January 3, 2007

OK, one more on 2006's best science books

A couple of good lists of notable recent science books.

First of all, Seed Magazine in their Year in Science issue has a good list of books. The list doesn't seem to be online. I like this list because it seems a bit more eccentric and varied that some of the others I've seen.

  • Sex, Drugs + DNA: Science's Taboos Confronted by Michael Stebbins
  • UFO: A Product of the Combustive Motor Company by Chris Noble et al.
  • What We Believe but Cannot Prove edited by John Brockman
  • Dark Cosmos by Dan Hooper
  • The Making of the Fittest by Sean B. Carroll (Best refutation of intelligent design)
  • Intuition by Allegra Goodman
  • An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
  • Many World in One by Alex Vilenkin (Best explanation of an arcane topic)
  • The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin
  • Moral Minds by Marc D. Hauser
  • The Creation by E.O. Wilson
  • The Apollo Prophesies by Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn
  • In Search of Memory by Eric Kandel
  • Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders (Best outreach to a new audience)
  • Saturn: A New View by Lovett, Horvath and Cuzzi
  • Genes in Conflict by Austin Burt and Robert Trivers
  • Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology edited by Savoy, Moores & Moores
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett
  • Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos by Seth Lloyd

It's a long list, well worth checking out. I like that it includes fiction (Intuition), a graphic novel (Five Fists of Science) and alternate history (The Apollo Prophesies). It's worth buying this issue of Seed to read the descriptions of the books to get more insight. The Year in Science features are also well done, as is the profile/exerpt piece on their ScienceBlogs site, complete with cartoon illustration of the SciBlings.

Next up is an overview by The Toronto Star's top-notch science writer Peter Calamai, The Science of a Good Science Book, from December 31. Here's a quick run down of what Calamai suggests:

  • Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Sustainable Fossil Fuels: The Unusual Suspect in the Quest for Clean and Enduring Energy by Mark Jaccard
  • The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin
  • Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos by Seth Lloyd
  • Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley by Joel Shurkin
  • Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt Ridley
  • Einstein's Jury by Jeffrey Crelinsten
  • A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife by Richard Sale
  • 100 Caterpillars: Portraits from the Tropical Forests of Costa Rica
  • The Fire Ants by Walter R. Tschinkel
  • The Science of Sherlock Holmes by E.J. Wagner
  • The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons
  • Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson

Calamai also mentions a bunch of books he hasn't read yet but is looking forward to reading. Overall, I have to say, that if you can't find something worth reading from all the lists going around these days, you're just not trying hard enough. It seems that there's something for everyone; as well, books like Smolin's Trouble with Physics is appearing on so many lists make them well worth checking out to see what the buzz is all about. In science especially, books that get people talking and thinking are a treasure. I know it's getting pretty close to the top of my reading list these days. Thanks to inkycircus for reminding me about the Star article -- I read it when it came out then forgot about it completely. Something about New Year's Eve, I guess.

No comments: