Science Titles from Jane Goodall, Bernd Heinrich, & More | Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2014, Pt. 2


Denworth, Lydia. I Can Hear You Whisper: An Intimate Journey through the Science of Sound and Language. Dutton. Apr. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780525953791. $26.95. HEALTH/HEARING
When her third son was almost two, Denworth was told that he suffered from profound and progressive hearing loss—a shocking revelation, for as a science writer she well understood the importance of hearing to the developing brain. All of which led to Alex’s cochlear implant, a new and somewhat controversial technology that stirs up issues of identity politics and medical ethics. You’ve already caught Denworth on MSNBC’s The Cycle and the New York Times Motherlode blog.

Goodall, Jane with Gail Hudson. Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. Grand Central. Apr. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9781455554492. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455513208. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455513222. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. NATURE/PLANTS
Goodall may be the world’s leading authority on chimpanzees, but her new book circles back to her first experiences in nature, when developed a love of plants as she played in her backyard in England. Here she introduces us to botanists worldwide and reveals hopeful developments in these climate-challenged times, such as the founding of the Millennium Seed Bank, which preserves one billion seeds. Personal reflections, and Goodall’s previous titles have sold big.

Heinrich, Bernd. The Homing Instinct: Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780547198484. $27. NATURE/ANIMALS
Your desire to return to some favorite spot from childhood? It’s driven by the same force that drives two sandhill cranes featured here by acclaimed scientist Heinrich, who explains how they return yearly to their home pond in the Alaska tundra. Winner of the 2013 PEN New England Award for Nonfiction, Heinrich explores the homing instinct, with examples ranging from visual imprinting to scent trails to the solar and magnetic orienteering used by even the smallest birds.

Lobel, Thalma. Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence. Atria. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781451699135. $26. COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
We think we’re so cool and rational, but the hot new study of physical intelligence shows that we are deeply affected by physical stimuli from the world around us. Red type makes us fail tests, for instance, while red jerseys make sports teams win games; sweet smells reinforce ethical behavior, and we regard sweets lovers as kinder people. But we’re not utterly in thrall to such stimuli; internationally renowned psychologist Lobel of Tel Aviv University helpfully explains how we can make smarter judgments by better evaluating sights, smells, and sounds and their impact.

Moalem, Sharon. Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives—and Our Lives Change Our Genes. Grand Central. Apr. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781455549443. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455549450. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455579273. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. GENETICS
Given my genes, I’m pretty much stuck with my shy but combustible temperament and lifelong tendency toward sore throats, right? Actually not, says Moalem, an award-winning scientist and best-selling author (Survival of the Sickest), who argues that the human genome is more bendable than previously envisioned. Genes can be modified by psychological trauma, for instance. Important to learn even as insurance companies use genetic data to determine coverage; with a 75,000-copy first printing and a big media push.


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.