January 8, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 7

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Inner Fish swims to top of some best-of book lists

    By John Easton
    Medical Center Communications

    Paleontologist and author Neil Shubin has earned two prestigious book awards for his most recent work, Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy and Provost of the Field Museum, received the 2008 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science and Amazon.com’s citation for best science book of the year. The book also was selected in the annual best-of lists in the Financial Times and Washington Post, among others.

    First offered in 1959, the Phi Beta Kappa award is presented for scientists’ outstanding contributions to science literature. Its purpose is to encourage literate and scholarly interpretations of the physical and biological sciences and mathematics. It comes with a $10,000 prize.

    The award supports the general mission of the Society “to advocate for excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and to promote dialogue about important issues and ideas of our time in an environment of intellectual fellowship.”

    Each year, Internet bookseller Amazon.com chooses its top 10 “Editors’ Picks” in several categories. Editors described their top science pick, Your Inner Fish, as “Neil Shubin’s elegant and enthusiastic journey through the evolutionary advances contained in our own bodies.”

    A review on the Amazon site by neurologist and author Oliver Sacks refers to Your Inner Fish as “my favorite sort of book—an intelligent, exhilarating and compelling scientific adventure story, one which will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.”

    Sacks further noted, “Shubin is not only a distinguished scientist, but a wonderfully lucid and elegant writer.” He is an “irrepressibly enthusiastic teacher whose humor and intelligence and spellbinding narrative make this book an absolute delight. Your Inner Fish is not only a great read; it marks the debut of a science writer of the first rank,” Sacks wrote.