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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Review: The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011

While I don't usually pick up anthologies, when the Kindle had The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 as a gold box deal for $1.99, I figured I'd be willing to take the risk.

I started the book and was blown away by how good it is. If you're a fan of science writing for the lay man, you should really stop reading and buy it now, even at the full price at $7.99.

The big draws to this book are the big names like Atul Gawande, Stephen Hawking and Oliver Sacks. But in my reading of all the essays there's no a single dud in the entire book. Gawande's Letting Go is easily worth the price of admission all by itself, and if it encourages you to have a discussion with your family about what should go into the Advanced Health Directive, you'll be glad you read the book/article.

Other articles cover the nature of invasive species into the Americas (Asian Carp is a huge problem, believe it or not). There's one on fermentation and the new food movement. Others cover brain imagery, cancer treatments, and the existence of organic molecules in the universe. There's one about the shooting of songbirds in Europe. There's of course, the famous article about Gay Albatrosses. The last article will probably make you never want to visit SeaWorld again.

Every article was entertaining, and none of them was a waste of time. I felt like I learned something from every article. This could easily be one of the best books I've read this year. While you could plausibly hunt down every article and read it for free on the internet, many of them are long form and benefit from reading on the Kindle or in paperback format rather than on the web.

Highly Recommended. Buy it now!

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