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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015

(Best American Science and Nature Writing #2015)

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  624 ratings  ·  79 reviews
The Best American Series

The next edition in a series praised as “undeniably exquisite” (Maria Popova),The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015includes work from both award-winning writers and up-and-coming voices in the field. From Brooke Jarvis on deep-ocean mining to Elizabeth Kolbert on New Zealand’s unconventional conservation strategies, this is a group
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Mariner Books
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Jim
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of science articles, but they're a tiny percentage of those available & the idea of a good science editor picking the very best is just too good to pass up. I originally came across it because the 2013 edition was edited by Mary Roach, a favorite author. A friend gave me this edition - a great place to start. I've heard of Skloot's book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but haven't read it yet. I've heard good things, though. This also contains a piece by Atul Gwande who ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anthology season is one of my favorite times of year. It's not just the Best American Series -- there are other collections such as The Best Food Writing, The Best American Magazine Writing, Best Business Writing. And there are anthologies that only last a few years and then disappear such as Best Music Writing, Best Medical Writing, and so on.

I've enjoyed the Best American Series for decades, and my favorite is almost always the Best American Essays volume. But lately I've also been looking
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Jude Li-Berry
Feb 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
In sharp contrast to the 2014 anthology, which gave sober and much needed critical attention to the pressing issues in the world today, with emphasis on the most pressing -- though perhaps most depressing as well -- issue of them all (climate change), Ms Skloot's edition is determinately light, uplifting, and fluffy, adjectives not quite becoming when it comes to scientific writing. Early in her Foreword, Ms Skloot puts her foot down squarely, by quoting from an email by a reader:

'It seems to
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Shawn
Oct 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't consider myself to be a "science person", per se, but I've enjoyed reading this 'Best Of' series the past several years. Some collections are better than other, and within collections there are standout articles, and those easily forgotten. This grouping I found to have more of the "easily forgotten" than in years past. Though varied, the stories started to become indistinguishable from one another. I couldn't tell if this was because they were all similar, or because I'd lost interest ...more
Dan Martin
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Okay, so as always, I love this annual collection. And there were some excellent essays in this year's group. 'The Empathy Exams' is at the top of my list for must reads, and as a result, I'll be picking up the self-titled book soon. However, this year's collection felt disjointed to me. It seems that in years past, there's a theme that arcs through the book. This year it was harder to detect, if at all.

That said, this is by far my favorite collection to read every year, I'm forever surprised
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Peter Aronson
Jan 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars. Some good articles, but no physics or computer science or much hard science at all.
Meera Subramanian
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Can't go wrong with this series.
Andrew Jean-Pierre
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This book deserves the "liked it" rating because it doesn't confine you to reading from lowest to highest numbered page, contains diversity within its topics, and catches my attention with some but not all articles.
The table of contents displays a multitude of chapters, each about a different story or experiment. Since none of the contents of one chapter affected my understanding of the other chapters, I could jump around to whatever title seemed the most interesting. Sometimes, I would also
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Jeff
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy the Best American Series and have spaced out the reading of the collection thru the year. With one more to go I should be just about done when Amazon sets them up in the bargain bin again in December.

A review of the articles in this collection includes

Waiting for Light which tells of how new technology and new marketing efforts are bringing, if not electricity, at least incandescent light to parts of India that have been living sunset to sunrise in the dark even now, in the 21st
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Angela
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hard-sciences, ebook
Unfortunately this was a meh collection. It ran heavy on eco and nature, lighter on hard science. The only physics essay (that I can recall) was a bio-essay on Higgs (of particle fame). Even that article felt thin. Nothing on computers or jiggery pokery Internettery, alas.

At its best, this series has blown my mind and opened up my horizons. At its worst (and this 2015 edition was pretty bad), it's just OK. I mean, it's never been BAD. But the disappointment of non-inspiration can be acute. Oh
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Enkidu Jones
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this series from 2003 on. I looked forward to them every year - saved them for my number 1 vacation read. But over the last few years went from Science and Nature to the sociology of science and nature.
This year I hit the wall. Even more PC stuff (I'm generally liberal politically), even less science. Some of the selections are downright awful and many other clearly filling a PC niche. But again, annoying as some of it is, more enjoyable than not.
Joy Wilson
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent science articles from across the board

I really enjoyed reading this collections due to its wide range of excellent articles. As a science teacher I enjoy writing that enlightens and inspires and this collection certainly does both of those well. I will consider getting each yearly edition to have timely articles for my students and myself to read, discuss, and digest.
Andy Kristensen
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a rather pleasant surprise- when I first started reading it, I was under the impression that it would be full of dry, dense, and heavily-detailed essays about obscure scientific topics that had little in the way of interesting topics. Instead, many of the articles and essays in this collection are ten times better than the essays found in the annual “Best American Essays” collection. Definitely looking forward to reading the 2016 edition of this series.
Jeffrey
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am really a sucker for nature essays. I have read this series most years since 2000. The books are curated magazine articles from the prvious year (in this case 2014). I am not sure why I enjoy them more in book form than in the magazines. I think it is because I am more focused when presented as a book. In any case, I find these essays an excellent end of day meditation on the endlessly facinating and rapidly changing developments in Science and the equally important impact on us humans. ...more
Chunyang Ding
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful anthology. I was glad to see many stories that explored curiosities and fascinations, instead of solely reporting on the very-important-but-often-depressing news of the ways humans are destroying the world. Of special note for me were The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison and Curious by Kim Todd.
Alex
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I was disappointed. The books from this series which I have read before had a much stronger focus on explaining scientific facts. This edition seemed to me much more focused on human interest stories, not really explaining complex scientific observations and theories. There were a number of articles in this book which mostly were concerned about the feelings of the author or the protagonists.
Valerie
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
As usual, a reliable book to read to catch up on science news I would otherwise miss! Climate change, endangered animals, evolution, invasive plants in New Zealand. The rich variety of great reading about fascinating topics is enlightening and educational.
Jim
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The "Best American" series remains one of my "go to" series year after year. This year it was Travel and Science. But I usually dip into the different subjects depending on how I feel or what I am interested in reading, I've done Mystery, Non-Required Reading, and Essays in other years. No, you won't enjoy every article but you will, I hope, I think, enjoy many in this collection . I knowI did.
Karen
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this collection to be intelligent, thought provoking and with much insightful teaching. The subject matter is eclectic ranging from the push back of our oceans to memory to the justification of killing off species that are running rampant.....completely interesting!!!
Aaron
I wish there was a little more variety in this collection. Based on this book alone, a reader could conclude that climate change is the only things scientists study and care about.
Karla
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Interesting articles made great book club discussions.
Heidi
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
So glad this was a book club selection. Some of the essays were depressing, some were uplifting.
Edward Nugent
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thought reading about science was dry and boring? Guess again.
David Guevara
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Captivating and clear.
Julie Sucha Anderson
Rebecca Skloot did an incredible job choosing the essays for this collection. A learning experience and
a fun read.
Esther
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Educational and inspiring writing. "In Deep" successfully provides a glimpse of caving. The challenges, the danger, the trill of exploring the our deepest caves.
Brad Hodges
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I must say that this year's The Best American Science and Nature Writing wasn't nearly as frightening as past volumes--there were only a couple of stories about exotic diseases and few dire warnings about global warming or unavoidable earthquakes. Instead, this volume, edited by Rebecca Skloot, looked toward more of the fun or fascinating in science. There was even an article that made me think of Seinfeld.

But there were articles that were steeped in sadness, such as Barry Yeoman's "From
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Alan
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading anthologies from this series for at least 10 years and this volume was one of the 2 or 3 best of them. Nearly every piece began in an captivating way, addressed an important scientific problem, included relevant biographical description of the scientist(s), and was written as a story instead of as an argument. Here are short descriptions of my favorite pieces:

Alison Deming’s story, Spotted Hyena, discussed aggression and overkill in the animal kingdom, busting a myth that
...more
Crosby
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
As always, the most recent issue of this series is a good item to have on plane trips for a reader who enjoys science and nature articles because each chapter is usually just long enough and interesting enough to ease the monotony of flights. The articles in this issue were well written but were heavily slanted toward topics emphasizing the conservation and appreciation of nature. I have always enjoyed those types of articles more when they are interspersed between science essays. There were ...more
Jan Priddy
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
These are fascinating essays covering a tremendous range of topics including passenger pigeons, the impact of scientific seismic predictions, rare disease, and deep-sea mining. Not every essay is brilliantly written, though the research seems to be consistently impeccable. Most of the titles provide little clue about the thesis except in the abstract, so I had to go back to find the ones I loved best. Their titles are pretty clear.

"Waiting for Light" by Jake Abrahamson investigates issues
...more
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Rebecca Skloot is an award winning science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a ...more

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“Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say “going through the motions”—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.” 4 likes
“People butcher history all the time,” 3 likes
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