Royal Society Prizes for Science Books longlist announced

24 April 2008

The longlist for this year's Royal Society Prize for Science Books the world's most prestigious award for science writing has been announced, today (Thursday 24 April 2008).

The judges selected a longlist of twelve books:

A Life Decoded, by J. Craig Venter (Penguin Allen Lane)
The judges said: "An autobiography with a twist where life is put into the context of what is in your genes. This is a book about a man whom you cannot ignore."

Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving: How Chemistry can Help You Achieve Life's Goals by John Emsley (Wiley-VCH)
The judges said: "A very practical, informative and interesting read which reveals chemistry as being key to modern life."

Coral: A pessimist in paradise by Steve Jones (Little, Brown)
The judges said: "This book is an idiosyncratic discussion of how zoology, history and ecology meet. It is beautifully written and draws you into it."

Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer (Penguin - Allen Lane)
The judges said: "From picking girlfriends to making choices about our health, Gut Feelings explores the role of the unconscious mind in how we make decisions. A book for everyone interested in making better choices."

How to Fossilise Your Hamster by Mick O'Hare (Profile Books)
The judges said: "A fun book, full of experiments which shows that science can be enjoyed by everyone."

Making Up The Mind by Chris Frith (Wiley - Blackwell)
The judges said: "A wonderfully clear introduction to the neuroscience of thinking. The author's personality shines through and he is charmingly entertaining."

Six Degrees: Our future on a hotter planet by Mark Lynas (Fourth Estate)
The judges said: "A doomsday scenario which everyone has to know about. A thought-provoking read which makes the issues of global warming very real and immediate."

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker (Penguin - Allen Lane)
The judges said: "This book takes a difficult subject and carries you along with it. It introduces us to how language can tell us how the mind works."

The Sun Kings by Stuart Clark (Princeton University Press)
The judges said: "A wonderful historical biography. This 19th century melodrama gets you straight into the science of sun spots. It has everything great characters, knives, guns and illicit relationships!"

Why Beauty is Truth by Ian Stewart (Basic Books)
The judges said: "An elegant and beautifully written book on a key mathematical topic which links through to many different subjects."

Why the Lion Grew Its Mane by Lewis Smith (Papadakis)
The judges said: "Beautifully presented and easy to read it is a book that would be great to receive as a present. It sucks the reader into the world of science."

Yes! By Noah Goldstein, Steve J Martin, and Robert B Cialdini (Profile Books)
The judges said: "A compelling book about why we do the things we do and what effect the art of persuasion has on us."

Professor Jonathan Ashmore, Chair of the judges said: "We found it very hard to choose just twelve books. None of us had realised how many eligible titles had been published over the past year. The range of styles and topics was truly astonishing. It was both fascinating and exciting to be surrounded by the most recently published science books, in some cases almost hot off the press. The books we have selected for the longlist reflect, we think, the high standard of the entries."

This year's longlist includes nine authors that are new to the prizes and five that have previously been longlisted.  Publishers new to the longlist include US publisher Basic Books (an imprint of Perseus Books), and the art and architecture publisher Papadakis, with their first science book.

The judges on the General Prize judging panel are: Professor Jonathon Ashmore FRS, Department of Physiology, University College London (Chair); Dr Brian Cox, Royal Society University Research Fellow, University of Manchester and CERN; Ffion Hague, author; Fiona Macrae, science correspondent, The Daily Mail; Professor Iain Stewart, School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth.

The Royal Society General Prize shortlist will be announced on Thursday 15 May 2008.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Society on Monday 16 June 2008 and awarded £10,000. The authors of each shortlisted book will receive £1000. The winner of the Royal Society Junior Books Prize will also be announced at the ceremony.

The Royal Society is grateful to the Beecroft Trust for supporting the 2008 Prizes while the Society seeks longer-term support for 2009 onwards.