scholars alike. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. —Lyndsie Robinson
Evolution: The Whole Story.
Ed. by Steve Parker.
2015. 576p. illus. Firefly, $39.95 (9781770854819). 576.8.
This accessible volume takes a pictorial
look at all aspects of evolution, organizing
the progression of species chronologically
by group (“Earliest Life,” “Plants,” “
Invertebrates,” “Fish and Amphibians,” “Reptiles,”
“Birds,” and “Mammals”).
Each section contains a
narrative essay and historical time line of key events.
The individual snapshot
entries both show and describe the characteristics of
individual organisms (such
as Dunkleosteus, a four-ton,
vampire-fanged fish) and how they are ancestors of or relatives to modern species. Each
entry is a two-page spread, filled with color
illustrations and photographs—more than
1,000 illustrations in all. There is also coverage of noted scientists as well as important
places worldwide. In addition, numerous
sidebars further elucidate topics of particular
interest. The coverage here is exhaustive, but
the writing is easy to follow, and the short-entry format makes for a very readable book.
This is an important work and is highly recommended for all types of libraries, where it
will serve both general readers and students.
YA/C: This is an excellent introduction
to evolution, suitable for high-school
Health Trackers: How Technology Is
Helping Us Monitor and Improve Our
By Richard MacManus.
2015. 224p. Rowman & Littlefield, $36 (9781442253551);
e-book, $35.99 (9781442253568). 362.102.
People are fixated on numbers: credit score,
gas mileage, Facebook likes. That includes
health data, too: weight, cholesterol level,
blood pressure. Increasingly, we are able to
measure, outside the doctor’s office, our health
numbers. Consider diabetics who regularly
check their blood sugars at home or hypertensives who record their blood pressure readings.
Recently, health tracking has gotten even
easier. MacManus, originator of a technology
blog, interviews entrepreneurs, inventors, and
physicians and describes products integral
to health-tracking services. Notable names
include the Fitbit tracker (a “pedometer on
steroids”), 23andMe (direct-to-consumer
DNA testing), and MyFitnessPal (a calorie counter). MacManus expresses concerns
about protecting the privacy of personal data,
the risk of being overwhelmed by too much
information, and the fact that not everything
a person monitors has a practical purpose
yet. He muses about the future: sensors integrated into clothing, implants in the body,
even detectors in the toilet bowl. Yet staying
The most engaging, mind-stretching, and informative science and health books reviewed in Booklist between December 1, 2014,
and November 15, 2015, eloquently and vividly address cosmology,
biology, our relationship with nature (including one very intense goshawk), and race. —Donna Seaman
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and
Medicine. By Damon Tweedy. 2015. Picador, $26 (9781250044631);
Tweedy, an African American psychiatrist, expertly weaves together statistics, personal anecdotes, and patient stories in this smart, thought-provoking, frontline look at
race and medicine.
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe.
By Lisa Randall. 2015. Ecco, $29.99 (9780062328472); e-book (9780062328519).
Acclaimed physicist Randall offers a bold theory that it was dark matter that nudged a
comet earthward, wiping out the dinosaurs, then backs it up with reasoning that traverses an impressive range of science.
Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery. By Henry Marsh. 2015. St. Martin’s/
Thomas Dunne, $25.99 (9781250065810); e-book, $12.99 (9781466872806).
English neurosurgeon Marsh looks back on his three-decade career with remarkable
candor, boldly and gracefully addressing brain surgery’s high risks and difficult emotional terrain.
H Is for Hawk. By Helen Macdonald. 2015. Grove, $26 (9780802123411).
In an exquisitely written union of avian science, literary history, personal experience,
and profound reflections, historian and professional falconer Macdonald illuminates the
long, subtle relationship between humans and raptors.
How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics. By Eugenia
Cheng. 2015. Basic, $27.99 (9780465051717).
Cheng brings readers into a gourmet kitchen and converts the making of lasagna,
cookies, and other comestibles into analogies illuminating just what it means to do
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. By Andrea Wulf. 2015.
Knopf, $30 (9780385350662).
Wulf eloquently portrays Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) as a visionary who
made science “accessible and popular, ” and offered prescient warnings about how deforestation and industrialization would lead to disastrous climate change.
A Lucky Life Interrupted. By Tom Brokaw. 2015. Random, $27 (9781400069699).
As he forthrightly chronicles his battle with incurable blood cancer, Brokaw looks at the
larger picture of aging and rising health-care costs in America, creating a powerful tale of
illness, emotional support, and the need to face mortality.
On the Move. By Oliver Sacks. 2015. Knopf, $27.95 (9780385352543).
Long revered as a best-selling, popular medical writer, clinical neurologist Sacks shares
myriad adventures, including his profoundly influential scientific quest to understand brain
function, in this generous memoir published shortly before his death.
The Patient’s Playbook: How to Save Your Life and the Lives of Those You Love. By Leslie D. Michelson. 2015. Knopf, $24.95 (9780385352284); e-book (9780385352291).
In this unique and useful book, Michelson provides sensitive and practical advice and invaluable resources with the aim of helping individuals become medically prepared, make
sound health-care decisions, and achieve more favorable results.
The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life. By Nick Lane.
2015. Norton, $27.95 (9781781250365).
Evolutionary biochemist Lane, writing with consummate clarity, tackles the intriguing
fact that we don’t know how complex life, including every plant and animal from protists
(single-cell creatures) to humans, actually started.
TOP 10 SCIENCE & HEALTH BOOKS