I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been thoroughly enjoying Michael Sims' new book, Apollo's Fire. Sims is an insightful and talented writer, author of Adam's Navel, which I loved. Apollo's Fire is a journey through the planet's oldest narrative, the cycle of day and night. Michael's writing is often praised for its wit and erudition. In this new book -- in the clarity and elegance of its prose and its astonishing alchemy of art, history, literature, mythology, and solid science -- it's easy to see why.Ackerman's other books include Chance in the House of Fate: A Natural History of Heredity and Notes from the Shore. A contributor to National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, and many other publications, she is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a 2004 NEA Literature Fellowship in Nonfiction and a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her articles and essays have been included in several anthologies, among them Best American Science Writing (2005), The Nature Reader (1996), and Best Nature Writing (1996). Ackerman’s work aims to explain and interpret science for a lay audience and to explore the riddle of humanity's place in the natural world, blending scientific knowledge with imaginative vision.
I know from experience that shoe-horning sophisticated science into fluid narrative is no easy task, but Sims makes it seem so. Reading Apollo's Fire is like walking one whole turn of day with a curious and engaging friend, impossibly well read, who asks the questions you wish you'd thought of, and then answers them in lucid, beautiful, playful language: Sun dogs and moon shadows, contrails, the strange story of ozone, the border habitat of twilight, the nature of sunlight and the physics of wind, the myth of Apollo and the story of Phaethon. Best not to fly through this book, but to saunter, musing. Then run out and buy copies for your friends and family to keep on their nightstands. They'll thank you for it.
Learn more about Jennifer Ackerman and her work at her website.