Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when we take a look at the top books of the year. As the New Years eve quickly approaches, popular physics blogs and websites, such as Cocktail Party Physics, New Scientist and Physics World, offer their picks of their favourite books. So, for those who were too busy buying gifts and overeating to follow the physics news, here’s a short summary including some of my favourite books.
Jennifer Ouellette (from Coctail Party Physics) listed her favourite books of the year at the beginning of December. The top three books were The Particle at the End of the Universe, The Universe in the Rear-View Mirror & Newton’s Football. The top book, by the way, was written by her husband, a great physicist Sean Carroll and I have to agree that in 2013, the year of the confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs boson, Carroll’s well-written book really stands out. The Particle at the End of the Universe describes the hunt for and the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider and was the 2013 winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.
Andrew Zimmerman Jones also listed his favourite science books at his blog on about.com. The list was topped by the newest best-seller autobiography of Stephen Hawking called My Brief History. My personal favourite of the list, however, is the Magnificent Principia by Colin Pask. In Magnificent Principia Pask leads the readers through one of the most important works of science: Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. The work is discussed in light of modern understanding of Newtonian physics.
Among the top books in New Scientist’s list, we can also find some great physics books such as Beyond the God Particle, which takes up the gargantuan task of explaining the physics of Higgs boson to everyday readers and Forecast, which explains what role physics and meteorology play in economics.
Amazon editors’ selection of the top science books of the year include such books as Love and Math: the Heart of the Hidden Reality and Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age.
Finally, Physics World has recently announced their choice for the book of the year and it was a work on the peculiar science of quantum mechanics and how it relates to consciousness called Physics in Mind: The Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein. The book tackles a variety of problems in current understanding of consciousness and does it by resorting to quantum mechanics. As you might imagine, writing about such controversial subjects always leads to a high risk of resorting to wild speculations, but, as Physics World editors mentioned, Loewenstein does a great job of avoiding this. Take this and add Loewenstein’s great prose and you have a great book worthy of your attention.
All in all, there are many great books to choose from in these lists. My personal recommendation to you would be The Particle at the End of the Universe, The Magnificent Principia & Physics in Mind.