The six-strong shortlist for the £25,000 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize has been revealed, including two titles from PRH imprint The Bodley Head.
Bodley Head's Science Fictions: Exposing Fraud, Bias, Negligence and Hype in Science by Stuart Ritchie and Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (pictured) join fellow PRH title Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor (Penguin Life) on the list.
Nestor is one of the two debut authors to feature in the nominations, alongside Jessica Nordell who has been shortlisted for The End of Bias: How We Change Our Minds (Granta). Oneworld gets a nod for The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers by Emily Levesque and The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan (Picador) concludes the line up.
Chair of judges Professor Luke O’Neill said: “This year’s shortlist reflects more than ever the huge strength and diversity of topics evident in science writing. Every book is very accessible to all, and each in its own way is quite remarkable. The topics range from an account of what it’s like to be a woman in the field of astronomy (which also conveys the enduring fascination we have with the stars), why breathing optimally is so important for our health and wellbeing, the scientific basis of why we are so biased when it comes to our views, the related topic of fraud and bias in science, mystery illnesses and, finally, the fascinating world of fungi.
“Each is important and compelling, conveying the wonder of science but also highlighting issues that we should all be concerned about. Important, accessible science writing is certainly alive and well with this enthralling list of titles.”
This year's shortlisted books were chosen from a record number of 267 submissions. The winner will be revealed at a ceremony in London on 29th November. They will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors.
The 2021 judging panel comprises O’Neill, television presenter Ortis Deley, mathematician and Dorothy Hodgkin Royal Society Fellow Dr Anastasia Kisil, author and creative writing lecturer Christy Lefteri and journalist Clive Myrie.