Top Science Books of the Last Year

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These are books that I’ve reviewed here, and would like to recommend that you seriously consider picking up if you are looking for a cool present for someone and you think they should read more science.

I’m including a couple of bird books in this list, but I also recently wrote up a summary of just bird books that you may want to check out.

These are in no particular order, and I’m not paying a lot of attention to publication dates. What matters is that I’ve I’ve put the book in this stack of books I’ve got here that I clean out every year about this time; Some are clearly older than one year but if you’ve not read them or know someone who has not, this simply must be corrected. I’m also not listing anything I’ve reviewed in the last few days because you just saw them. This is more a reminder of what you forgot to read last June or whenever!

And the books are:

Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires. OMG. This is an academic books that has not gotten much hype and probably won’t, but you simply must read it. For the average reasonably well educated person, this book probably has more stuff in it you didn’t know, or even suspect, than most books you’ll ever read.

Bird Migration and Global Change, a new book, and the much older On the Move are significantly contrasting books that make a great pair. One is natural history and accessible the other ore academic and scientific, both are about movement and migration, which will become an increasingly important topic over the next decades as global climate change exerts its rather uncertain influence.

Speaking of climate change and related issues, Shaw Otto’s new book, “Fool Me Twice” is my choice for stocking stuffer of the year. Various relatives and friends will be getting this book from me. Everybody has to read it.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Death By Black Hole is not new but I just read it this year so I’m including it. This volume covers all the current cosmic controversies and makes points usually left aside because of NdGT’s specific academic interests in Magnitogorsk and plasma and stuff. The question raised in this book formed part of my strategy for my interview of him.

The other physics book you must read is Jim Kakalios’ The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics. There is no math in this book. For those of you who think that is a bad thing, OK, you’ve got extra geekkred. For the rest of you, you will love this book.

If you haven’t read The Science of Kissing then just go read it. Until then, No Kissing For You!

Another stocking stuffer, because of its important message, is Deadly Choices by Paul Offit. This is on the anti-vax movement, and is the perfect gift for your homeopathic cousin in Peoria.

Do you watch birds? Good. Do you now a LOT about birds? No? Then start here!. It’s really bird science disguised as a book for birders. Pretty sneaky.

And now a short list of other books that are much older but that I want to re-recommend. Seriously. If you’ve not read these than you can’t really be my friend:

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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6 thoughts on “Top Science Books of the Last Year

  1. “If you’ve not read these than you can’t really be my friend”

    Well, I guess that’s it for me. I’ve not read any of them, and I’ve already got so many books waiting that I don’t know when I’ll get through them all. Should I quit reading blogs?

  2. I treated myself to three books on your list I could buy as e-books. The Wrangham book (Catching Fire) is so good with Greg Laden at the top of the list of acknowledgements at the end of the book. Neat!

  3. The Newton one looks good. Not in Kindle format unfortunately. Will check the library to see if they have a hard copy. But the periodic one is in Kindle format. Immortal Life is on a friend’s desk and she’ll loan it to me when she’s done. The others don’t immediately grab my interest.

    Speaking of books, I’ve partway through Donald Prothero’s book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters. Thoroughly enjoyable…I could have used a book like this quite a few years ago when I was stumbling my way forward from literal 6-day creationism. The journey might have been shortened by years.

    What I also appreciate is that he’s taken the trouble to learn Hebrew and Koine Greek (I have two years of Koine Greek, am starting to learn Hebrew in January) so when he talks about theological items, he’s more informed than some others who have also written excellent books on evolution but who blunder somewhat when they try to interpret the bible or theology.

  4. Thanks for this interesting overview. I hadn’t heard of the book “Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: the History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians”, but have just bought it. I saw that someone had compiled a top 5 of bext popular science books on biology that have been released in 2011 ( and there are also some interesting titles there (that are not yet in your list). Too many books to read and not enough time – that is always the main problem! Thanks again for the tips!

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