Archive for: January, 2013

Reading Diary: The Best Science Writing Online 2012 edited by Jennifer Ouellette and Bora Zivkovic

Jan 14 2013 Published by under book review, reading diary, science books

The Best Science Writing Online 2012 edited by Jennifer Ouellette and Bora Zivkovic is decended from the old Open Laboratory series of anthologies which featured the fifty best science blog posts (and a poem and a cartoon) from the year in question. The series as a whole was organized by Bora Zivkovic and each year he would chose someone to actually edit that particular year's edition. As well, each year they would select a bunch of science-bloggy types to help out with the pre-reading of the literally hundreds of blog posts that would be submitted, including my turn as a pre-reader for the 2007 collection.

So it went for a number of years until this past year, what with Bora going to work for Scientific American Blogs and all, the series went big time. The 2012 edition is published by a major New York publisher (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux) rather than indy self-publishing outfit Lulu.com.

The last time I reviewed a book in the series was way back for the 2006 edition, comparing the mainstream best science writing series with Open Lab. And coming to the conclusion that they were clearly on par, quality-wise.

And that is still true. Although I've flagged a little in my reading of the various science writing anthologies, I have read a few of them and I can say very definitively that The Best Science Writing Online 2012 is at least as good as any of the mainstream ones and should continue to be on a yearly basis. Blogging came of age a long time ago but maybe we're only really noticing now.

Now a few words about the particular anthology in question. As disclosure, due to my own involvement in the world of science blogging I'm friends with one or two of the authors here and have met in person or interacted online with more than a few of the others at least once or twice at various events.

One of the things this book does best is diversity. Twenty-four of the 51 authors are women, far more than you would get in one of the mainstream collections. Not to mention that a decent number are not from the USA, a failure of the other Best this or that collections. There's also a nice balance between people who are professional journalists and those who are professional scientists while the more mainstream ones tended to favour the journalists.

On the other hand, one thing that could be improved on the diversity front would be to lessen somewhat the emphasis on the life sciences and maybe include a bit more from math, computing and even some that edge a bit more on the technology side of the science spectrum. The physical sciences have some representation but even that could be bumped up a bit. I would also have liked to see more like David Dobbs' wonderful story about Jonathan Eisen trying to free his father's old articles from the paywalls of traditional publishing -- things that are more stories about how science gets done and what kind of people scientists are rather than explanations of this or that scientific point.

Which brings me to another odd point. A lot of the items really just to that: take some sort of scientific idea and explain it in language that is broadly accessible. Which is great. But outside the context of the body of work on the author's blog, sometimes the explanation seems a bit out of the blue. Especially since there is a bit of a tendency to start the post with a vaguely relevant personal story and then launch into the explanation. Which of course is the kind of thing you notice when you read a bunch of these stories in a fairly short time frame. I think sometimes that wider context to why the story is getting written comes out better in mainstream publications. Part of this must be some kind of chicken-and-egg thing about which comes first, the explanation itself or the story written around the explanation. I think maybe the bloggers sometimes think to themselves, "Hey, I feel like explaining X today on my blog. I guess I have to come up with some sort of personal connection/story to introduce the explanation on the blog otherwise it'll look too out of the blue." Like I said, in the context of a blog where that's mostly what the author does or in terms of a reader finding a post via a search engine query, that probably works just fine. When it's all collected together in a book, it's still fine on most levels. But it does stick out a bit.

Another thing inevitably missing from the collection is the in-depth reporting you would see in the NYT or New Yorker, where an obviously large initial investment allows the writer to follow a story from city to city or continent to content, to visit a bunch of labs or go out on the field with the subject. Of course, that's not the fault of the bloggers, but rather that the science writing ecosystem hasn't adjusted yet to the way these types of stories need to be funded. And hopefully that adjustment will come as it would be a shame to lose that kind of reporting. (It's not hard to imagine some sort of combination of Kickstarter/Indiegogo-style funding and foundation/non-profit funding. Stuff like this scares the crap out of me. Pepsigate, anyone?)

That being said, overall this is an excellent collection with not one single clunker. And several really excellent pieces too, literally from Amsen to Zimmer.

I sincerely hope this project continues on a yearly basis, all the better to showcase the fine writing on science blogs, writing that is often different from what we see in more tradition outlets, but in no way inferior. I would recommend this book to any library, public or academic, that maintains a popular science reading collection. It would also make a fine gift to any science-loving friend or family member.

Ouelette, Jennifer and Bora Zivkovic, editors, The Best Science Writing Online 2012. New York: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. 328pp. ISBN-13: 978-0374533342

(Electronic advanced reading copy provided by publisher.)

No responses yet

Best Science Books 2012: Quill & Quire, Bloomberg, Washington Post and more

Jan 14 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

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

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following:

 

Quill & Quire: Books of the Year Non-Fiction, Gift Guide

  • Out of the Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption and, Yes, Happiness by Jan Wong
  • My Leaky Body: Tales from the Gurney by Julie Devaney
  • Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and Changed the Way We Look at the Brain by Jay Ingram
  • The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos by Neil Turok

 

Bloomberg Gorman Skips Business, Jain Likes Faulks: Best Books of 2012

  • The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don't by Nate Silver
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Wait: The Useful Art of Procrastination by Frank Partnoy
  • The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson

 

Washington Post Best of 2012: 50 notable works of nonfiction & Graphic novels

  • The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney

 

Minneapolis Star Tribune Holiday books roundup: Biography & History

  • On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder
  • The Ice Balloon: S.A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration by Alec Wilkinson

 

Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year 2012

  • The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution by Faramerz Dabhoiwala
  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

 

Fast Company The Best Business Books Of 2012

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't by Nate Silver
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  • Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy

 

Slate 2012 Books: Slate Staff Picks

  • Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt

 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Our 50 favorite books of 2012

  • Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

 

The Kansas City Star Word power: The Star’s top 100 books of 2012

  • Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum

 

Christian Science Monitor 15 best books of 2012 – nonfiction

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

The Chicago Tribune Printers Row picks: Our favorite books of 2012

  • Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs
  • What A Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz

 

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

(Sweet mother of the FSM, I think I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here. I'm hoping to be mostly done with these posts by the end of the week and the summary by the end of next week.)

One response so far

Best Science Books 2012: Mitch Joel, January Magazine, The Seattle Times and more

Jan 10 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

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

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following:

 

Mitch Joel The best business books of 2012

  • Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

January Magazine Best Books of 2012: Non-Fiction

  • Darwin’s Devices: What Evolving Robots Can Tell Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology by John Long
  • Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell
  • The Life of Super-Earths: How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet by Dimitar Sasselov

 

The Seattle Times 25 best books of 2012

  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

 

Liesl Shurtliff

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

Sinistmer’s Best of 2012

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

Eric Shanfield

  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition by Richard Rhodes
  • The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don't by Nate Silver

 

The Philosophers Magazine

  • Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt
  • Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind by Jesse Prinz

 

Chicago Center for Literature and Photography The Year in Books 2012: Best of the Best

  • Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games by Lizzie Stark
  • The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind by Barbara Strauch

 

The Hindu 12 good reads from 2012

  • Like a Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex by Aarathi Prasad
  • A History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton

 

Karen Edmisten Shockingly Clever Reading in 2012

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

One response so far

Best Science Books 2012: The Hill Times

Jan 10 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following: The Hill Times' List of Top 100 Best Political, Government, Public policy and Canadian History Books in 2012

  • The Energy of Slavery: Oil and the New Servitude by Andrew Nikiforuk
  • The End of Growth: But Is That Bad? by Jeff Rubin
  • Save The Humans by Rob Stewart
  • Access to Medicines as a Human Right: Implications for Pharmaceutical Industry Responsibility edited by Lisa Forman and Jillian Clare Kohler
  • Canadians and the Natural Environment to the Twenty-First Century by Neil S. Forkey
  • Dreams & Due Diligence: Till and McCulloch’s Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy by Joe Sornberge
  • Making Medicare: New Perspectives on the History of Medicare in Canada edited by Gregory P. Marchildon
  • Our War on Ourselves: Rethinking Science, Technology, and Economic Growth by Willem H. Vanderburg
  • Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune by Roderick Stewart and Sharon Stewart
  • The Great Reversal: How We Let Technology Take Control of the Planet by David Edward Tabachnick
  • The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos by Neil Turok
  • Three Bio-Realms: Biotechnology and the Governance of Food, Health, and Life in Canada by G. Bruce Doern and Michael J. Prince

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

No responses yet

Best Science Books 2012: Planetizen

Jan 08 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following: Planetizen Top 10 Books - 2013 (urban planning, design and development).

  • Green Washed: Why We Can't Buy Our Way to a Green Planet by Kendra Pierre-Louis
  • Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds by Jim Sterba
  • Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld
  • Straphanger by Taras Grescoe
  • Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation by James Howard Kunstler

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

No responses yet

Around the Web: The machine apocalypse vs The New York Times on libraries

Jan 08 2013 Published by under around the web, librarianship

The Machine Apocalypse

The New York Times on Libraries

No responses yet

Best Science Books 2012: Jack Uldrich/Jump the Curve: A Futurist’s Top Ten Books for 2012

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following: Jack Uldrich/Jump the Curve: A Futurist’s Top Ten Books for 2012.

Note: This list includes some slightly older books and some books that are more strictly business books rather than tech or science books. I decided to include them because the rest of the list is so interesting. The ones that don't strictly count towards my 2012 project are marked with an asterix.

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

No responses yet

Best Science Books 2012: The Thought Stash

Jan 06 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following: The Thought Stash: The Little Atoms 2012 Top 10 Book List.

  • The Geek Manifesto: Why science matters by Mark Henderson
  • Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall
  • Pieces of Light: The new science of memory by Charles Fernyhough
  • Like a Virgin: How Science Is Redesigning The Rules Of Sex by Aarathi Prasad
  • On the Origin of Tepees: The Evolution of Ideas (and Ourselves) by Jonnie Hughes

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

No responses yet

Best Science Books 2012: The Millions, Chamber Four, The Armchair General, The Book Lady and more

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following:

The Millions: Jami Attenberg, Geoff Dyer

  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madnessby Susannah Cahalan
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoirby Ellen Forney
  • The Social Conquest of Earthby Edward O. Wilson
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition by Richard Rhodes

Chamber Four: The Best Books of 2012

  • Dinosaur Art edited by Steve White

The Armchair General Holiday Shopping Guide 2012

  • Military History: The Definitive Visual Guide to the Objects of Warfare by Gareth Jones, Senior Editor

The Book Lady’s 10 Best Books of 2012

  • Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural Historyby Florence Williams
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

New York Daily News: Books of 2012

  • The Wisdom of Psychopaths : What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Successby Kevin Dutton
  • Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana — Medical, Recreational and Scientificby Martin A. Lee
  • The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating-Heart Cadavers — How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death by Dick Teresi

New Humanist Best books of the year

  • On The Modern Cult of Factish Gods by Bruno Latour

Elizabeth Norris Best Books of 2012

  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

5 responses so far

Best Science Books 2012: Greg Laden

Jan 04 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following: Greg Laden: Top (mostly climate change related) Science Denialist Books.

  • Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us by Maggie Koerth-Baker
  • Deep Water: As Polar Ice Melts, Scientists Debate How High Our Oceans Will Rise by Daniel Grossman
  • Rising Sea Levels: An Introduction to Cause and Impact by Hunt Janin and Scott Mandia
  • The Aviator by Gareth Renowden
  • The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines by Michael Mann
  • The Inquisition of Climate Science by James Lawrence Powell
  • The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science- and Reality by Chris Mooney

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 most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

One response so far

« Newer posts Older posts »