Science & Technology Book Reviews

THE UNKNOWN UNIVERSE by Stuart Clark
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: July 5, 2016

"Since satisfying results have yet to turn up, Clark's book ends on a cliffhanger, but readers will be entirely pleased with the experience."
Updates on the universe continue to pour from the presses, but since new discoveries appear regularly, cosmology aficionados may read one every few years. They will be wise to read this latest from New Scientist contributor Clark (The Day Without Yesterday, 2013, etc.), a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: July 5, 2016

"A convincing argument that the most secure way to communicate is via snail mail."
The history of cyberespionage, combining "related stories like encryption and code-breaking [and] the rise of the computer industry and its complex relationship with the secret world." Read full book review >

HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: July 12, 2016

"A book in which the author's fascinating, well-researched ideas regarding holistic health may presage a paradigm shift in medicine."
Fully 90 percent of human cells are microbial. This astonishing fact means that we are not merely human but a superorganism whose "microbiome" plays a major role in health and disease. Read full book review >
THE GRID by Gretchen Bakke
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: July 12, 2016

"A lively analysis of the challenges renewables present to the production and distribution of electricity."
A primer on the challenges facing a power industry in transition. Read full book review >
IDIOT BRAIN by Dean Burnett
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: July 26, 2016

"Burnett should give a TED talk. His book will appeal immensely to general readers and deserves a place on college reading lists."
A neuroscientist's irreverent guide to the brain. Read full book review >

WILD SEX by Carin Bondar
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: Aug. 1, 2016

"A fascinating peek into the intimate behavior of our animal cousins that provides new insight into the benefits of being human."
A lively exploration of "the nitty-gritty of the diverse sex life of animals." Read full book review >
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

"A highly thoughtful and entertaining treatment of a subject that merits serious consideration."
An internationally recognized leader in the field of childhood learning debunks the concept of "good parenting." Read full book review >
I CONTAIN MULTITUDES by Ed Yong
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

"An exceptionally informative, beautifully written book that will profoundly shift one's sense of self to that of symbiotic multitudes."
The microbiome is one of the most talked-about topics in modern science, but it's a complex and evolving field with important nuances often missed by the media. Atlantic science writer Yong refines the natural history of these microscopic wonders and breaks down the cutting-edge science that may soon result in revolutionary medical advances. Read full book review >
SEVEN SKELETONS by Lydia Pyne
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 16, 2016

"Ian Tattersall's The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack (2015) remains the best popular modern history of human evolution, but Pyne casts her net more widely, adding captivating accounts of how each discovery fascinated the mass media and entered literature and popular culture."
Describing human evolution through accounts of fossils that became media events might seem a publicity ploy, but science journalist Pyne (Institute for Historical Studies/Univ. of Texas; Bookshelf, 2016, etc.) pulls it off. Read full book review >
WASTING TIME ON THE INTERNET by Kenneth Goldsmith
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Aug. 23, 2016

"Goldsmith outlines a future that perhaps offers a hope we can embrace, since a retreat seems impossible."
A persuasive argument about how what conventional wisdom dismisses as "wasting time" is actually time well spent. Read full book review >
UTOPIA IS CREEPY by Nicholas Carr
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"A collection that reminds us that critical thinking is the best way to view the mixed blessings of rampant technology. A treat for Carr fans."
Popular technology guru Carr (The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, 2014, etc.) offers a skeptical chronicle of the wonders of the digital revolution. Read full book review >
POWER AT GROUND ZERO by Lynne Sagalyn
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 9, 2016

"The narrative's sheer bulk will likely intimidate some readers, and that would be a shame, because Sagalyn has produced a definitive history and an urban studies classic."
A superbly qualified scholar thoroughly deconstructs the tortured story behind the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Swan Huntley
June 27, 2016

In Swan Huntley’s debut novel We Could Be Beautiful, Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine's parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone . . . “ Is William lying about his past? “Huntley’s debut stands out not for its thrills but rather for her hawkish eye for social detail and razor-sharp wit,” our reviewer writes. “An intoxicating escape; as smart as it is fun.” View video >