I really like these “Best American” book from Mariner Books. I’ve been reading them for many years now. Typically I’ll walk in to my local Barnes & Noble or my local independent bookseller, see the series on an end cap, and purchase one or two. My favorite of all of these titles is The Best American Science and Nature Writing. In part, it is because of my interest in always learning something new, and in part because I often am not subscribed to any science or nature magazines. And when I am subscribed, I too often don’t read the articles because they tend to be just a bit over my head. This collection not only pulls together the ‘best’ from a given year, but I find that every single article is approachable, readable by someone such as myself — someone without a very strong science background.
I have also found, however, that since I’ve started writing my book review blog, reading collections has been difficult. I typically have enjoyed a collection such as this as something I have lying around the house and that I pick up, read an article or two, and put it down for a bit. It’s not a book that I sit and read, cover to cover (hence the fact that I am reviewing a 2013 book in 2014).
Apologies done, let me say that this is an incredible collection! It’s very difficult to choose an article or articles that stand out because every essay collected is top-notch and memorable. “Can Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?” by Nathaniel Rich is a powerful article and I can’t believe that I haven’t heard more about this potential ‘secret’ to immortality. I should think that this is BIG NEWS! (The ideas from this article became the basis for a children’s book that I recently reviewed here.)
Sylvia A. Earle writes beautifully about restoring and preserving our waters and reefs in “The Sweet Spot in Time.”
“Shattered Genius” by Brett Forrest was incredibly interesting because it was almost more an exposé on a reclusive mathematics genius.
I don’t think it’s news to anyone that our popular social media is not really bringing us closer together, and “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” by Stephen Marche is an informed look at the social sciences.
And though it’s difficult for me to explain precisely why, I found “Is Space Digital?” by Michael Moyer interesting. Perhaps the very concept, in which the author is trying to prove that the very essence of knowledge is transferred, digitally coded, on all matter, incredibly fascinating.
I really like this series and highly recommend it.
This collection includes:
“False Idyll” – J. B. MacKinnon
“The Last Distinction?” – Benjamin Hale
“Talk to Me” – Tim Zimmermann
“Beyond the Quantum Horizon” – David Deutsch and Artur Ekert
“Is Space Digital?” – Michael Moyer: Trying to prove that the very essence of knowledge is transferred, digitally coded, on all matter
“The Sweet Spot in Time” – Sylvia A. Earle
“Machines of the Infinitie” – John Pavlus
“Which Species Will Live?” – Michelle Nijhuis
“The Larch” – Rick Bass
“Shattered Genius” – Brett Forrest
“The T-Cell Army” – Jerome Groopman
“The Artificial Leaf” – David Owen
“The Deadliest Virus” – Michael Specter
“Our Place in the Universe” – Alan Lightman
“Out of the Wild” – David Quammen
“Altered States” – Oliver Sacks
“Recall of the Wild” – Elizabeth Kolbert
“Polar Express” – Keith Gessen
“The Crisis of Big Science” – Steven Weinberg
“Autism Inc.” – Gareth Cook
“The Life of Pi, and Other Infinities” – Natalie Angier
“Super Humanity” – Robert M. Sapolsky
“The Patient Scientist” – Katherine Harmon
“Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?” – Nathaniel Rich
“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” – Stephen Marche
“The Measured Man” – Mark Bowden
“The Wisdom of Psychopaths” – Kevin Dutton
Looking for a good book? The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Siddhartha Mukherjee, is an approachable collection of science-related essays.
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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013
editor: Siddhartha Mukherjee
series editor: Tim Folger
publisher: Mariner Books
paperback, 368 pages