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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  332 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Elizabeth Kolbert, one of today's leading environmental journalists, edits this year's volume of the finest science and nature writing. Bringing together promising new voices and prize-winning favorites, this collection is "a delight for any fan of popular science" (Publishers Weekly). ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 8th 2009 by Mariner Books
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Annie
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2010
I know 'green' is the new hot thing, but this collection seriously suffered from a huge overemphasis on articles about the environment. I'm happy to read them, but I also want to read about physics and neurology and mathematics and biochemistry and other fields I don't even know about! The articles in the book were quality, as usual, but I sorely missed the variety of previous years in this series. If this pattern is going to continue, they might want to consider spinning off a new "Best America ...more
Art
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This annual included a couple dozen examples of the best science and nature writing published in 2008. Arthur C Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) died that year. The foreword to this volume remembered Clarke, who regarded science as a discipline that requires the questioning of received wisdom.

The science in this book goes back just seven years. But since then, scientists learned that Sapiens who migrated out of Africa thousands of years ago carry about three percent of Neanderthal DNA, thanks to
...more
Andres
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthologies
Another interesting collection! This edition contains 26 articles from 15 different publications. The top contributors are a tie at three each from Harper's Magazine, National Geographic and The New Yorker. Here I'll just point out the articles that piqued my interest.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr
A look at how the internet may be literally reprogramming our brains. (Though the author's fear that his internet use has caused him to lose his ability to concentrate on reading long pas
...more
Billie Pritchett
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: basnw
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Myra Scholze
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read half of this one and then had to leave it behind on my travels. I didn't love it nearly as much as the 2016 edition. The essays selected are more complex and less accessible. Still a great compilation, but definitely takes more brain power to digest. ...more
Numidica
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Elizabeth Kolbert, so I couldn't resist. There are always some essays in a collection like this that are keepers. ...more
Mark Shannon
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This is another strong entry in a winning series. The guest editor for this volume has written extensively about global warming. This subject comes up in a few of the entries selected. One such article, "Big Foot" by Michael Spector describes how corporations are taking the idea of their own carbon footprint seriously and trying to minimize it.

A couple of noted authors are included. Atul Gawande goes to great lengths to describe what happens when we scratch an itch in his entry "The Itch". Olive
...more
Dan
Nov 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Collections like this are hard to review, because I typically read them in bits and pieces -- a story here, a story there -- in between other books. (Case in point, it took me around 15 months to read this book.) I've been a fan of the Best American series for a while, and buy a few of them every year. The Best American Science and Nature Writing is reliably fascinating, and the 2009 volume is no exception. There are bound to be a few duds in any book like this, but on the whole the articles cho ...more
Therese Broderick
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Twenty-six engrossing essays on fascinating topics related to human beings, animals, plants, Earth, the universe, and inventions. As a lay science fan, I appreciate the clear, precise prose which explains complex ideas and systems. Some essays are spirited and even funny; others are grim, not for the faint-hearted (ex., "Contagious Cancer"). An excellent collection full of surprises, whether woeful or wondrous.
...more
Richard Williams
i don't read many anthologies, i find them uninteresting and usually pretty basic, this is different. different enough that i gathered the rest of the series to read.

variety, with a common theme, good science, well written, interesting, for the common reader, nice idea, broadens my reading, perfect for short periods of time or when you dont want to be carrying around a big book.. . thanks.

read the itch first. ugh.
...more
Ron
Dec 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone that enjoys learning something new.
Once again another fantastic book from the "Best American" series. A must read for anyone interested in science/nature or anyone who just enjoys learning new things. The only bad thing I have to say about the book is that it shares several of the same stories with the Best American Science Writing of 2009 book. Other than that it was a great read. ...more
Rift Vegan
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read in this series and I very much enjoyed most of the essays! The ones that really made an impression:
-- "Did Life Begin in Ice?" by Douglas Fox
-- "Contagious Cancer" by David Quammen (about the mouth tumors in Tasmanian Devils)
(oh and "The Itch" by Atul Gawande, made an impression, but I do wish I could get that image out of my head!) ;)
...more
Valerie
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the articles discussing the Big Bang, the Day Before Genesis, Singularities, Neanderthals, Evolution and Darwin (especially the essay by Oliver Sachs about Darwin's obsession with plants). Though this book is 5 years old, I feel as though it prepares me to have a deeper understanding of today's issues. ...more
Ryan
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Can't get enough of this series (along with the Essays series). Most pieces in here are excellent, with only a few dull moments. I told everyone I know about "The Itch," which is just a great piece of writing: informative, imaginative, and insightful. ...more
Kerry
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
so much great information and writing in one place--I don't usually like non-fiction and won't read short stories but I find myself just loving in this book--if you are interesting in all the exciting new stuff that science is finding out, you need to pick up this book. ...more
Mom
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love this series and look forward to it every year. However, this is the first one of the series that I can't give 5 stars. Somehow the articles included just don't grab me the way the ones in the previous editions have. Still very good, though, with lots to think about. ...more
Taffnerd
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
So far it's not as amazing as the 2008 collection but there is someting for everyone here: evolution, outer space, compulsive itching and pahntom limbs. Science is awesome!!! ...more
Judd
Jan 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Damn fine collection of thought-provoking science essays that challenge and inform, and not a one inspired boredom.
Erin
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Some pieces were more interesting than others, but I definitely learned some new things.
Annie
Mar 22, 2010 marked it as started-but-put-down
Shelves: nonfiction
this book is going to be something i dip into from time to time. love what i've read so far! ...more
Barry
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I look forward to this series for past 8 yrs .Enjoy the different authours
Wendy Mosher
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it
A little more boring than usual - too many archeology papers.
Alice
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I recommend the story: minds of their own. about the intelligence of animals.
Nicole
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There's an article about a woman who SCRATCHED THROUGH HER SKULL.
AWESOME.
...more
Nick
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Much better than the 2008 edition. The editor did a good job of pulling in interesting articles from many sources.
Paul
Sep 23, 2010 rated it liked it
there's been better selections in years past ...more
Melissa
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I <3 science. If I had it to do over again, I'd at least minor in biology. ...more
Hayley Dunning
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some inspirational, some unworthy, most enjoyable.
Mark Maraj
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
pretty good! Shows Darwin's earliest journal notes when he was in the field with his mother. Kinda makes you wonder if his mother was the one who sparked his intuition in evolutionary biology. ...more
A.R. Jarvis
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Science! Good essays (though I skipped one, and didn't love a few others) on a variety of topics. Not too terribly out-of-date for 2014, either. ...more
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Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

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