I was browsing the NYTimes list of the 100 notable books of 2007 and was surprised to note that only one science book is included on that list! This is even more amazing when you realize that Natalie Angier, who wrote The Canon (a book that I reviewed but didn’t like), was not even included in the list and she is a science writer for the Times!
Of course, it is difficult to know what is truly “notable” but I will assume that it can be used interchangeably with “best”. That said, there are some other lists of the best 100 books of 2007, such as Amazon, and they include science books, so what is the NYTimes’ problem?
Okay, admitedly, there weren’t as many wonderful science books published in 2007 as there were in say, 2006, however, that said, that should not be interpreted to imply that there were NO notable science books published in 2007 — quite the opposite. For example, here is my suggested list of “notable” science books from those I’ve reviewed so far this year;
Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver by Arthur Allen (NYC: Norton; 2007) [a fabulously well-written, researched and balanced book — my review not yet finished, but it is coming!]
And a few other books that I have not yet read, including;
The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology by Bernd Heinrich (NYC: HarperCollins; 2007) [I was given a copy of this book by a reader of mine, but I have not yet finished reading it. Since I have loved all of Bernd’s books, I’ll bet I will love this one, too, and so it will probably get a good review from me in the next week or so.]
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster; 2007). [I do not yet own a copy of this book and was completely unaware of its existence until a friend (who is a published book author himself) checked it out from the library a week ago and has been raving to me about it ever since. I have added this book to my wishlist based on his assessment of it.]
And one more book, which is one of the best science books I’ve ever read;
The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong by Donald Kroodsma (NYC: Houghton-Mifflin; 2006, paperback; 2007) [I own two copies of this book, one in hardback and one in paperback. I have been so impressed and astonished with the overall quality of this book (with everything from the writing and the organization of the book, to the quality of the illustrations and the included CD, to even the quality of the paper it’s printed on, but hey, that’s Houghton-Mifflin for you: first class all the way!) that I’ve not been able to write a coherent review about it. I don’t want to drool with envy on my blog, but alas, the holidays are coming so I must finish this review for you because it is simply one of the best science books I’ve ever read and I think you all will agree with me.]
Books I am currently reading along with a one sentence impression (not all about science);
Speciation in Birds by Trevor Price (Greenwood Village, CO: Roberts and Company; 2007) [halfway finished — beautifully illustrated, wonderfully written, and interesting — first class all the way! — even though it is technical, it is just so excellent.]
Goodnight, Texas by William J Cobb (Denver, CO: Unbridled Books; 2006) [nearly finished — amusing story of an unlikely love triangle being played out in the face of an approaching hurricane, and I really like the author’s style and voice.]
The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology by Bernd Heinrich (NYC: HarperCollins; 2007) [just started it.]
The Living Cosmos: Our Search for Life in the Universe by Chris Impey (NYC: Random House; 2007) [review due after its official publication date of 18 December 2007.]
The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren (NYC: Random House; 2007) [not yet released, haven’t started reading it, either.]
So, since the holidays are coming, I am very interested to know which books you’d add to a “Notable science books in 2007” list? I am also interested in “notable science books from 2007 for children”. Please add them here in comments — so your fellow readers can benefit from your insights and, who knows? Maybe the NYTimes will read your comments and rethink their list?