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The Planetsby Dava Sobel
Using scientific facts and cultural background, Sobel continues in her witty and knowledgeable fashion with this absorbing ode to our solar system. Lyrical, personal, and engaging.
Synopses & Reviews
With her blockbuster New York Times bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel used her rare and luminous gift for weaving difficult scientific concepts into a compelling story to garner rave reviews and attract readers from across the literary spectrum. Now, in The Planets, Sobel brings her full talents to bear on what is perhaps her most ambitious subject to date — the planets of our solar system.
The sun's family of planets become a familiar place in this personal account of the lives of other worlds. Sobel explores the planets' origins and oddities through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. A perfect gift and a captivating journey, The Planets is a gorgeously illustrated study of our place in the universe that will mesmerize everyone who has ever gazed with awe at our night sky.
"Sobel's purpose in this lovely and personal volume is to show us the planets as she sees them. Writing in quite a different mode than in her best-selling Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Sobel offers intimate essays inspired by the planets in our solar system, which she describes as 'an assortment of magic beans or precious gems in a little private cabinet of wonder — portable, evocative, and swirled in beauty.' She frames each essay in a different light, using a particular planet as a stepping stone toward a discussion of larger issues. Her 'Jupiter' essay becomes a meditation on astrology, while her essay on the Sun, which relates the actual birth of the universe seemingly ex nihilo, evokes the Genesis account of creation in both its themes and the cadence of its language. Put simply, Sobel's conceits work (even, remarkably, the essay on Mars written from the perspective of a Martian rock) because each beautifully frames its planet. An essay that begins with the story of Sobel's grandmother coming to the United States as an immigrant, for example, sets up the author's musings on the odd nature of Pluto as somewhere in between 'planet' and 'other.' This resonant and eclectic collection — informative, entertaining and poetic — is a joy to read. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (On sale Oct. 11)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Thoroughly readable: not a dry recitation of facts — though the facts are there — but a lively exploration of the historical and cultural meaning of the planets." Kirkus Reviews
"A thoughtful, apt diction permeates Sobel's journey among the planets, creating a mood of reading pleasure that also helped make Longitude a best-seller." Booklist
"[Sobel's] writing is vivid and poetic....The resulting fabric offers something for all readers, even those who think they might not be interested in science and space. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Sobel's gift, which is so evident and admirable in this book, is her ability to infuse dry, even mundane, science with poetry and romance....There are not nine reasons for liking this book — there are as many as there are stars." San Diego Union Tribune
"Unlike Galileo's Daughter and Longitude, which reaped acclaim for rich narrative and in-depth information, this work is much more personal. It is part memoir, part anthology and part reverie." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"[A]n incantatory serenade to the solar system....With a captivating mix of erudition and whimsy, [Sobel] shows how the planets are repositories of meaning... (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
With her bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel introduced readers to her rare gift for weaving complex scientific concepts into a compelling narrative. Now Sobel brings her full talents to bear on what is perhaps her most ambitious topic to date-the planets of our solar system. Sobel explores the origins and oddities of the planets through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. Written in her characteristically graceful prose, The Planets is a stunningly original celebration of our solar system and offers a distinctive view of our place in the universe.
* A New York Times extended bestseller
* A Featured Alternate of the Book-of-the-Month Club, History Book Club, Scientific American Book Club, and Natural Science Book Club
* Includes 11 full-color illustrations by artist Lynette R. Cook
"[The Planets] lets us fall in love with the heavens all over again."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Playful . . . lyrical . . . a guided tour so imaginative that we forget we're being educated as we're being entertained."
" [Sobel] has outdone her extraordinary talent for keeping readers enthralled. . . . Longitude and Galileo's Daughter were exciting enough, but The Planets has a charm of its own . . . . A splendid and enticing book."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"A sublime journey. [Sobel's] writing . . . is as bright as the sun and its thinking as star-studded as the cosmos."
-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"An incantatory serenade to the Solar System. Grade A-"
"Like Sobel's [Longitude and Galileo's Daughter] . . . [The Planets] combines masterful storytelling with clear, engaging explanations of the essential scientific facts."
About the Author
Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science writer for the New York Times. The author of the bestselling Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Sobel's work has also appeared in Audubon, Discover, Life, and The New Yorker.
Table of Contents
Music of the Spheres
(Uranus and Neptune)
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