Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A New Challenge, A Winner, and The Answers

I’m taking on another challenge. This one is the Science Book challenge.
After all, how can someone who in some contexts is known as the executive editor of math and science possibly not take on this one and encourage others to do so? Here are the rules:

  1. Read three nonfiction books this year related to the theme "Living a Rational Life", broadly construed. Each book should have something to do with science, how science operates, or science's relationship with its surrounding culture. The books might be popularizations of science, they might be history, they might be biography, they might be anthologies.
  2. After you've read it, write a short note about the book; 500 words would suffice. What goes in the note? The things you would tell a friend if you wanted to convince said friend to read it, too. Naturally, you can read some of the existing Book Notes for ideas.
  3. Don't worry if you find that you've read a book someone else has also read; we welcome multiple notes on one title.
  4. Get your book note to me and I'll post it with the other Book Notes in that section at Science Besieged. Email, comments here, or the Book Note submission form all work.*
  5. Tell two other people about The Science-Book Challenge. (Note: I’ve now told a whole slew of you, I hope, so that one’s already done. I'm hoping at least two of you will also take on the challenge)

And these are the books I’ve chosen:

The Double Helix by James D. Watson (I've been meaning to read it for years. This seems like a good year finally to do so.)

Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human by Matt Ridley (I figure a book about genes and a person's environment is a good one to follow The Double Helix.)

What Counts: How Every Brain is Hardwired for Math by Brian Butterworth (forget genes. Let’s move onto my favorite topic: the brain, accompanied by my second favorite topic: math. This seems like a good follow-up to The Math Gene, which wasn't about genes, either, and which I read – and still have yet to write my post for everyone – for the nonfiction five challenge last year.)

And now for the winner:

Nobody managed to beat Dorr at the first lines meme quiz, so she’s the winner of the book of her choice (let me know which book I reviewed or mentioned at any point last year that you’d like to have, and it’s yours, Dorr). For those who are curious, but don’t want to have to wade through all my blog posts to get the answers, here they are:

1. What mischievous trick did the Hobgoblin perform on an unstormy but dark night in February, according to my story?

He made the parking lot where my car was parked and my car disappear and then reappear.

2. What is one of the “givens” I was handed out from the bottom of the barrel?

You could choose one from these four:

a. If there's a stall in a crowded women's room that won't lock, that's where I'll end up

b. Blizzards will only strike on days in which I’m supposed to be somewhere far away

c. I will never get sick at a convenient time when I’m dying for an excuse to lie abed reading Agatha Christie, eating crackers, and drinking tea for a few days, but rather when I’m traveling, have company, or have tickets to some once-in-a-lifetime event.

d. My plane will always be departing from gate Z99. (This is the one I was addressing in that particular post).

3. What were the three choices Bob and I had back in May, and which one did we choose?

a. Stay in CT

b. Move to VA

c. Move to PA, which is the one we chose. Verdict still out on whether or not it was the right choice. I'm pretty sure it was, but sometimes I have my doubts, depending on what day of the week/month it is, and what I’ve spent the day doing.

4. What [finally] happened to me? Hint: I was in an airport.

I ran out of reading material.

5. Who was Smarty Larty?

He was a very smart (and apparently arrogant) fish in a story I wrote when I was a child.

6. When I finally came back on the scene, after an absence during my move, with what meme did I present everyone?

A moving meme that died on the vine (I guess only those of us who are in the midst of a move care to visit the topic, although a couple of stationary people did decide to do it, and their answers were fascinating).

7. What was I shamelessly plugging in November?

My ghost story (everyone who participated got this one right.)

8. What were two of the things I wrote about that drive me nuts on a regular basis?

You had a choice from these seven:

a. Rachael Ray

b. Christmas music in November

c. Indestructible plastic wrapping

d. Trucks

e. Books with tons of typos/grammatical errors

f. People who have their Christmas shopping done in early December and want to know if I’m “ready for Christmas”

g. Never-ending stacks of boxes that need to be unpacked (By the way, we’re down to only two in the actual house. The attic and basement are still disaster areas, however.)


Rebecca H. said...

Yay! I'm going to start trolling through your archives immediately. Thank you!

Eva said...

oh! I've only read one of Ridley's books (Genome), but I loved it, so I'll look forward to your thoughts. Also, I've been debating whether or not to read that Watson for about a year, so I think I'll wait until you sum it up for me. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think you and I should write some sort of manifesto for students who think they have to be pegged as either math/sciences or english/history/etc - if I had known as a student how fascinating science could be I would not have allowed myself to be discouraged so easily! Now that I am endless fascinated with cancer research I sometimes think just a couple more biology classes would have been so helpful...

Emily Barton said...

Dorr, you're welcome. My pleasure!

Eva, Bob says Watson is "thrilling." We'll see...

Court, oh yes. I don't believe in "math" or "English" people anymore. And I SO wish I'd taken more science in school. Oh well, the fact I didn't is a good excuse to read a lot now (like I need an excuse to do that).

jns said...

Emily, thanks for taking up my first-ever book challenge! I recently put _The Double Helix_ on my to-read list and may get to it soonish. Your chosen titles sound great, and I look forward to reading your reactions to them.

Emily Barton said...

JNS, you're welcome. I'm looking forward to it!