Best Science Books 2012: Amazon

It is time. The season of lists begins again!

Every year for the last bunch of years I've been linking to and posting about all the "year's best sciencey books" lists that I can find around the web in various media outlets.

From the beginning it's been a pretty popular service so I'm happy to continue it.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn't a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

Last year's winner, significantly ahead of the competition, was Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs. The year before it was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in a blowout. I'm not sure if there's a similarly positioned book this year, but only time -- and a bunch of lists -- will tell.

In any case, the summary post for 2011 books is here and all the posts for 2011 can be found here.

As it often the case, first up is the Editors' lists. Includes the main list and a few from subsidiary lists like Politics & Social Sciences and Science & Math.

  • The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't by Nate Silver
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City by Alan Ehrenhalt
  • Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are by Sebastian Seung
  • The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen
  • The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity by Steven H. Strogatz
  • The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sam Kean
  • Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell
  • Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Jenkins Sheldrick
  • The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
  • What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz
  • Prehistoric Life: The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth by DK Publishing

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from the today's list.


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Hi David, thanks. I'm watching your lists (especially the daily updates) very carefully and already have a post or two waiting in the wings.

Hi John, thanks for providing the list.. I wanted to bring up one for your attention that just released Nov 1. Its called "Unraveling the Universe's Mysteries" and is available at Amazon: I think you will find that it is worthy book to add to your list. Let me know if you would like a copy for review.

By Christian Del Monte (not verified) on 20 Nov 2012 #permalink