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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015

(Best American Science and Nature Writing #2015)

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  582 ratings  ·  76 reviews
“Undeniably exquisite . . . The essays in the collection [are] meditations that reveal not only how science actually happens but also who or what propels its immutable humanity.” — Maria Popova, author of the blog Brain Pickings

“An excellent introduction to the key issues in science today.” — P. D. Smith, Guardian
Best-selling author Rebecca Skloot selects the year’s top s
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Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Mariner Books
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Jim
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 I'v ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
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 for
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Jude Bee
Feb 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 m
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Shawn
Oct 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i ...more
Dan Martin
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 b
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Peter Aronson
Three and a half stars. Some good articles, but no physics or computer science or much hard science at all.
Meera Subramanian
Can't go wrong with this series.
Jeff
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
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  ·  review of another edition
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 w
...more
Joy Wilson
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Jeffrey
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
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. Thes ...more
Andy Kristensen
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alex
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Chunyang Ding
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Valerie
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
Heidi
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
So glad this was a book club selection. Some of the essays were depressing, some were uplifting.
Julie Sucha Anderson
Rebecca Skloot did an incredible job choosing the essays for this collection. A learning experience and
a fun read.
Karla
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Interesting articles made great book club discussions.
Edward Nugent
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought reading about science was dry and boring? Guess again.
Esther
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Educational and inspiring writing. "In Deep" successfully provides a glimpse of caving. The challenges, the danger, the trill of exploring the our deepest caves.
David Guevara
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Captivating and clear.
Aaron
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Brad Hodges
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it

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 Billio
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Alan
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ani
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Crosby
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ver ...more
Jan Priddy
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 relat
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Matt
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul. Curiosity is spiritual drunkenness."

I found this quote in one of the works included in this book. It appears in a piece about curiosity - a piece about the varying cultural approach to curiosity through the ages, the soft and hard science efforts that have focused on this topic, and the author's own relation to this facet of life. This particular piece starts off by describing a surprising animal and cleanly crosses over into discussing how and w
...more
Colleen
I love these Best of the Year series; in a fantasy world I would subscribe to tons of magazines and read them all cover to cover. But obviously there's no time for that and I don't even like the physical format of magazines. The 2015 Nature and Science didn't disappoint; it includes stories on: Deep caving, corvids, getting light to rural India without electricity, why darkness (the natural light cycle) is good for our health, the shitty, shitty genitalia situation of female hyenas and the also ...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 co ...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.” 3 likes
“People butcher history all the time,” 2 likes
More quotes…