Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Alan Alda's father wanted him to become a doctor, but it wasn't meant to be. "I failed chemistry really disastrously ... " Alda says. "I really didn't want to be a doctor; I wanted to be a writer and an actor."

Which is exactly what happened, but Alda didn't leave science behind entirely. His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about communication — and miscommunication — between scientists and civilians.

You may know Paula Poundstone from the smash public radio hit other than this program: Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!

But she's also an accomplished author, now of two books — all the more an accomplishment because each took nearly a decade to write. Her latest is The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, and it's full of experiments Poundstone undertook to try to unlock the secrets happy people must surely know.

What does it mean to be human? In Lidia Yuknavitch's new novel The Book of Joan, what's left of the human race is orbiting above the Earth, sexless and ageless, prisoners in a technological hell. Their lives are preserved through growing limbs and grafting skin. Presiding over it all is a one-time billionaire celebrity who evolved through media and technology into a despot.

These days just about every device is "smart." There are smart cars, phones, TVs, grills and speakers, and most people don't think twice about buying a new TV, hooking it up to the internet and giving it access to different apps.

But all that connectivity means data is being shared and collected by the devices and the apps used.

Undergoing treatment for cancer is hard enough by itself. And for many cancer patients who spend most of their time in a hospital, it gets even harder with the loss of basic comforts. The hospital's sterile environment, the fluorescent lights and the disposable gowns do little to make medical treatment more bearable. Nikla Lancksweert, wanted to do a little something to help with that dehumanizing experience, focusing on an alternative for those uncomfortable hospital gowns.