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.

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.

Lydia Denworth: Friendship

A child reports having a best friend and a worst friend (no friend at all). Adults typically need 40-60 hours of being together to form a casual friendship and 200+ hours to rate someone as a best friend. Maintaining close relationships boosts quality of life and benefits our health, Lydia Denworth writes in Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond.

Carpenter: The Craft of Science Writing

Who is a science journalist and how do you become one? What makes a science story and how do you find one? How do you report a science story? How do you tell your story? How do you build expertise in science writing? —The Craft of Science Writing: Selections from The Open Notebook edited by Siri Carpenter, TON co-founder, provides 30+ articles delving into these concerns, many by NASW members.

Sergio Pistoi: DNA Nation

“You may discover things about yourself and/or your family members that may be upsetting or cause anxiety and that you may not have the ability to change.” People ordering DNA tests often overlook the small print, Sergio Pistoi writes in DNA Nation: How the Internet of Genes is Changing Your Life. Afterward, he notes, they may regret that. An estimated 2-10 percent of paternities are misattributed.

Judy Foreman: Exercise is Medicine

“It’s not just that physical activity is good for you. It’s that a sedentary lifestyle, as a totally separate variable, is seriously bad, Judy Foreman writes in Exercise is Medicine: How Physical Activity Boosts Health and Slows Aging. Moderate exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week, she says, increases lifespan by 3.5 years. Are you sitting down now? —Read this fast, then take a walk.

Matthew Bettelheim: Wildlife Confessional

In The Wildlife Confessional—Kick It in the Ice Hole and Other Stories, NASW member and wildlife biologist Matthew Bettelheim and the late writer/wildlife biologist Thomas Roberts offer a multi-authored collection of tales and reflections on encounters with birds, bears, and more in diverse locales. Funds from book sales will help support student scholarships, grants, and training opportunities.

John Galbraith Simmons, translator, Aline and Valcour

Science writer John Galbraith Simmons and his wife Jocelyne Geneviève Barque provide the first English translation of a 900-page epistolary novel by the French author Marquis de Sade, written while Sade was imprisoned in the 1580s. Aline and Valcour combines picaresque adventures, satire, and black humor to illuminate societal injustices that persist today, including exploitation of women.

Sidney Perkowitz: Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties

Physicist Sidney Perkowitz began writing about science for non-scientists in 1989, the year he celebrated his 50th birthday and published his 100th academic paper. In "Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties," he includes 50 of his favorite pop-sci reports on topics such as illuminating light, brain injuries in soccer, Frankenstein turns 200, Hollywood science, and, yes, how scientists dress for success.

Gene Levinson: Rethinking Evolution

The classical concept of Darwinian natural selection does not encompass the varieties of new structures and functions that arise when separate entities interact in useful ways, Gene Levinson asserts in "Rethinking Evolution: The Revolution That’s Hiding in Plain Sight." His updated evolutionary theory, he says, reflects recent discoveries in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.

Cat Warren: What the Dog Knows

In What the Dog Knows, Cat Warren tells how she transformed her rambunctious German shepherd, Solo, recognized as having a “good nose,” into a cadaver dog. Warren gives young readers an introduction to the science of scent and the process of training dogs to follow a scent through a swamp, below ground, and even below the surface of a lake in this adaptation of her 2013 book on the same topic.