The last couple of years I’ve imposed a little order on my science reading, forcing myself to read across fields more deliberately; so far I’ve enjoyed it and will continue the structure in the future. I just finished the last entry on the list, Seeing Further, and will be posting comments in the next few days. I’m in good shape to start next year’s, as I already have four titles waiting to be read and ideas for several others.
Cosmology and Astrophysics
Hubble: Window on the Universe, Gwyneth Snow. I didn’t give full comments on this one because it’s mostly exceptional for its bounty of full-page photos from the Hubble telescope. The contents are the sort of thing you’d read in a book version of Sagan’s Cosmos: the lifespans of stars, the structure of galaxies, and the ins and outs of our local neighborhood.
First Light, Richard Preston. This was…also one I didn’t comment on, partially because it was weird. Centered on the Hale telescope in the Palomar mountains, its story of scientific research often pretends to be a novel and switches back and forth between decades. It wasn’t an approach that proved winning for me.
The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, Peter Brannen.
Chemistry and Physics
Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World, Mark Miodownik. Fun microhistory.
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, Giulia Enders
Flora and Fauna
The Truth About Nature, Stacey Torno and Ken Keller
The Invaders: How Humans and their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction, Pat Shipman
Neurology and Psychology
This Is Your Brain on Parasites, Kathleen McAuliffe
Weather and Climate
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, Jeff Goodell
History of Science
Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society, edited by Bill Bryson
Science and Society
A Crack In Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, Jennifer Doudna
50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, Guy Harrison