Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Freshman Common Read Highlight: Lauren Redniss's RADIOACTIVE

Radioactive By Lauren RednissMarie Curie’s achievements include the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium, a theory of radioactivity, and techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She was also the first female professor at La Sorbonne. In short, she was amazing, and remains an incomparable role model for girls everywhere.  

Being the consummate overachiever that she was, Curie's personal life may be of as much interest as her professional one, and Lauren Redniss blends the two seamlessly in her totally unique book, Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout, a National Book Award finalist illustrated with over 100 beautiful color collages.  

Redniss's book is more than just the story of the Curies, though. Drawing on original reporting in Asia, Europe and the United States, her interviews with scientists, engineers, weapons specialists, atomic bomb survivors, and Marie and Pierre Curie’s own granddaughter, it illuminates the path from the Curie laboratory past the bright red mushroom clouds in the Nevada desert through Three Mile Island and the advance in radiation therapy and nuclear power today. 

We really think it would be perfect for freshman common read programs (and the University of Wisconsin-Madison agrees), because it touches on so many academic subjects—science, history, ethics—while keeping its readers totally engaged through the personal nature of Redniss’s writing.  

Also, it glows in the dark. If there’s one thing that kids born in the ‘90s share, it’s a unconditional fondness for glow-in-the-dark commodities.

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