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The Lives of a Cell

The Lives of a Cell Book CoverBy Lewis Thomas
Review by Barbie (Biochemistry)

The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher is not actually a book as such. Rather, it is a series of essays on different topics related not only to biology but to music, technology, sociology, mythology, and many other concepts. It is full of interesting comparatives and metaphors and reads more like a piece of literature than a scientific review.

Thomas compares Earth to a cell and humans to elements of nature, both of which are concepts that I had never come across before, but reading this collection of essays really broadened my understanding of what biology actually is, and the out-of-the-box thinking that is so prevalent in this book greatly helped with the style of interview questions that are asked by tutors.

A lot of new scientific information is presented to you but in an easily accessible way which is not too dissimilar to fictional books that you may have read. One of the reasons I chose this book was because each essay can stand alone and can be analysed or read without having any context from the others. This was particularly useful when I had a bit of spare time during revision and it meant I could always easily revisit any of the ideas I wanted to.

Overall patterns in the themes of the essays help to convey Thomas’ meaning as a whole but even if you only pick one or two essay titles that sound interesting to you, I strongly recommend reading them to gain more of an abstract view on what scientific writing may be like.

The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas
ISBN-10 : 9780140047431
ISBN-13 : 978-0140047431

Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.

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