There is no better time than the summer to dig into a good book. And here at GEN, many of our top summer reading picks also happen to be great science books. Here, we present a list of the books some of GEN‘s editors will be reading this summer. The books are both new and old, non-fiction and fiction, and cover topics from COVID-19 and CRISPR to ecology and the color of the sky. They may be as different as the members of the GEN editorial team, but they are all based on some aspect of science—the subject for which we all share a passion.

Uduak Thomas | Senior Editor

Katalin Kariko
“Breaking Through” by Katalin Kariko, PhD

Katalin Karikó was thrust into the limelight during the COVID-19 pandemic for her pioneering work that led to key advances in mRNA vaccination—work that was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine last year. During that time, the world learned some of Karikó’s story, marked by challenges, determination, and a love of science. Now, Uduak is eager to read Karikó’s story told in her own words. Breaking Through is “a testament to one woman’s commitment to laboring intensely in obscurity—knowing she might never be recognized in a culture that is more driven by prestige, power, and privilege—because she believed her work would save lives.”


Christina Jackson | Associate Editor

The Gene
“The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD

A new book can be seen on Christina’s desk, in her bag, or in her hand, on a weekly basis. When asked what book she plans to pick up this summer, she pointed to The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The Gene is described as offering “a definitive account of the fundamental unit of heredity—and a vision of both humanity’s past and future.” With a history marked by a cast of characters including Darwin, Mendel, Crick, Watson, and Franklin, Mukherjee also injects the story of his own family and their mental illness. Undoubtedly, we’ll see the 600-page book on Christina’s desk for another week or so, before she devours it and moves onto something else. 


Corinna Singleman, PhD | Managing Editor 

“Crossings” by Ben Goldfarb

Ben Goldfarb, an environmental journalist, traveled throughout the United States and the world to analyze how roads have transformed our planet. Corinna used to study the impacts of human contamination on fish, and maintains her passion for learning about ecology and conservation in her post-research life. In Crossings, she is eager to read about the impacts of human roadways on animal commuting strategies and how we can address these issues. The book has been described as an “eye-opening account of the global ecological transformations wrought by roads” and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2023 and an Editors’ Choice. 


John Sterling | Editor in Chief 

“Baby X” by Kira Peikoff

As a journalist and biotech expert, John loves nothing more than a good story about science. For that reason, he is looking forward to digging into Kira Peikoff’s latest book, Baby X, a fictional thriller set in a world where a person can have a baby with anyone else—using just a biological sample. In it, a black market operation (called The Vault) steals cells from people (imagine a used napkin or fork) to convert them into sperm and egg. The “thought-provoking look into the near future” raises questions about the progress of technology and the impacts it has on the world.


James Lambo | Art Director 

Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson
“The Code Breaker” by Walter Isaacson

If you ever wanted to know about how CRISPR works from a layperson’s perspective, James says “The Code Breaker is the book for you.” James (who got a jump start on his summer reading and is already deep into the book) says that biography veteran Walter Isaacson weaves a fascinating tale about how—over billions of years—bacteria have outwitted viruses. The story describes how modern-day researchers have seized this new technology to overcome modern-day diseases, including cancer and SARS-CoV-2. Doudna’s story, Isaacson writes, “is a thrilling detective tale that involves the world’s most profound mysteries, from the origins of life to the future of our species.”


Katherine Vuksanaj | Online Editorial Manager

"Women in Science" by Lisa Munoz
“Women in Science Now” by Lisa Munoz

Women in Science Now shares stories and insights of “women from a range of backgrounds working in various disciplines, illustrating the journeys that brought them to the sciences, the challenges they faced along the way, and the important contributions they have made to their fields.” This is a fitting choice for Kathy who found her own way into science publishing and makes important contributions at GEN every day. In her book, Munoz combines stories with data to illuminate the challenges women scientists face, while “highlighting research-based solutions to help overcome these obstacles.”


Alex Philippidis | Senior Business Editor

"Uncontrolled Spread" by Scott Gottlieb
“Uncontrolled Spread” by Scott Gottlieb, MD

It comes as no surprise that Alex chose one of the leading books on the COVID-19 pandemic for his summer read. For two years, Alex led COVID-19 coverage for GEN, covering the latest drugs, vaccines, and other SARS-CoV-2 research on a daily basis throughout 2020 and 2021. Gottlieb’s book, which was released in the fall of 2021, is an intense ride through the pandemic with chilling details of what really happened. It is also sprinkled with notes of true wisdom that may help all of us better prepare for the future,” notes Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN chief medical correspondent.  



Kevin Mayer | Senior Editor

"Sky In A Bottle" by Peter Pesic
“Sky In A Bottle” by Peter Pesic

While some of us are delving into modern questions about COVID-19 and CRISPR, Kevin chose to read about questions that have been around a bit longer. Kevin plans to read “Sky In A Bottle” this summer. In his book, Pesic introduces us to chemistry, optics, and atomic physics and describes the polarization of light, Rayleigh scattering, and connections between the appearance of the sky and Avogadro’s number. He discusses changing representations of the sky in art, from new styles of painting to new pigments that created new colors for paint.


Julianna LeMieux, PhD | Deputy Editor in Chief 

“On Call” by Tony Fauci, MD

As a microbiologist, I have always been a fan of Dr. Fauci’s research on HIV and his work as NIAID director to lead the nation through several viral outbreaks including Ebola, SARS, West Nile, and anthrax. I cannot wait to dive into his new memoir that “reaches back to his boyhood in Brooklyn, NY” and “carries through decades of caring for critically ill patients, navigating the whirlpools of Washington politics, and behind-the-scenes advising and negotiating with seven presidents on key issues from global AIDS relief to infectious disease preparedness at home.”



Rob Reis | Production Editor

Manner of Death
“Manner of Death” by Robin Cook

Not all science summer reads need to be about science, per se. When GEN‘s production editor, Rob, first started reading the medical thrillers written by doctor and author Robin Cook more than 40 years ago, the main appeal was the interesting characters and compelling stories, but as Cook continues to keep abreast of the changes affecting the world of medicine, Rob increasingly sees connections between the topics covered in GEN and the stories crafted by Cook. He will not only re-read Cook’s 2023 novel, Manner of Death, this summer, but he also looks forward to Cook’s 2024 novel, Bellevue, when it gets published in December. 

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