02 August 2018
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Five Penguin Random House UK titles have been named on the six-strong shortlist for The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2018, which celebrates the best of science writing for a non-specialist audience. These are:

  • Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Doubleday)
  • The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke (Doubleday/Black Swan)
  • The Beautiful Cure: Harnessing Your Body’s Natural Defences by Daniel M Davis (Bodley Head)
  • Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by Hannah Fry (Doubleday)
  • Liquid: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik (Viking)

In Inventing Ourselves, award-winning neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore has revolutionised the way we think about the brain. In her exciting book debut, she explains the adolescent brain, its transformations, and how it ultimately shapes the adults we become. Robert Winston calls it “beautifully written with clarity, expertise and honesty about the most important subject for all of us all. I couldn’t put it down.”

The Unexpected Truth About Animals sees zoologist and award-winning broadcaster Lucy Cooke explore centuries of animals myths, revealing the fascinating and often hilarious truths behind some of the strangest animal theories. Described by Chris Packham as “an eye-opening, informative and hysterical history of our ideas about animals”, the book stars a menagerie of the misunderstood, including feminist hyenas, exploding bats, and perverted penguins.

In The Beautiful Cure, pioneering immunologist Professor Daniel Davis introduces the revolutionary new science of the immune system; examining break-through medical cures and how stress, sleep and ageing all affect our health. Stephen Fry has described it as “one of those books that makes you look at everything human in a new, challenging and thrilling way”, whilst Bill Bryson says it “brilliantly conveys the excitement of scientific discovery.”

Mathematician Hannah Fry’s Hello World takes readers on a tour of the algorithms that surround us, lifting the lid on their inner workings to examine whether they really are an improvement on the humans they replace. Adam Rutherford calls it “wise, sharp and witty, the definitive guide to living in the age of social media, algorithms and automation.” Hello World is published on 6th September.

Former winner Mark Miodownik, whose Stuff Matters took the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize in 2014, is shortlisted for his latest book, Liquid, which takes readers on a fascinating tour of liquids and their mysterious properties:  the droplets, heartbeats and ocean waves we encounter day-to-day. Liquid is published on 6th September.

The other title named on the shortlist is Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester, published by William Collins.

The Prize

First awarded in 1988, the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize has celebrated outstanding popular science writing and authors for over 30 years.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on Monday 1st October 2018.

Previous Penguin Random House winners of the prize include Bill Bryson for A Short History of Nearly Everything (Doubleday), Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell (Bantam Press), Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene (Chatto & Windus), and Jared Diamond, with Guns, Germs and Steel (Jonathan Cape).

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