What Australia’s top minds are reading this summer

December 22, 2016
reading at the shine dome
Regalia courtesy of ANU Graduations

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The Australian Academy of Science has released its first annual Christmas Reading List, delving into the favourite reads of Australia's brightest academics.

Fellows of the Academy submitted their favourite books, covering research into halting ageing, a future dystopian United States governed by Chelsea Clinton, a new view on the importance of Asian empires in the development of society, and how to teach quantum mechanics to your dog.

“Our Fellows’ interests are much broader than just science,” said Academy President Professor Andrew Holmes.

“Their thought-provoking recommendations will provide hours of inspiration and entertainment for Australians heading off for a relaxing break.”

Professor Tim Flannery’s top choice is Against elections: the case for democracy for its heretical look at how elections have led us away from the original intent of democracy, while Laura Snyder’s The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four remarkable friends who transformed science and changed the world is the choice of Professor Robert C Williamson of the University of Melbourne.

Professor John Mattick, Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research recommends The patient will see you now by Eric Topol, for its glimpse into the massive changes coming down the pipeline in medicine and healthcare, while infectious disease expert Professor Eddie Holmes prefers The private science of Louis Pasteur for its depiction of a “devious, ruthless and ultimately fascinating” character.

Being mortal by Atul Gawande is the choice of ANU mathematician Professor Alan Carey, who found it indispensable after a family member was diagnosed with cancer, while Malcolm Macmillan’s biography of Snowy Campbell, an Australian pioneer of brain researcher from the late 19th century is fellow neuroscientist Professor John Furness’ suggestion.

And for those who can’t choose a single discipline, Western Australia’s Professor Fiona Stanley recommends The Best Australian Science writing of 2016 as an uplifting and inspiring read.

Academy Chief Executive Anna-Maria Arabia slipped her own recommendation into the reading list – The Geek Manifesto: Why science matters by Mark Henderson.

“Henderson’s book shows that, more than ever, it’s important for scientists to engage in the political process,” Ms Arabia said.

“More than ever they need to make sure the scientific evidence base informs policy decisions.”

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