In these days of debates on climate change we're often reminded of that other great clash between science and authority, the staunch refusal by the Catholic church to accept that the Earth moves around the Sun.
The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder A novel translated from the Japanese, where nothing much happens and prime numbers play a central role, may not sound like the most relaxing summer read.
Imagine a biologist trying to deduce the life cycle of an unknown creature by observing it just long enough to witness four beats of its heart. Nowadays, we know the Sun follows an eleven-year cycle, so even lifelong professional astronomers are likely to witness no more than four of its pulsations. Solar astronomy is truly a multigenerational science and its beginnings are brilliantly summarised in Stuart Clark's story, built around the greatest magnetic storm ever recorded.
If the quest for a physical theory of everything, and some of the strange concepts that have sprung from it, strikes you as somewhat mystical, then this is just the book you need to explore the idea further.