The best Marie Curie books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Marie Curie and why they recommend each book.

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Obsessive Genius

By Barbara Goldsmith,

Book cover of Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie

The ‘obsessive genius’ of the title is Marie Curie, the only woman to have won two Nobel Prizes. I love Goldsmith’s book because it humanizes Curie, starting with her childhood in Poland and progressing to her determination to someday become a scientist, the difficulties she faced as a woman seeking an education in Poland at the end of the nineteenth century, and finally the combination of serendipity, enduring curiosity and fierce determination that led to her groundbreaking discoveries about radioactivity, a word she is credited with coining.

Who am I?

I’m a geoscientist and writer, and ever since my childhood explorations of the ponds, creeks, cliffs and forests of my native Ontario I’ve been fascinated with the natural world. During my PhD studies and subsequent academic career I’ve been fortunate to experience the thrill of experiment and discovery, and I’m passionate about communicating the wonders of science to others. I try to do that in my own books. Those I’ve recommended here, in my opinion, do it superbly. 

I wrote...

Endless Novelties of Extraordinary Interest: The Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger and the Birth of Modern Oceanography

By Doug Macdougall,

Book cover of Endless Novelties of Extraordinary Interest: The Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger and the Birth of Modern Oceanography

What is my book about?

My most recent book, Endless Novelties, is about adventure and scientific discovery during the three-and-a-half-year long Challenger expedition of the 1870s, which set out with the aim – no less – of determining the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the world’s oceans, with particular attention to the deep sea (the title comes from a phrase the expedition’s scientific director used to describe what they might find).

I examine the factors that drove the small band of ceaselessly curious scientists on board Challenger (numbering only six, and embedded with more than 250 British Navy personnel who ran the ship) to leave their comfortable lives in Britain and embark on a long, difficult, and sometimes dangerous sea voyage. I explore their triumphs and hardships, their humor in the face of adversity, and most of all the discoveries they made by dredging up strange materials and creatures from the seafloor, and examining the biology of remote oceanic islands.