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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017

(Best American Science and Nature Writing #2017)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  285 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A renowned scientist and the best-selling author of Lab Girl, Hope Jahren selects the year's top science and nature writing from writers who balance research with humanity and in the process uncover riveting stories of discovery across disciplines.
Paperback, 324 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Mariner Books
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Reading Cat
Nov 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Meh. I liked Lab Girl, but her taste is, well, not mine. I expect a science expert to curate a collection that's a little more rigorous and hard to find than Buzzfeed news?

The writing in many of the essays is very blah--Jahren herself is a much better writer than 90% of the articles she selects. Climate change is VASTLY overrepresented in the 'science', crowding out most other sciences and math. The essays about the lives of scientists tries to be progressive, but it's basically all about being
Josh Caporale
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy reading these essays that are featured in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, as I did during 2016, and while I saw more standouts then, there were still some standouts in this collection that caught my attention and made me think.

Some of the standouts included:

"How Factory Farms Play Chicken with Antibiotics" by Tom Philpott- In this essay, Philpott explores the detrimental impact of the meat industry and the use of antibiotics. There is some hope, though, as companies
Excellent collection of essays selected by Hope Jahren, not only about the science but about the lives and events behind the scientists. Of particular importance are two essays about the sexual harassment that women suffer in the sciences (apparently it is hard to conduct one’s self in an appropriate professional manner \_(ツ)_/, which is completely not hard at all, ugh why are men. Don’t bother @ing me). Highly recommend. ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read a fair number in this series, and I usually give them four stars since the collection tends to have about the same number of hits and misses.

This was almost all hits. What a selection, I couldn't be more impressed.
Dipra Lahiri
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, science-nature
All excellent essays in their own right. However, they don't sit well together in one compilation. Too little of 'hard' science, more emphasis on the social aspects.
Sab Cornelius
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it <--- I do book blogging on the side, so posted my full review here. [Site is currently A WIP]
Dan Martin
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a very good anthology of science and nature writing, but the most powerful essays here are in the third part of this collection, titled "The 'Real Life' of Scientists". Here is where we get a unusually personal glimpse into the people behind the science, and every story is wonderful.

Unfortunately, the first two parts of the book were very hit or miss for me. There were some standouts. "The Battle For Virunga", "The Secrets of The Wave Pilots", and "A Song of Ice" were particular stando
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
When entering this book, I had expected hard, analytical, scientific journals containing data of specific experiments and conclusive evidence of a point. However, I was treated to a different way of having a field of science explained.
Each essay was more like a non fiction story, told in the personal details of real people rather than the usual cold cut of experimental data a hard scientific journal may offer. For example, a scientific journal may only talk about what happened in the experiment
Jack Spalding
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
After reading The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 edition by Hope Jahren, I found the book at times to be very slow and quite honestly, tedious to read. As someone who doesn't have as much of an appreciation for the science field, I wasn't able to find much of the book interesting, and at times, struggled to remain focused. I felt that some of the writings from various authors throughout the science field were, at times, jumbled together into different sections. However, certain es ...more
Josef LaFranchise
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017” by Hope Jahren is a great collection of 24 articles that cover a wide array of topics from many different areas of studies within science. The articles in this book range from examining the effects of climate change on our world, explaining our search for a new planet to call home, to defining how we are able to detect gravitational waves, too many other interesting topics. This collection is a good fit to represent many of the advancements and ...more
Madison Schmidt
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read "The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017" for summer reading this year going into my junior year of high school. I do have an interest in science in nature and thought it would find this book enjoyable. When I first started reading it, however, I got bored very easily with it. I often found it hard to keep up with the main idea of each essay, as I usually like to focus on one topic when I read, and each article was based on something different. The essays contained topics such ...more
Stephen Linehan
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Being completely honest, at first, this book didn't peak my interest. The moment I started reading, I was immediately interested. I am a person who loves science and exploring the wilderness, so this book felt like it was specifically written for me. I appreciated how it brought up many current issues, from the challenges faced by exploring the ocean, to the bigger issues like Climate Change. This book will educate you on many things, all mostly categorized under the struggles of climate change. ...more
Pearse Anderson
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, essays, nature
This book was a gift from Gaby Parlapiano! Thank you.

Hope Jahren was a stellar voice for this year's volume. At a time when science seems ever more emotional, personal, and at risk of attack, Jahren gives us essays about scientists inner lives, their associations, uplifts, and struggles, and great power whether they are administrators or citizens. So, the third section of this book is great, yeah. The first two sections are also good, but I dunno, some of them made me question why they were chos
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2017 in my opinion was far from the best, but I will say that I learned a lot about a variety of different topics relating to science. The book brought to my attention severe issues like climate change, as well as stories of astronauts, outer space, concerning overpopulation, and lack of conservation land etc. I had never read a non-fiction book in this format before, so I thought it would be good to try something new, but honestly I was not a huge ...more
Rita Ciresi
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The best science and nature writing leaves us in awe of the hidden rules of the universe. Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl, has chosen several that did just that. While every reader will find different favorites, mine were Michael Regnier's "The Man Who Gave Himself Away," David Epstein's "The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene," and Kim Tingley's "The Secrets of the Wave Pilots." Jon Mooallem's "The Amateur Cloud Society That (Sort of) Rattled the Scientific Community" is a partic ...more
Jan Priddy
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this collection. Of all the Best-of series, my recent discovery of this series has given me the most pleasure. Climate change is probably the most common issue, but there are stories about conserving spacesuits, gas leaks, and the lives of scientists. I was alarmed to find a former nuclear energy plant up river from my home mentioned in passing as the most hazards site in the nation. There is great depth here. Some of the essays are right at the outer edge of my own scientific understandi ...more
Trish Remley
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful variety of subject matter. I especially liked The Billion-Year Wave, Dark Matter, The DIY Scientist-the Olympian-and the Mutated Gene, Something Uneasy in the Los Angeles Air, The Women Who Might Find Us Another Earth, and The Amateur Cloud Society. Alarmed by many of the other chapters including The New Harpoon, How factory Farms Play Chicken with Antibiotics, A Song of Ice, and The Invisible Catastrophe. In light of all the sexual harassment accusations, sad & of course not surpr ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: popular-science
Not as good as last year's edition.

It seems like the editor here pre-identified themes and then selected pieces to fit within them. Instead of last year's pleasant and random assortment of great writing, here you find a thematic collection of works that were more diluted in terms of overall quality.

The works are also more heavily focused towards social aspects of science than science and nature writing itself.

I see what the editor was doing here (and agree there is merit to it), but when I re
Margaret Sankey
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoy good popular science writing, and this crop of selections from 2016 publications includes standouts like Sonia Smith's profile of Texas' premier communicator of climate change scholarship, who also offers training for scientists on how to get their research across to very hostile laypeople, and a piece on medical advocacy taken to extremes, as a young woman from Iowa's study of her and family's rare genetic mutation (which causes heart problems and muscle wasting), which in a famo ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This collection is always one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I enjoyed so many of the articles compiled in this edition. Some highlights for me were articles discussing:

-A fascinating look at a woman who self-diagnosed herself -- and an Olympian -- with a rare genetic disorder.

-The dwindling art/science of Pacific islanders navigating seemingly by feel.

-An investigation of the health impacts of a gas leak in California that the responsible company swears is perfectly safe.

-A di
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
This series is my “airplane reading” because it is conveniently broken up into short chapters each covering a special essay in science, nature and/or medicine. I was disappointed in this particular collection because the entire first half consisted mainly of climate warming/ecological topics. I am as concerned about that area of science as others that follow it but I expected diversity in my reading from this publication & this collection did not provide that. The latter half of the collecti ...more
Will Smith
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I personally didn't find any of the stories too interesting, as for the one I read, Something Uneasy in the Los Angeles Air, by Adrian Glick Kudler. To be totally honest, I just didn't find anything interesting in the book, I bet you they're good stories, but personally, it isn't really my cup of tea, if you're picking up what I'm putting down. But seriously, it was just stating facts, not necessarily telling a story, if that makes any sense. In conclusion, I just don't personally like the book.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a truly wonderful book. While I am not well read in short story/ essay genre a friend gave me this book as a gift and I was so pleased that I went outside my comfort zone. One major takeaway from this collection is the vast and challenging issues that face our planet on a local and global level.
Stephen Dorneman
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took me longer than usual to finish the 2017 edition of this essay series -- in part due to things going on in my own life, but in part due to the editor's overloading on climate change essays, and also the inclusion of two sexual harassment pieces that, while important pieces of journalism, didn't seem to me like they fit the normal parameters of the collection. Still, recommended.
Donna Luu
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Not quite as good as previous editions, which I attribute to the section on scientists, rather than science writing. Still, I'm always glad to read something by Elizabeth Kolbert and about Greenland.
Elaine Burnes
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This notably adds some pieces about harassment of women in the sciences. Disgusting how women have been treated by the Forest Service and National Park Service—by contractors running rafts through the Grand Canyon.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was my first experience with this series. It was wonderful to have the kind of articles I enjoy curated for me. I plan to read newer editions of Science and Nature, and to explore other topics from this publisher.
Morteza Ansarinia
Bought for David Epstein's piece from ProPublica. Some other articles also stand out, yet not even close to the 2013 or 2014 ones.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent edition. My favorite articles were 1) the woman who self diagnosed a rare genetic disorder, and 2) the person who founded the cloud appreciation society and his efforts to add new classifications into the official Cloud Atlas.
Suzie Quint
Aug 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Didn't get past the intro because the compiler's statement about what passed for "the science is done" for her. Guess I won't be reading any more of these books. Too bad because the other one was really good.
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HOPE JAHREN is an award-winning scientist who has been pursuing independent research in paleobiology since 1996, when she completed her PhD at UC Berkeley and began teaching and researching first at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then at Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards and is one of four scientists, and the only woman, to have been awarded both of ...more

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“Dung beetles follow the Milky Way; the Cataglyphis desert ant dead-reckons by counting its paces; monarch butterflies, on their thousand-mile, multigenerational flight from Mexico to the Rocky Mountains, calculate due north using the position of the sun, which requires accounting for the time of day, the day of the year, and latitude; honeybees, newts, spiny lobsters, sea turtles, and many others read magnetic fields. - Kim Tingley, The Secrets of the Wave Pilots” 1 likes
“The poor, the disenfranchised, those already living on the edge, and those who contributed least to this problem are also those at greatest risk to be harmed by it. That’s not a scientific issue; that’s a moral issue.” 0 likes
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