AAAS Science Books & Films Publishes 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Courtesy of Big Picture Press (left), Candlewick Press (middle), Doubleday (right)

AAAS's Science Books & Films (SB&F) has published its SB&F Holiday Gift Guide, a roundup of books for all ages that topped the magazine staff and reviewers' lists of favorites in 2014.

SB&F Editor-in-Chief Maria Sosa and her team selected books for the holiday guide based on the magazine's reviews, as well reviews from other journals, science and literary blogs, and book prize lists. All of the 2015 Finalists for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize also appear in the guide.

2014 has been an outstanding year for science book publishing generally, according to Sosa, who said that highly visual and highly conceptual books were plentiful. "I actually had to eliminate some great books from the list in order to keep it a manageable size," she said. "Fortunately we will be able to include many more great titles in our Best Books list that we will publish in our January 2015 issue."

Some of the standouts on the list include Animalium, written by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Katie Scott. The book is part of a series that strives to recreate a visit to a natural history museum. Each page represents a gallery, filled with exquisite illustrations of the specimens in the collection.

Another stunner is Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton. Davies and Sutton deftly accomplish the seemingly impossible: appropriately, clearly, and charmingly introducing very young children to the invisible world of microbes.

Courtesy of No Starch Press (top) and Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Recognizing that STEM lovers are frequently science fiction/fantasy fans, the list this year includes Terry Pratchett's The Compleat Ankh-Morpork and Steampunk Lego, by Guy Himber. Fans of Pratchett or steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction, should appreciate either of these books, while the uninitiated may find them an entertaining introduction.

2014 is also notable for the many engaging, inventive, and attractive books written by professionally trained scientists and engineers. Pascal Lee (Mission:Mars), Nicola Davies (Tiny Creatures), Penny Chisholm (Buried Sunlight), Hannah Ros (Neurocomic), Kevin Fong (Extreme Medicine), Ainissa Ramirez (Newton's Football), Loree Griffin Burns (Handle with Care) and Kanani K. M. Lee (The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic), are just a few examples.

Professional societies and science organizations also continue to produce beautiful books. For example, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Kids' Guide to Exploring Nature should spark a curious school-aged child's love of nature. The National Wildlife Federation's My First Book of Wild Animals will delight toddlers and introduce them to some of the world's most magnificent creatures.

"As part of a professional and interdisciplinary association, the SB&F team loves to highlight these extraordinary examples of engagement and communication produced by STEM professionals and societies. It's always special when people who do science are able to share their own appreciation and excitement so effectively," Sosa said.