Monday, January 2, 2012

Top Ten Anticipated Reads for 2012

At the start of 2012, the Book and the Brokish are looking forward to this year's anticipated reads!

1. The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes us Human, V.S. Ramachandran

This was scheduled to be released in January of last year, and I fully expected that I would buy it at some point.  I didn't get around to that, but it's being re-released this month as a paperback; the decreased price  means it might make it to my bookshelf.  As it happens, this is the only book on last year's anticipated reads list that I never got to read.

2. Death from the Skies! or Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait

Phil Plait is an astronomer, blogger, and activist within the skeptical community. He's also my favorite geek: I always get a kick out of hearing him on the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe or StarTalk (the latter of which is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, another astrophysicist), and it's high time I try out one of his books.

3. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Charles C. Mann

Mann's 1491: New Revelations about the Americas before Columbus rocked my world. It's one of the best history books I've ever read, and I fully intend on getting my hands on a copy of his newest release, which (one assumes) will tackle the ecological and political changes European expansion brought to the Americas.

4. Department of Temporal Investigation: Forgotten History, Christopher L. Bennett

While I'm generally excited about many of the new Trek releases scheduled for 2012,  Bennett is one of my two favorite contemporary Trek authors (along with David Mack), and he never disappoints.

5. Battle of Shiloh, Jeff Shaara

In 2012 Jeff Shaara will be returning to the American Civil War to do a set of novels set in the western theatre, with the first book centered on the bloody battle of Shiloh. He hasn't shared its title yet, but I'll be waiting to see if it's in my library. I'm curious if he'll continue in his own developing style (which  tends to concentrate on one character and use other viewpoint personalities only as a supplement) or revert to his father's, given that Michael Shaara's original Civil War novel, The Killer Angels, inspired Shaara's own career.

6. Coup D'Etat, Harry Turtledove
The fourth novel in Turtleodove's "War that Came Early" series  should be promising, given that in The Big Switch,  his WWII began taking a drastically different shape than ours. I'm guessing from the title that the leadership position of one of the belligerant nations is going to go through a bit of turmoil.

7. The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan
Second in the Young Olympians series, I'm going to guess this novel finds out what Percy Jackson has been up to while living among the Roman demigods. This was released in October, but I've been waiting for my library to acquire it.

8. A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins

This one sounds interesting. Dawkins is a biologist and Krauss a physicist, and a book that draws on their respective fields will be quite a treat indeed. I'll probably wait for reviews to seriously think about buying it for myself, though; I've never read Krauss before and cosmological physics can be a daunting subject. I'm also interested in Dawkin's The Magic of Reality, a little book that introduces the wonder and methods of science to children. From what I've heard, it not only answers common questions kids have about the universe, but it explains how we know it -- and how kids can find out themselves.

9. The Foregone Conclusion, John Grisham.

Again, I'm predicting that Grisham will release another thriller this autumn. He's been fairly consistent these last few years.

10. Technological Narcissism, James Howard Kunstler

JHK hasn't yet given his upcoming book a title, but he's mentioned several times on his podcast that he's in the process of writing a new book on our "technological narcissism", which I believe he means our obsessive belief that we can always dig ourselves out of a hole using new technology when a change in our behavior is what is called for.  Given Kunstler's interests in criticizing urban sprawl, he's probably thinking of people who believe Americans will develop Some New Fuel that will allow us to maintain the same patterns of automobile use that we have now -- when it might be a brighter idea to invest in transit, like trains, or urban planning that results in walkable neighborhoods that don't force the majority of people to be utterly reliant on cars.

I couldn't find any information on it, but James Kaplan is supposed to release the second half of his Sinatra biography -- and I would assume that will happen this year or next.


  1. Both 1491 and 1493 sound fascinating! I'll have to take a closer look at those.

  2. A diverse list. I should have a better look at some of these books.


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