I chose the books I thought everyone should consider reading when they look back on the year and think of science. A lot of these books may have been overlooked throughout the year. This is an opportunity to revisit all the science books worthy of reading from the year 2013.
I had two goals in mind with this post. One was to present the top science books of 2013 that appeal and fascinate me, the ones I think we should all take away from 2013. The second goal was to present the quotes which influenced my decisions making and to reference the writers who made a difference in my decision process. All of them are writers for the journal Nature, the best public science journal out there.
Read the books. Know the science writers.
Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist by Bill McKibben; 09.17.2013; 256 pages; Time Books
Founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and 350.org.
"Oil and Honey is McKibben's account of these two necessary and mutually reinforcing sides of the global climate fight - from the center of a maelstrom and from the growing hive of small-scale local answers. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year's honey crop and building a social movement that's still cresting." (GoodReads)
Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at Animals in America by Jon Mooallem; 05.16.2013; 368 pages; Penguin Press
"Wild Ones chronicles the emotional agony of preserving the animal, only to destroy its wildness." (Emma Marris, writer: Nature 2May)
Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot by Peter Crane; 03.19.2013; 408 pages; Yale University Press
"Ginkgo ends with a beautiful section on the importance of this tree to human culture. it is revered for its longevity (the most venerable is some 3,500 years old) and the beautiful form in China, Japan and Korea, and is one of the commonest street trees in the temperate zones in the West. The tree's loveliness is counterbalanced by a distinct autumnal odour: in Manhattan, where one-tenth of street trees are ginkgos, butyric acid in the seeds' fleshy covering gives off a whiff of rancid butter." (Sandra Knapp, botanist in the Department of Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum in London: 14March)
Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise by David Rothenberg; 04.16.2013; 288 pages; St. Martin's Press
Philosopher and musician.
"The result mixes research on insect behaviour and anatomy, sonograms and more with apt artistic digressions from the deafening 'surround-sound' of the 17-year cicada Magicicada cassini to syncing crickets, vibrating three-humped treehoppers and the 'penile music' of water boatmen, this is an enchanging foray into the 'polyrhythmic swirls of the entomological soundscape." (Nature 4April)
Seaweeds: Edible, Available and Sustainable by Ole Mouritsen; 07.14.2013; 304 pages; University of Chicago Press
"Ole Mouritsen trawls their biology and cultural roles as fertilizer, additives, medicine and food. Packed with minerals, proteins, trace elements and fatty acids, these algae are tasty, abundant and easily cultivable, and could feed future billions." (Nature 25July)
The Dynamics of Disaster by Susan Kieffer; 10.21.2013; 256 pages; W.W. Norton & Company
Professor of geology at University of Illinois; host of a popular blog Geology in Motion
" It delves into the physics responsible for many of the extreme events that society finds incovenient, and offers hope that, rather than meekly accepting the rubbish that nature throws at us, we can attempt a societal fix." (Roger Bilham, professor of geology at the University of Colorado in Boulder: Nature 24October)
The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World by William Nordhaus; 10.22.2013; 392 pages; Yale University Press
"Nordhaus is right in saying that economic incentives facilitate and encourage low-carbon behaviour. But managing climate change demands more. Markets are influenced by regulations and changes in accounting and valuation techniques that determine new rules of the game." (Gail Whiteman, professor-in-residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Geneva, Switzerland: Nature 24October)
Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Antony M. Townsend
Advisor to industry and government at the Silicon Valey-based Institute for the Future and directs urban research at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation.
"Cities magnify human endeavours: they account for much more than half of humanity's pollution, energy consumption, crime and disease spread, while also incubating the lion's share of innovations, technology, art and entertainment. A sustainable, equitable future on our crowded planet will require fundemental changes in how cities operate. In Smart Cities, Anthony Townsend examines how information technology is shaping the development of 'smart' cities." (Melanie E. Moses, associate professor of computer science and biology at the University of New Mexico and external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute: Nature 17October)
Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler by Phillip Ball; 10.10.2013; 320 pages; Bodley Head
Science writer with both a degree in chemistry from Oxford and a doctorate in physics from Bristol University. He was also an editor for the journal nature for over 10 years.
"Ball follows the lives of three Novel laureates under the Third Reich: Max Planck, Peter Debye and Werner Heisenberg." (Robert P Crease, professor of philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York: Nature 24October)
Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane by S. Frederick Starr; 10.13.2013; 696 pages; Princeton University Press
"It is increasingly recognized that many of the greatest scientists, philosophers, poets and artists of the Islamic golden age were from Central Asia." (Christopher I. Beckwith, professor of Central Eurasian studies at Indiana University, Bloomington)
Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel; 10.01.2013; 304 pages, Basic Books
Mathematician at the University of California
"The love that Edward Frenkel alludes to in his title is the passion stirred in the mathematical heart by the extraordinary story of the research launched in 1960s by eminent academic Robert Langlands, now at Princeton University, New Jersey." (Marcus du Sautoy, professor of mathematics and the simonyi professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, UK: Nature 3October)
Exodus: How Migration is Changing Our World by Paul Collier: 10.01.2013; 309 pages; Oxford University Press
Professor of Economics, Director for Centre for the Study of African Economics at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St. Anthony's College
This book is a discussion and an analysis of what the implication of migration is in cities and how we can approach this phenomena. "It is one of the most pressing and controversial questions of our time -- vehemently debated, steeped in ideology, profoundly divisive. Who should be allowed to immigrate and who not? What are the arguments for and against limiting the numbers? We are supposedly a nation of immigrants, and yet our policies reflect deep anxieties and the quirks of short-term self-interest, with effective legislation snagging on thousand-mile-long security fences and the question of how long and arduous the path to citizenship should be."
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell; 10.01.2013; 304 pages; Little, Brown
Former business and science writer at the Washington Post, as well as a staff writer for The New Yorker.
"Conventional indicators of strength, such as wealth or military superiority, can prove to be weaknesses; what look like impediments, such as broken homes or dyslexia, can work to one's advantage. Student who are provincial high-flyers may underachieve at Harvard because they are not accustomed to being surrounded by even more brilliant peers, whereas at a mediocre university they might have excelled. Even if some of these conclusions seem obvious in retrospect, Gladwell is a consummate storyteller and you feel that you would never have articulated the point until he spelled it out." (Heloise D. Dufour and Sean B. Carroll: Nature 3October)
The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg; 05.02.2013; 405 pages; Blue Rider Press
"The Book of Woe reveals the deeply flawed process by which mental disorders are invented and uninvented - and why increasing numbers of therapy patients are being declared mentally ill." (GoodReads)
"Greenberg shows us vividly that psychiatry's biggest problem may be a stubborn reluctance to admit its immaturity. And we all know how things go when you won't admit your problems." (David Dobbs, author of The Orchid and the Dandelion: Nature 2May)
Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love by Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman; 01.30.2013; 298 pages; Oxford University Press
"Human courtship is as convoluted as the human mind. In generating and maintaining relationships we can be master tacticians, deploying everything from humor and compassion to bling and 'bad boy' displays...in this lively, copiously researched treatise on the roles of factors from creativity to biases and emotional intelligence." (Nature 7February)
Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji; 02.12.2013; 272 pages; Delacorte Press
"Starting with perceptual mistakes based on habits of thought (mindbugs), they cover psychological self-tricker in depth" (Nature 7February)
The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature by Richard H. Smith; 07.31.2013; 238 pages; Oxford University Press
"Few people will easily admit to taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. But who doesn't enjoy it when an arrogant but untalented contestant is humiliated on American Idol, or when the embarrasing vice of a self-righteous politician is exposed, or even when an envied friend suffers a small setback? The truth is that joy in someone else's pain-known by the German word schadenfreude - permeates our society." (GoodReads)
Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us by S. Lochlann Jain; 10.15.2013; 304 pages; University of California Press
"In this trenchant mix of science history, memoir and cultural analysis, Jain is thoughtful and often darkly humorous on everything from cancer statistics to treatments, trials and issues around sexuality. Brilliant and disturbing." (Nature 10October)
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel Lieberman; 10.01.2013; 480 pages, Pantheon
"In a book that illuminates, as never before, the evolutionary story of the human body, Daniel Lieberman deftly examines the major transformations that contributed key adaptations to the body: the advent of bipedalism; the shift to a non-fruit-based diet; the rise of hunting and gathering and our superlative endurance athletic abilities; the development of a very large brain; the incipience of modern cultural abilities." (GoodReads)
The Compatibility Gene by Daniel M. Davis; 10.01.2013; 231 pages; Oxford University Press
"The genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are big players in the immune system, and are implicated in conditions from ankylosing spondylities to multiple sclerosis. Starting with the work of Peter Medawar and Peter Gorer on immunology, transplantation and the MHC, Davis ranges energetically through the research." (Nature 29August)
The Nostalgia Factory: Memory, Time and Ageing by Douwe Draaisma; 10.29.2013; 176 pages; Yale University Press
"Draaisma's style is both literary and scientific. It calls to mind the works of Oliver Sacks, who popularized neuroscience through the intriguing stories of his neurological patients. (In fact, one of Draaisma's essays is based on a conversation with Sacks about "what time does to memories and what memories do to time.") But Draaisma's style is perhaps the more poetic, which is what makes the powerful insights in his book so penetrating." (Alison Abbott, Nature's senior European correspondent: Nature 12September)
The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime by Adrian Raine; 04.30.2013; 528 pages; Pantheon
"Are 'criminal tendencies' hard-wired or acquired? In this perturbing study, psychologist Adrian Rain argues the biological case, marshaling swathes of findings and case studies of murderers and rapists." (Nature 9May)
Life Beyond Earth: The Search for Habitable World in the Universe by Athena coustenis and Therese Encrenaz; 11.30.2013; 296 pages; Cambridge University Press
"Kicking off with planet formation, life's origins on Earth and extreme environments, they boldly go into areas such as potential habitats in the outer Solar System and far-future ideas such as "terraforming" Mars for human habitation." (Nature 26September)
Are We Being Watched? The Search for Life in the Cosmos by Paul Murdin; 04.1.2013; 224 pages; Thames & Hudson
Astronomer, discovered the first black hole in the Milky Way.
"Discoveries such exoplanetary systems, water ice on mars and extremophile bacteria on earth, have energized the scientific quest for extraterrestrial life." (Nature 14March)
The Happy Atheist by PZ Meyers; 08.13.2013; 208 pages; Pantheon
Developmental Biologist & writer of the blog Pharyngula
Bad Moves: How Decision Making goes Wrong, and the Ethics of Smart Drugs by Barbara j. Sahakian and Jamie Nicole Labuzetta; 01.01.2013; 180 pages, Oxford University Press
The Serpent's Promise: The Bible Retold As Science by Steve Jones; 05.07.2013; 448 pages, Doubleday Canada
Tell us YOUR Favorite SCIENCE Book of 2013