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The Royal Society of Biology would like to announce the shortlists for its annual Book Awards.

The awards celebrate outstanding biology books for the general reader, as well as exceptional undergraduate and postgraduate textbooks.

The General Biology Book Prize recognises accessible, engaging and informative life sciences books written for a non-specialist audience.

“Sixty-four books (twice as many as last year) were submitted in this category, suggesting that despite the advance of e-books, print publishing is still flourishing”, said Dr William Marshall, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and member of the general category judging panel. “The subject matter ranged through topics as diverse as evolution, urban peregrines, cetaceans, bumblebees and bed bugs. The standard was impressive, and many were a pleasure to handle as well as to read.”

General Biology Book Prize shortlist:


Being Mortal

Medicine and What Matters in the End
Atul Gawande (Profile Books)
The judges said: Every so often a book comes along that changes the way one views life and in this case, the end of life. No one will be able to read Being Mortal without being affected.


Field Notes from a Small Planet
Mark Cocker (Jonathan Cape)
The judges said: A beautifully presented series of observations by an author with a gift for making the everyday special and the special something to be treasured.

I, Superorganism

Learning to love your inner ecosystem
Jon Turney (Icon Books)
The judges said: I, Superorganism will surprise you and then surprise you again. It seems our body could not be more different than we could imagine.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari (Random House)
The judges said: A remarkable tour de force with a very narrative strand.

The Vital Question

Why is life the way it is?
Nick Lane (Profile Books)
The judges said: There are some big questions in life but one of the biggest is how did it get started? In the same way that we get closer to the birth of the universe following the Big Bang, The Vital Question shows that biochemistry has made similar progress in explaining the origins of life on Earth.


The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind
David J Linden (Penguin)
The judges said: Touch was a delight to read and to hold. With a deft hand of expertise, the book is packed with nuggets of wisdom to enliven any after dinner conversation.

The General Biology Book Prize was judged by: Dr William Marshall FRSB, clinical director of pathology and consultant clinical biochemist at The London Clinic; Professor Bruce Hood FRSB, author and professor of development psychology at Bristol University; and Connie St Louis, director of the MA science journalism, City University London.

The Society’s Book Awards also recognise outstanding biology, bioscience or life sciences textbooks for undergraduates and postgraduates.

“Judges were looking for textbooks which students really need on their bookshelf as opposed to something they can borrow from the library for an essay”, said Dr David Slingsby FRSB, undergraduate textbook category judge. “A good textbook introduces a range of topics within biology or an area within the biosciences and links subtopics together with plenty of examples and case studies.”

Undergraduate Textbook Prize shortlist:


Genetic Analysis: Genes, Genomes, and Networks in Eukaryotes (2nd Edition)

Philip Meneely (Oxford University Press)
The judges said: Not only has this book excellent scientific content but its pedagogical style is designed to nurture independent learning. Genetic Analysis will earn its place on a biology or genetics student’s bookshelf throughout a three year degree course.

Human Biology (14th Edition)

Sylvia S Mader & Michael Windelspecht (McGraw-Hill Education)
The judges said: This well illustrated text, seamlessly integrates traditional learning system with modern digital and pedagogical approaches.

Molecular Biology of the Cell (6th Edition)

Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson, Julian Lewis, David Morgan, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts, Peter Walter (Garland Science)
The judges said: This was a ground-breaking text book in its first incarnation, and the 6th edition is as good as ever. Written in a readable style, with consistently excellent illustrations, it covers a breadth and depth of information that is truly impressive.

Principles of Development (5th Edition)

Lewis Wolpert, Cheryll Tickle, and Alfonso Martinez Arias (Oxford University Press)
The judges said: Written in an interesting style accessible to undergraduates, the text linked subtopics together with plenty of excellent examples and case studies.

The Undergraduate Textbook Prize was judged by: Dr Clare Miller MRSB, senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Lincoln; Professor Jenny Morton FRSB, professor of neurobiology at the University of Cambridge; and Dr David Slingsby FRSB, Open University tutor and former chair of education for the British Ecological Society.

Postgraduate Textbook Prize shortlist:


Curating Biocultural Collections

edited by Jan Salick, Katie Konchar, Mark Nesbitt (Kew Publishing)
The judges said: A stunningly visual and engaging book with a crisp, clear and example rich style. It captivates the reader with its breadth of topics and range of examples, cases studies and photographs.

Freshwater Algae: Identification, Enumeration and Use as Bioindicators (2nd Edition)

Edward G Bellinger and David C Sigee (Wiley-Blackwell)
The judges said: Blooming marvellous! Both as a practical manual and a comprehensive introduction, this text offers a unique approach to the study of temperate freshwater algae.

On the Forests of Tropical Asia

Peter Ashton (Kew Publishing)
The judges said: A seminal work that is a tour de force of scientific scholarship and lucid writing. It is a splendid one stop shop to our knowledge and understanding of the Tropics.

The Hadal Zone: Life in the Deepest Oceans

Alan Jamieson (Cambridge University Press)
The judges said: An outstanding influential review of a unique under-explored ecosystem.

The Postgraduate Textbook Prize was judged by: Ian Carter MRSB, associate editor of the School Science Review; Dr Sue Howarth FRSB, senior lecturer in secondary science education at the University of Worcester; and Dr Ian Turner MRSB, senior lecturer in biology and forensic science at the University of Derby.

The winners will be announced on Thursday 15th October at our annual Awards Ceremony, held at Charles Darwin House, London, as part of Biology Week 2015.