Opinion – Darwin and God: The best science books of 2021 in Brazil and abroad


My unfamiliarity with the new blog publishing system made me deeply late for this post, but I think there’s still time to share my 2021 reading list here, right? Unlike what I did the previous year, I also take the opportunity to point out what, for me, were the best books on science published last year in Brazil and abroad.

Without further ado, let’s start with the general list.

1) Laudato Si’, Pope Francis (rereading)
2)The Sandman I, Neil Gaiman (retelling)
3)The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, Paul A. Rahe
4)Apollo’s Arrow, Nicholas Christakis
5) Chereas and Callirroe, Chariton of Aphrodisias
6)The Mirror & The Light, Hilary Mantel
7) This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein
8)Stony The Road, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
9) The Eye of the Heron, Ursula K. Le Guin
10) Father Marcelo Rossi: A Life Dedicated to God, Heloisa Marra
11)The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh
12)American Gods, Neil Gaiman (retelling)
13) The Children of Húrin, JRR Tolkien (reread)
14) Torn from Earth, Lira Neto
15) The Einstein Intersection, Samuel R. Delany
16)Medieval Europe, Chris Wickham
17)Genesis, Guido Tonelli
18) Telepathy Is Others, Ana Rüsche
19) Stardust, Neil Gaiman (retelling)
20)Descarbonario, Alfredo Sirkis
21) The Worlds of JRR Tolkien, John Garth
22) Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
23)The Magician’s Nephew, CS Lewis (reread)
24) Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman (retelling)
25) When Women Ruled the World, Kara Cooney
26) All Hell Breaking Loose, Michael T. Klare
27) Humanity, Rutger Bregman
28) The Spiral of Death, Claudio Angelo
29) The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (reread)
30) Cool It, Bjorn Lomborg
31)Cretaceous Chronicles, André Nemésio
32)The New Testament, a New Translation, David Bentley Hart
33)The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis (reread)
34)Who We Are And How We Got Here, David Reich
35) Jesus – A Brief Historical Script for the Curious, Alex Fernandes Bohrer
36) Auto da Compadecida, Ariano Suassuna (rereading)
37) Till We Have Faces, CS Lewis (reread)
38) Masters of The Planet, Ian Tattersall
39) The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (reread)
40) A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Adam Rutherford (reread)
41) The Decoder, Walter Isaacson
42) The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien (reread)
43) The Lost History of Christianity, Philip Jeb
44) Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
45) The African Experience, Kenneth P. Vickery
46)Mugabe, My Dad And Me, Tonderai Munyevu
47)The Golden Rhinoceros, François-Xavier Fauvelle
48) The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. Le Guin
49)How To Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates
50) Cities Sink On Normal Days, Aline Valek
51) L’Amica Geniale, Elena Ferrante
52) The Origin of the Species, Alberto Mussa
53) Logicomix, Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
54) Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
56) The Fortunes of Africa, Martin Meredith
57) Medieval Myths and Mysteries, Dorsey Armstrong
58) Lone Survivors, Chris Stringer
59) Lost Children, Francesca Lia Block
60) Black Moses, Alain Mabanckou
61)Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin
62)Unfinished Tales, JRR Tolkien (reread)
63) Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories, Michael Shermer
64) Music in Your Brain, Daniel J. Levitin
65) The Story of Human Language, John McWhorter
66) The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe
67) Between Hope and Fear, Michael Kinch
68) On Immunity, Eula Bliss
69) Armada, Ernest Cline (reread)
70)10 Big Questions of The American Civil War, Caroline Janney
71) Redshirts, John Scalzi (reread)
72) The Martian, Andy Weir (retelling)
73) Preventing the Next Pandemic, Peter J. Hotez
74)Shusaku Endo, Silence
75) Rise and Fall of the Borgias, William Landon
76) Prince Caspian, CS Lewis (reread)
77) Generals and Geniuses, Edward G. Lengel
78)Rentchin, Rodrigo Elias Oliveira
79) The Nature of Middle-earth, JRR Tolkien
80)American Monsters, Adam Jortner
81)Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism, Peter J. Hotez
82) The Genius of Birds, Jennifer Ackerman
83) The River of Doubt, Candice Millard
84)Vaccinated, Paul Offit
85) Dan Jones, The Templars
86) Fourteen Camels to Ceará, Delmo Moreira
87)God: An Anatomy, Francesca Stavrakopoulou
88) The Sandman II, Neil Gaiman
89) Homo ferox, Reinaldo José Lopes
90)First Steps, Jeremy DeSilva
91) Circe, Madeline Miller
92) The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien (reread)
93)Fossil Men, Kermit Pattison
94) Lost Worlds of South America, Edwin Barnhart
95) The Fellowship of The Ring, JRR Tolkien (reread)
96)The Towers, JRR Tolkien (reread)
97) The Iliad of Homer, Elizabeth Vandiver
98) The Return of The King, JRR Tolkien (retelling)
99) A History of Britain vol. 1, Simon Schama (reread)
100)O Saci, Monteiro Lobato (rereading)
101) The Dawn of Everything, David Graeber and David Wengrow
102) Why Is Sex Fun, Jared Diamond
103)The 12 Labors of Hercules, Monteiro Lobato (rereading)
104)Collected Poems, vol. I, Seamus Heaney
105)Dante, The Biography, Alessandro Barbero
106) Slavery, vol. I, Laurentino Gomes

And what about the best on the list? I had the pleasure of reviewing both in this Sheet. Among Brazilian authors, I must give credit to the amusing and deeply informative narrative by journalist Delmo Moreira in “Catorze Camelos para o Ceará”report on a scientific expedition of the Empire of Brazil in the northeastern hinterland with the participation of the romantic poet Gonçalves Dias.

Among the gringos, “The Dawn of Everything” by anthropologist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow, is a welcome antidote to the excessive dominance of Israeli Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens” in narratives about the origins of our species’ social complexity. Both seek to show a more nuanced picture of the origins of agriculture, cities and political power, with an emphasis on the potential for more egalitarian and less hierarchical social relations.

I also read a lot of fiction last year (after all, man cannot live on bread alone), but my favorites were not released in 2021. Among them, I highlight “Circe”, by Madeline Miller, a beautiful book that rekindled my old passion for Greek mythology with a masterful retelling of the life of the sorceress and lover of Odysseus (or Odysseus, as the Romans said).

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