I’ve read two of Tim’s choices. James Watson’s DNA book is very good, although notoriously it underplays the role of Rosalind Franklin, who was resented as a very bright woman in a male-dominated scientific culture. (Being Jewish may also not have helped.) An essential corrective to Crick’s book is this very readable account of Franklin’s contribution [Brenda Maddox's Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA].
And there was more on the best science books story in the Guardian yesterday where James Randerson, "science correspondent", writes Levi's memoir beats Darwin to win science book title.
One book that did not make the shortlist was Oliver Sacks' A Leg to Stand On, which was nominated by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The work of the New York-based neurologist was made famous in the film Awakenings. Dr Williams said the book "challenges all sorts of assumptions about mind and body, and sketches a very exciting concept of the body itself as 'taking shape' in mind and imagination".
Over at The Book Depository, I regularly have top ten lists on the homepage there. My Ten Great Science Books list, in no particular order, is:
- Lewis Wolpert's Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Elaine Morgan's The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis
- Kenan Malik's Man, Beast and Zombie
- James Gleick's Isaac Newton
- Daniel Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea
- Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
- Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel
Chris Knight's Blood Relations
- Edward Wilson's The Diversity of Life
- Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene
I'm also rather partial to Frank Ryan's Darwin's Blind Spot.