The Planets
With her bestsellers Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel introduced readers to her rare gift for weaving complex scientific concepts into a compelling narrative. Now Sobel brings her full talents to bear on what is perhaps her most ambitious topic to date-the planets of our solar system. Sobel explores the origins and oddities of the planets through the lens of popular culture, from astrology, mythology, and science fiction to art, music, poetry, biography, and history. Written in her characteristically graceful prose, The Planets is a stunningly original celebration of our solar system and offers a distinctive view of our place in the universe. * A New York Times extended bestseller * A Featured Alternate of the Book-of-the-Month Club, History Book Club, Scientific American Book Club, and Natural Science Book Club * Includes 11 full-color illustrations by artist Lynette R. Cook BACKCOVER: "[The Planets] lets us fall in love with the heavens all over again." -The New York Times Book Review "Playful . . . lyrical . . . a guided tour so imaginative that we forget we're being educated as we're being entertained." -Newsweek " [Sobel] has outdone her extraordinary talent for keeping readers enthralled. . . . Longitude and Galileo's Daughter were exciting enough, but The Planets has a charm of its own . . . . A splendid and enticing book." -San Francisco Chronicle "A sublime journey. [Sobel's] writing . . . is as bright as the sun and its thinking as star-studded as the cosmos." -The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "An incantatory serenade to the Solar System. Grade A-" -Entertainment Weekly "Like Sobel's [Longitude and Galileo's Daughter] . . . [The Planets] combines masterful storytelling with clear, engaging explanations of the essential scientific facts." -Physics World

The Planets Details

TitleThe Planets
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 31st, 2006
PublisherPenguin Books
ISBN-139780142001165
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Astronomy, History, Space

The Planets Review

  • Bionic Jean
    January 1, 1970
    What is so unusual and engaging about this book is that it incorporates science, myth, history, story-telling, culture and poetry.Dava Sobel's credentials for writing Science, and particularly Astronomy, books are exemplary. It is surprising to find that she chooses to include other aspects rather than having a fixed dry approach to the subject. She will be relaying facts and figures from Space probes or the Hubble space telescope - then will veer off into beliefs or poetry of the An What is so unusual and engaging about this book is that it incorporates science, myth, history, story-telling, culture and poetry.Dava Sobel's credentials for writing Science, and particularly Astronomy, books are exemplary. It is surprising to find that she chooses to include other aspects rather than having a fixed dry approach to the subject. She will be relaying facts and figures from Space probes or the Hubble space telescope - then will veer off into beliefs or poetry of the Ancient Greeks. I can recognise that this is a ground-breaking book. If you are looking for a primer on the planets however, this is not for you. There IS a chapter devoted to each planet, but this is misleading. After reading it you may not really retain any new "facts and figures". But you may feel about each planet in a different way, and have a different breadth of understanding.Objectively it probably deserves a better star rating. But sadly I personally found it a bit of a slog.
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  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    January 1, 1970
    This is an asinine science book. What it is, actually, is a group of lyrical essays rhapsodizing in poetic, easy to understand, prose mixing science fact and selected bits of science history and lots of subjective ecstasy. In other words, a coffee table book for readers of Vogue Magazine, except that it needs more pictures and its small paperback size fits most purses. Perfect for the literary magazine reader who has difficulty with science subjects, or those readers of a poetic and romantic nat This is an asinine science book. What it is, actually, is a group of lyrical essays rhapsodizing in poetic, easy to understand, prose mixing science fact and selected bits of science history and lots of subjective ecstasy. In other words, a coffee table book for readers of Vogue Magazine, except that it needs more pictures and its small paperback size fits most purses. Perfect for the literary magazine reader who has difficulty with science subjects, or those readers of a poetic and romantic nature. If you are at all Asperger's, you will be tossing this into the nearest bin.Some quotes from the book: "The Book of Genesis tells how the dust of the ground, molded and exalted by the breath of life, became the first man. The ubiquitous dust of the early Solar System-flecks of carbon, specks of silicon, molecules of ammonia, crystals of ice-united bit by bit into "planetesimals," which were the seeds, or first stages, of planets." and so on. Included are entire poems written about the planets. Another excerpt: "Call me "It," or call me "Allan Hills 84001'" my given name-even "Thing from Mars" will suit. Although I am only a rock and cannot answer, allow me this conceit of conscious identity for the space of these few pages, that I may speak for Mars, whence I traveled via chance and the laws of physics." Or: "The hot soup still counts as "ice" in the parlance of planetary science, however, like the 'hot ice and wondrous strange snow' of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Or: "All of the above, probably, all rendered the more extraordinary for having traveled to her across 240,000 miles of interplanetary space, in the belly of a rocket ship, and hand-delivered as the love token of a handsome man. Lucky, lucky Carolyn."Self-conscious, an MFA's graduate's dream of successful writing (which I think it is, by the way-A plus), nonetheless I found myself alternately bent over in mirth and disgust. Ths book has too much saccharine for me and not enough sugar.
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  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting tour of the solar system with not only factual information, but some history of the myths & beliefs that surround each one. I found her narration of the discovery of Pluto particularly good. She really weaves the story of Lowell & Tombaugh together well & then takes us down its road of demotion.
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  • Pamela Kinney
    January 1, 1970
    I devoured this book, and was very sad when it ended. Her format of comparing and contrasting the science of astronomy (modern, ancient, and everything in between) and folklore of astrology was enthralling. I did not give it five stars because I kept feeling like I wanted more, just a bit more, for each planet. But I loved the book, and it led me to search out her other works. I have read each of her books since, except "A More Perfect Heaven." Still trying to get to it. I definitely recommend t I devoured this book, and was very sad when it ended. Her format of comparing and contrasting the science of astronomy (modern, ancient, and everything in between) and folklore of astrology was enthralling. I did not give it five stars because I kept feeling like I wanted more, just a bit more, for each planet. But I loved the book, and it led me to search out her other works. I have read each of her books since, except "A More Perfect Heaven." Still trying to get to it. I definitely recommend this book, though it was a bit more of a "light" read than I wanted.
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  • Mark Mortensen
    January 1, 1970
    In a concise manner this book refreshed my memory on the basics of our planets. Mythology and music is also woven into the history. As for Venus, it is at times the “morning star”, while on other days it’s the “evening star”. With a bit of light humor the author stated: “Who knows how many childhood wishes are squandered on that planet before the gathering darkness brings out the stars?”. Certainly a few of my grand wishes were foiled decades ago.
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  • Chelsea
    January 1, 1970
    Dava Sobel manages beautifully and engagingly to bring these heavenly bodies as close as one's own backyard. With eloquent descriptions of their compositions, the reader is transported throughout the solar system from the scorching toxic surface of Venus to the seas of liquid metallic hydrogen underneath Jupiter's crushing atmosphere and beyond. The chapters are organized by planet and they include discussions on history, mythology, geology, and the scientific community that has discovered and explo Dava Sobel manages beautifully and engagingly to bring these heavenly bodies as close as one's own backyard. With eloquent descriptions of their compositions, the reader is transported throughout the solar system from the scorching toxic surface of Venus to the seas of liquid metallic hydrogen underneath Jupiter's crushing atmosphere and beyond. The chapters are organized by planet and they include discussions on history, mythology, geology, and the scientific community that has discovered and explored the planets and their neighboring objects. Her prose is lyrical and her passion for science and space apparent. The book is written to be accessible to the non-science major and manages this well, if not flawlessly. The true science buff will definitely want for more, but the intention behind this book seems to be to whet the appetite, not gorge the mind on facts.Some chapters are more successful than others (Venus and Jupiter being stand-outs while Mars and Neptune are much weaker), but overall, this book is beautifully written and would be a good introduction to non-fiction for the staunch pretty prose reader.
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  • Cara
    January 1, 1970
    If you open this book expecting science, you will be sorely disappointed, as I was. All the same, it's not fair to rate a book low just because it wasn't what I expected, and that's not why I gave "The Planets" only two stars (and I think I'm being quite generous). The reason is, "The Planets" isn't really about anything at all. It's a tiny part personal history - the author's relationship with the planets, tiny part social and cultural history - the discovery of and significance of the planets If you open this book expecting science, you will be sorely disappointed, as I was. All the same, it's not fair to rate a book low just because it wasn't what I expected, and that's not why I gave "The Planets" only two stars (and I think I'm being quite generous). The reason is, "The Planets" isn't really about anything at all. It's a tiny part personal history - the author's relationship with the planets, tiny part social and cultural history - the discovery of and significance of the planets in a cultural sense, tiny part science, and tiny part creative writing (there's a vignette from the first-person perspective of a Mars rock). The problem is all these tiny parts don't add up to one coherent whole. Whether you're looking for science, history, culture, or whatever else, you'll be left feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. I give this book two stars instead of just one because I do like Dava Sobel's writing style - it's eloquent and fun, though not by itself able to save this book.
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  • Joshua
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful reminder that the pretty orbs we memorized in grade school are more than that. They're actual alien worlds rich with a chemical character and harmony that mirrors our connection to them. Dave Sobel writes poetry and facts about the Solar System, and reminds her reader to look up to the stars with wonder and inspiration.
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  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    January 1, 1970
    Audio #124
  • Adrian White
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating because of its subject but I wasn't totally convinced by Dava Sobel's approach: I thought it worked better for some chapters than for others. What it did do well for a simple lad such as myself was to instill a sense of wonder at the many varied worlds out there - in our planetary system and beyond.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Confession time: I originally perused this book because the cover is beautiful. As a child, I was fascinated with astronomy. As a college Freshman, I took an astronomy course and dropped out after a few weeks. Perhaps now I would be able to grasp the difficult mathematics required for even elementary-level space science. Perhaps. But I think I'm better off with a text like The Planets, which dives into the fascinating history (and indeed much of the science) of our solar system with a sense of whimsy an Confession time: I originally perused this book because the cover is beautiful. As a child, I was fascinated with astronomy. As a college Freshman, I took an astronomy course and dropped out after a few weeks. Perhaps now I would be able to grasp the difficult mathematics required for even elementary-level space science. Perhaps. But I think I'm better off with a text like The Planets, which dives into the fascinating history (and indeed much of the science) of our solar system with a sense of whimsy and poetry. Unlike, apparently, some who have written reviews of this book, I read a few pages before buying it. I do that regardless of topic or genre. To begin reading something is an investment of my time and energy. I've read criticisms of the approach used here, and I don't understand how that approach wasn't apparent from the beginning. I guess this isn't my problem, but I feel a bit sad to read negative reviews by people who really are not within the intended audience here. This is beginning-level stuff, surely, for a general readership with an interest in, not an expertise with, the material.I know I haven't retained a lot of the specifics Dava Sobel has shared here, but that's not to say I haven't learned a lot. I also have a strong appreciation for how Sobel shaped each chapter, each treatment of individual bodies of the solar system. I'm happy to have read it.http://darkmagnet.blogspot.com/
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    I think I expected this to be more scientific than it turned out to be, which may be a common problem judging from other reviews. It's actually more of a historical glance at the way humanity has envisioned the galaxy, and the way our knowledge has grown over the millennia. It's a lot literary, with bits of science and mythology thrown in. Some parts of it were lovely for that, though I wasn't sure about the emphasis on linking the Old Testament Genesis story with the scientific facts of creatio I think I expected this to be more scientific than it turned out to be, which may be a common problem judging from other reviews. It's actually more of a historical glance at the way humanity has envisioned the galaxy, and the way our knowledge has grown over the millennia. It's a lot literary, with bits of science and mythology thrown in. Some parts of it were lovely for that, though I wasn't sure about the emphasis on linking the Old Testament Genesis story with the scientific facts of creation. It seems likely to alienate a lot of readers, even if it sounds pretty.Of course, we mustn't forget that this is also quite behind the times now: published in 2007ish, shortly after the demotion of Pluto, it has nothing to say about more recent discoveries about the moons of the outer planets, or Curiosity, or anything like that. It's quite accessible, but not up to date, which is a pity.Sometimes the literary interludes really got on my nerves, with Sobel putting words into people's mouths and anthropomorphizing inanimate objects. I like literary tricks like that as much as the next person, but it just seems ridiculous when they're giving words and complex thought to a meteorite...
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Should have been published with large color pictures as a coffee table book. I'm not sure this should be shelved with the science books- while it does include some facts about the planets, it's more a literary effort. As it is, the individual chapters feel wholly disconnected from each other, written in a wide variety of styles, and some with entirely extraneous information, such as the friend of the author's who ate moon dust after being given it as a present by a boyfriend. I honestly thought Should have been published with large color pictures as a coffee table book. I'm not sure this should be shelved with the science books- while it does include some facts about the planets, it's more a literary effort. As it is, the individual chapters feel wholly disconnected from each other, written in a wide variety of styles, and some with entirely extraneous information, such as the friend of the author's who ate moon dust after being given it as a present by a boyfriend. I honestly thought that would be the strangest bit of the book, but that was before I reached the chapter where the author suddenly decided to write in the first person as a bit of Martian rock or the one where a letter written by Caroline Herschel was reproduced in its entirety . (That chapter was very odd. Did the author have a word quota she had to make and was short on? The chapter started with a quote from Mitchell, switched to the letter from Herschel to Mitchell, and then concluded with a minimal amount of text by the author.) All in all, a disappointment.
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  • Pat
    January 1, 1970
    The Planets is an interesting book, but one that is not for everyone. If you are looking for highly technical or academic treatment of planetary science, look elsewhere. If you want to get an overview of the planets in our solar system, this book does that. Mostly this book reminded me of information I used to know but had forgotten. There were a few new facts from more recent discoveries that I found interesting, The writing style is clear and very readable, not weighed down with a technical ja The Planets is an interesting book, but one that is not for everyone. If you are looking for highly technical or academic treatment of planetary science, look elsewhere. If you want to get an overview of the planets in our solar system, this book does that. Mostly this book reminded me of information I used to know but had forgotten. There were a few new facts from more recent discoveries that I found interesting, The writing style is clear and very readable, not weighed down with a technical jargon or mathematics. The text is sprinkled with poetry (which I skipped) and personal reflections. I expect these were intended to make the subject more accessible or relatable. I found them distracting and at times condescending.There are a number of color illustrations scattered throughout the text. While these are pleasing to look at, I did not think they added anything. I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.
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  • Lena
    January 1, 1970
    Not for scienceheads. This is a book for lit nerds who want to learn about our solar system but who want it told prettily and connected to art and myth and music, etc.
  • Scott Kardel
    January 1, 1970
    The Planets is Dava Sobel's somewhat whimsical look at the planets of our solar system. In it she takes and historical look at our knowledge of the planets that sometimes goes back to mythology and astrology that sometimes put me off. Still, she is a very good writer, but I very much preferred her other books (Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, A More Perfect Heaven).
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  • Shelly
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great read - I picked it up at 2nd and Charles mainly because the front cover was beautiful and featured Saturn, my favorite planet. I'm so glad I did; the author was very engaging - each chapter covers one of the planets in our solar system (including poor non-planet Pluto.)
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  • Kerfe
    January 1, 1970
    Dava Sobel travels from the Sun to Pluto and beyond, scattering history, tradition, philosophy, biography, myth, science, and art into stories about the inhabitants of the Solar System that contains our home, Earth. The descriptions and explanations both inform and inspire.
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  • Nathalia Rojas.
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fantastic read! I loved exploring the symbolism of the planets and delving into the more scientific aspects of them. Very enjoyable. I'm sure I'll be looking at it for symbolic interpretations in the future.
  • Trey McIntyre
    January 1, 1970
    I appreciate the effort to make what would otherwise be a dry, recitation of facts into something more fun, but this book is far too romantic for my tastes. And I did not appreciate the constant references to supernatural and mystical things... I'm reading for science, not magic here.
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  • Madina
    January 1, 1970
    an astronomy book not looking down at astrology & actually incorporating the myths and stories and history about the planets? i love it
  • Alex Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    Very good overview of our solar system, marred only by including way too much astrology.
  • Madeleine
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent! I enjoy her writing very much.
  • Ben Siems
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first book I have read in a long time that had me strongly tempted to abandon the journey fifty pages in. Although I know Sobel's writing style has garnered high praise from far and wide, I was not particularly taken with her approach to blending science, mythology, astrology, and religion. I find it all a bit contrived, even forced at times. I was always very conscious of the writer's presence, more so than I usually care to be. As a result, I felt like I never had a chance to reall This is the first book I have read in a long time that had me strongly tempted to abandon the journey fifty pages in. Although I know Sobel's writing style has garnered high praise from far and wide, I was not particularly taken with her approach to blending science, mythology, astrology, and religion. I find it all a bit contrived, even forced at times. I was always very conscious of the writer's presence, more so than I usually care to be. As a result, I felt like I never had a chance to really sink into this book.Still, I am glad I stuck it out. The Planets does offer an abundance of fascinating facts that give one pause to ponder the rather wondrous harmony of our solar system. Admittedly, I had encountered a number of these facts before, but to have them all gathered into one book that one can easily get through in a few days is in itself a lovely thing. A few samples:* Our moon has a diameter four hundred times smaller than that of the sun, but is four hundred times closer to us than the sun. Hence, the two appear to be the same size to our eyes. The consequence is positively spiritual: the only planet in our solar system where the awesome spectacle of a solar eclipse can occur is also the only planet inhabited by creatures that can behold the sight.* The discovery in the 1970s that Venus has surface temperatures much, much hotter than would be expected simply because of its closer proximity to the sun than that of Earth—temperatures that reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit and more—greatly raised awareness among scientists of the threat of global warming. (The atmosphere of Venus is thick with carbon dioxide, the primary "greenhouse gas.")* That moonlight strikes us as eerie has a scientific basis. The only colors the human eye can detect by moonlight alone are a few shades of green, the color of light our retinae are most sensitive to. The moon does not reflect enough sunlight for the human retina to sort out wavelengths (the key to color vision), so all other hues are rendered into black-and-white.*Jupiter's mass is twice that of all the other planets combined.These are just a few of the many, many striking facts about our cosmic neighborhood that can be found in this book. In addition, Sobel offers some fascinating stories from the history of astronomy and astrology.Again, the things I disliked about this book were all matters of style. Sobel seems convinced that history and science are only palatable when dressed up into rather cutesy narrative conceits. I don't share the view that human and celestial history needs a publicist. I think the stories are endlessly fascinating in their own right, and I would enjoy them more if they were presented in a more straightforward way. To do so, I think, would make the science more interesting and understandable, rather than less so.
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  • Alex Telander
    January 1, 1970
    THE PLANETS BY DAVA SOBEL: This is another book I bought because of it's beautiful cover, especially in the hardcover edition, and one which, after reading, I thought had failed in it's job. I've read Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, which I really enjoyed with the mixture of history, science and story, so I had high hopes for The Planets. There was a chapter on each of the nine planets, along with one for the sun and the moon, and an intro and an epilogue. The book was under 300 pages and I felt did THE PLANETS BY DAVA SOBEL: This is another book I bought because of it's beautiful cover, especially in the hardcover edition, and one which, after reading, I thought had failed in it's job. I've read Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, which I really enjoyed with the mixture of history, science and story, so I had high hopes for The Planets. There was a chapter on each of the nine planets, along with one for the sun and the moon, and an intro and an epilogue. The book was under 300 pages and I felt didn't go into anywhere near enough depth on each of the planets. Sobel presented each planet with a story on how it came to be discovered and by whom and then with some story and mythology surrounding the planet and then moved on the next planet. I was expecting in-depth science with the planets and just far more than was given. There wasn't a single photo in the book, which seemed crazy: you write a book about the planets with a colorful and interesting cover, the least I expect is glossy color photos inside of the planets and moons. But nada. So if you're looking for a quick uninspired read that gives you some fun facts and quaint tales about the planets, go with this one, but if you're looking for something that educates you and inspires you about the planets, look somewhere else.For more book reviews, and author interviews, go to BookBanter.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    As I mentioned, my days are listening to books and knitting--so we can only be but so impressed by the quickness of my finishing this book.I loved this book...and I hated it.I loved the information. The way she went through the planets, the discussion of their geologic qualities, the history that surrounded them, how they were discovered, how their size was found. I enjoyed how she wove the story from Genesis into a discussion of the Big Bang. I found the tales of the map As I mentioned, my days are listening to books and knitting--so we can only be but so impressed by the quickness of my finishing this book.I loved this book...and I hated it.I loved the information. The way she went through the planets, the discussion of their geologic qualities, the history that surrounded them, how they were discovered, how their size was found. I enjoyed how she wove the story from Genesis into a discussion of the Big Bang. I found the tales of the mapping of the circumference of our own planet fascinating. In essence, the facts that went into this book and all the things I learned were at least a 5.So why is this book a three.Because Dava Sobel couldn't just let it be a book about the planets. She got overly caught up in her own prose to a point that it would sicken a sugar addict. She told the story of Mars from the point of view of a meteorite from Mars that was discovered in Antarctica. Cute for a kids book...annoying for an adult. And then it was the tale of the discovery of Uranus, told in form of a fake epistolary from the wife of the discoverer, William Hershel. I was grateful that she hadn't thought of talking about Pluto from the point of view of the Disney dog. Planets are by nature fascinating. They don't need the help of a writer's bag of carnival tricks.
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    It is extremely rare that I give up on a book. I will often start a book and decide that I'm not going to finish it 'right now', but to decide that a book is bad enough to never, ever want to finish reading, well that hardly ever happens, and this is one of those books. Tedious, ponderous, meandering writing that does not clearly convey much of the history of the knowledge of our solar system, nor any of the sense of wonder or thrill of discovery that I would expect from a book on this subject. It is extremely rare that I give up on a book. I will often start a book and decide that I'm not going to finish it 'right now', but to decide that a book is bad enough to never, ever want to finish reading, well that hardly ever happens, and this is one of those books. Tedious, ponderous, meandering writing that does not clearly convey much of the history of the knowledge of our solar system, nor any of the sense of wonder or thrill of discovery that I would expect from a book on this subject. There are so many exciting stories to tell on this subject, but this book is just too disorganized and poorly thought out to be of much interest. Besides the obvious information on Astronomy and some Physics there's a mish mash of Mythology, Astrology, Geography and History; all without clear context or connection. It's all presented as a group of tangental sentences unburdened by the need to make any sense at all.It's off to the used bookstore for this one!
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  • Jeni Enjaian
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up this book while waiting for "Longitude" (highly recommended by one of my history professors). I did not know what to expect and was pleasantly blown away by Ms. Sobel's magnificent prose. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the traditional nine planets. (Uranus and Neptune were covered in a single chapter.) Ms. Sobel's prose flows in a manner unexpected from a book about a scientific topic. She chooses vocabulary according to the theme of each chapter without becoming pedestrian. For I picked up this book while waiting for "Longitude" (highly recommended by one of my history professors). I did not know what to expect and was pleasantly blown away by Ms. Sobel's magnificent prose. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the traditional nine planets. (Uranus and Neptune were covered in a single chapter.) Ms. Sobel's prose flows in a manner unexpected from a book about a scientific topic. She chooses vocabulary according to the theme of each chapter without becoming pedestrian. For example, Ms. Sobel begins the chapter on Saturn with a beautiful description of Holst's beautiful symphony "Planets", one of my own favorites. When Ms. Sobel moves from discussing the music to discussing the planet the prose shows no noticeable shift. Words such as "resonate", "beat", "dynamics", and "volume" fill the text.I highly recommend this book.
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  • Powder River Rose
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably one of the best planetary books that I've read or listened to. I definitely encourage everyone who has ever thought about the heavenly bodies or space stuff in general to read this. It might be a bit complex for my 10 yr old adorable, but I think if he hears the audiobook version while reading along with the paperback version, he'll have no problems understanding or enjoying this incredible history, and history in the making, story; plus he'll get the pronunciation of all those This is probably one of the best planetary books that I've read or listened to. I definitely encourage everyone who has ever thought about the heavenly bodies or space stuff in general to read this. It might be a bit complex for my 10 yr old adorable, but I think if he hears the audiobook version while reading along with the paperback version, he'll have no problems understanding or enjoying this incredible history, and history in the making, story; plus he'll get the pronunciation of all those words. The female narrator of the audiobook has a matter-of-fact, no nonsense voice that is easy on the ears. It's filled with information about the planets, how they were named, when and who located them, everything one may or may not want to know, though I imagine you won't be disappointed when you find out. I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I have and learn something new as I did.
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  • Daniel Chaikin
    January 1, 1970
    Not a book that needs to be read (or listened in my case). It' OK. Sobel tries the make this more interesting by waxing poetic, quoting many poetic bits about planets and using some other gimmicks. I liked the quotes, but would have preferred a simpler straight forward prose. The core of the book is not the planets as much as the history of our understanding of them, and of their discovery. This I liked, but it's a rushed history. These histories are most interesting because of the people involv Not a book that needs to be read (or listened in my case). It' OK. Sobel tries the make this more interesting by waxing poetic, quoting many poetic bits about planets and using some other gimmicks. I liked the quotes, but would have preferred a simpler straight forward prose. The core of the book is not the planets as much as the history of our understanding of them, and of their discovery. This I liked, but it's a rushed history. These histories are most interesting because of the people involved. But the coverage is too brief to ever meet anyone (or re-acquaint with them, since most of the people she covers are well known). The worst chapter for me was on earth where she jumps from maps to explorers, leaping through time without any chance to provide context. I just found it disorienting.I don't regret the book, just feel a little underwhelmed by it.
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