Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Holds Alert: New Look At Autism

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 11.57.00 AMNoted science writer and WIRED reporter Steve Silberman appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, sending his new book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (Penguin/Avery; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) rocketing up Amazon’s sales rankings.

A history of autism, its evolution, and the way the scientific world has approached its diagnosis, NeuroTribes is changing the conversation
on the subject.

Jennifer Senior, who says the book is “beautifully told, humanizing, important” in her piece on it in the NYT Sunday Book Review, highlights just one of the ways Silberman shines new light on the very definition of autism:

The autism pandemic, in other words, is an optical illusion, one brought about by an original sin of diagnostic parsimony. The implications here are staggering: Had the definition included Asperger’s original, expansive vision, it’s quite possible we wouldn’t have been hunting for environmental causes or pointing our fingers at anxious parents…This is, without a doubt, a provocative argument that Silberman is making, one sure to draw plenty of pushback and anger. But he traces his history with scrupulous precision, and along the way he treats us to charming, pointillist portraits of historical figures who are presumed to have had Asperger’s, including Henry Cavendish and Nikola Tesla.

Likely to become a classic in the field, it is already listed along with works by Andrew Solomon and Temple Grandin and comes with a forward by Oliver Sacks.

Holds are exceeding a 3:1 ratio across the country in libraries we checked.

Dolphins Close Up

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.53.48 AMOn NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, Susan Casey talks about  her new book Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins (RH/Doubleday; RH and BOT Audio; OverDrive Sample), sending the book charging up the Amazon rankings.

In a fascinating and lengthy interview Casey details sections from her book including stories about dolphin researchers investigating language acquisition, her own unexpected swim with a pod of spinners, the astounding attributes of dolphins, and the threats facing them today.

In the following clip from the audio narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Casey explains what draws her to scuba diving, even when there is a threat of sharks.

Casey, an experienced ocean adventure writer, has also published the bestselling books The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean and The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks.

Holds are steady on fairly light ordering.

Hummingbird Love

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

9780544416031_43983Reviewers are falling in love with Fastest Things On Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood,  Terry Masear, (HMH).

There’s probably not much more you need than the title and cover to also become unchanged, but here’s a sampling of the reviews:

Fastest Things on Wings: inside the rehabilitation of injured hummingbirds — he Washington Post

Fastest Things on Wings is the soaring tale of a hummingbird rehabber — Los Angeles Times

Hollywood’s Hummingbird Rehabber Tells All —  National Geographic (take a look at this one, if only for the photos)

Even the New York Post calls it a “must-read

It was also featured on WBUR’s “Here & Now

The book is rising on Amazon sales rankings. Library orders are light.

Order Alert: DO NO HARM

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 7.25.18 AMNeurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who was the subject of an award winning film, has written a memoir about the high-risk work of operating on the brain, Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Marsh appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross yesterday and described how he relies upon a quarter ton microscope to see inside the jelly-like substance of the brain and uses a microscopic vacuum cleaner called a sucker to remove tumors.

The memoir made multiple shortlists for a range of awards in Britain including the Guardian First Book Prize and the Costa Book Award.

The Guardian review was glowing:

Why has no one ever written a book like this before? It simply tells the stories, with great tenderness, insight and self-doubt, of a phenomenal neurosurgeon who has been at the height of his specialism for decades and now has chosen, with retirement looming, to write an honest book. Why haven’t more surgeons written books, especially of this prosaic beauty? Of blood and doubts, mistakes, decisions: were they all so unable to descend into the mire of Grub Street, unless it was with black or, worse, “wry” humour? Well, thank God for Henry Marsh.

On this side of the ocean, the memoir has received strong coverage in The New York Times Sunday Book Review and by Michiko Kakutani in the daily NYT Books section. Sam Kean reviews it for The Wall Street Journal and it is one of The Washington Post’s picks of the best memoirs for the month. It is also rising on Amazon.

Holds are strong on light ordering.

Order Alert: THING EXPLAINER

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.22.06 AMRandall Munroe, author of the runaway hit What If? has a new book coming out in November, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (HMH, Nov. 24).

Munroe announced the book on his popular website xkcd, “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” yesterday and it has already shot to #8 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

As Munroe details on his site, the book is a large format (9″ by 13″) collection of blueprints with diagrams of objects and explanations of their parts and uses, using only the most common 1,000 words in the English language. The result sometimes sounds like a precocious six-year-old (see the Saturn V rocket, called here, “Up Goer Five — The only flying space car that’s taken anyone to another world”). It could be the basis of some memorable party games.

There are still holds on What If? in libraries across the country. Expect high demand for Munroe’s upcoming title as well.

Science Confirms, Teen Brains Are Different

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

9780062067845_67a89On NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed neuroscientist Frances Jensen, the author of The Teenage Brain, (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

Jensen confirms with remarkable clarity what many parents have observed, that it takes a long time for the human brain to fully mature and develop the ability to control impulses.

Nancy Pearl Interviews Naturalist/Author Haupt

Monday, October 13th, 2014

9780316178525Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s goal is to bring “beautiful, literary language to really solid information” about nature. Her most recent book is The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild,(Hachette/Little, Brown, 2013).

Nancy Pearl interviews her for her series on The Seattle Channel, Book Lust.

Holds Alert: WHAT IF?

Monday, September 8th, 2014

lisabadge

There is a little geek in all of us.  I was a liberal arts major who did the happy dance when that last required physics class was over, but Randall  Munroe’s What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (HMH; Blackstone Audio; 9/2/14) is so laugh aloud funny, I almost did a spit take with my coffee while reading it this morning.

The book is a collection of the most popular answers to crazy science questions posed by readers of Munroe’s XKCD webcomic, with additional new “out of the box” questions.

For example “What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?”

9780544272996_0ceaaMunroe’s answer begins, “Nearly everyone would die. Then things would get interesting,” and leads us through the science of the situation in cartoon format, interrupted occasionally by a wise-cracking stick figure.

Published as an adult book What if? is the very definition of the crossover. I can imagine an 8th grade teacher posing one of these questions a day, using them to lead humorously engaging discussions that help to develop critical thinking.

Check your holds; you will probably find you need more copies.

Note: Cory Doctorow is also a fan and notes on BoingBoing that What If? is available as an audiobook, “which is a weird idea, given how much the explanations rely on Munroe’s charming diagrams. But the book is read by Wil Wheaton, who is, for my money, the best audiobook narrator working today, and it was produced by Blackstone audio and recorded at Skyboat in Los Angeles, who do outstanding work, and they all labored mightily with Munroe to turn the diagrams into spoken word (and there’s an accompanying PDF, which also helps).”

Making Science Cool Again

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Cosmos Tie-inThe Fox/National Geographic reboot of the 1980 PBS phenomenon, Cosmos, has plenty of star power to bring to its goal of “making science cool again.” Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is behind it along with the “Hollywood cool” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is also the host. The first episode on Sunday was introduced by President Obama. It even got the ultimate in cool promotions, its own Superbowl commercial.

Reviews of the first show are mixed, but cautiously optimistic for the rest of series. Unfortunately, as the L.A. Times reports, the ratings indicate that it drew “only” 6 million viewers and was “trounced by ABC’s premiere of Resurrection,” (reminder: that series is based on the book The Returned by Jason Mott, Harlequin/MIRA).

The original series made a best seller of Sagan’s  tie-in. With twelve more episodes to go, the new one could still do the same for the revised tie-in (RH/Ballantine).

It may also bring renewed attention to Tyson’s many books of his own, the most recent of which is Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (Norton, 2012).

Colbert is Disturbed

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

What Do Women Want?Scientific studies indicate that “when it comes to sex, monogamy may be more of a problem for women than men,” Daniel Bergner told Stephen Colbert on his show last night. The author of What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire (HarperCollins/Ecco) noted that the generally accepted view of women as naturally monogamous has been promulgated because it is “convenient and comforting to men.”

Colbert’s reactions proved Bergner’s point.

The book is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings. Library holds are also growing.

GULP: Don’t Watch While Masticating

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

GulpJon Stewart clearly loves Mary Roach, greeting the author on Monday night’s Daily Show with the words, “I like your books!”

Her latest, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (Norton; Tantor Audio), was released on Monday. The interview begins with the question of why your stomach doesn’t digest itself (hint; it’s a trick question).

After the appearance, Gulp rose to #3 on Amazon sales rankings.

Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, will appear on the show tonight. That appearance is unlike to result in a rise on Amazon’s sales rankings, however. The book has held the #1 spot for most of the last month.

Below is part one of the interview; part two is here (warning: it features nutrient enemas).

Nate Silver — Comedy Central Double Whammy

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Statistician Nate Silver has become the media’s go-to guy for election predictions, based on his NYT blog, “FiveThirty­Eight.”

His book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t (Penguin Press) rose to #5 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list this week. He is scheduled to appear on the Colbert Show tonight  and on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Wednesday.

Will interest continue in the book after tomorrow’s election? Sunday’s NYT Book Review says it will, and that it “could turn out to be one of the more momentous books of the decade” because Silver previously “took aim mostly at sports pundits and political handicappers. But the book hints at his ambitions to take on weightier questions. There’s no better example of this than his chapter on climate change…That Silver is taking this on is, by and large, a welcome development. Few journalists have the statistical chops; most scientists and social scientists are too abstruse.”

New Title Radar: November 5 – 11

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Big names in fiction returning next week include Barbara Kingsolver, Ellen Hopkins and Caleb Carr, along with notable novels by Lydia Millet, Whitney Otto and James Kimmel. The final volume of William Manchester‘s Churchill bio also arrives, written posthumously by Paul Reid, while Larry McMurtry weighs in on General Custer, Sean Carroll explores a new landmark in physics, and Oliver Sacks explores hallucinations.

Watch List

Magnificence by Lydia Millet (Norton; Dreamscape Audio; Center Point Large Print) concludes the trilogy that began with How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011). This one is the story of a woman who comes to terms with her life and adulterous affairs when she suddenly becomes a widow. Kirkus says, “The deeply honest, beautiful meditations on love, grief and guilt give way to a curlicued comic-romantic mystery complete with a secret basement and assorted eccentrics.”  The response on GalleyChat was unmitigated; “Magnificence was magnificent. What an amazing writer. Love her unsentimental style.”

Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto (S&S/Scribner; Thorndike Large Print) fictionalizes the lives of eight women photographers as they intersect – including icons like Imogen Cunningham, Lee Miller and Sally Mann, as well as lesser known figures. By the author of How to Make an American Quilt, it was a BEA librarians’ Shout ‘n’ Share Pick. Kirkus says, “although overly schematic, Otto makes these eight women and the differing lenses through which they view the 20th century hard to forget.”

The Trial of Fallen Angels by James Kimmel, Jr. (Penguin/Amy Einhorn; Dreamscape Audio) is a debut novel about an ace lawyer who dies and becomes a defender of the souls of the dead on Judgement Day. Early reviews are mixed: Kirkus says it’s heavy on the spiritualism side, but still intriguing. PW says it fails as a page-turner, but Booklist gives it a starred review, calling it fascinating.

Returning Favorites

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe) may be the first novel about the effects of climate change. It arrives with uncanny timing, the week after Hurricane Sandy. In this instance, the evidence is dramatic but not devastating. A vast flock of monarch butterflies descends on a Bible Belt community in what seems like a religious miracle, but turns out to be a more disquieting displacement. It’s a People Pick in the magazine this week, with 4 of 4 stars. Says the reviewer, Kingsolver, “brings the complexities of climate change to her characters’ doorstep, illustrating with rich compassion how they … must find their new place on shifting ground.”  The author’s previous, The Lacuna, was a best seller and won the Orange Prize.

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins (S&S; Atria) is the second adult novel by this YA author, about two best friends and the military men they love, and are separated from, written in the author’s signature poetic verse style. PW says, ” clear narrative that is uplifting and heartbreaking, but also familiar and a little too easy, featuring characters grappling with the serious issues of our time.”

The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr (Random House; S&S Audio) finds the author of the Alienist turning his sights on the medieval era, where invaders and internal tensions roil a fortress. LJ has a wait-and-see attitude toward this one’s commercial prospects.

Childrens

Infinity Ring Book 2: Divide and Conquer by Carrie Ryan (Scholastic) is the second in a middle grade series about two fifth-grader geniuses who live in an alternate universe and travel back in time to fix various “breaks” in history. Like the 39-Clues, this planned seven-volume series, with six authors, was devised in-house at Scholastic and comes with links to an interactive Web Site. The titles will be released in quick succession, with this one arriving just three months after the first, Infinity Ring Book 1: A Mutiny in Time, by the Maze Runner’s James Dashner. Rick Riordan, who wrote the prototype, 39-Clues, was given the unenviable task of reviewing Book 1 for the the NYT Book Review. His reaction was mixed, concluding that it is, “vivid, intriguing, not fully realized but hinting at a larger story that feels right.” This second volume is by the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Kirkus, the only source to review it so far, doesn’t buy it, saying, “It’s hard to go wrong with Vikings. But if you asked a classroom full of students to write about a Viking and a time machine, most of them would come up with something more inventive.”

Nonfiction

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940–1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid (Hachette/Little, Brown; Blackstone Audio) is the final volume in this biographical trilogy. The New York Times Magazine heralds it this Sunday by calling its release, “one of the longest waits in publishing history” and explains how the little-known Paul Reid, who had never written a book before, ended up tackling this project, based on Manchester’s sketchy and often illegible notes. It ended up taking so long that Reid was forced to sell his house, use up his savings and live on credit cards. It may have been worth it. Says the NYT Magazine, it is “more of a stand-alone book than a continuation of the first and second volumes.” PW says it “matches the outstanding quality of biographers such as Robert Caro and Edmund Morris.” 200,000 copies.

Custer by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster) is not quite a biography, more of an “informed commentary” on one of American history’s great military blunderers by this respected novelist, according to Kirkus, which also calls it “distilled perceptions of a lifetime of study, beautifully illustrated.” USA Today puts it simply, “This ‘Custer’ cuts through all the Bull.”

The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World by Sean Carroll (RH/Dutton) is the story of how science history was made with the search for the Higgs Boson, part of the Higgs field that gives atomic particles their mass – finally discovered earlier this year. PW says, “whether explaining complex physics like field theory and symmetry or the workings of particle accelerators, Carrollas clarity and unbridled enthusiasm reveal the pure excitement of discovery as much as they illuminate the facts.” UPDATE: We jumped the gun; this title is actually coming out on Nov. 13.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks (RH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT Audio) finds this bestselling neurologist revealing that hallucinations are actually normal aspects of human experience during illness or injury, intoxication or sensory deprivation, or simply falling asleep. Kirkus says, “A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.”

 

Movie Tie-Ins

The Hobbit (Movie Tie-In) by J.R.R. Tolkien (HMH/Mariner trade pbk; RH/Del Rey mass market) are the tie-in editions of the novel. Also coming are various behind-the scenes books for both adults and children. For the full list, check our Upcoming Movies with Tie-ins).

Jack Reacher’s Rules, with introduction by Lee Child (RH/Delacorte) is a 160-page hardcover compilation of Reacher wisdom and lore; a single quote printed on each page. It arrives, as the publisher puts it, “just in time for [Reacher’s] first movie,” starring Tom Cruise, which lands in theaters on 12/21. It was a drop-in title that hasn’t been reviewed and thus, most libraries have not ordered it. Those that have it are showing holds (Hennepin County has 50 on 9 copies). The tie-in of One Shot, which the movie is based on, also arrives next week, in both mass market and large print.

Heavy Holds Alert: SPILLOVER

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

In a profile in the New York Times, David Quammen’s new book, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, (Norton) is called “scary but hard-to-put-down,” featuring  real-life scientists who “become as vivid as characters in a Michael Crichton scientific thriller.”

In reviewing the book in the same publication, Dwight Garner calls the author “not just among our best science writers but among our best writers, period.” Indeed, Quammen cites Faulkner as the greatest influence on his writing.

Libraries in many areas are showing heavy holds

The Beauty of SKULLS

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Simon Winchester has covered many broad sweeping subjects in his writing career, but in his latest book, he focuses on a single collection.

Of course, it is a pretty remarkable collection; thousands of skulls, from the smallest, that of a wren, up to a hippopotamus skull, housed, improbably in the owner’s bedroom.

Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection, is featured in the NYT Science section today. It wasn’t reviewed prepub, so few libraries have ordered it.

Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection
Simon Winchester
Retail Price: $29.95
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers – (2012-10-09)
ISBN / EAN: 1579129129 / 9781579129125