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The Planets

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  3,366 Ratings  ·  389 Reviews
This book serves as a reference of our solar system
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Viking (first published 2005)
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What is so unusual and engaging about this book is that it incorporates science, myth, history, story-telling, culture and poetry.

Dava Sobel's credentials for writing Science, and particularly Astronomy, books are exemplary. It is surprising to find that she chooses to include other aspects rather than having a fixed dry approach to the subject. She will be relaying facts and figures from Space probes or the Hubble space telescope - then will veer off into beliefs or poetry of the Ancient Greeks
aPriL does feral sometimes
This is an asinine science book. What it is, actually, is a group of lyrical essays rhapsodizing in poetic, easy to understand, prose mixing science fact and selected bits of science history and lots of subjective ecstasy. In other words, a coffee table book for readers of Vogue Magazine, except that it needs more pictures and its small paperback size fits most purses. Perfect for the literary magazine reader who has difficulty with science subjects, or those readers of a poetic and romantic nat ...more
Feb 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I tried, but couldn't make it through the first CD. I know Sobel is a science writer (so sez the back of the audiobook) and I really enjoyed Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time, but I didn't quite care for the tone of the book, where meteorites were described as "avenging angels" and Earth's inhabitants were referred to as "sons of Adam and Noah." I'm not quite sure why she chose a biblical way of presenting scientific information, bu ...more
Pamela Kinney
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I devoured this book, and was very sad when it ended. Her format of comparing and contrasting the science of astronomy (modern, ancient, and everything in between) and folklore of astrology was enthralling. I did not give it five stars because I kept feeling like I wanted more, just a bit more, for each planet. But I loved the book, and it led me to search out her other works. I have read each of her books since, except "A More Perfect Heaven." Still trying to get to it. I definitely recommend t ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dava Sobel manages beautifully and engagingly to bring these heavenly bodies as close as one's own backyard. With eloquent descriptions of their compositions, the reader is transported throughout the solar system from the scorching toxic surface of Venus to the seas of liquid metallic hydrogen underneath Jupiter's crushing atmosphere and beyond.

The chapters are organized by planet and they include discussions on history, mythology, geology, and the scientific community that has discovered and
პლანეტები და ასტრონომია ჩემი ვნებაა, კოხტა წიგნები პლანეტებზე მითუმეტეს. ერთი სიამოვნებაა ხარისხიან ფურცელზე დაბეჭდილ, კარგად დაკაბადონებულ, ლამაზად გაფორმებულ წიგნს რომ გადაშლი პლანეტების შესახებ. მეორე სიამოვნება კი თავად თხრობამ უნდა მოგგვაროს. ამ წიგნმა პირველი სიამოვნება მომანიჭა, აი მეორე კი ცოტა არ იყოს დამაკლო. დავა სობელი კარგი მწერალია, თუმცა ეს წიგნი ცოტა ღარიბი გამოუვიდა. პლანეტებზე გაცილებით მეტის თქმა და უფრო საინტერესო ამბების მოყოლა შეიძლება. საინტერესო ამბების მოლოდინს წიგნის დი ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you open this book expecting science, you will be sorely disappointed, as I was. All the same, it's not fair to rate a book low just because it wasn't what I expected, and that's not why I gave "The Planets" only two stars (and I think I'm being quite generous). The reason is, "The Planets" isn't really about anything at all. It's a tiny part personal history - the author's relationship with the planets, tiny part social and cultural history - the discovery of and significance of the planets ...more
Adrian White
Fascinating because of its subject but I wasn't totally convinced by Dava Sobel's approach: I thought it worked better for some chapters than for others. What it did do well for a simple lad such as myself was to instill a sense of wonder at the many varied worlds out there - in our planetary system and beyond.
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Confession time: I originally perused this book because the cover is beautiful.

As a child, I was fascinated with astronomy. As a college Freshman, I took an astronomy course and dropped out after a few weeks. Perhaps now I would be able to grasp the difficult mathematics required for even elementary-level space science. Perhaps. But I think I'm better off with a text like The Planets, which dives into the fascinating history (and indeed much of the science) of our solar system with a sense of w
I think I expected this to be more scientific than it turned out to be, which may be a common problem judging from other reviews. It's actually more of a historical glance at the way humanity has envisioned the galaxy, and the way our knowledge has grown over the millennia. It's a lot literary, with bits of science and mythology thrown in. Some parts of it were lovely for that, though I wasn't sure about the emphasis on linking the Old Testament Genesis story with the scientific facts of creatio ...more
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Should have been published with large color pictures as a coffee table book. I'm not sure this should be shelved with the science books- while it does include some facts about the planets, it's more a literary effort. As it is, the individual chapters feel wholly disconnected from each other, written in a wide variety of styles, and some with entirely extraneous information, such as the friend of the author's who ate moon dust after being given it as a present by a boyfriend. I honestly thought ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Planets is an interesting book, but one that is not for everyone. If you are looking for highly technical or academic treatment of planetary science, look elsewhere. If you want to get an overview of the planets in our solar system, this book does that. Mostly this book reminded me of information I used to know but had forgotten. There were a few new facts from more recent discoveries that I found interesting,

The writing style is clear and very readable, not weighed down with a technical ja
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Not for scienceheads. This is a book for lit nerds who want to learn about our solar system but who want it told prettily and connected to art and myth and music, etc.
A little over a third of the way through-- I don't think I can go much further haha

The section on Mercury seemed to focus around Greek mythology; Venus, on her meaning and symbolism in different cultures; Earth, on geography and Columbus' voyages

Not that this stuff isn't interesting, it's not just what I expected to take away from this book lol

Overall, I thought it was all over the place and just didn't come together ://
Ben Siems
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People inspired by the feeling of being connected to the universe
This is the first book I have read in a long time that had me strongly tempted to abandon the journey fifty pages in. Although I know Sobel's writing style has garnered high praise from far and wide, I was not particularly taken with her approach to blending science, mythology, astrology, and religion. I find it all a bit contrived, even forced at times. I was always very conscious of the writer's presence, more so than I usually care to be. As a result, I felt like I never had a chance to reall ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: astronomy
As I mentioned, my days are listening to books and knitting--so we can only be but so impressed by the quickness of my finishing this book.

I loved this book...and I hated it.

I loved the information. The way she went through the planets, the discussion of their geologic qualities, the history that surrounded them, how they were discovered, how their size was found. I enjoyed how she wove the story from Genesis into a discussion of the Big Bang. I found the tales of the mapping of the circumferenc
Alex Telander
THE PLANETS BY DAVA SOBEL: This is another book I bought because of it's beautiful cover, especially in the hardcover edition, and one which, after reading, I thought had failed in it's job. I've read Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, which I really enjoyed with the mixture of history, science and story, so I had high hopes for The Planets. There was a chapter on each of the nine planets, along with one for the sun and the moon, and an intro and an epilogue. The book was under 300 pages and I felt did ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awful, didn-t-finish
It is extremely rare that I give up on a book. I will often start a book and decide that I'm not going to finish it 'right now', but to decide that a book is bad enough to never, ever want to finish reading, well that hardly ever happens, and this is one of those books.

Tedious, ponderous, meandering writing that does not clearly convey much of the history of the knowledge of our solar system, nor any of the sense of wonder or thrill of discovery that I would expect from a book on this subject.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A multi-disciplinary, personal and intricate look at the planets. Sobel doesn't disdain the astrological, poetical or anecdotal (whilst clearly debunking any scientific misconceptions) and thus creates a really loving and illuminating portrait of our solar system.

I also got quite a heavy dose of Pluto feelz, especially after learning that it was named by an eleven year old from England and that its discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, chose the same name for his cat.

One of my favourite quotes;

Cassandra Kay Silva
I don't really understand the style of it all. Why write about something so haphazardly? It contains just enough science to I suppose be considered science. Yet she uses each chapter to tell one particular story relating to each of the planets in turn. The stories have no tie in. There seems to be little reason for each choice. There is also a terrible mixing in of non scientific information that also seems to be chosen at random and perhaps irrelevant. I guess the ordering of it is just not for ...more
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
Just enough information to keep a 7 1/2 hour drive interesting. Carl really liked it. I was very tired and would have fallen asleep without the chocolate. Written before Pluto was demoted but now I know what I should have known when I was 8. My very educated mother just showed us nine planets (Carl's version) or Dava's "my very educated mother just served us nine pies," MVEMJSUNP= Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. I hope to find another of her books on CD for ...more
Steve Van Slyke
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Afficianados of good writing interested in learning about the planets.
Shelves: space, science, library
For those who keep abreast of planetary exploration, there will not be very much here that is new in that regard, however the author takes each planet, plus the Moon, and weaves a well-written narrative about the mythology, gradual accumulation of knowledge (to 2005), and the personalities involved. As a former NYT science journalist the author knows how to turn a phrase and that it is one of the more appealing features of the book. It's a quick easy read, very few illustrations and no photos.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I have read by Dava Sobel.... but Longitude is waiting for me on the bookshelf!
I was not initially thrilled by the writing style presented in the first chapter. It just felt.... odd. I couldn't get into it at all. By chapter 2, however, I was sold. I like how the author presented each planet in a unique way. The book is informative, yet reads like a gorgeous blend of adventure, mythology, poetry, and history. If you are remotely interested in planetary science, yet don't w
Jimmy Tarlau
I guess you would call this Science very-light. It's a pleasnat book with a different technique for describing each of the planets from the view of a satellite, to a piece of Mars rock, to a short history of the person who discovered Uranus. Books like this make me want to spend more time paying attentin to current scientific developments and to look at photos from distant satellites. We miss too much.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics-science
A very average piece of work. With a title like that, you would think there is a whole lot of interesting information and research that could be provided to the reader without putting in much effort as a writer. But Dava Sobel takes the completely opposite approach of presenting very little detail making the book very uninteresting at times. If not for my love of astronomy and science I would give this a one star at best.
Oct 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Loved Galileo's Daughter. Liked Longitude very much. This one I'm flipping ahead and saying to myself 'Gee, 65 pages left...still on "us" and still have "nut" and "pie."'Not bad but inferior to the other Sobel efforts."
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: astronomy
A well-written and informative overview and history of the solar system. It’s super-fast to get through. Light and airy, it draws from mythology, science fiction, astronomical history and more. Can only say cliché good things about it so I won’t go on, except to say: read it.
Robert Graves
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book -- even more on a second reading. Sobel's expertise may be in science, but she is a poet as well.
Leigh Parker
Do I have to read the glossary, acknowledgements, bibliography and details at the back? Because that'll probably take another three weeks to read.
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Dava Sobel is an accomplished writer of popular expositions of scientific topics. A 1964 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Ms. Sobel attended Antioch College and the City College of New York before receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1969. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from the University of Bath, in England, and M ...more
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