History of Science Book Club

The History of Science Book Club is a parent-facilitated activity for homeschooled teens ages 13+ and/or their parents. The book club meets every other Friday afternoon from 3:00 pm- 4:00 pm at Compass.

Date for the 2022-23 year are as follows:

  • 2022: September 23, October 14 & 28, November 11, December 9,
  • 2023: January 13 & 27, February 10 & 24, March 10 & 24, April 21, May 5 & 19

The book club will be organized similar to the Harkness model in which participants all read a common text and bring ideas, reflections, and questions to stimulate discussion. 

Selected books have high literary value, and will be ordered to balance heavier works with those of lighter content, both non-fiction and fiction. Works have been selected to prioritize the themes of scientific impact on world history and human geography. A preliminary 2022-23 book list is below with the club facilitator’s comments.

Participants are asked to sign-up for the History of Science Book Club on the Compass Activities Page. There is no cost for Compass students or parents to participate. There is a $15.00 per person activities fee for the year for non-Compass students or parents.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind 

An inspiring read about an enterprising youngster in Africa who creates a generator out of junkyard parts. Notable, too, for food insecurity.

Guns, Germs, & Steel 

A longish overview of world history in terms of human migrations and technologies.  (2 meetings) 

Q.E.D./Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman  

The clearest explanation of quantum electrodynamics, which is still 50 years later the prevailing physical model (gets technical, but it’s short). The second book is humorous memoir not to be missed.

The Man Who Fed the World

Bio of Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution. Over a billion people didn’t starve because of his work on grain crops — and the fact he gave it away instead of holding it for profit.

Silent Spring 

The book responsible for the DDT ban: one of the first environmental impact books and tremendously influential.

Energy for Presidents 

An overview for laypersons, with explanatory detail on the future of energy and power generation. Excellent clarity, no mathematical sophistication required.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 

All our vaccines and many medicines are tested using the undying cell line from a young black cancer patient whose family gained nothing… Amazing. 


A history of the world through salt.

The 6th Extinction 

We humans are causing (or potentially will cause) extinctions on the order of the great ones. 


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 

Chemistry of good and evil, fascinating for attitudes… 

The Mouse That Roared 

An imaginary tiny country steals a crucial military technology. Satire. I love this series. 

What If? Or What If? 2  

Out in September, the latest silly physics book by the creator of xkcd.

Alas, Babylon  

One of the original scifi dystopias, and still among the best and most thought-provoking.


Scientific drama, from cave-blind fish to field research to avoiding a suicidal military mission. Fantastic.