November 29, 2008

Best Science Books 2008: The Globe and Mail

This year's Globe and Mail Globe 100 is quite a disappointing list, first of all because I only really identified 5 science books this, about half of last year's tally. I sort of thought that the Globe was deemphasizing science in the book review section this year, but this comes as a real confirmation of that trend.

But first, the science books that made the list (and a few interesting outliers, too):

  • Soul of the World: Unlocking the Secrets of Time by Christopher Dewdney

  • Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe

  • The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS by Elizabeth Pisani

  • The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Portrait of Your Head by Raymond Tallis

  • Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowan Jacobsen

Some interesting related books, including two novels with scitech themes:
  • Who's Your City? How the Creative Economy is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life by Richard Florida

  • The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek by Sid Marty

  • Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey D. Sachs

  • Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman

  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

  • The Origin of Species by Nino Ricci

It's telling that that the non-science outliers are more numerous than the core science books. What's missing? Even from the books I reviewed this year, I would say that The Quantum Ten is really glaring in it's omission, especially since it's by a Canadian author. Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody is probably the best book about the impact of technology on society in years and it's really embarrassing it's not on the list. Equally embarrassing is that there were really no non-environmental books that dealt with technology and society. It's also odd that they chose Dewdney's book on time rather than Canadian Dan Falk's similar title. They both got good reviews -- Dewdney even reviewed Falk's book for the Globe a few weeks ago.

It's also disappointing that the Globe did not see fit to include any sf, fantasy or horror books aside from Doctorow's rather obvious YA choice. Mysteries and thrillers get their own dedicated column and maybe sffh deserve the same treatment.


Anonymous said...

Book Titles: Why Do They Have This Format?

Short & Snappy: And Here is Where We Say What It Is Actually About.

Unfunny Pun: Some More Text That Makes More Sense.

John Dupuis said...

Yes: It's Very Weird.

I think it's related to the Two Cultures divide, actually. Think about it: all book editors are humanities people and humanities papers are always "Blah Blah Blah: What the Paper is Really About" whereas science papers are always "What the Paper is Really About."

I collaborated with a humanities librarian on a couple of projects years back and we did talk about titles quite a lot.