Favorite summer reads

Summer has drawn to a close: Children are back in school; fall has arrived. The Office of Communication recently asked some members of Fermilab’s senior leadership what science-based books they read over the summer, as well as their preferred location to indulge their inner bibliophile. The results are interesting with one surprising anomaly.

The books read, as you might imagine, vary widely across the scientific spectrum — from hard science fiction to non-fiction on a range of subjects. While choices differ, those polled do tend to share a preference as to where they enjoy turning pages.

Press on to discover this summer’s favorites.



James Amundson, head of Scientific Computing Division

Book: “Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer” by Steven Johnson

It is a fascinating discussion of how, after staying roughly constant for most of human history, life expectancy doubled over the course of 100 years.

Where I love to read: I mostly read just before going to sleep





Amber Kenney, chief safety officer

Book: “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker, PhD

The book, written by a neuroscientist, discusses the science of sleep and why sleep is critical to the functioning of our brains and our physical health. [There are] interesting ties to occupational safety.

Where I love to read: outside on the deck





Doug Glenzinski, chief project officer

Book: “The Other Einstein” by Marie Benedict

It’s a historical fiction about Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein’s first wife, an accomplished physicist who faced many challenges and prejudices as a woman pursuing a career in science in the early 1900s.

Where I love to read: in my backyard if the weather permits





Jacquie Bucher, head of the Office of Communication

Book: “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson

I managed to finish this 850-page, hard sci-fi epic, a tale of mankind’s annihilation and survival that spanned 5,000 years. I was utterly mesmerized, challenged and frustrated; I threw in the towel, came back and believed if I could conquer this novel, I’d be changed by the full experience —in fact, I was. A movie adaptation by director Ron Howard is in the making; for some, that might be a better way to go.

Where I love to read: outside on my deck with my feet in the sun




Elaine McCluskey, LBNF/DUNE-US project manager

Book: “Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Changed Our World” by Andrea Barnet

This book reminded me of the important contributions to the progressive movement from four amazing women, how much their work impacted our lives and how much we owe them.

Where I love to read: on my patio





Sandra Charles, chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer

Book: “A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons About Race, Class, and Gender in America” by Menah Pratt-Clarke

The book is a complex historical record and personal account of oppression, determination and empowerment, told by the current vice president for strategic affairs and diversity at Virginia Tech.

Where I love to read: I enjoy reading under a blanket in my family room.




Anju Jain, chief human resources officer

Book: I haven’t read any this summer, but I finished writing one: “The Flywheel of Life and Leadership”

Just as a flywheel transfers power from a motor to a machine, we as leaders transfer power to others through how we live and lead.
The narrative hones on three principles that are of relevance both in life and leadership: balance, relationships and an operating model.

Where I love to write: backyard; study; coffee shop


Do you have a science-focused book you read over the summer that you’d recommend? If so, email news@fnal.gov with your recommendation, using the subject line: Summer books. We’ll add the book titles we receive to the end of this article.

Other recommended books:

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

“Code Girls” by Liza Mundy