Aimee's Reviews > The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science

The Canon by Natalie Angier
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Jul 11, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: science

I am reading this book slowly. It has some great ideas and I love the premise of laying out in simple, brief terms the basic tenets of science, but the writing style drives me crazy, and not in a good way.

She uses similes and "cleverly" written conversational comments and she doesn't stop, there are 1-5 on every single page. These phrases have no value, they don't help illustrate or clarify a concept; they just comes across as oh-so-clever. That's okay once in a while, and I understand the desire to liven up what could be written in a very dull way, but it's a constant stream and you just want to put your hands on her shoulders, look her in the eye, and with a gentle tone tell her to stop trying so hard and if that doesn't work, scream "knock it off!!!"

Here are five examples from a randomly selected page, pg 170: "...grow tall like aspiring totem poles..." Not just totem pole, but aspiring. Okay, whatever, but then one sentence later, "If you bought a euphorbia and nicknamed it Saguaro, your aunt from Tucson might not see any cause to correct you." What? "...the echidna looks like a Muppet." Does it? "...a stomach as rugged as a cement mixer..." am I reading a book written for children? "...through the guiding hand and cracking cat-o'-nine whip of natural selection..." STOP!

Just a few more, I have to share. I randomly open the book again. This time to page 143. Let's see what's there...

"If you combine sodium and chlorine, poof, they'll react instantaneously, heatedly: Sodom meets Gomorrah, and we're left with a pillar of salt." Ack! Then when she writes something useful like explaining that cells generate trace amounts of alcohol when burning energy and that's why a locker room can smell like a pub, I instinctively roll my eyes, but then realize that the that was actually useful information tucked away between all the clutter.

Whew. Needed to get that off my chest. Overall though, I encourage and applaud her work as science basics need to be written about and read, and I'm sure some people love her writing style. It might just be me who feels bitchy after reading a few pages.
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Reading Progress

January 11, 2012 – Started Reading
July 11, 2012 – Shelved
July 11, 2012 –
page 172
July 11, 2012 – Shelved as: science
July 11, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Shawna (Mashara) No, the more I read, the bitchier I feel. I've made it to 50% and would love to strangle the woman.

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