enigmatic Dr. Annick Swenson, whose mysterious research is being jealously guarded in the most remote areas of the rainforest.

State of Wonder
Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett’s deep research and lush worlds are nowhere more evident than in this novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice. Set in the Amazon, where pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh investigates the enigmatic Dr. Annick Swenson, whose mysterious research is being jealously guarded in the most remote areas of the rainforest.

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Euphoria
by Lily King

The engine that propels this juicy, smart novel is desire—sexual and intellectual, essential and existential.

Read Molly Prentiss’s review here.

Euphoria
Lily King

The engine that propels this juicy, smart novel is desire—sexual and intellectual, essential and existential.

Read Molly Prentiss’s review here.

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A Burning, Brilliant, and Brutal Novel

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The Signature of All Things
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert weaves an elegant, wise, and spellbinding tale that spans the ages and the globe with Alma Wittaker, botanist extraordinaire. Written in the bold, questing spirit of the nineteenth century, a time when the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were colliding with dangerous new ideas, Alma is relentless in her drive to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.
The Signature of All Things
Elizabeth Gilbert

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The People in the Trees
by Hanya Yanagihara
If the name Hanya Yanagihara sounds familiar to you, it's because her novel A LITTLE LIFE is a National Book Award Finalist and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. A decade in the making, THE PEOPLE IN TREES marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in American fiction. Exciting, challenging, and visionary, this anthropological adventure story combines the visceral allure of a thriller with a profound and tragic vision of what happens when cultures collide.
The People in the Trees
Hanya Yanagihara

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By Elaine Wilson | January 16, 2015

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The Anatomy of Dreams
by Chloe Benjamin

In this stirring and elegant debut novel, two young scientists who have followed their professor all over the globe begin to understand that sometimes the step taken “in the name of science” is a step too far.

The Anatomy of Dreams
Chloe Benjamin

In this stirring and elegant debut novel, two young scientists who have followed their professor all over the globe begin to understand that sometimes the step taken “in the name of science” is a step too far.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Glorious and Triumphant Novels of Scientific Discovery

By Leora Bernstein | January 21, 2016

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The Movement of Stars
by Amy Brill

Set in 1840s Nantucket, this richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition was inspired by the work of the first female astronomer. Hannah Gardner Price strives to be something other than a housewife and mother, and when she meets a man who seemingly understands her dreams she will have to make choices that will change her life forever.

The Movement of Stars
Amy Brill

Set in 1840s Nantucket, this richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition was inspired by the work of the first female astronomer. Hannah Gardner Price strives to be something other than a housewife and mother, and when she meets a man who seemingly understands her dreams she will have to make choices that will change her life forever.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Glorious and Triumphant Novels of Scientific Discovery

By Leora Bernstein | January 21, 2016

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Easter Island
by Jennifer Vanderbes

A series of brilliant revelations brings to life the parallel quests of two intrepid young women as they delve into the centuries-old mysteries of Easter Island, one of the most remote places in the world. But Easter Island has a haunting past, and they are forced to confront turbulent discoveries about themselves and the people they love, changing their lives forever.

Easter Island
Jennifer Vanderbes

A series of brilliant revelations brings to life the parallel quests of two intrepid young women as they delve into the centuries-old mysteries of Easter Island, one of the most remote places in the world. But Easter Island has a haunting past, and they are forced to confront turbulent discoveries about themselves and the people they love, changing their lives forever.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Glorious and Triumphant Novels of Scientific Discovery

By Leora Bernstein | January 21, 2016

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The Martian
by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate, he finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive. This story of incredible bravery, ingenuity, and insurmountable odds is now a major motion picture starring Matt Damon.
The Martian
Andy Weir

Stuck on Mars after a space mission gone awry, astronaut Mark Watney makes a desperate bid to survive despite near-impossible odds. The adaptation stars Matt Damon, who has some experience with stranded spacemen—he was in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar just last year. But don’t get the two tales confused: according to Damon himself, The Martian is “totally f****** different.”

Release date: October 2, 2015

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