Archive for: January, 2011

Best Science Books: US News & World Report, WGBH/Harvard Book Store, Seattle Times

Jan 06 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another bunch of lists for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure.

US News & World Report

  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

WGBH/Harvard Book Store

  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Seattle Times

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival" by John Vaillant

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

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Around the Web: Citizen science, The death and life of geek culture and more

Jan 06 2011 Published by under around the web

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Best Science Books 2010: Jennifer Ouellette and Brian Switek

Jan 05 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another couple of lists for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure.

I've tended not to highlight individual people's bloggy lists that much here, just for the sake of my sanity and so as not to go too crazy with the number of posts, but I thought that these two list were interesting enough to merit inclusion. I've done it before, maybe I'll do it again!

Jennifer Ouellette

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA by Maryn McKenna
  • The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
  • Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics by Misha Angrist
  • Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul
  • Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality by Jonathan Weiner
  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
  • Brian Cuttings by Carl Zimmer
  • Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek
  • Proofiness: The Dark Art of Mathematical Deception by Charles Seife
  • The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics by Jim Kakalios
  • Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample
  • How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown


Brian Switek
and here.

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
  • The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse by Jennifer Ouellette
  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
  • Barnum Brown: The Man Who Discovered Tyrannosaurus rex by Lowell Dingus and Mark Norell
  • Triassic Life on Land: The Great Transition by Hans-Dieter Sues and Nicholas C. Fraser
  • The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush: Museums and Paleontology in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Paul D. Brinkman
  • The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul
  • New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs: The Royal Tyrrell Museum Ceratopsian Symposium by Michael J. Ryan, Brenda J. Chinnery-Allgeier, David A. Eberth, Philip J. Currie, et al.

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

No responses yet

Best Science Books 2010: Sunday Times

Jan 05 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another list for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure. This list is from the December 5, 2010 edition of the Sunday Times. Unfortunately, I can't link to it because they have a paywall between me and the content. I did, however, get access to the full text via one of our article databases. Yay Academic OneFile!

  • Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos
  • Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose
  • The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe? by Paul Davies
  • Drawing the Map of Life: Inside the Human Genome Project by Victor K McElheny
  • Why Can't Elephants Jump? edited by Mick O'Hare
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

No responses yet

A Year of Books: 2010

Jan 03 2011 Published by under books i'd like to read, personal, reading diary

I've been doing this for a few years now, last year, 2008 and 2007 and it seems like an interesting and maybe even useful thing to continue this year. I really enjoy seeing other people's reading lists (like here, here and here) and enjoy adding my own to the mix.

So, below you'll find a list of all the books I started in 2010. In other words, it'll include a few books I'm still reading as well as a few that I've abandoned. I've been recording every book I've read since 1983 and on my other (mostly lapsed) blog I've been occasionally transcribing the list on a year by year basis. I've stalled a bit the last couple of years, but I'll try and do a few more over the next few months. This list will probably also be re-posted there eventually.

Trends in my reading this year?

  • I mentioned abandoned books. It was a bad year for those, for sure. I won't say how many, exactly, or which ones, but as I get older I'm not quite as willing to stick with a book until the bitter end. If I look back at some of the older lists I've done, in those days I would have finished 100% of the books I started.
  • My genre tastes are shifting a bit as I get older as well. I find I'm reading more mystery and crime fiction as the years go by and this year is no exception. As you might be able to tell from the list below, I tend towards the hardboiled & noir. It's not that I love SFFH any less, it's just that my horizons have expanded.
  • I'm also pleased by how many graphic novels I've read over the last year. I pretty consciously decided at the end of 2009 to make more of an effort that way in 2010 and I've really enjoyed getting into a few series.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer obsession continues apace. And it's been fun! I've read Buffy novels, graphic novels, nonfiction, Angel and Spike graphic novels, we even re-watched the whole series from November 2009 to June 2010. By the way, if you haven't rewatched Buffy recently, you really do owe it to yourself. And if you haven't encountered her yet at all, well you owe that to yourself even more. The graphic novel season eight is coming to a close this month and while it's been uneven, it's worth a look.
  • My media singularity/cyberculture/future of information/social media obsession also continues apace. Quite a bit of the non-fiction I read falls under that very broad banner and I continue to think it's important to read and think deeply about these issues. Of course, it would be nice if I could force myself to think and write a bit more deeply about those issues by actually finishing a few more book reviews...but that's another issue.
  • Quite by surprise and mostly as a result of my reading for the Sunburst Award Jury a while back, I find I'm reading quite a bit of YA fiction and really enjoying it. It's all been SFFH so far (and is likely to stay that way...) and I find I really appreciate the focus on solid characterization and a gripping narrative.
  • I've been listing and updating my reading on Good Reads, which has been very fun this year. If you're on the service yourself, add me as a friend!
  • Reading resolutions for the new year? Maybe to try and mix a few more SFFH novels into the rotation. And maybe also to read a bit more in the way of actual popular science rather than just the info/cyber/tech stuff.
  • And looking back at the year's list all I can think is, "Holy crap, did I ever read a lot of great books last year!"

I'll link to the reviews I've written below, what few there are that I've written. I'm even more behind than I was last year! I'll try and catch up with a bunch of capsule & group reviews but there are a few books, like Shirky's Cognitive Surplus or Jenkins' Convergence Culture, that really deserve a full treatment.

So, without further ado, here's a list of all the books I've read or started this year, more-or-less in order:

  1. Terra Insegura by Edward Willett
  2. Angel: After the Fall V2: First Night by Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch
  3. Rex Libris V1: I, Librarian by James Turner
  4. Trigger City by Sean Chercover
  5. Money Shot by Christa Faust
  6. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
  7. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins
  8. The Life of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin
  9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Omnibus 3 by Various
  10. Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
  11. Creature From The Black Lagoon: Time's Black Lagoon by Paul Di Filippo
  12. The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain
  13. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight V6: Retreat by Jane Espenson, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Andy Owens, et al.
  14. Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins (review)
  15. Spike: After The Fall by Brian Lynch and Franco Urru
  16. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
  17. Dead City by Shane Stevens
  18. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
  19. Mind Set!: Eleven Ways to Change the Way You See--and Create--the Future by John Naisbitt
  20. Off Season by Jack Ketchum
  21. Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn by Larry D. Rosen
  22. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  23. Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction
  24. Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Rhonda Wilcox
  25. Unwritten V1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  26. The Max by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
  27. Hunt at the Well of Eternity by Gabriel Hunt and James Reasoner
  28. Stoker's Dracula by Bram Stoker, adapted by Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano
  29. The Missing by Sarah Langan
  30. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, V1 by Hayao Miyazaki
  31. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz
  32. Angel: After the Fall, V3 by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, Nick Runge, and David Messina
  33. Angel: After the Fall, V4 by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, Franco Urru, and Alex Garner
  34. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blood and Fog by Nancy Holder
  35. The Other Side by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart
  36. Moyasimon 2: Tales of Agriculture by Ishikawa Masayuki
  37. Contagious by Scott Sigler
  38. Black Hole by Charles Burns (review)
  39. Makers by Cory Doctorow (review)
  40. White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages (review)
  41. The Man with the Iron Heart by Harry Turtledove (review)
  42. The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry (review)
  43. Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (review)
  44. Locke & Key V1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  45. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (review)
  46. The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith
  47. The Fuzzy Papers by H. Beam Piper
  48. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky
  49. Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away by Martin Popoff (review)
  50. The Walking Dead, V1-12 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony Moore (review)
  51. Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design by Henry Petroski
  52. Swastika by Michael Slade
  53. Universal Monsters: Cavalcade of Horror by Dan Jolley, Den Beauvais, Dan Vado, Steve Moncuse, et al.
  54. Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, V1 by Fumi Yoshinaga
  55. Horns by Joe Hill
  56. Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory Of The Web by David Weinberger
  57. Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik
  58. Soft Touch by John D. MacDonald
  59. The Unwritten V2: Inside Man by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
  60. Fantastic Four: To Free Atlantis by Nancy A. Collins
  61. Feed by MT Anderson
  62. Queenpin by Megan Abbott
  63. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight V7: Twilight by Brad Meltzer, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, and Karl Moline
  64. The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer
  65. Two Generals by Scott Chantler
  66. Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability by David Owen
  67. Atoms and Eden: Conversations on Religion and Science by Steve Paulson (review)
  68. Brew North: How Canadians Made Beer and Beer Made Canada by Ian Coutts
  69. Hunt Through the Cradle of Fear by Gabriel Hunt and Charles Ardai
  70. Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
  71. Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership by Lewis Hyde
  72. Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution by Ronin Ro
  73. Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer: Prisoner of the Horned Helmet by Frank Frazetta and James R. Silke
  74. The Walking Dead, V13 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn
  75. Life by Keith Richards

Notable non-fiction, in no particular order:

Notable fiction, in no particular order (It was a great year in fiction reading, so there are actually a bunch more that could have made this list if I'd made it on a different day in a different mood):

I hope this list provides a little inspiration to all my readers to compile their own reading list for the year. I look forward to seeing them -- feel free to drop a link in the comments.

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From the Archives: David Suzuki: An Autobiobraphy by David Suzuki

Jan 02 2011 Published by under book review, environment, science books

I have a whole pile of science-y book reviews on two of my older blogs, here and here. Both of those blogs have now been largely superseded by or merged into this one. So I'm going to be slowly moving the relevant reviews over here. I'll mostly be doing the posts one or two per weekend and I'll occasionally be merging two or more shorter reviews into one post here.

This one, of David Suzuki: An Autobiography, is from October 3, 2006.

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We live in a time when the military, industry, and medicine are all applying scientific insights, with profound social, economic, and political consequences. As a result, ignoring scientific matters is very dangerous. It's not that I believe science will ultimately provide solutions to major problems we face; I think solutions to environmental issues are much more likely to result from political, social, and economic decisions than from scientific ones. but scientists can deliver best descriptions of the state of the climate, species, pollution, deforestation, and so on, and these should inform our political and economic actions. If we don't base our long-term actions on the best scientific knowledge, then I believe we are in a great danger of succumbing to the exigencies of politics and economics.

-David Suzuki.

An nice quote from noted Canadian scientist, broadcaster and environmental activist, David Suzuki. For me, this quote pretty well sums up this entire book, a strong call for rationality, for scientific literacy, and even stronger call to save the environment, to be active, to make a difference. These are certainly what Suzuki's life have been all about. By implication, by example, these are the things he calls on us to make part of our lives too.

This is a great book, moving and impassioned, and yet still very human. Suzuki is clearly not overly impressed with himself, not caught up with his own celebrity and this makes his memoirs so engaging. There's lots of gentle humour here, often at his own expense. He also balances the story of his public life with the story of his private life. He gives enough insight into his personal to give us a good feeling of who he is without so much that it feels intrusive or exploitative.

Following up his first volume of memoirs, Metamorphosis from 1986, Suzuki mostly picks up where that one leaves off. He gives us a brief summary of his childhood, education and early academic and broadcasting career in the first few chapters. Since it's been nearly 20 years since I read Metamorphosis, I really can't recall how much is rehashed and how much is new. The following chapters are mostly telling the story of his environmental activism along with some details about his family life. The story we get the most on is his involvement with First Nations communities, particularly in BC. Also, we get three strong chapters on his involvement with Amazon forestry issues. Also various environmental summits are covered, including the Rio Earth Summit and Kyoto.

But it's the last two chapters that I really loved, "Reflections on Science and Technology" and "A Culture of Celebrity." These are almost manifestos to pay attention to the planet, to learn about our place in the ecosystem and to value science -- he takes a few digs at Canadian culture for placing such a low value on science. He also muses a bit on the whole "Greatest Canadian" thing, and our insane celebrity culture in general. It's interesting to note that the poll placed him the highest of any living Canadian. David Suzuki -- greatest living Canadian. I can live with that.

I would be remiss if I did not give some important links:

Suzuki, David. David Suzuki: An Autobiography. Vancouver: Greystone, 2006. 404pp.

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