Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BOOK: The Planets by Sava Sobel

The Planets by Dava Sobel

nonfiction five 2008

If you think a book about the planets would be dull, boring reading, with lists of facts, then you haven't read anything written by Dava Sobel, or you aren't a science geek like me. Her books Longitude and Galileo's Daughter (my review) were both easy to read, with facts mixed in, but it's more about the story and the writing. I thoroughly enjoyed both her books and her writing style. In addition, the beautiful cover is your first hint that this is not just a book about the facts.

This book was written before Pluto's demotion from planet to minor planet status, but that development was in the works for quite a while and is hinted at here. (The demotion is one of the more interesting developments in science in recent years, in my opinion. I love how it demonstrates the scientific process and that science isn't just a bunch of facts, but a fluid changing discipline.) Each planet, as well as the sun and our moon, get their own chapter, and each chapter has a different focus. The geological and discovery history is here for each planet, but it is hidden in the story of their chapter. Mythology (Mercury), Beauty (Venus), Lunacy (The Moon), Astrology (Jupiter) and Geography(Earth) are some of the titles and give you a hint as to the theme.

All the astronomers are here: Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Huygens. The different space expeditions that explored the various planets, the mythology behind some of the planets. This book will have a prominent place in my high school physics class and it is short enough to keep the attention of anyone interested in learning a bit more about the planets and our place in the solar system without feeling like a textbook.


  1. Too funny - I'm reading this one right now! I've already written 1/2 of my review b/c I love it so much. I'll keep your link to add to it when I post later this week.

  2. I wouldn't normally get into a book like but it does sound intriguing. Thanks

  3. This is a book that I picked up and then put back down because I have too many books, already. Darn. It sounds so fun. :)

  4. heather j - coincidence, eh? It's surprisingly good.

    confuzzled books - it takes the boring out of science. She picke some intersting themes to write the book.

    bookfool - It was $2 at Indigo, so I bought two to have in my classroom. I couldn't turn it down. The book itself is gorgeous.

  5. This sounds like such an interesting book. I never thought I would say that about a book about planets! Great review.

  6. Oh, wow, I wouldn't pass it up at that price, even though I really, really don't need any more books.

  7. I've only read Longitude so far and I had a few issues with the way Sobel presents her information, but no show stoppers and she interesting enough to read. Besides, Longitude is really the only book on the subject and the subject is a fascinating one--I think. (I wrote a bit about it here.)


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