Tag Archive for: Philosophical Breakfast Club

Science as a Social Activity

A blog post I wrote, ‘Science as a Social Activity,’ for the Royal Institution of Australia, in advance of their book club discussion of The Philosophical Breakfast Club on November 16, is now up on their website, here.

I’m pleased they are offering the opportunity to send in questions for me, which I will be answering during an interview we will be conducting by video in the next few weeks, and which will be played during the book club meeting. More details on that to follow!

“Succeeds Famously in Evoking the Excitement, Variety and Wide-Open Sense of Possibility of the Scientific Life in 19th Century Britain” — American Scientist

A wonderful review just out in American Scientist!!

“In Snyder’s able hands, the intertwined lives of the four Cambridge friends become the stuff of a Trollope novel. . . . she deftly interweaves snippets from the letters with lucid explanations of the science involved and with scenes from 19th-century British life. . . . Focusing on the correspondence also allows Snyder to blend intellectual and family registers, just as her protagonists did in their letters. She is alert to nuance and sensitive to what is unsaid as well as said. . . . Snyder succeeds famously in evoking the excitement, variety and wide-open sense of possibility of the scientific life in 19th-century Britain . . . splendidly evoked in this engaging book.”

The review itself is long, beautifully written, and filled with tidbits from the book; it can be read here.

The review is by Lorraine Daston, historian of science and Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

An “Extraordinary Book” — Metapsychology

A lovely new review of The Philosophical Breakfast Club in Metapsychology:

An “extraordinary book….Snyder takes us from the early meetings through the careers and marriages of the four and to the end of their amazing lives. The narrative sparkles with personal details, political fights, love, brilliant discoveries, hard work, science and math, always focusing on the four protagonists.”

Read the full review here.

Press Release: Australia’s “Most Loved” Science Book

The Royal Institution of Australia has issued a press release announcing the winner of the “Favorite Science Book” poll.

“Australia’s most popular science book has been revealed. The most-loved title is The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World by Laura J. Snyder.

“The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) opened its poll on 3 July 2011 in the lead up to the Great Big Science Read, held in August each year as part of National Science Week. Readers were asked to submit and vote for their favourite science-related titles, either fiction or non-fiction. Books by both local and international authors were accepted.

“‘August is the month of the Great Big Science Read and we wanted to find out which book is the most popular book in Australia. And the crowd told us!’ said Petra Dzurovcinova, Digital Communications Manager for RiAus. Titles were voted on each week, with the least popular eliminated. Fans were kept up to date on the remaining titles on Facebook, Twitter and via the RiAus enewsletter.

“From almost 100 books, Laura J. Snyder’s four-part biography of a group of 19th century scientists was voted as the favourite science book. Snyder is a writer, professor and expert in Victorian science history and philosophy.

“‘The beauty of this book is in the way we are introduced to four amazing scientists,’ said science fan and RiAus blogger Rosalie Wodecki. ‘It was deep enough that I feel I know them, but with enough mystery that I wish to know more’, she said.

“A solid mix of fiction and non-fiction books were represented among the winning titles, with The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams placed second and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, third.”

See the rest of the press release here.

“Most Popular Science Book in Australia” — Royal Institute of Australia

The Philosophical Breakfast Club came out on top in the Royal Institution of Australia’s poll for “Most Popular Science Book!”

Here’s the final list of the top 9, out of the initial 100 books:

1. The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World, Laura J Snyder
2. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. A Short History Of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
4. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins
5. The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
6. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
7. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson & The Foundation Series, by Isaac Asimov
8. 1984, by George Orwell

Thanks to all the book’s fans, and to the Royal Institution of Australia for running the poll—a great way to remind all of us to pick up our favorite science books again, or to discover new favorites!! (The only one on the short list I’ve never read is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Maybe I can fit it in before starting to teach at the end of the month. . . .)

You can see the list on the Royal Institution of Australia’s website, here.

One Reader’s Answer to “What is Your Favorite Science Book?”

I’ve just seen a lovely blog post on the website of the Royal Institute of Australia, which is finishing up its poll of “Favorite Science Books.” The author, Rosalie Wodecki, explains why she voted for The Philosophical Breakfast Club.

“The beauty of this book is in the way we are introduced to four amazing scientists. Deep enough that I feel I know them. With enough mystery that I wish to know more. . . . You’ve filled my head with joy and wonder. . . .

“There are so many paths of discovery from this book. It’s a book that doesn’t stop on the last page. Cryptology, astronomy, photography. The idea that science is not just for scientists. It’s for me. It’s for us. . . .

“If science is all about discovery, then how could I not choose this book?”

I especially like how Rosalie notes that the answer to this question changes over time. Different books speak more loudly to us at different periods of our life. I am delighted that The Philosophical Breakfast Club is speaking loudly to readers like Rosalie right now.

You can read the blog post here.

Vote (Again!) for Your Favorite Science Book!

The Philosophical Breakfast Club is still in the running for the “Favorite Science Book” in the poll by the Royal Institute of Australia. It’s made it to the top 9 so far! The final results will be announced on Monday, August 1. Would you please vote (again) for The Philosophical Breakfast Club? It would be wonderful to make it to the top 5!

Vote here.

Tell your friends too!


“A Vivid Picture of a Revolution in Scientific Thought” — Fully Booked

It was great to see this review in Fully Booked Zine, published in the Philippines:

“Snyder paints a vivid picture of a revolution in scientific thought. . . . Its portrayal of a world and time much different from our own is remarkable, and Snyder spares no expense in immersing the reader into the world that produced these natural philosophers.”

Read the full review here.

Vote for Your Favorite Science Book!

The Royal Institute of Australia is having a contest to choose the “favourite science book of all time.” I’m excited to say that The Philosophical Breakfast Club is on the long-list, with books by such luminaries as Charles Darwin, Mary Shelley, Stephen Hawking, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and others!

Would you click on the link here, and vote for The Philosophical Breakfast Club? It’s almost halfway down the list. Thank you!

“Utterly compelling . . . a living, breathing page-turner!” — Michael Croucher

A wonderful review from Michael Croucher of Walking Randomly (and Manchester University):

“I found Snyder’s combination of biography, history and science to be utterly compelling . . . so much so that during my time reading it, my beloved iPad stayed at home, lonely and forgotten, while I undertook my daily commute. This is no dry treatise on nineteenth century science; instead it is a living, breathing page-turner about a group of very colourful individuals who lived in a time where science was done rather differently from how it is practiced today. . . . Who would have thought that a group of nineteenth century geeks could form the basis of one of the best books I’ve read all year?”

For the full review, see here.