Science & Technology Book Reviews

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 >
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 >

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 >
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 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 >

RISE OF THE MACHINES by Thomas Rid
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: June 28, 2016

"Not a history of computers but an ingenious look at how brilliant and not-so-brilliant thinkers see—usually wrongly but with occasional prescience—the increasingly intimate melding of machines and humans."
A fascinating study of the "seductive power of the cybernetic mythos." Read full book review >
ECCENTRIC ORBITS by John Bloom
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: June 7, 2016

"A tour de force history of a star-crossed technological leap."
A spellbinding history of a massively impressive work of technology. Read full book review >
MAGIC AND LOSS by Virginia Heffernan
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: June 7, 2016

"A thoroughly engrossing examination of the Internet's past, present, and future."
New York Times Magazine writer Heffernan considers the mighty Internet in all its terrible beauty and power. Read full book review >
THE PHYSICS OF LIFE by Adrian Bejan
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: May 24, 2016

"Unique and entirely fascinating, this book will linger in your consciousness and prompt you to look at the world with fresh eyes."
Renowned energy scientist Bejan (Mechanical Engineering/Duke Univ.; co-author: Design in Nature, 2013, etc.) reorients the query "what is life" within the perspective of physics. Read full book review >
THE GENE by Siddhartha Mukherjee
HISTORY
Released: May 17, 2016

"Sobering, humbling, and extraordinarily rich reading from a wise and gifted writer who sees how far we have come—but how much farther we have to go to understand our human nature and destiny."
A panoramic history of the gene and how genetics "resonate[s] far beyond the realms of science." Read full book review >
THE BIG PICTURE by Sean Carroll
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: May 10, 2016

"A brilliantly lucid exposition of profound philosophical and scientific issues in a language accessible to lay readers."
"From the perspective of a vast, seemingly indifferent cosmos," do our lives really matter? Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 26, 2016

"Williams delivers a complex tale about a complex disease, and by sharing a narrative rich in detail, personalities, and New York scenes, she will ease the burdens of those immediately affected and inform others of progress in cancer research."
Who would have thought a book about being diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma could be exhilarating and entertaining? Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
author of SEINFELDIA
August 22, 2016

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s new bestseller Seinfeldia is the hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld —the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly 40 million Americans were tuning in weekly. In Seinfeldia, TV historian and entertainment writer Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!” “Armstrong’s intimate, breezy history is full of gossipy details, show trivia, and insights into how famous episodes came to be,” our reviewer writes. “Perfect for Seinfeldians and newcomers alike.” View video >