Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach 2008 (319 pgs)
Roach writes the best kind of science- compulsively compelling and delightfully accessible. In her third book, she delves into the history and current state of sex research. With short sections ranging from artificial insemination of farm animals to the study of rats in polyester pants (really!). Extremely informative, occasionally shocking, often hilarious, and always entertaining, Roach knows how to present science in a way that keeps you coming back for more.
The ones I gave up on:
Can a Robot Be Human?: 33 Perplexing Philosophy Puzzles by Peter Cave 2007 (192/read 130ish)
Somewhat interesting, but written in an overly twee style that I could only take in short doses.
Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (320 pgs/read 40) 2007
Love this book, but I’ll have to get it again later. So little time, so few renewals.
The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter (210 pgs/read 95) 2008
Reads like an art school cocktail party. In a good way. The prose is sophisticated and intellectual without being pretentious. It’s the perfect style for this tale of the entanglements of graduate students searching for connection, while one tries to steal the other’s identity.
Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge (353/read 213) 2002
Mmm, comfort book. One of my fav books, about a woman sentenced to solitary confinement in a virtual cell in her own mind (which is the point I started this time round). I love the evolution of her character and how being completely alone forces her to face herself.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (333/read 45ish) 2008
Short story collection from an excellent author who winningly captures the dichotomous nature of the emigrant experience.
The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology by Tim Friend (296/read 35) 2007
Archaea are microbes older than bacteria that are being discovered thriving in the most extreme environments- from volcanic vents to streams deep within icebergs. It’s a fascinating topic, but the meandering writing failed to grab me.
Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (56 pgs) by Loree Griffin Burns 2007
I’m in love with NPR. Every author they have on their programs is infinitely interesting. This one was no different. This slim kid’s book on the past and current experiments tracking the ocean’s surface currents was engaging. More a call to arms against ocean pollution than anything else, it was nonetheless interesting to see how oceanographers have learned what they have. Write-ups of studies tracking massive spills of tennis shoes and bath tub toys lead to discussions of the way ocean currents create massive garbage patches and how ghostnets are damaging reefs. My favorite imagery: one of the scientists, when asked why we can’t just go to the garbage patches and pick up the plastic piece by piece said “it would be like mowing the state of Texas- twice.” Bonus: I now know the difference between flotsam and jetsam, and yes there really is one.