Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2010 Best American Science Writing Review

Book Talk: Have you ever wondered why people sometimes end up doing exactly the thing they've been trying to avoid?  Or whether humans can control the weather?  And what exactly is going on with the bees?  Luckily for you reporters have asked the same questions and presented their research in the highly-readable articles in this collection.

Rocks my socks:  I am a science groupie.  I have always found science fascinating and I am definitely of the camp that believes having nature's mysteries explained only makes them more wonderful.  However, while I kept up with science classes in my younger days, my B.A. in theatre has not prepared me well for deep reading on the subject.  And even though my master's is technically applied science, the MLIS I've almost finished isn't going to help me understand advanced scientific vocabulary either.  That's why I was so excited to read a collection of superb science writing with a style that I can loose myself in.  I loved the variety from the moral conundrums in the article on organ donation ("The Kindest Cut") to the hilarious "A Most Private Evolution" which explores the age-old battle of the sexes.  Some of the articles explain things that are often talked about and almost as often misunderstood so well that I think they should be required readings on the subject.  In particular I wish "An Epidemic of Fear" about the anti-vaccination movement was more widely read.

Rocks in my socks: Just like any collection of stories or articles, I liked some more than I liked others.  In particular the few articles that had a heavy human interest bent got on my nerves because that's not really what I wanted from this particular collection.  Overall though I'd say this has the best ratio of articles I loved to articles I'd leave of any short story or article collection I've read recently.

Every book its reader: The book is aimed at an adult audience, but there's no reason why it couldn't be read by an ambitious teen.  Pulling some articles that relate to topics covered in science classes would be great for the students because the articles are so readable.  I think the articles are so well written it could be enjoyed by anyone, even those who don't usually like science.  But that may be my personal bias showing.

The Best American Science Writing 2010, edited by Jerome Groopman

Buy it at your local indie bookstore or check it out at your local library

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