The Royal Society revealed the shortlist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2017 on August 3. The award, celebrating its 30th anniversary, recognizes the best of science writing for a non-specialist audience.
- Beyond Infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of the Mathematical Universe by Eugenia Cheng (Profile Books)
- Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds by Cordelia Fine (Icon Books)
- Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith (William Collins)
- In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli (John Murray)
- To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O’Connell (Granta Books)
- I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong (Bodley Head)
Joseph Jebelli’s compelling debut, In Pursuit of Memory, which explores the difficulty scientists face in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s is up against Cordelia Fine’s explosive study of gender politics, Testosterone Rex, which weighs up the latest evidence to debunk the myth that the inequality of the sexes is hardwired. Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine looks wryly at the age-old human quest to live longer and better and the latest fixes, from exosuits to cryogenics. Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds, a close-up look at the octopus, is a fascinating examination of intelligent life on our own planet. On the subject of infinity, international maths sensation Eugenia Cheng’s Beyond Infinity takes readers on a hugely enjoyable journey into the world of maths to reveal the inner workings of infinity. Lastly, Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes looks at our internal ecosystems in a fascinating study of the millions of microbes that live within us.
Chair of this year’s panel Professor Richard Fortey, award-winning writer and television presenter, palaeontologist and Royal Society Fellow, is joined on the judging panel by: award-winning novelist and games writer, Naomi Alderman; writer and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind, Claudia Hammond; Channel 4’s Topical Specialist Factual Commissioner, Shaminder Nahal and former Royal Society University Research Fellow, Sam Gilbert.
The 2017 winner will be announced at a ceremony on September 19 and will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.
ANNIVERSARY POLL RESULTS. The Royal Society also marked the 30th anniversary of the Science Book Prize by polling the public about “the most inspiring work of science writing of all time.” In July, Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene was announced as the most popular choice from a selection of 11 inspiring books chosen by Keith Moore, Head of Library at the Royal Society. Also included were Bill Bryson’s 2003 book A Short History of Nearly Everything and Charles Darwin’s 1859 classic On the Origin of Species, which came in second and third place respectively. The poll had 1,309 participants.