Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines to submit your report.

Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Rectangular photo of Steve Nadis’ office bookshelf showing several works on Einstein, general relativity, and space-time, along with Nadis’ and his coauthor’s previous books on these topics. Photo credit: Steve Nadis.

Steve Nadis (NASW member) and Shing-Tung Yau—The Gravity of Math: How Geometry Rules the Universe

More than a century after Einstein published his theory of general relativity, physicists and mathematicians still strive to unravel its implications and expand upon it, NASW member Steve Nadis and Shing-Tung Yau write in The Gravity of Math: How Geometry Rules the Universe. Continual exchange and spillover of ideas across disciplinary boundaries, they note, advance our understanding of the universe.

Rectangular photo of Mark Wolverton’s office bookshelf showing works by and about physicists Arthur Holly Compton and Robert Millikan, the subjects of his book Splinters of Infinity, along with books on cosmic rays, stars, astronomy, and physics. Photo credit: Mark Wolverton.

Mark Wolverton—Splinters of Infinity: Cosmic Rays and the Clash of Two Nobel Prize-Winning Scientists over the Secrets of Creation

“Cosmic rays remain one of the most intractable scientific puzzles of all time,” Mark Wolverton asserts. Debate between two physicist superstars over what cosmic rays are and how they came to be roiled scientific, religious, and philosophical groups in the 1930s, Wolverton writes in Splinters of Infinity: Cosmic Rays and the Clash of Two Nobel Prize-Winning Scientists over the Secrets of Creation.

Rectangular photo of sea otter in the ocean. Photo credit: Jeff Stevens

Alison Pearce Stevens—Animal Climate Heroes!

Whales fertilize the ocean with their poop. Forest elephants eat small fast-growing trees, helping larger slow-growing trees flourish. In Animal Climate Heroes!, Alison Pearce Stevens urges readers aged 8 and up to become climate heroes, too, by cutting back on single-use plastics, encouraging their families to buy local, planting a vegetable garden, and choosing to bike rather than riding in a car.

Rectangular photo of David Baron’s office bookshelf showing works on eclipses, starts, astronomy, Thomas Edison and the U.S. Naval Observatory’s record of the July 29, 1878 eclipse. Photo credit: David Baron.

David Baron—American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World (Revised Edition)

On April 8, the moon’s shadow will sweep over North America from Mexico across Texas to New England into Canada. Some 32 million people will see a total eclipse. This “precious shared experience,” David Baron suggests in a new edition of American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World, may boost recognition of commonalities in our divided nation.

Rectangular photo of Liz Lee Heinecke’s office bookshelf showing works about and by women in science including Marie Curie and Rachel Carson. Photo credit: Liz Lee Heinecke.

Liz Lee Heinecke—She Can STEM: 50 Trailblazing Women in Science from Ancient History to Today

Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars, but the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics went to her male academic advisor—not a unique story. In She Can STEM: 50 Trailblazing Women in Science from Ancient History to Today, Liz Lee Heinecke chronicles 50 women scientists’ successes and struggles. Each account includes a guide to help readers ages 7-12 conduct topic-related experiments of their own at home.

Nell Greenfieldboyce—Transient and Strange: Notes on the Science of Life

“Much of scientific inquiry, like poetry, involves play and metaphor and idiosyncratic obsessions and just plain fiddling around,” Nell Greenfieldboyce asserts. In Transient And Strange: Notes on the Science of Life, she employs these same tactics to explore the nature of tornados, meteorites, black holes, lives of fleas and spiders, doodling, quality of silence, making of toast, and making of babies.

Rectangular photo of Rebecca Boyle’s office bookshelves showing works on the moon, the Solar System, tides, cosmology, and astronomy. Photo credit: Rebecca Boyle.

Rebecca Boyle—Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are

Moon dust smells like wet ashes and sticks to everything, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin found on their 1969 moon landing. They slept with helmets on to avoid breathing it in. In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are, Rebecca Boyle covers moon science from the moon’s formation up to recent attempts to monetize it as a graveyard.

Rectangular photo of Elizabeth Nesbitt’s desk showing scientific papers on fossils. Her research comes from primary sources, such as Geobios, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Current Biology, and Papers in Paleontology. Photo credit: Elizabeth Nesbitt

Elizabeth A. Nesbitt and David B. Williams—Spirit Whales & Sloth Tales: Fossils of Washington State

Mammoths twice the size of today’s biggest elephants, an Ice Age ground sloth 9 ft tall, and voracious moon snails come to life in Spirit Whales & Sloth Tales: Fossils of Washington State. Paleontologist Elizabeth Nesbitt and NASW member David Williams discuss 24 fossils dating from 12,000 years to 520 million years ago including Washington’s most unusual fossil, a 16 million-year-old rhinoceros.