Let Us Not Forget The Books: I Need Your Vote Again

By Carl Zimmer | May 20, 2009 11:21 am

Today I’ve got an interview posted over at Yale Environment 360 with Tony Barnosky, a paleontologist who’s just written a very interesting book called Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming. He gazes into a fossiliferous crystal ball to get an idea of what global warming will do to the world’s biodiversity. Short answer: it won’t be pretty.

bookstack220.jpgWhich brings me to the subject of books. I love books about science. That’s why I can’t stop writing them. I also like to get my hands on science books, in order to keep up with new ideas. In some cases I even turn a book into the subject of an article. But it always give me a pang to get a book that an author has worked hard on for a long time and realize that I won’t have time to spread the word about it. What little time I have left over when I’m not writing or reading for my own projects goes to my family or to my 20-year project to finish reading War and Peace all the way to the end. I’m jealous of speed readers who sit down for a cup of coffee and a book, and who stand up a little while later finished with both. That’s why I shy away from book reviews–to pass judgment on someone’s book demands a lot of time that I can’t spare.

And yet the pile of books just keeps getting taller. These are the books I got over the past month. I’ll donate the hardcover copies to the public library, but that doesn’t seem like enough. So I’ve been pondering some realistic possibilities for getting more books into the blog. I’m just wondering what would be most useful for you readers. I’ve laid out a few possibilities below in a poll. Please cast your vote. Thanks.

How Should The Loom Handle Books?(opinion poll)


Comments (17)

  1. Angela Botzer

    I’m leaning toward the Amazon link!
    Angela Botzer
    (National Geographic)

  2. Hmm, it would be cool to know what kind of books get sent to you, so a listing would be nice to see and then we could check them out ourselves at Amazon. I could see if you love a particular author that you might want to interview him/her which gives an automatic blog idea on days when nothing comes to you otherwise (which I find difficult to believe).

    If they are books you want to pass along, high schools could make good use of them! A young person accidentally coming across one of them could be inspired!

  3. Susan

    By just listing them, you are endorsing their quality to some extent; is this your meaning? And anyone can go to Amazon or google and get a list of science books plus descriptions on any topic. Unless you are adding some value, endorsement or otherwise, I would skip it.

  4. Send them to bloggers to do quality guest-post reviews.

  5. I’d say do number 1 as they come into your office, with the occasional interview and guest post review or your reviews when possible down the road.

  6. Michael D.

    I will post as to why I like the interview choice. Like Susan said, we have many ways to identify interesting science books. I would really like to hear/read good interviews with great science writers (who often are also great scientists), if only to get a sense of the person.

  7. AndresFernandez

    I agree with Eric, list all of them and write a review or the interview with the author when you have the time.

  8. James Hathaway

    It would be interesting to have a list with descriptions because that becomes a way to pass on broader public awareness of the many great books available out there, but I don’t see why this should preclude you from interviewing the occasional author who you tink deserves special attention.

  9. Frederick Lepore

    As long as you are hellbent on the noble (and probably quixotic) task of encouraging scientific literacy in the form of books.How about:
    1. Brief incisive reviews (as mentioned)
    2. Dusting off the Classics, e.g The Double Helix, Arrowsmith,etc.
    3. Ask a scientist or science journalist what books they would take to a desert island (“Vade mecums”)
    4. Ask a scientist or science journalist what books are on his/her bedside table

    Good Luck!

  10. Interview podcast, please.

  11. Blogger

    By all means let us know what books you get…a once a week or once every two weeks posting would be good.

    Then review the ones that particularly grab your attention (or interview the author).

  12. Ann

    Is it just me? I can’t read the choices on a black background. Finally blew up the page 4x and could finally see the last choice was none of the above. Please repost with more easily read choices. Thanks

  13. NV

    The best would be a list of books you’re reading (even if you don’t get around to reviewing them) and next best a list of books you’ve received you *wish* you had time to read.

  14. Even a brief description (back cover style) with your personal rating (1-5 stars type of thing) would be great.

  15. I like Lou FCD’s idea – crowdsource your reviews by farming them out to other bloggers! With quality control, of course, but it might be useful to have guest bloggers review books on the Loom from time to time, augmenting reviews/interviews you can do when you have a moment to spare.

  16. Martin

    You don’t want to just blindly list all books just because you’ve receive them. That could end up listing creationist books with the same level of endorsement as real science books. Also, people can get lists of recently published books from other sources (Amazon, etc.). You should only list books that you endorse in some sense, and provide the level of attention to them that you can spare.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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