My New Years’ resolution for 2020 was to read more nonfiction, but I didn’t initially envision starting a blog to write about all the books I didn’t have time or energy to read during my Ph.D. I posted more sporadically than I would have liked, but it was 2020, so I’m cutting myself some slack and calling my resolution a success.
Here’s a look back at the science non-fiction books I read this year:
Coyote America by Dan Flores
Coyote America is a story of resilience and was a necessary contrast to the multiple books about extinction on this list. Coyotes will always be fascinating to me, and I regret not reading this book when I was an active coyote researcher.
Superior by Angela Saini
Science has undeniably racist origins that persist today in a big way. This book wasn't from my backlog, but it should have been, especially given my background in population genetics. Rethink any "well- intended" study of human diversity and read this book.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
While Hope Jahren can’t speak for everyone, Lab Girl certainly showcased many of the issues that young female science professors face in a world still dominated by white men. Jahren is not my favorite writer, but it took courage to tell her story, and I have a lot of respect for this book.
How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro
Beth Shapiro’s whimsical guide to the complicated and controversial science of de-extinction is probably my favorite of the books I reviewed this year. Still, I’m not fully convinced that bringing back anything that even slightly resembles a species that has been extinct for over 3,000 years is a good idea.
The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
My full review is coming in January 2021, but The Feather Thief is an extraordinary story of natural history, a peculiar heist, and above all, the scientific value of museum collections.
Welcoming in 2021 (finally)
Next year, I’m committing to a more regular schedule of one review per month. To keep the theme of the blog alive, approximately 2/3 of the books I read and write about will be from my “backlog.” But, to stay up to date on newer science books, every third post or so, I’ll review a book that wasn’t already on my shelf.
In no particular order, some titles I’m looking forward to reading:
Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr (backlog)
Darwin’s Ghosts by Rebecca Stott (backlog)
How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog by Lee Alan Dugatkin & Lyudmila Trut (backlog)
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery (backlog)
Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller (new)
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair (new)
Happy New Year! Look for my first post of 2021, covering Kirk W. Johnson’s The Feather Thief, this January.