On the surface, Dick Teresi’s Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya is an eye-opening and thought-provoking book on the history of non-Western science. It is a book I would recommend to anyone who believes in the “Greek miracle,” who takes Carl Sagan’s words about the Ionian birth of science at face value, and generally anyone who wants to take a less white, less Western perspective on both science and history as wholes. However, anyone who reads this must also be able to question what they are reading, ask for the author’s sources and motivation, and be ready to think for themselves despite the author’s biases.
In my quest for both truth and empathy, I discovered geneticist Adam Rutherford’s book How to Argue With a Racist: What Our Genes Do (And Don’t) Say About Human Difference. I find combating racism to be very important, and I find great joy in reading about science. This book was a perfect mixture of both of these, which is great regardless of my preferences, because it turns out (unsurprisingly) that science is the best way to debunk racist claims anyways.Read more
I first encountered Jesse Wegman’s Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College on display at a Half Price Books store soon after the book was published in 2020. My first impression was feeling like the book was unnecessary. I had never heard anyone arguing in favor of the Electoral College, and honestly I didn’t know of anyone who really supported it. I certainly agreed with the title, that the College ought to be abolished, so I felt like reading a book to explain why would be a waste of time. I later changed my mind (granted, after the 2020 election had taken place) and decided that I wanted all the information to make sure my opinion on this debate was an informed one.
I was a #bookstagrammer for a hot minute. I really liked seeing everyone’s books, cute book pictures, and short reviews. About a year ago, I finally gave up on that account for several reasons, but one of the reasons was that I never really felt that I fit in with the bookstagram community. Those who do fit in will tell you it’s the best online community they’ve ever experienced, but there’s something they don’t mention: the #bookstagram community is overwhelmingly dedicated to fiction.Read more
Two weeks ago, I posted my review of Sasha Sagan’s beautiful memoir/humanist manifesto/love letter to the Cosmos For Small Creatures Such as We. I ranked it as one of my new all-time favorite books, and I recommended it as highly as I could, but still I feel that I can’t really put into words just how beautifully moving this book is. Only the book itself can do that. Hopefully my favorite quotes will give you a taste of what this book is really like!Read more
When I started reading books on combating racism and injustice, I wasn’t sure how to go about reviewing them. It wasn’t my place as a white woman to deem them “good” or “correct”. I’ve since decided it is better to urge my audience to read these books for themselves rather than to ignore their important messages. I also want to take a moment to step aside and let these books speak for themselves. So here are 32 of my favorite quotes from Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism.Read more
For years, I’ve considered myself a feminist. I’ve believed that feminism was part of a dichotomy where society is made up of two groups: women and men. Barring the obvious problem of ignoring nonbinary people, I hadn’t taken into account that feminism is concerned with many more than two groups. Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot reminds us that feminism is about much more than just white women paying more for razors and not being able to fit their smartphones in their pockets. Hood Feminism exposes the honestly terrible job that we white women have done in including everyone in this movement: especially women who are not cis, straight, and white.Read more
As I said in my last post, this week I am reviewing A Most Interesting Problem: What Darwin’s Descent of Man Got Right and Wrong About Human Evolution, a collection of essays by twelve anthropologists critiquing Darwin’s book on human origins, Descent of Man, chapter by chapter and telling us whether Darwin’s ideas have withstood the test of time over 150 years. I was particularly excited about this one, both because I got to see the Leakey Foundation’s promo livestream with panels from many of the authors and because the book serves as a shining example of scientists denying dogma in science.Read more
If a book can be “hot” in the world of paleoanthropology, then Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art is that book. Published in the fall of 2020, Kindred is the latest in a long line of books about Neanderthals, but anyone who has read Kindred knows that it is not like the others.Read more
I’ll be honest with you: Stamped from the Beginning is a very intimidating book in more ways than one. It’s a 511-page tome, which makes sense considering that it is, as the subtitle tells us, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. It’s won several awards, and for good reason.Read more