Holiday reading

Most New Zealanders celebrate Christmas and New Year with family events, holidays, relaxation and fun at the beach. For many of us it is a chance to catch up with our reading – I’m certainly looking forward to getting into a number of books I have recently purchased.

Many magazines publish lists of recommended books at this time of the year. It’s noticeable, however, that these lists usually contain few, or no, science books. The NZ listener was no exception (Best books cds & dvds of 2007) with only one science-based book included. The Publishe& Editor of Edge, John Brockman, comments on this (Third Culture Holiday Reading):

“Given the well-documented challenges and issues we are facing as a nation, as a culture, how can it be that there are no science books (and hardly any books on ideas) on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year list; no science category in the EconomistBooks of the Year 2007; only Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker’s list of Books From Our Pages?”

He laments the way that “official culture” seems to ignore science, despite its critical importance:

“But science today is changing our understanding of our universe and species, and scientific literacy is indispensable to dealing with some of the world’s most pressing issues. Fortunately, we live in a time when third culture intellectuals-scientists, science journalists, and other science-minded writers-are among our best nonfiction writers, and their many engaging books have brought scientific insight to a wide audience.”

The Edge lists a number of science-related books published in 2007. I have read three of them and will be attempting to get a number of others.

The Edge book list

Natalie Angier, The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science , (Hardcover), Houghton Mifflin (May 1, 2007)

Peter Atkins, Four Laws That Drive the Universe (Hardcover), Oxford University Press, USA (September 7, 2007)

Amir Aczel, The Jesuit and the Skull: Teilhard de Chardin, Evolution, and the Search for Peking Man (Hardcover), Riverhead Hardcover; 1 edition (October 4, 2007)

Ian Ayres, Super Crunchers: How Thinking by Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart (Hardcover), Bantam Books, (August, 2007)

Edward Ball, The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA (Hardcover), Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2007)

John Barrow, New Theories of Everything (Hardcover), Oxford University Press, USA (July 6, 2007)

Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind Mind, Change Your Brain, Ballantine Books (January 2, 2007)

Jeremy Bernstein, Plutonium: A History of the World’s Most Dangerous Element (Hardcover), Joseph Henry Press (March 30, 2007)

Sandra Blakeslee & Matthew Blakeslee, The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better (Hardcover), Random House (September 11, 2007)

John Brockman, What Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today’s Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable (Paperback), Harper Perennial (March 13, 2007)

John Brockman, What Are You Optimistic About?: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better (Paperback), Harper Perennial (October 30, 2007)

Matthew Brzezinski, Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age (Hardcover), Times Books (September 18, 2007)

Fritjof Capra, Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance (Hardcover), Doubleday (October, 2007)

Dorothy L. Cheney, Robert M. Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind (Hardcover), University Of Chicago Press (May 15, 2007)

Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Hardcover), Free Press (July 11, 2006)

Michael D’Antonio, A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey: 1957 – The Space Race Begins (Hardcover), Simon & Schuster (September 18, 2007)

Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison, Objectivity, Zone Books (October 31, 2007)

Paul Davies, Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life (Hardcover), Houghton Mifflin (April 11, 2007)

Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (Hardcover), Viking (March 15, 2007)

James Flynn, What is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect (Hardcover), Cambridge University Press (August 27, 2007)

Aubrey de Grey, Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime (Hardcover), St. Martin’s Press (September 4, 2007)

Freeman Dyson, A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (Hardcover), University of Virginia Press (August 10, 2007)

Margalit Fox, Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind (Hardcover), Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (August 21, 2007)

Owen Flanagan, The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World (Hardcover), The MIT Press (November 1, 2007)

Robert H. Frank, The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas (Hardcover), Basic Books (May 21, 2007)

Michael Frayn, The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe (Hardcover) Metropolitan Books (February 6, 2007)

Howard Gardner, Five Minds for the Future (Hardcover), Harvard Business School Press, (April 3, 2007)

Gerd Gigerenzer, Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (Hardcover), Viking (July 5, 2007)

Douglas Hofstatder, I Am a Strange Loop (Hardcover), Basic Books (March 26, 2007)

Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (Hardcover), Simon & Schuster (April 10, 2007)

Christine Kenneally, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language (Hardcover), Viking (July 19, 2007)

The Best American Science Writing 2007, Gina Kolata, Editor, Jesse Cohen, Series Editor, Harper Perennial (September 18, 2007)

Gina Kolata, Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss-and the Myths and Realities of Dieting (Hardcover), Farrar, Straus and Giroux, (May 1, 2007)

Jonah Lehrer, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Houghton Mifflin (November 1, 2007)

David Levy, Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships (Hardcover), Harper (November 6, 2007)

Alan Lightman, Ghost: A Novel (Hardcover), Pantheon (October 23, 2007)

David Lindley, Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science (Hardcover), Doubleday (February 20, 2007)

Bjorn Lomborg, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming (Hardcover), Knopf (September 4, 2007)

Lynn Margulis & Eduardo Punset, Mind, Life, and Universe: Conversations with Great Scientists of Our Time (Hardcover), Chelsea Green Publishing (August 21, 2007)

Chris Mooney, Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming(Hardcover), Harcourt, (July 2, 2007)

Oliver Morton, Eating the Sun: How Light Powers the Planet (Hardcover), HarperCollins (July 1, 2007)

Michael Novacek, Terra: Our 100-Million-Year-Old Ecosystem – and the Threats that Now Put it at Risk, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Nov 13, 2007)

John Allen Paulos, Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up (Hardcover); Hill and Wang (December 26, 2007)

Richard Preston (Editor), Tim Folger (Series Editor), The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007 (The Best American Series) (Hardcover), Houghton Mifflin, (October 10, 2007)

Stephen Rose (Editor), The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould (Hardcover), W. W. Norton (April 24 2007)

Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Hardcover), Viking (September 11, 2007)

Eduardo Punset, The Happiness Trip, Chelsea Green Publishing (June 18, 2007)

Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Paperback), Simon & Schuster (August 1, 1995)

Matt Ridley, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code (Hardcover), Eminent Lives (June 13, 2006)

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (Hardcover), Knopf (October 16, 2007)

Gino Segre, Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics (Hardcover), Viking (June 14, 2007)

Michael Shermer, The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics (Hardcover), Times Books (December 26, 2007)

Seth Shulman, Undermining Science: Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration (Hardcover), University of California Press (January 8, 2007)

Paul J. Steinhardt, Neil Turok, Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang (Hardcover), Doubleday (May 29, 2007)

Ian Stewart, Why Beauty Is Truth: A History of Symmetry (Hardcover), Perseus Books Group (April 30, 2007)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Hardcover) Random House (April 17, 2007)

Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories (Hardcover), Knopf (September 25, 2007)

Frank Tipler, The Physics of Christianity(Hardcover), Doubleday (May 1, 2007)

David Toomey, The New Time Travelers: A Journey to the Frontiers of Physics (Hardcover), W. W. Norton (July 1, 2007)

Sherry Turkle, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (Hardcover), The MIT Press (August 31, 2007)

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries (Hardcover), W. W. Norton (January 22, 2007)

J. Craig Venter, A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life (Hardcover), Viking (October 18, 2007)

Peter D. Ward, Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future (Hardcover), Collins (April 17, 2007)

James Watson, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science (Hardcover), Knopf (September 25, 2007)

Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (Hardcover), St. Martin’s Press (July 2007)

ichard Wiseman, Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things (Hardcover), Basic Books (August 27, 2007)

David Sloan Wilson, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives (Hardcover), Delacorte Press (March 27, 2007)

Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (Hardcover), Harper (September 4, 2007)

Lewis Wolpert, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief (Hardcover), W. W. Norton (January 29, 2007)

Philp Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Hardcover)Random House (March 27, 2007)

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