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Post Info TOPIC: Books Relating to Biology?


Mookish Deity Most High

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Books Relating to Biology?


I'm currently trying to write my personal statement but don't have any sort of relevant work experience, so my head of year suggested that instead I include something about relevant books I've read. The only problem is that I don't know of any such books.

I'm looking for something that's not too focused on anything cellular or molecular, but instead more concerned with ecology, the environment, animal behaviour or something alomg those lines. So if anyone's got any recommendations that'd be wonderful.



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Runic Mook of the North (mod)

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popular science or "real" science?

If popular science is ok, "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond is great fun, and also included in University curriculum on occasion.

The science of discworld 2 is also good and fun popular science. If nothing else, it might lead you on to other books.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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Ideally I'd be after something inbetween popular science and 'real' science, something factual and detailed but at the same time quite easy to read.

I've had a quick look at 'Guns, Gems and Steel' on Amazon and it looks quite good, so I might give that a go.
'The Science of Discworld 2', however, doesn't really seem like my sort of thing though, as I've never been able to get into Terry Pratchett books as I'm not a big fan of fantasy, so I think that'd just put me off the science. Thanks for the suggestion though.

I've also ordered 'Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise' by Steve Jones after doing a bit of googling to find something that looked remotely interesting, which also looks pretty good, so we'll see how that goes.

But I'm open to other sugestions if anyone has any.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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What course are you applying for?

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Either Biology or Biological Sciences depending on university (but as far as I can see they're essentially the same course).

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High Mookish Shaman

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I don't know of any 'book' books that you could mention but I reckon it'd be good to mention Campbell Biology as it's the textbook that most universities in the country recommend to use in your first year, saying that though I still haven't bought it!

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Check out Ben Goldacre's books. It's real science, but a nice easy read.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Inky wrote:

Either Biology or Biological Sciences depending on university (but as far as I can see they're essentially the same course).


They are pretty much the same. In the early years both courses will have a wide scope, though if you're applying to do biology your course will probably have more disciplines to choose from all through the years you study. If you do Biological sciences you will be studying the likes of ecology, environmental biology, animal behaviour and so on in your final years. 

The Campbell and Reece textbook is good reading, and as far as textbooks go, it's quite interesting. It's laid out well and has interviews with professors and the likes. I'd suggest reading it to supplement any things you come across in scientific literature that you have an interest in.

Any other textbooks I know of are very stuffy and long-winded, so I won't recommend any of those. Bill Bryson has a few good, easy to read sciencey books. "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is fun and informative. As the title suggests, it has a lot of different subject matter, but you can have a flick through it and find the biology bits. There's lots on Darwin (of course) and as far as I remember there is a lot on disease, epidemiology and that kind of stuff. Sorry this is a little vague, I haven't read it in years. However, that book made me think "Hmmm... maybe I can study this stuff in university!" 



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Mookish Deity Most High

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^ Short History... is a very good book! I'm trying to remember how I padded my statement for uni cos I don't think I put anything about books and I had no relevant work experience. I think I just waffled about my Biology courses and the project I had done as part of my sixth year...

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High Mookish Shaman

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I AM GOING TO WRITE YOU SUCH A LONG LIST TOMORROW AFTERNOON. Be prepared.

Also: Biology and Biological Sciences can be a tad different -- Biology has more ecology or psychology modules, whereas Biological Sciences is more cellular and immunological.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Spikeyfaerie wrote:

^ Short History... is a very good book! I'm trying to remember how I padded my statement for uni cos I don't think I put anything about books and I had no relevant work experience. I think I just waffled about my Biology courses and the project I had done as part of my sixth year...


 Isn't it? It has lots of interesting biology in it- which is why I started reading it- but once I started flicking through it I just decided to read all of it, cover to cover. 

I guess the Biology/Biological sciences thing is a little interchangable. My course is called Biological and Biomedical sciences. All the biologcial modules are ecology/animal behaviour/environmental biology/phylogenetics, and all the biomedical modules are immunology/clinical research/tumour biology and so on. I suppose they're not set in stone, and there is a lot of overlap with the two, as well as with biology- which I guess is just a broader term, and that's it. 



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High Mookish Shaman

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I'm reading The Origin of Species atm - I'm finding it really interesting as a student of biology how he deduced natural selection. :D It's ok reading-wise you just have to get used to the more formal writing style.

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High Mookish Shaman

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Sorry about the wall of text to follow, but biology is so broad that wanted to cover a few branches. I hope you find something that piques your interest and fits you brief!

 

A Brief History of Science by Crump is an excellent overview how everything fits together in this mental world we live in.

Bad Science is ESSENTIAL reading for anyone who's a human in modern society, highly recommended.

Lone Frank writes excellent books, "My Beautiful Genome" if you're into genomics (also Matt Ridley's GENOME), "The Neurotourist" for neurology/neuroscience.

What on Earth Evolved? is a nice readable overview, with 99% Ape as an OU textbook, a great technical basis for evolution (do your school offer YASS courses? If yes, do one!).

Anything by Richard Feynman is interesting, but I'd say "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out", a beautiful manifesto on science awesomeness with some quantum lectures thrown in.

Nick Lane's "Power, Sex, Suicide: Story of Mitochondria", on cellular biology and cellular and molecular evolution.

Steven Pinker is many people's stepping stone from "pop to proper" science, anything that tickles your fancy there (maybe not his latest on religion though: not too relevant, but still a good read).

Dawkins is maybe a step further, I'd start with "Greatest Show on Earth" and see how you go with his style. He edited the Oxford Book of Modern Science writing too, which is where you might want to dive in: a huge tome of 12 to 25 pages papers on a myriad of topics by an astounding range of academics.

Carl Zimmer is a good accessible writer, try "Parasite Rex" if you're into diseases etc.

If you find yourself wanting to learn more about a specific condition, Oliver Sacks (of "Man who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" fame) has a thoroughly researched series on everything from cancer to migraines.

Eating the Sun for plant science; try The Invisble Enemy and Virolution for virology.

Drugs -- Without the Hot Air is a good book on social pharmacology, see also: prozac nation.

Also: you should check out the Wellcome Trust News for research developments that are better covered than in New Scientist. If you happen by the Wellcome Trust Collection, near London Euston, theu have a cool collection of torture implements and Japanese sex toys (a quiz to guess which one's which!) and an absolutely marvellous bookshop.



-- Edited by AirportMonkey on Wednesday 10th of October 2012 07:55:16 PM

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Everyone has such brilliant sugestions, I was trying to google this the other day and getting nowhere, as everything seemed to be a bit too heavy, so these suggestions are fantastic.

Kelsie, you are wonderful. I think I'll definitley be getting a few of those books, and now I've just got to find the time to read them.

As for the whole biology/ biological sciences thing as far as I can see there's no standard difference. In some unis it looks like biology's more cellular and molecular and biological sciences are more ecology-ish, but at others it seems to be the other way around.

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High Mookish Shaman

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Yeah - the best thing to do is look at the modules offered on each course at each individual uni then apply for the one that appeals to most. At my uni (University of Exeter, Cornwall campus) all biosciences seem to have a common first year so if I wanted to I could change course from Zoology to Evolutionary Biology, or Conservation Biology and Ecology etc...

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High Mookish Shaman

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Necro double post! I went there. Just thought I'd share that I've just finished reading "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins after my tutor reccomended (sorry, never been able to spell that word) it to me. It is aimed at people that havn't got much of a genetics background but a basic understanding of it makes it easier to read. It is however a really good and very interesting book. I read a chapter a night and found it quite easy to get through - there were bits in it that really made me think quite a lot but I found that made it more stimulating and meant I understood better where his conclusions came from. I'm half way through "Genome" and then I'm going to read "River Out of Eden"

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High Mookish Shaman

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^ Oooh! Thanks for that, I was planning on buying it sometime soon and it's good to know that it's actually readable.

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