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NPR is running a poll allowing readers to vote for their favorite YA books – you can vote for up to 10!  Of course Harry Potter and Twilight are on the list, but so are some classics like a Wrinkle in Time and the Lord of the Rings…So vote now…and tell us who you picked….

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Why I Think Science Girls are the Coolest

By Robin Brande

Author Robin Brande
Author Robin Brande

Let me be clear: I did not grow up a science girl. I grew up a drama, music, writing girl. I found science boring—something to get through so I could go back to reading about magic and horses and girl detectives and whatever else took my fancy any particular week.

But somewhere along the way, I realized that science is actually MUCH more exciting than some of the fantasy worlds out there. As much as I love stories like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (and I really do love those), I’ve noticed that I get just as excited about the real life possibilities being shown to us by scientists around the world.

I love to know that someone is studying South American spiders, and someone else is trying to figure out black holes in space, and yet another person is investigating the bone fragments left by our earliest ancestors. What a vast and endlessly exciting world and universe we have! There’s so much to know about it, we could all spend lifetime after lifetime just picking one topic at a time and really trying to understand it. I love that there’s so much to know—and that we still don’t know everything. What a fun prospect that we’ll never run out of things to wonder about.

So when I write about science in my books—and about girl scientists in particular—I feel like I’m getting to live the life of a scientist myself, and explore some aspect of the natural world that I’m curious about. In my newest novel, FAT CAT, the main character is a high school science genius who decides to make herself her own science experiment, and try living like a prehistoric woman for a while.

And because I want my books to be as realistic as possible, I made sure I did the experiment right along with Cat so I’d know how to write about what she was going through. Yow. SO hard sometimes. Think about how different your life would be if you had to give up all modern foods, all modern conveniences, all modern technology. Think you could do it? You’ll see in FAT CAT what some of the problems are, but also what a lot of the pleasures are in returning to a simpler life. You’ll also see what happens when a girl changes so much she starts getting the attention of people who never would have noticed her before. It sounds like it might be fun, but that’s not always so easy, either.

So yes, I have a particular fondness for science girls. I just think what they do is so cool. If you’re already a science girl, I applaud you. I admire your intelligence and creativity. I love that you’re going to go out there and make new discoveries that will fascinate the rest of us and will improve our lives and the health of this planet and everything on it.

And for those of you who might be like I was, more interested in reading and writing and putting on skits and playing music—we could sure use more of you, too! One thing I feel very sure about is that whatever our true natures are—whether we’re drawn to art or to sports or to science or to computers or whatever it is that gets us excited every day—there is a need in this world for exactly us. There’s no point in wishing you were more like someone else, because that person has her own role to play. I want to see what YOU have to offer in this world. I want to enjoy what gifts YOU have to bring. So whatever you do best, please keep doing it. We’ll all benefit from each of you pursuing what you feel most passionate about.

And who knows: The day may come when you think, “I’ve had a really great time being a dancer, but now I’d also like to do something with math.” Or “Enough of being a doctor—what I really want to do now is paint.” Great. Go for it. Life is long. The more things we’re interested in, the more fun we can have this year and next year and ten years from now. And we’re not the only ones who benefit—the more things we do well, the more we have to offer this world and our fellow humans.

Take me, for instance. I used to be a lawyer. Then I was a teacher. Then I ran a business. Then I became an outdoor adventurer and a yoga instructor and a lot of other things. And now I’m a novelist. I’m glad I got to do every single one of those activities, because they all added up to the interesting and happy life I have right now. And I hope that all the different experiences I’ve had help me make my novels better. The more adventures I’ve had, the more I have to write about.

So here’s my message to you, whether you’re a science girl or a writing girl or someone who would rather play soccer than read a book: whatever you are right now, be it. Whatever you want to be tomorrow, be it. The more we’re all willing to be the best versions of ourselves we can think of, the better this world will be. And if you’re ever worried that you don’t know what you should be doing next, remember that you actually do know. It’s whatever gets you excited. It’s whatever interests you and makes you want to spend time doing it even when no one else is making you. That’s the truest test I can think of, and one that I return to any time I’m stuck.
Have faith in yourself and go be your own particular version of you. The rest of us can’t wait to see what you do!

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