The 36 best books and podcasts on health and science to check out this summer

In this time of transition, we’re back with our annual list of health, medicine, and science books to check out this summer — and this time we’ve thrown podcasts in the mix, too.

Read on for recommendations from the likes of Anthony Fauci, Rochelle Walensky, and Chelsea Clinton. Plus, STAT readers from New York to Sweden share their picks, in addition to our staff. Enjoy!



“The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race”
By Walter Issacson
I recommend it because this captivating book provided clear and accessible explanations of the scientific discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 and its remarkable power as a gene editing tool, interwoven with the complex human stories of Jennifer Doudna and her relationships with the many other accomplished scientists who brought it all together.
— Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

“The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates”
By Wes Moore
“The Other Wes Moore” is a disquieting read. For those who are looking to understand social determinants of health, look to “The Other Wes Moore” to understand the challenges of emerging in the absence of role models and resources, and the importance of basic life securities, education, and opportunity. And then, read it through the lens of what a difference just one person can make to positively alter the life of another.
— Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“EPIDEMIC” podcast
Hosted by Dr. Céline Gounder
During the past year, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts on public health and in my opinion, Dr. Céline Gounder’s “EPIDEMIC” is one of the best. As someone who reads and listens to as much as I can, I still always learn something new through her thoughtful insights, terrific interviews, and expert guests. She has done a particularly good job shining a light on an issue I care about deeply — the serious risks that the anti-vaccine movement poses to widespread Covid vaccine adoption, which we know is the surest way out of this pandemic.
— Chelsea Clinton, DPhil, MPH, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation and host of “In Fact”

“What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World”
By Sarah Hendren
Who doesn’t love a book that alters how you see the world and forces you to rethink your prevailing mental models? “What Can A Body Do?” by Sarah Hendren, an artist, design researcher, writer, and professor at the Olin College of Engineering, wrote one of those mind-changing books. Hendren takes on the challenge of bodies that don’t always match the built world. She widens the focus from the body to the social world around it, “the tools and furniture and classrooms and sidewalks that make it possible or impossible for the body, however configured, to do its tasks, and larger structures of institutions and economies that make human flourishing possible.”
— Jay Baruch, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Scholarly Concentration, Alpert Medical School of Brown University

“The Political Determinants of Health”
By Daniel E. Dawes
The experience of the past year made crystal clear how important social factors are as drivers of health. But these social drivers have their origins in policies and politics. This book draws the connections and offers a useful framework for assessing and addressing these political determinants, and was a particularly compelling read during the pandemic.
— Kristin Bibbins-Domingo, professor and chair, department of epidemiology and biostatistics, UCSF, and vice dean for population health and health equity, UCSF School of Medicine

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