Among the New York Times‘s “100 Notable Books of 2015,” half are nonfiction. Among those fifty, I find only a single one that’s even close to being entirely about science, and it’s really about collecting animals:
THE FLY TRAP. By Fredrik Sjoberg. Translated by Thomas Teal. (Pantheon, $24.95.) An amateur entomologist from Sweden offers a distinctive tour of the world of hoverfly collecting.
The one below has been counted as a science book in some places, though it’s again about medicine and history, as well as the social ramifications of autism (i.e., vaccination):
NEUROTRIBES: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. By Steve Silberman. (Avery/Penguin Random House, $29.95.) Silberman’s is a broader view of autism, beautifully presented.
There are a few NYT-recommended books on medicine and the history of science, and medicine, like these:
THE INVENTION OF NATURE: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World. By Andrea Wulf. (Knopf, $30.) Wulf offers a highly readable account of the German scientist’s monumental journey in the Americas.
DO NO HARM: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery. By Henry Marsh. (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s, $25.99.) A neurosurgeon’s frank and absorbing account combines biography, descriptions of operations and considerations of policy.
And there’s this very nice book, which is a memoir that combines personal tragedy and wild-animal training; I highly recommend it:
H IS FOR HAWK. By Helen Macdonald. (Grove, $26.) A breathtaking account of the raising and training of a young goshawk illuminates two complex natures: the author’s and the bird’s.
Still, given that there have been the usual spate of good science books last year (see, for instance the Royal Society’s shortlist for the Winton Book Prize), it’s a bit distressing that there’s only 1 (or 1.5) science books out of 50: 2-3%. To me, that bespeaks an attitude on the part of the Time’s book editors that science books aren’t really that important.