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 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.

Cynthia Barnett—The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans

Seashells are the work of marine mollusks, the most diverse group of animals in the oceans, with the longest evolutionary history of species living today, Cynthia Barnett reports in The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans. Mollusks famously clean up the water around them, she notes. How long can they survive if they keep consuming chemical contaminants and microplastic fibers?

Erika Engelhaupt—Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science

Would you eat a fried cicada? Drink your own urine? Try on a Nazi officer’s hat? In Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science, Erika Engelhaupt explores topics she first found off-putting but later sought to understand. “Nature is often gross,” she says. “If we could be more thoughtful about what disgusts us and why, we might even learn to be a little more tolerant of one another.”

Leila Belkora—Minding the Heavens: The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way

Knowledge of our galaxy is advancing rapidly. Astronomers can collect and analyze data on stars and other celestial objects simultaneously and combine data from ground-based & space-based instruments, Leila Belkora reports in Minding the Heavens—The Story of Our Discovery of the Milky Way. Astronomy enthusiasts can participate via citizen science projects. Some even have home observatories.

Adrian Dingle—Awesome Chemistry Experiments for Kids: 40 STEAM Science Projects and Why They Work

Why does an iron nail rust? A cut apple turn brown? How do stalagmites form? Five- to 10-year-olds can discover the answers via step-by-step home experiments Adrian Dingle provides in Awesome Chemistry Experiments for Kids: 40 Science Projects and Why They Work. Dingle’s minor-to-major Mess-O-Meter, plus ratings of difficulty and time required, will help parents assisting their budding chemists.

Trudy E. Bell—Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed

Neptune’s 1846 discovery is among the most celebrated in astronomy. Neptune was not seen first through a telescope. It was located using Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. In Neptune: From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed, NASW member Trudy E. Bell and colleagues provide perspective on both astronomy’s past and recent research suggesting a possible “Planet Nine” still further away.

Lauren Aguirre—The Memory Thief and the Secrets Behind How We Remember: A Medical Mystery

“Why am I here?” The hospitalized man asked again. After overdosing on an illicit drug, possibly fentanyl, he couldn’t retain memories. Nor could some other opioid users. The area of their brains critical to memory formation and storage, the hippocampus, had been damaged. In The Memory Thief & the Secrets Behind How We Remember, Lauren Aguirre explores causes and potential help for memory loss.

Sam Apple—Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection

In 1940s Germany, Nobel laureate Otto Warburg found cancer cells consume 10 times as much glucose as healthy cells. “Like shipwrecked sailors, they were ravenous,” Sam Apple notes. Warburg’s metabolic studies excite new interest today, as does the story of his survival as a Jew protected by Hitler, Apple reports in Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection.

Adam Rogers—Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern

Millions of people saw a dress in a 2015 internet photo as blue, millions more as white. “The way people see color, with their eyes and with their mind, was the biggest news story of the day,” Adam Rogers says. We all process the physics of light and chemistry of pigments differently to create billions of individual palettes, he reports in Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern.

Liz Heinecke: The Kitchen Pantry Scientist—Biology for Kids

Kids can gain insight into neurons & neural networks by making pipe cleaner models. They can swab doorknobs & grow bacteria and fungi on agar plates. In The Kitchen Pantry Scientist: Biology for Kids, Liz Heinecke introduces young readers to 25 biologists & provides step-by-step photo-illustrated guides to home experiments based on each biologist’s work plus facts on the biology behind the fun.