My ultimate favourite aspects of an academic career are: scientific creativity, thinking time, exchange of ideas with researchers around the world, intellectual challenges, pushing myself to stay disciplined, and gaining new knowledge every day. A big part of my personal academic compass is shaped by other writers, whose literature inspires me to self-reflect. Here are some of my favourite quotes that may also resonate with you, taken from titles I recommend.
- Madame Curie: The Great Biography (1945) by Eve Curie, William Heinemann Ltd.
"How could anybody find science dry? Was there anything more enthralling than the unchangeable rules which governed the universe, or more marvelous than the human intelligence which could discover them?" (p. 97)
"She had a passionate love for that atmosphere of attention and silence, the "climate" of the laboratory, which she was to prefer to any other up to her last day" (p. 110).
"She was supported by a will of iron, by a manical taste for perfection, and by an incredible stubbornness" (p. 112)
"In science we must be interested in things, not in persons" (p. 223)
- Letters to a Young Scientist (2013) by Edward O. Wilson, W.W. Norton & Company
"Wherever your research career takes you, whether into academia or otherwise, stay restless. If you are in an institution that encourages original research and rewards you for it, stay there. But continue to move about intellectually in search of new problems and new opportunities." (p. 82)
"There is only one way to understand the universe and all within it, however imperfectly, and that is through science." (p. 169)
- The Story of a Microscope (1914) by R. McMillan, William Brooks & Company Ltd.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton.
"Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It's just a question of how to, you see; it's also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing." (p. 201)
"Thin description leaves the reader feeling bewildered and nearsighted. Overdescription buries him or her in details and images. The trick is to find a happy medium." (p. 202)
- George Orwell: A Collection of Essays - Politics and the English Language (1970) edited by G. K. Perutz, M. Gross, M. Dickson (S. Brownell Orwell Estate), A Harvest Book Harcourt Inc.
"(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do... (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out." (p. 170)
- Rocks of Ages (2002) by Stephen Jay Gould (Vintage, London)
- The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) by Richard Dawkins (Transworld Publishers, London)
- How Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon (2019) by Joshua Mezrich (Atlantic Books, London)
- Life (2016) by John Brockman (Harper Perennial, New York)
- The Meditations (trans. C. R. Haines, 989) by Marcus Aurelius (The Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge: Harvard University Press)