Like many people my age, I primarily know Bill Nye as a welcome break from the droning lectures of high school science classes. There was no topic so dull that it couldn't be made entertaining by "the Science Guy," so I was eager to see what he could do with an entire book about one of the most fascinating and relevant topics a scientist can address: human origin. You may recall Nye's debate with Ken Ham in 2014, which is what spurred Nye to write Undeniable. In his book, Nye digs deeper into the subject of evolution (and many other intriguing topics, including genetically modified food, cloning and his high school prom) than the debate allowed. Though it's obvious in the writing that he is out to prove/disprove arguments, Nye never reads as "nasty" or condescending toward his opposition, which can almost be hard to avoid when debating human origin. Instead of attacking people or organizations, he deconstructs and counters arguments. That alone was a big sell for me, because there is really no place for nastiness in intelligent discussion. Probably what I love most about this book is Nye writes in the exact same way that he speaks; with an infectious enthusiasm and wonder for science. At times his narrative almost giddy, and that made it easy to get absorbed into this wonderful book. Though always witty and at times downright hilarious, the humor of the book never detracted from the serious subject matter. Nye has a great ability to break complex ideas down to be easily graspable by the "average Joe" and I walked away feeling like I had learned a lot. As primarily a fiction lover, I am someone who sometimes struggles not to abandon the nonfiction I'm reading in favor of a novel, but I didn't even consider putting this one down unfinished.
Forty years after the landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade, the right to abortion is still one of the most controversial topics in the United States. In Pro Katha Pollitt sets out to shatter the stigma attached to abortion and pleads the case that the attack on reproductive rights is not something that can be ignored.Only a few pages in, I was in love with Pollitt's concise writing style and insightful point of view. She knew who her audience would be (or, perhaps more importantly, who it would not be) and doesn't waste page-space trying to sway abortion opponents. Rather, she tackles some of the harmful stereotypes that may leave some undecided on their stance, and the myths meant to scare women away from seeking information about the procedure. She challenges the stigma that abortions are traumatic and dangerous procedures that all woman ultimately end up regretting, and suggests instead that they are a not-so-unusual part of woman's healthcare. More impressively, she challenges the idea that all healthy, financially stable women want to be--or should have to be-- mothers. Some women just don't want children, and Pollitt argues that forcing motherhood on such women--or any woman-- is a violation of human rights.I love a political book that is both passionate and well-informed, that pleads its own case without resorting to slanderous and petty attacks on the other side. Pollitt succeeds on all fronts.
This book had me from the very first page, and how could it not? It is a story about friendship, trust, the bond between humans and animals, and really big explosions. I don't think you could reasonably ask for anything more in a novel. The story primarily follows the lives of two people, one of them being a scientist named Isabel Duncan. She's a little anti-social, but only when it comes to other humans. Her true friends are the bonobos she works with at the research lab. She shares special bonds with each one of them, and communicates with them through sign language. She loves her work, and believes that she and the bonobos can make the public understand that animals and humans aren't so different. The other character is John, a reporter who is eager to break away from the filler articles his editor keeps throwing his way. He sees a human interest piece on Isabel and the bonobos as a stepping stone on his way to better things. However, a single act of terror throws the lives of John, Isabel and the bonobos into turmoil. The well being of the apes is in jeopardy, Isabel is at risk of losing the only family she has and John is facing a bigger story than he ever could have imagined. This novel was equal parts touching and suspenseful. Whenever I thought I knew who the "bad guys" were, the next page shattered my theory. Ape House more than lives up to the fame that Gruen garnered with her bestseller, Water for Elephants. I was incredibly impressed with how she was able to portray each ape as its own character, rather than props for the story, while remaining realistic and factual. I can't recommend this book strongly enough.