Monday, May 5, 2008

Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer is the author of Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life and several previous books, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, Parasite Rex--"as fine a book as one will find on the subject" according to Scientific American--and Soul Made Flesh, a history of the brain, which was named one of the top 100 books of 2004 by the New York Times Book Review.

He also writes an award-winning blog, The Loom.

I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I've reached the age when I realize that there are a finite number of books I will be able to read in my lifetime. So I'm now making my way through books I've been meaning to read as long as I can remember. I'm trying to read novels, because my regular line of work--writing about science--normally leaves me reading journal papers and reviews late into the night. Right now I'm finishing up The Red and the Black. It's wonderful but quite strange in some ways. Stendhal will spend pages and pages on the hero's mulling how to steal a ladder, but spend a brief paragraph on the climax of a major political plot.

In the non-human world, I'm reading Speciation in Birds by Trevor Price. I'm very interested these days in that age-old question of how new species evolve. Birds helped Darwin to formulate his theory of evolution, and today scientists are probing their DNA and behavior even deeper to understand the process. Trevor Price's book synthesizes a huge amount of research with wonderful clarity.
Zimmer writes about science for the New York Times; his work also appears in National Geographic, Scientific American, and Discover, where he is a contributing editor. In 2007 he won the National Academies Communication Award, the highest honor for science writing.

Read an excerpt from Miocrocosm, and learn more about it and the author's work at Carl Zimmer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue