The Pluto Files, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson (18 February)

Yes, yes, I saw this guy on the Daily Show and wanted to read his book. Depressing, but true. Good work, Stewart!

The book is subtitled “The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet,” which is pretty apt. I mean, I am in a Facebook group called “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet.”

And it’s interesting… I didn’t know much about how Pluto obtained planet-hood, and I wasn’t sure what caused the recent demotion, so it was nice to learn about that. And I mostly liked the fact that Tyson wrote about his personal fight against the Pluto proponents who felt he was slighting that poor ice ball. He includes e-mails from scientists and letters from children telling him how mean he’s being to Pluto and why he should bring it back. It’s a good time.

But I almost didn’t finish it because of the first few chapters, where Tyson attempts to make a case that people like Pluto because it shares its name with Mickey Mouse’s dog. Maybe, but he doesn’t back up that opinion with very much fact at all, and it comes off sounding kind of childish. So does the fact that he takes credit for the mnemonic “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” And the fact that he name-drops hanging out with Bill Nye the Science Guy (R) at a New Horizons launch party. Totally unnecessary.

Luckily, the rest of the book is well-reasoned and full of citations. It also includes a kid’s drawing of Pluto, and that’s just cute. 🙂

Rating: 6/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2009, Support Your Local Library Challenge)