Best Science Books 2009: The Globe 100

One of the most interesting lists every year is The Globe and Mail's Globe 100, and this year is no exception. There's relevant stuff all over the spectrum, from biography to history to graphic novels to popular science to the environment.

In the print version, the categories are pretty basic: Canadian fiction, international fiction, poetry, non-fiction, graphica. Online, the categories are, well, a little more granular, and we'll get to that train wreck after the list.

Here goes:

  • Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, art by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna
  • Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk
  • Norman Bethune by Adrienne Clarkson
  • Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik
  • The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo
  • Why Your World Is about to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin
  • Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
  • The Price of a Bargain: The Quest for Cheap and the Death of Globalization by Gordon Laird
  • The End of a River: Dams, Drought and Déjà Vu on the Rio São Francisco by Brian Harvey
  • The Well-Dressed Ape: A Natural History of Myself by Hannah Holmes
  • Grass, Sky, Song: Promise and Peril in the World of Grassland Birds by Trevor Herriot
  • Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis by Alanna Mitchell
  • Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
  • The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
  • Hope for Animals and their World: How Endangered Species are being Rescued from the Brink by Jane Goodall
  • The Third Man Factor: The Secret to Survival in Extreme Environments by John Geiger

Like I mentioned, The Globe did divide the books up into a bunch more categories in the online version than in print. In particular, the non-fiction got separated out into Canadiana; social studies; history & war; biography, memoir & correspondence; economics & travel and ... science, religion & the environment.

Yes, science and the environment bundled together with religion, with the comment, "Richard Dawkins in one corner, Karen Armstrong the other..." Of course, Armstrong's The Case for God was the only religion book mentioned in the list. Without getting all angry atheist here or anything, I think it's silly to group the evidence-based subjects with mythology. Would they have included a book on Norse or Greek mythology (or pink unicorns) in with the science books? Of course not. And they shouldn't have included the Armstrong.


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Longer reading lists are happy problems, at least! As for Logicomix, I agree it's fabulous.

Some years ago a colleague who was an avid fly tying fisherman died. As part of his memorial ceremony, our advisor (we were both DeVore's students) put on display a display box of his flies. One of the flies had been captured and tied up by a spider.