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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
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The Personal Face of Science
These fiction and nonfiction titles feature skilled narrators re-creating the arduous world of scientific research and other scientific and historical topics, personalizing the coverage. Even listeners lacking a strong science background will appreciate these audios highlighting various personalities and events, both famous and lesser known.
In her cultured British tones, Landor relates fascinating details of Charles Darwin’s life, including his inability to reconcile science and religion, meticulous observations of the world, and devotion to wife Emma, whose strict religious beliefs contrasted with her husband’s scientific discoveries. Although written for teens, this nonfiction title, graced by Landor’s stylish delivery, will engage adult listeners as well.
The Coral Thief. By Rebecca Stott. Read by Simon Prebble. 2010. 9hr. Tantor, CD, $69.99 (9781400143382).
Lady of the Butterflies. By Fiona Mountain. Read by Josephine Bailey. 2010. 20.5hr. Tantor, CD, $119.99 (9781400147526).
Bailey’s melodious British accent and elegant delivery embodies seventeenth-century naturalist and butterfly specialist Eleanor Glanville, a spirited and imaginative young woman who endured religious, social, and political perils to become an independent scientist. The image-rich prose conjures Glanville’s passion in this thought-provoking historical novel.
The Man Who Loved China:The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. By Simon Winchester. Read by the author. 2008. 9hr. Recorded Books, CS, $67.75 (9781436107105); CD, $92.75 (9781436107129).
Historian Winchester examines the life of Joseph Needham, a biochemist, sinologist, writer, and editor of a multivolume study of Chinese science history. Needham’s unorthodox personal life, experiences in China, rejection by colleagues, and eventual recognition for his unique achievements are competently relayed through the British author’s companionable reading style.
Percival’s Planet. By Michael Byers. Read by William Dufris.2010. 14hr. Tantor, CD, $83.99 (9781400148417).
Byers’ thoughtful and compelling novel chronicles Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1930. This carefully researched novel neatly juxtaposes two sets of scientists toiling in the Arizona desert. For the astronomers, this is an outpost for exploring the future, while the paleontologists see it as a repository of the past. Dufris’ splendid narration places the characters geographically and socially, pulling us into their lives and the mysteries of science.
Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon. By Craig Nelson. Read by Richard McGonagle. 2009. 17hr. Books on Tape, CD, $100 (9781415964729).
McGonagle confidently reads this stirring account of how the highly skilled and committed NASA scientists realized President Kennedy’s call for the U.S. to put a man on the moon. McGonagle matches the rich and fascinating scientific and historical details and deftly recounts personal stories of the astronauts and their families before and after the Apollo 11 moon launch.
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