Dr Amy Milton from Cambridge’s Department of Psychology relates how Requiem for a Dream, Hubert Selby’s bleak portrayal of drug addiction, motivated her to dedicate her academic career to finding treatments for addiction.
Here she talks about this favourite book as part of ‘Novel Thoughts’, a series exploring the literary reading habits of eight Cambridge scientists. From illustrated children’s books to Thomas Hardy, from Star Wars to Middlemarch, we find out what fiction has meant to each of the scientists and peak inside the covers of the books that have played a major role in their lives.
‘Novel Thoughts’ was inspired by research at the University of St Andrews by Dr Sarah Dillon (now a lecturer in the Faculty of English at Cambridge) who interviewed 20 scientists for the ‘What Scientists Read’ project. She found that reading fiction can help scientists to see the bigger picture and be reminded of the complex richness of human experience. Novels can show the real stories behind the science, or trigger a desire in a young reader to change lives through scientific discovery. They can open up new worlds, or encourage a different approach to familiar tasks.
View the whole series: Novel Thoughts: What scientists read (
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Interviews by Jessica Penrose.