Book prizes

Book prize season is upon us. Prizes can be controversial things and there is often a dollop of subjectivity in the decision-making, but book prize shortlists can be useful for the lazy person (like me) as they offer a suggested reading-list. Recent scientific book prize shortlists have some good pickings for the scientific bookworm.

The Royal Society have announced the shortlist for their Winton Prize, ranging from cell biology to the Higgs boson, memory and marine biology. They also have a prize for science books aimed at young people and that shortlist is out too.

A new prize from this year, the Society of Biology Book Awards, has issued its shortlist. There are three awards, for an undergraduate textbook, a postgraduate textbook and a general biology book. In the latter category they include two of the books on the Royal Society shortlist, plus one that was on last year’s Royal Society shortlist.

The British Medical Association are a bit ahead of the game and have already announced their award winners. They have a range of different prizes, mostly textbooks or professional bookss but with some more general categories. There are  winners and commended titles in each category, making for a long list.

There is a Wellcome Trust book prize too but their schedule is different – the next shortlist will be announced in Feb 2014.

Away from strictly science, the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction shortlist has been published. There is a book about bees in there, but otherwise no science.  Harriet Tuckey’s book about physiologist Griffith Pugh was on the longlist and I had hopes that it might get through, but sadly it did not. I see that last year’s winner was a book about Everest so perhaps the judges had had enough of mountain climbing.

Harriet’s book is still in with a chance of the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize though, due to be revealed in November.

No doubt this time next year the prize shortlists will all be featuring Henry Gee’s latest book. I’ve not read it yet but it is certainly going on my reading list.

Some lists

Royal Society Winton prize shortlist:

Society of Biology book award shortlist (general biology):

  • Anatomies by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Secret Chambers: the inside story of cells and complex life by Martin Brasier
  • Pieces of Light by Charles Fernyhough
  • My Beautiful Genome by Lone Frank
  • The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

British Medical Association medical book awards (selected winners)

  • Atlas of Epidemic Britain: A Twentieth Century Picture by Matthew Smallman-Raynor and Andrew Cliff
  • Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg
  • The Little Girl in the Radiator: Mum, Alzheimer’s and Me by Martin Slevin
  • Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre


About Frank Norman

I am a retired librarian. I spent 40 years working in biomedical research libraries.
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One Response to Book prizes

  1. cromercrox says:

    Coo er gosh.

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