#NFBookClub Headstrong Discussion – Part 2

February 22, 2016 Uncategorized 16


Wow, this book has left me wanting to know so much more about all of these women! I’ve said this a couple of places already, but I really think I need to buy a copy of this book and use it to inspire further reading. I hope you’ve all been as intrigued as I have been. Here are some discussion questions for the second half of the book:

  1. Did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
  2. If you had to go to work in one of the scientific fields described in the book, which one would you choose and why?
  3. Inspired by a comment by Kim of Time 2 Read, I’m curious – How do you feel about Sally Ride’s recommendation that NASA focus their efforts more here on Earth?
  4. Are there any other books that you’d recommend for further reading on science history, especially female scientists?

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1. Ha! I’m immediately sorry I wrote this question, because the list of things that surprised me is so long. Right now, I’m thinking about how inspirational and surprising the contributions of women to computer science section was, so we’ll go with that.

2. Since I work in a field that’s a mix of the genetics and technology section, I suppose that answers that question 🙂 I found Florence Nightingale’s work particularly inspiring, since I would love to do more applying computational methods to problems in human health in the future.

3. I’m pretty OK with it. I’m very much in favor of basic research, research without obvious practical applications, just to answer questions about how the world works. In that spirit, I would love to see NASA continuing to explore and push for epic space missions. However, I also think we have a lot of big problems here at home that currently aren’t being addressed by large, interdisciplinary teams with the budget to make a practical different. Whether or not NASA is the organization to take on these challenges, I think we need a group similar to NASA to do so  – a group that would recruit elite scientists and engineers, with a large budget and even larger goals for improving life on Earth by tackling challenges such as poverty and global warming.

4. This is something else I’ve said a few places already, but I really loved The Stargazer’s Sister, the story of an awesome female astronomer. I’m also reminded of a biography I read about one of the women in this book, Barbara McClintock, called A Feeling for the Organism. That’s all I can come up with right now, but I’m going to keep trying to build a list.

16 Responses to “#NFBookClub Headstrong Discussion – Part 2”

  1. Kim @Time2Read

    I picked up The Stargazer’s Sister at the library last week, but I haven’t had time to read much of it. Unfortunately, it is a reserve and will have to be returned Friday, so I will probably have to get back on the list.

  2. Naomi

    I had to take my book back to the library before I could completely finish it. But, I agree with you that this would be a good one to buy, so that I could keep going back to it.
    It actually surprises me that I can’t think of more books written about female scientists. There are two I can think of about Mary Anning: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and Curiosity by Joan Thomas. I read Remarkable Creatures and really liked it.
    I found this list on Goodreads, but a lot of these are the books written by the scientists. Also, most of them seem to be non-fiction, and I would love to have a few good fictional (based on fact) thrown in.

    • Kim @Time2Read

      I’m going to have to check out the Tracy Chevalier book. I read another by her and loved it.
      Great list. I’m glad to see the Scholastic book about Elizabeth Blackwell on the list. I remember reading an earlier version of the book when I was in elementary school way back in the 60s. It obviously left quite an impression on me, because I think of it often. I highly recommend it for any of you have have young readers — especially girls.

    • DoingDewey

      I was surprised by how few books I could come up with too! I really appreciate the goodreads list. I’m excited to be reading more books, fiction and nonfiction, about female scientists in the next month 🙂

  3. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I have to recommend The Age of Wonder (nonfiction about the “Romantic” age of science) again because I found it such an excellent book. Not much about women scientists, except Caroline Herschel, but it was so fascinating. The Stargazer’s Sister sounds brilliant, and I also recommend Remarkable Creatures. It was my introduction to Tracy Chevalier and she became a favorite author of mine. I will also be trying to collect more for my list!

    To your other questions:
    1. I was perhaps not surprised, but impressed by how hard many of the women worked without being paid or recognized. Their dedication was stunning.
    2. I’ve always had a fondness for astronomy. It was by far my favorite of the three science classes I was required to take in college.
    3. Maybe Kim is right that this is not a project for NASA, but I do wish the massive amounts of energy and resources that have gone into the space program could be directed toward exploring a sustainable future on our own planet.

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve added The Age of Wonder to my to-read list and I’d love to read Remarkable Creatures too!

      Astronomy is really cool! It’s not the field I ended up working in, but it is something I’ve always enjoyed reading about.

  4. Lindsey

    I’ve heard great things about The Stargazer’s Sister. I’m going to add that to my list.

    This was a great readalong, Katie! I learned a lot and I am definitely going to keep my eyes out for books about these (and other) scientists.

  5. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    I have NOT kept up with the discussion posts on this book, AT ALL, but I’m so glad that you put it on my radar, Katie; I have loved every story! As a child and preteen, I had a HUGE desire to become an astronaut; I was totally enthralled with the segment on Sally Ride, as well. I am completely fascinated with the human body, medicine and healthcare, so I probably would have been interested in genetics or some type of medical research; there are so many things included in this book that sound amazing to me, though!

    • DoingDewey

      No worries! I’m just glad you had fun with it 🙂 I also thought all of the fields sounded great and I could be excited about research on many of the topics the women in the book wokred on.

  6. Brona

    I’m sorry for not keeping up with this one Katie.

    I started off with good intentions, but after a few chapters found the whole thing rather dry and off-putting…and normally I love this kind of stuff.
    I guess I prefer a longer narrative with more personal bits.

    I’ve been enjoying Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body much more so will keep on with that for now.

    But I still enjoy seeing your enthusiasm for Headstrong 🙂

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