AAAS’s Science Books & Film Publishes “Best Books of 2011” Special Issue

It’s never too late to add a good science book to the summer reading list, with the help of AAAS’s Science Books & Film (SB&F). The publication has released a special “Best Books” edition that offers full reviews of its best books for 2011.


While SB&F regularly releases a list of the year’s top choices in its January issue, the editors thought librarians, teachers, parents, and science readers of all ages might appreciate a more in-depth look at the past year’s top-reviewed books and films, said Editor-in-Chief Maria Sosa.

The SB&F special issue, available to the public, contains the full reviews for all books and films that received the publication’s two-star rating in 2011. The rating indicates that the book or video was “highly recommended,” with no serious errors and excellent content and presentation.

The publication is well-known for its reviews of children’s books, especially in conjunction with the AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Film (SB&F) Prize for Excellence in Science Books. The special issue highlights the 2012 Subaru winners, which covered topics from the natural history of feathers to mysteries like honeybee colony collapse disorder. But for the first time in several years, the issue contains reviews of top science books for adults as well.

Since its first issue in 1964, SB&F  has steadily expanded its reviews to include science resources beyond books. Sosa said the publication is now looking into ways to expand its reviews of free video, including offerings on YouTube, that might be of interest to cash-strapped schools. “A lot of publishers are also making their titles available as e-books,” she said, “and we hope to expand our e-book reviews and take advantage of the opportunities publishers now offer through their Web sites to review these titles.”

Sosa, who has worked with the publication off and on for the past 20 years, says there have been some interesting changes in science books for both children and adults in the past decade. Hot topics change from year to year; Sosa said the reviewers now are seeing a flood of children’s books on bees and natural disasters. But she thinks publishers also are offering more books that address some of science and society’s larger questions, like climate change and evolution.

Adults who haven’t read a children’s science book in a while, Sosa said, may be surprised to find that their tone has become “more irreverent and less stodgy.” Adult science books, she added, are also “more brash, and stylistically they’ve caught up to the rest of nonfiction in that way.”

Although SB&F  has a strong core of long-time reviewers, Sosa said new reviewers are welcome and encouraged to apply at the publication’s Web site.

Learn more about Science Books & Film.

Learn more about the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.