Science Book Club

The aim of the book club is to analyze and discuss scientific ideas as they are presented in popular literature. Book selections are made by members of Science Says and meetings are open to the public. Suggestions for books are always welcome. If you have a book you’d like to discuss, or if you would like to lead a book club, let us know!

Links to blog posts and pertinent articles are listed below (organized by book and timeframe).


Spring 2018The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan

This quarter’s book club is led by Sam Tucci (sttucci@ucdavis.edu) and Destiny Davis (desdavis@ucdavis.edu). Email to get on the contact list.

Get ready to read a timely call to science by one of science’s greatest treasures, Carl Sagan. Originally published in 1995, understanding Sagan’s vision in The Demon-Haunted World is still immensely important today. Please join us in discussions this quarter on select days at the Stephens-Davis Branch Library at 6:30. All are welcome!

April 12: Preface through Chapter 5: Spoofing and secrecy

May 9: Chapter 6: Hallucinations through Chapter 10: The Dragon in my Garage

May 23: Chapter 11: The City of Grief through Chapter 18: The Wind Makes Dust

June 6: Chapter 19: No Such Thing as a Dumb Question to the end

demon haunted world


Winter 2018This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress by John Brockman

(led by Sam Tucci (sttucci@ucdavis.edu) and Destiny Davis (desdavis@ucdavis.edu). Email to get on the contact list)

This Winter, we are talking about big ideas and progress by reading This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress edited by John Brockman. Brockman has gathered essays from some of the world’s greatest thinkers that reflect on ideas that are stagnating humanity. All are welcome to join our reading and discussion taking place at the Stephens-Davis Branch Library on select Wednesdays at 6:30.

January 10: Preface to Roger Highfield’s Evolution is “True”

This Idea Must Die: Intriguing concept, lackluster execution  (Tucci)

January 24: Anton Zeilinger’s There Is No Reality in the Quantum World to Simon Baron-Cohen’s Radial Behaviorism

February 7: Daniel L Everett’s “Instinct” and “Innate” to Andy Clark’s The Input-Output Model of Perception and Action

Please, don’t kill this idea (Tucci)

February 28: Laurie R. Santos & Tamar Gendler’s Knowing Is Half the Battle  to David M. Buss’ Beauty Is in the Eyes of the Beholder

March 7: Helen Fisher’s Romantic Love and Addiction to the end *Book club is CANCELLED for this date so book-clubbers can attend the Food Evolution Screening at 4pm in the UC Davis SEC Multipurpose Room! But watch for a blog about the reading!

this idea must die


Fall 2017: The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto

(led by Sam Tucci (sttucci@ucdavis.edu) and Destiny Davis (desdavis@ucdavis.edu). Email to get on the contact list)

This Fall we are excited to discuss The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto. The War on Science will tackle anti-science and how it is effecting politics, progress, and our world. This timely book is sure to incite lively (and friendly) discussion and debate about how science and politics fit– or should fit– together. Please join us this Fall in reading. Stop by the Stephens-Davis Branch Library on select Wednesdays at 6:30 this quarter to express your thoughts and opinions and listen to other Davis community members!

October 11: Chapters 1-2

Is Knowledge still power? (Tucci)

October 25: Chapters 3-4

Science and democracy (Davis)

November 9: Chapters 5-6

Anti-vaxxers and the Sagan effect: A grim read for science communication hopefuls (Tucci)

November 29: Chapters 7-8

December 6: Chapters 9-10

Attacks on science come from multiple angles (Tucci)

December 13: Chapters 11-13

war on science


Spring 2017: The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

(led by Sam Tucci, sttucci@ucdavis.edu. Email to get on the contact list) 

This Spring we’re reading The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The Gene explains the science, the complicated social history, and Mukherjee’s personal experience with genetics. Our understanding of genetics has enabled major advances in medicine and agriculture. We are excited to read and discuss Mukherjee’s perspective on genetics and how it relates to current events.

We are meeting every week (Monday) on the Davis campus in Wickson 3053 from 5:00pm-6:00pm to discuss a part of the book:

May 1: Prologue: Families and Part One: The Missing Science of Heredity

May 9: Part Two: In the Sum of the Parts, There Are Only the Parts

May 15: Part Three: The Dreams of Geneticists

May 22: Part Four: The Proper Study of Mankind is Man

May 29: Part Five: Through the Looking Glass

June 5: Part Six: Post-Genome and Epilogue: Bheda, Abheda

If you would like to join the discussion email Sam Tucci at sttucci@ucdavis.edu to get on the mailing list.

the gene


Winter 2017: Stuffed and Starved: The Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel

(led by Destiny Davis, desdavis@ucdavis.edu)

We are starting off our book club by reading the UC Davis Campus book project 2016-2017 pick: Stuffed and Starved. Our meetings will culminate in a public lecture and panel discussion by Raj Patel at the Mondavi center at UC Davis. Our meetings are held in the small conference room at the Yolo County Library (Mary Stephen’s branch). Below are links to blog posts and useful articles.

Meeting #1: Introductions

Meeting #2: Chapters 2 and 3

Final Summary: Battle Cry, Not a Playbook

Fact checking Chapter 6: Comments by UC Davis biotechnology experts

Davis Enterprise article by Sam Tucci (UC Davis grad student and member of the book club)

stuffed and starved