This was originally posted on June 24, 2014. You can view the original here: Books: The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas.
I just finished a few minutes ago this little collection of short essays by Lewis Thomas. Written throughout the 1970s, this book remains timeless and necessary, given the glaring details that date the writing. (Was the population of the earth really as small as 3 billion at one point?)
Personally, I found myself rekindling a fire that I thought had gone out when I graduated from NYU. Though I love learning about the advances made in the scientific community, the last semester left me burned out and uninterested in pursuing Chemistry any further. I thought that my exhaustion at the end of the semester was due to a lack of interest and passion for the subject when, really, it was just because I took four Chemistry classes in one semester to ensure that I graduated in four years.
Reading The Lives of a Cell reminded me of why I decided to stick with the major when the work piled so high that I wanted nothing more than to run away from it. It celebrates scientific inquiry and study, firmly and gently planting its foot down as both an art and a necessity of life. It humanizes scientific research, taking away the idea that this knowledge, in all its rigor, is somehow detached from human experience.
This book should be recommended reading for every student of science, as a reminder that whatever research that’s being done is part of a much larger puzzle.
Would I read this book again? Yes
Would I recommend this book? Yes.