Students read Oliver Sacks' autobiography "Uncle Tungsten" and take turns writing chapter summaries and discussion questions. Some chapters focus on Sacks' childhood chemical explorations and others on the historical period of his youth. In the summary, students are asked to either explain the chemistry in contemporary terms OR explain the context (what was going on in the world) of the historical pieces.
We spread this out throughout the semester, reading a couple chapters a week. Students posted their discussion questions to our class web site.