I enjoy reading these when other people post them, but have never gotten around to posting one myself. Anyway, some recent books I’ve read:
- Deep Future, by Curt Stager
Stager is a paleoclimatologist, and this is his attempt to apply what he knows about climate change at long timescales in the past to the future, and human impact on climate. It’s a fascinating perspective, and I would definitely recommend this book. As an example of taking the long view, Stager points out that thousands or tens of thousands of years into the future, after (even in a worst-case scenario) we’ve exhausted the fossil fuels and the climate is slowly cooling, our distant descendants are likely to be inconvenienced as shipping through the Arctic becomes harder, and farming becomes harder in Siberia and maybe on the margins of Antarctica.
I heard about this book from Stager’s appearance on On Point (which you can listen to online). He’s also got a weekly nature series of his own (with very short episodes), called Natural Selections; they’re typically about a particular animal or plant.
- Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel describing the author’s childhood during and after the Iranian Revolution. It’s been made into a movie, and there’s a sequel (book) about Satrapi’s life as an émigrée in the West that I look forward to reading. Fascinating and a very quick read. (I’ve had this book for a long time, but just got around to reading it. Thanks to cathijosephine for finding it on my shelf and giving me the little nudge.
- Sex on the Moon, by Ben Mezrich
This is the fascinating and fictionworthy true story of a NASA intern, Thad Roberts, who stole some lunar samples and tried to sell them. (He also ended up with a little bit of ALH 84001 by accident.) This suffers from a little bit of the “I must throw in lots of adjectives and adverbs to make my prose as vivid as possible” phenomenon that some authors of novelistic nonfiction sometimes fall prey to, but not so much as to be distracting, and the book is very well constructed, and it’s a fascinating story. Definitely recommended reading for anybody considering a career as a would-be criminal genius¹ — or a career at NASA, or both. :-) The book clearly depends a lot on Mezrich’s interviews with Roberts himself (although he also interviewed plenty of other people), and almost certainly paints Roberts more sympathetically because of it, but it was a gripping (and fairly quick) read.
There were a few technical errors, but very minor ones, and the accuracy of the book about the things I know something about makes me feel pretty confident in the quality of the research. (Definitely a step above typical newspaper science journalism, for instance.)
¹ And the message is definitely “pick another career”.