The Scientific Book Club was a monthly publication that brought its readers tales from the world of modern science. The books were available to the public as well, but members enjoyed a discount off the cover price, and received the full-length, unabridged version just the same. The club operated out of 121 Charing Cross Road in London, under the umbrella of the much-beloved Foyles, one of London’s most well-known booksellers. Foyles began operation in 1903, and, although now it is a very different animal, is still in operation today.
Foyles branched out into book club editions at the beginning of the 1930s, trying their hands at a travel book club, a children’s book club, and more. There is little contemporary information publicly available about these clubs, but since all listed 121 Charing Cross Road as their address, it seems reasonable to assume that Foyles operated the lot of them. Surely the Scientific Book Club was the most memorable of these, delving into an assortment of subjects to dazzle the senses and inflame the brain, and leaving no corner of the scientific world unturned, ranging from underground subjects such as Caves and Cave Diving to underwater subjects such as Power from the Sea to lofty subjects such as Winged World: The Coming of the Air Age and everything in between.
The Scientific Book Club’s boasted its selections as “vivid, vital, constructive contributions to Man’s unceasing struggle to solve the problems of the Universe.” The volumes were all non-fiction and published between the late 1930s and the early 1980s. Not only did its selections include every tangible corner of the universe, but they didn’t shy away from intangible ones, either. Books that to some might be considered hokey, that straddled the line between science and spirituality, were still worthy of exploration, such as in The Search for Psychic Power or E.S.P.: Beyond Time and Distance. No topic was too taboo, either, and some of the monthly selections examined controversial topics. A good example is Drugs and the Mind by Robert S. Ropp, which was published in 1957 and provided a detailed history of drugs. It investigated and analysed the effects of mescaline, marijuana and more on the human brain, and questioned the physiological and psychological aspects of addiction.
Whatever your area of interest, the Scientific Book Club is a treasure trove of questions, conversations and answers about the elements that make up the life experience. The selection below is just the beginning of the titles available, so be sure to explore.