Shelf 1: Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy

I was part of the Sputnik Generation, plucked from my neighborhood school and assigned to class designed to fast-track a brigade of scientists and engineers capable of matching the Russians.  As my subsequent migration to the humanities demonstrates, the plan didn’t work perfectly, but it did lay the groundwork for a life-long non-specialists obsession with science.  Most of what I read falls into the “popularization” category, but I’ve developed deep respect for both the top tier of science writers and the scientists who collaborate with them and on occasion write the popularizing books themselves.  This shelf focus on the “hard stuff,” but the division between the books here and those on the next shelf borders on the arbitrary.  They’re best read in conversation with one another.