Why I may stop buying science books…

It’s getting quite ridiculous – there is a growing pile of half read popular science books both at home and in my office.  I think I may have to stop buying them, but I’m interested in the topics even once I give up reading them.  I’d like to note that I don’t give up on books very often – I like to see the story through to the end rather than letting things hang.  It takes  lot for me to give up on a novel, significantly less for me to give up on a popular science book.

Half-read and languishing on the book shelves at the moment are (in no particular order, and with links to Amazon.co.uk):

Rachel Carson “The Silent Spring”

Ben Goldacre “Bad Science”

Richard Dawkins “The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing”

Walter Gratzer “Giant Molecules: From Nylon to Nanotubes”

Philip Ball “Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry”

P. B. Medawar “Advice to a Young Scientist”

Sir Peter Medawar “The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and other essays”

And yesterday to complete the 3 for 2 at Waterstones I picked up Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw’s “Why does E=mc2?” Needless to say that I’ve started it, am loving it so far but fear I’ll run out of steam half way through.  The list above isn’t all failure – in the case of Dawkins, Ball and Medawar’s mice, they are short essays that are designed to be picked up and read in a disjointed fashion.  They make ideal lunchtime reading – am I the only person that finds it impossible to read science books at bedtime?  I lost the will with Carson, Goldacre and Gratzer somewhere about the middle, and intended to pick them up after a break from the topic.  Not managed it yet, and am thinking that my next holiday should probably be spent finishing these books so that I can at least write a decent review of them.

Do I have any success stories for the past few years of plugging away at science books?  Not really.  And I don’t really fare much better if I slip into the LabLit category – I barely survived Allegra Goodman’s “Intuition”.  I don’t recommend it really, unless tedious descriptions of science and disjointed yet simple story lines are your thing.  I’ve made serious effort to avoid any other books that might be considered LabLit ever since.

So there is the challenge – are there any science books out there that are so unbelievably good that I’d finish them?  Are there any LabLit books out there that I wont ridicule and rip to shreads?

One thought on “Why I may stop buying science books…

  1. How funny! I also have the habit of never finishing science books… I’m currently half way through Dawkin’s Modern Science Writing as well as Mike Hulme’s Why We Disagree About Climate Change and [I forget who wrote]’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. There must be some others lingering on book shelves that I’ve forgotten about. Maybe this means that science books need a clear narrative to get you through to the end…

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