NIH Big Read

The NIH Library and the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) are pleased to announce the NIH Big Read 2018 featuring I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong. This book, published in 2016, examines the world of the microbes that exist within and around us in a fascinating tour that takes us through their history, and illuminates the impact they have on our daily lives.  


Join us on Tuesday, June 5 when author and science journalist Ed Yong visits NIH to discuss his book with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins in an informal conversation. The program will be held in Masur Auditorium, Building 10, from 1:00–2:00 p.m. After the formal program ends, there will be a Meet and Greet and book signing with Mr. Yong on the FAES Terrace in Building 10 from 2:00–3:00 p.m. followed by a reception for the author in the NIH Library from 3:00–4:00 p.m.

Before the final event in June, we invite you to discuss the book with your NIH colleagues in a series of book discussions hosted by the NIH Library in April and May. Additionally, Institute and Center staff are encouraged to schedule and hold separate book discussions. The NIH Library is offering two sessions on how to set up and run an independent book discussion to help you get started. See below for links to sign up for the Book Discussions and the Training Sessions. 

Get started reading now through the NIH Library’s OverDrive platform. Unlimited online access to the eBook and the audiobook is available from April 2 through July 2 for all NIH staff. Learn more on the the NIH Library's OverDrive page.


Talk about the book with your colleagues, NIH Librarians (sign up via the links below). Discussions will be held in the NIH Library Media Room, in Building 10.


Learn how to lead your own discussion (sign up via the links below). Training sessions will be held in the NIH Library Media Room, in Building 10.


Contact Kathleen McGlaughlin at the NIH Library

The NIH Big Read is intended to foster collaboration and community across NIH through the discussion about a single book over several months, culminating in a special event featuring the author of the book. The program was inspired by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read program and is being presented at NIH by the NIH Library, the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES), and the Office of the Director (OD).


Ed Yong is a science journalist who reports for The Atlantic, and is based in Washington DC.

Ed cares deeply about accurate and nuanced reporting, clear and vivid storytelling, and social equality. He writes about everything that is or was once alive, from the quirky world of animal behavior to the equally quirky lives of scientists, from the microbes that secretly rule the world to the species that are blinking out of it, from the people who are working to make science more reliable to those who are using it to craft policies. His stories span 3.7 billion years, from the origin of life itself to this month's developments in Congress. He makes terrible puns and regrets none of them.

His work appears several times a week on The Atlantic's website, and has also featured in National Geographic, the New Yorker, Wired, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, and many more. He has won a variety of awards, including the Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award for biomedical reporting in 2016, the Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences in 2016, and the National Academies Keck Science Communication Award in 2010 for his old blog "Not Exactly Rocket Science". He regularly does talks and radio interviews; his TED talk on mind-controlling parasites has been watched by over 1.5 million people.

I Contain Multitudes, his first book, looks at the amazing partnerships between animals and microbes. Published in 2016, it became a New York Times bestseller, and was listed in best-of-2016 lists by the NYT, NPR, the Economist, the Guardian, and several others. Bill Gates called it "science journalism at its finest", and Jeopardy! turned it into a clue.

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