LJ Best Books 2017

It's time again for LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.   SEE WHO MADE THE LIST

Best Books 2013: Sci-Tech

By Margaret Dominy

Hirschfeld, Erik & others. The World’s Rarest Birds. Princeton Univ. (WildGuides). ISBN 9780691155968. $45. NAT HIST

A landmark volume of unparalleled coverage, with the world’s endangered birds caught in the wild—photographically—thanks to a contest to secure the images, 977 of them. (Some birds were too rare to find, and an illustration must suffice.) An exemplary volume of long-term value, teaching us never to take for granted the presence of birds in our lives. (LJ 5/1/13)




King, Richard J. The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History. Univ. of New Hampshire: Univ. Pr. of New England. ISBN 9781611682250. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781611684742. NAT HIST

King travels the globe in search of the many species of cormorant, a bird whose compelling traits have drawn an array of practical and cultural responses from humans, including John Milton having Satan take on a cormorant’s guise in Paradise Lost, and Japanese fishermen harnessing the diving birds for their own hauls. Expert, absorbing, and illuminating. (LJ 9/1/13)


Moskowitz, David. Wolves in the Land of Salmon. Timber. 2013. ISBN 9781604692273. $29.95. NAT HIST

We mostly look at wolves through the lens of the northern Rockies. Moskowitz writes for all who care about the animal’s declining populations as he instead tracks the remaining wolf packs in the Pacific Northwest, his camera in hand. Read this to understand the broad import of U.S. wolf restoration initiatives.




Peterson, Dale (text) & Karl Ammann (photos). Giraffe Reflections. Univ. of California. ISBN 9780520266858. $39.95. NAT HIST

One of the African continent’s most stunning creatures is placed in its full historical, cultural, zoological, and photographic glory, its junctions with human history far beyond its home base traced from the “camel-leopards” of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the zarafa given by Islamic potentates to European royalty, and on to an engrossing study of its habits, varieties, and current threats. (LJ 9/1/13)


Rothenberg, David. Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise. St. Martin’s. ISBN 9781250005212. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250018267. NAT HIST

Have you ever wondered how many degrees of separation there are between Béla Bartók and bugs? Read this, and you will. Millions of years before other singers (birds, humans) existed on Earth, insects serenaded. Rothenberg explores how rhythm—and musicality itself—may have come into our very being, noting how we function rhythmically even at the subatomic level. Provocative, entertaining, and bound to fascinate. (LJ 6/1/13)