I’ve already mentioned somewhere that the New York Times‘s list of 2016’s 100 notable books had about 2 or 3 science books, and its shortened list of the 10 best books had no science books. Given the “two cultures”, one would expect more.
Our own Matthew Cobb noticed the same issue with the Guardian’s 110-best list (chosen by writers) , and tw**ted about it, showing that the proportion of science books was even lower than in the New York Times‘s list.
Well, the Guardian has taken steps to repair the situation, surveying 11 scientists and asking them what were their favorite reads of 2016 (“Favourite reads of 2016—as chosen by scientists“).
Here’s the intro to the Guardian piece, citing our already-famous Dr. Cobb and even showing his tw**t (click on screenshot to go to article):
The books chosen weren’t all published this year, and they include both fiction and nonfiction, so they serve as a cross-section of what scientists are reading. Most of the books, though, are nonfiction, with most of these at least tangentially about science, but Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon is also there.
The upshot: as I always maintain, scientists who read have a much more balanced selection, at least with respect to the Two Cultures, than do nonscientists. In other words, scientists know a lot more about the products of the humanities than scholars of the humanities know about the products of science. This is a sad situation, for in many ways science is more thrilling than fiction—because it’s real—and because all of us academic scientists are teachers who want others to be stimulated by our fields.