Neutral rating for Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence – and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene M. Pepperberg. Science/nature.
Not a bad book at all, but I think I should have read Pepperberg’s book The Alex Studies instead; this was more a dual biography of Pepperberg and Alex, and thin on the actual scientific content I was interested in.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean. Science.
What a romp. What the subtitle offers, it delivers: Madness, Love, and the History of the World, indeed. Elegant, clever writing and a plethora of well-chosen anecdotes lift this above many other “history of…” books I’ve picked up and put down.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard W. Wrangham. Science/nature.
I always take this sort of theory-of-humanity book with an atom of sodium, but this one – which posits that the invention of cooking happened earlier than is usually accepted, and that cooking made a huge impact in the formation of human physiology and society – seems more believable than most.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience & What Makes Us Human by Matt Ridley. Science.
The beginning of this book fascinated me. Unfortunately, Ridley makes his point too well, too early (that the realization of genes is influenced by environment, and that “nature” is not mutually exclusive from “nurture”) and by the second half I’d already felt I’d gotten what I was going to get out of it.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson. Science/nature.
It showed up as five stars on the Goodreads feed of someone I know, and I had just happened, the day before, to see a copy lounging around at the bookstore where I work. I was in the mood for nonfiction, so it was a happy confluence of events.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Science/nature.
Okay, okay, pop statistics books are a weakness of mine. I admit it. But Freakonomics was just so dang much fun. And so was this one. Though it should all be taken with a grain of salt – it is statistics, right?… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Cholesterol Myth by Uffe Ravnskov, MD. Science/nature.
Perhaps the fact that my dad gave me a copy of How to Lie With Statistics at a tender age explains why I laughed when reading this book, which is definitely not funny. While technically about cholesterol, it is in fact a brilliant explication of all the ways people lie with statistics.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Made For Each Other by Meg Daley Olmert. Science/nature.
Supposedly about the man-animal bond, at times it reads more like the author’s love affair with oxytocin. No, not the stuff Rush Limbaugh was famously hooked on (that’s OxyContin), but the “feel-good” neurochemical that is activated in social interactions both between people and people, and people and animals. The book could have been trimmed from 244 pages (not including notes) to about 100 without suffering, but it reads quickly enough, and has enough of value, that skimming through the “ra-ra oxytocin is great” repetition is tolerable.… >> Read more