So you’ve read all the best “smart” beach reads recommended in previous installments and are now ready to turn to a new set of heady subjects. Here, we recommend our favorites in Science, Social Science, and Religion.

You’ll soon better understand quantum physics, the motivations of Chinese migrants, and the foundations of the papacy. But enough blabber—start reading!


  • For the ultimate in “smart” beach reading, we challenge you to delve into the Reads examined in “The Higgs-Boson Particle,” such as Peter Higgs’s “My Life as a Boson.”
  • Another smart subject, 3D printing and the technology’s ramification on modern society, is discussed in Dr. Wendong Wang’s Read, “3D Printing: The Future of Manufacturing.” He writes, “While much of this industry feels futuristic, the reality is that 3D printing is very real, and will very much become the norm of human existence. What this will mean for issues of copyright, the manufacturing industry, public policy, and even human health has yet to be determined.” He recommends as a key read on the subject a 2010 white paper by Michael Weinberg entitled “It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology.”

Social Studies

  • As you examine these beach reads, sweat may be dripping down your forehead—but don’t fool yourself into thinking you understand everything behind the social impact of sweatshops. Instead, read this curation (and the recommended Reads), from NYU’s Senior Global Academic Fellow, Sahiba Gill, in which Gill writes, “Since the end of garment import quotas in 2005, the sweatshop has become endogenous to the international economy, creating a silent behemoth that is “the sweatshop sublime,” as Bruce Robbins, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University has called it…”
  • Hungry for more? The Reads recommended in this curation of food studies is a great place to start.
  • Curious why China is home to the largest human migration in history? Learn more about “The Impacts of Modern Migration” in this curation. Recommended Reads include Eating Bitterness: Stories from the Front Lines of China’s Great Urban Migration, by Michelle Loyalka. Chapter 1 is here.


Hope you’ve enjoyed this series of best “beach” reads. Next up, best lakeside reads, best airplane reads, best ski vacation reads, best toilet reads, best… No, we won’t burden you with so many listicles that you’ll be turning to Buzzfeed to cleanse your palate. Be on the lookout here next week for great new curations tackling subjects as important and varied as mormon feminism and alternative medicine.

Happy reading!

photo credit: iliveisl via flickr