3 questions with Amazon Books editor Al Woodworth
Amazon Books editors debate, champion titles, and make tough decisions to make their Best Books of the Year So Far selections.
Al Woodworth is a member of the Amazon Books editorial team that curates the Best Books of the Year So Far list, which was released today.
In its announcement today, the Amazon Books editorial team selected Maggie Shipstead's "Great Circle" as their favorite book of the year — so far. The team also announced its top books across genres and categories, including its Top 20 within the science category.
Amazon Science asked Woodworth three questions about how the Amazon Books editors make their selections, and why they've chosen Walter Isaacson's book, "The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race", as the best science book of the year — so far.
Q. Tell us about your role as an Amazon Books editor, and about how you developed your interest in science?
I feel very lucky, as an Amazon Books editor I'm part of the team that picks the Best Books of the Month, the Best Books of the Year So Far, and the Best Books of the Year to help customers discover books they’ll love. Like the other editors, I write regularly for the Amazon Book Review, where we highlight great, compelling books we love, and feature interviews with authors. Suffice to say, we read a lot of books over the course of the year. Reading for me—whether science books, memoirs, or fiction—is where I learn the best. There’s nothing better than cracking open a book and getting a front row seat to gene editing (Code Breaker), migratory patterns of birds (A World on the Wing), or the experience of the first and third female doctors to ever practice medicine in the U.S. (The Doctors Blackwell).
Q. What is your process for determining the best science books of the year - so far?
Every month we select the Best Books of the month, so when it comes to the Best Books of the Year (So Far), we have a good handle on the books we’re excited about—but ultimately we debate, we champion the books we think are great, and then we make tough decisions to come up with our top 20.
Q. Why do you consider 'Code Breaker' the best science book so far this year? What makes this title stand out?
Walter Isaacson is a master biographer and his latest is a thrilling look at Jennifer Doudna, who developed the gene editing technology CRISPR. Her discoveries will open some of the greatest opportunities and most troubling quandaries of our time. Chris Schluep was the first on our team to read this book and he raved about it from day one. As he says, "It delivers.”