Monday, 27 June 2011

The Longlist for the 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

The longlist for the 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books has been announced. Good luck trying to pick just one winner out of these fantastic books!

Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos

The judges said: “A playful book that joyously takes us all by the hand on a grown-up trip through the world of mathematics”

Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope by Tim Flannery

The judges said: “Depicting the Earth as a superorganism of which we are just a part, the author uses his optimistic, experienced voice to unravel the natural history of our world and ourselves.”

Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample

The judges said: “An exciting adventure through the world of the biggest subject in physics: the Higgs boson.”

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

The judges said: “This sharp and witty exploration of spaceflight is a rare combination - a science book with a sense of humour.”

Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging and Mating by Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L. Craig

The judges said: “This book uses an unlikely subject to draw out many of the major principles of biology, drawing the reader into the surprisingly fascinating world of the spider.”

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

The judges said: “A charming book that brings the elements of the periodic table to life.”

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Mankind for 500,000 Years by Sonia Shah

The judges said: “This book looks at an immense political and scientific challenge, malaria, and illuminates the heroic role science has played in the battle against it.”

The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness by Oren Harman

The judges said: “This book has a wonderfully engaging biographical curve, interwoven with the scientific theories of altruism postulated by its hero.”

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

The judges said: “Reading this book made us all feel more cheerful and provided a welcome counter-balance to some of the distortions of science by the media.”

The Rough Guide to the Future by Jon Turney

The judges said: “We really enjoyed the unusual format of this book, whose many summaries, boxes, graphs and illustrations made the huge range of issues covered really accessible.“

The Wavewatcher's Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

The judges said: “A lovely, eccentric book filled with fascinating science that takes apart all elements of waves.”

Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World by Guy Deutscher

The judges said: “A quirky book about the science of language, brought to life with history and anecdote.”

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

The judges said: “The concept at the centre of this book, that technology is evolving somehow and ‘going somewhere’, felt immensely relevant and intrigued us all.”

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bestselling Science Books

1) Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway

The troubling story of how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.

2) Climate Change Denial by Hayden Washington and John Cook

Shows how we can break through denial, accept reality, and thus solve the climate crisis. The authors examine the nature of climate change denial, its history, how we let denial prosper, and how we can roll back denial.

3) Hidden Reality by Brian Greene

Explores our most current understanding of the universe, its deepest laws of nature, and our continuing quest to know more. The Hidden Reality reveals how major developments in different branches of fundamental theoretical physics - relativistic, quantum, cosmological, unified, computational - have all led us to consider one or another variety of parallel universe.

4) The Business of Nature: John Gould and Australia by Roslyn Russell

A tale of enduring love and of a man’s unending ability to see beauty in nature, despite the greatest of life’s tragedies.

5) The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

In this important new book David Deutsch, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Don't Leave Childhood Without This!

Don't Leave Childhood Without… came about when a group of experienced children's booksellers based in Sydney (The Specialist Children's Booksellers) decided that there was a need for a small and inexpensive guide to the books that we thought were essential reading for youngsters. When we added up our combined time in the book trade, we came up with the impressive figure of 300+ years, so putting aside dodgy maths, we thought we were entitled to say we were experts!

The first edition came out in 2002, after many late nights, occasionally heated (but mostly good-natured) discussions over what constituted indispensible reading matter, and an awful lot of unforeseen details that needed clarifying. When we had sold - much to our delighted surprise - most of the first print run by the first year and a half, we decided to update and reprint. More late nights, heated discussions and unforeseen details to clarify, we printed 10 000 copies of the second edition in 2004, and this time were in a position to make a profit, which we decided to funnel towards the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Our little guide has continued to sell steadily, and raise a nice amount for the cause of advancing literacy in underprivileged areas, and we have been very proud of it. But even 10 000 copies run out eventually, so the group decided to embark on the third edition. After (yep, you guessed it) more late nights, warm discussions and the inevitable small details that always crop up, but this time with the help of the indefatigible Simon Milne of Leading Edge Books (a buying group set up to assist independent bookshops) the third edition arrived last month. The art design has been tweaked, but the guiding principles remain the same: all children should have access to quality books. And yes, all profits still go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, so you help the children you know by using it, and children you don't, by buying it! Lindy