- Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
- Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
- Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
- O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
Page count: 1,202 of targeted 12,500.
I was browsing through a bookstore last week between scheduled flat viewings when this book caught my eye. After all, I occasionally enjoy reading popular science, and I like penguins. I decided to be fiscally prudent, however, and escaped without making a purchase. In timely fashion, chrishansenhome and HWMBO surprised me with a copy for my birthday just a couple of days later.
Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? wasn't what I expected. I think I didn't read the blurb carefully enough when I was browsing through the bookstore. I thought this would be a series of questions submitted to the NewScientist magazine by its readers and answered by a panel of experts. And I thought more than two pages would be devoted to penguins. (I knew, with "114 Other Questions," that only a few pages could be devoted to the question of penguin feet, but I thought there might be a whole section on penguin questions.)
Well, the questions were indeed submitted by NewScientist readers, but so were the answers! This had predictable results. Some of the answers were spot on (and very interesting). Some got close to the truth and required followup from other readers for completeness. Some were obviously wrong: these were usually corrected by other readers and occasionally a note from the editor, but two or three got by uncorrected. Others made absolutely no attempt at correctness, going solely for humour.
Once I got used to the format, I found it an interesting read. I learned a few things, found a few previous misconceptions corrected, and was entertained. I even found myself engaged in mental argument with some of the correspondents as I read their answers, and I think that's a good sign. All in all, it meets the criteria I set forth in my previous book log: Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? is not an important book, but it is thought-provoking and entertaining. Thank you, chrishansenhome and HWMBO!
On a tangential note, at 1,202 pages in January, I am well ahead of schedule towards my goal of 12,500 pages for the year and almost on pace for the goal I considered of 15,000 pages. And I didn't think I'd read enough this month!