Josh Trapani

Josh Trapani’s day jobs have included stints at Washington, DC, think tanks and associations, at USDA, and as a science fellow for a U.S. senator. He helped start the Washington Independent Review of Books and served as its first managing editor. Trained as a paleontologist, Josh’s research applied quantitative methods to understanding morphological evolution, and he performed fieldwork in the U.S., Mexico, and Ethiopia. Josh has published a dozen peer-reviewed papers, as well as pieces in science policy venues and the New York Daily News op-ed page. His fiction and humor have appeared in the Writing Disorder, Parent Co, the Big Jewel, the Del Sol Review, Neutrons Protons, Brick Moon Fiction, the Higgs Weldon, and elsewhere.


84 entries by Josh Trapani

Book Review

How to Mars

By David Ebenbach

Despite its intriguing premise, this futuristic novel leaves too many issues unaddressed.

Book Review

Humble Pi

By Matt Parker

A witty and wide-ranging foray into arithmetical blunders.

Book Review

A witty and wide-ranging foray into arithmetical blunders.

Book Review

World Without Mind

By Franklin Foer

How companies undermine societal values and what we can do about it.

Book Review

Examining the worldviews of two influential but largely forgotten thinkers.

Book Review

Reality Is Not What It Seems

By Carlo Rovelli

Making science understandable to the rest of us.

Book Review

You'll enjoy this winning collection whether the wild calls to you or not.

Book Review

How companies undermine societal values and what we can do about it.

Book Review

Though well-intentioned, this erudite guide is a bit highfalutin for the rest of us.

Book Review

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

A slim but satisfying read about the nature of the universe from one of America’s leading scientists.

Book Review

Making science understandable to the rest of us.

Book Review

A fun page-turner of a story set amid New York City's raucous restaurant scene.

Book Review

Brief Candle in the Dark

By Richard Dawkins

The provocative biologist's latest work may please his current fans but is unlikely to win him any new ones.

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What is the place of critical reviews in an online, monetized world?

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Here's a look at the finalists in fiction and nonfiction for this year's National Book Awards.

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A look at the October reviews and features that received the most readership.

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5 of the most interesting pieces from around the internet this past week, accompanied by snide commentary.

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Susana Olague Trapani interviews Hilary and Michael Gustafson, owners of Literati Bookstore, a new independent bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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A look at the posts that got the most viewers last month.

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Great job last week on your choices. But aren’t you, um, forgetting someone?

Book Review

Doctor Sleep: A Novel

By Stephen King

Shine on? The much-heralded sequel to The Shining fails to live up to the original, but will still keep you turning the pages.

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Who’s hot and who’s … um, very hot, at this year’s festival. Plan your weekend by clicking here (links to lots of reviews inside!).

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The shortlist for the most prestigious British literary prize in fiction was just announced. Check out the potential winners here.

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What does J.K. Rowling's pseudonymously written detective novel say about publishing, and about human nature?

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A look at the book reviews and features receiving the most reader attention in August.

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Susana and Josh hold an instant messenger discussion of this provocative new book by the author of Half of a Yellow Sun.

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Half a dozen interesting pieces about books, authors, writing ... and Mars, gathered from around the internet.

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The Amazon CEO and billionaire buys the storied newspaper. What does it mean? I have no idea. Do you?

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A look back at the reviews and features that earned the most readers last month.

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We are so glad you're joining us. Click here learn a little about us and see some other reviews you might be interested in.

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We've made a video explaining how to use our commenting system and describing many of its features. Get trained up here, and engage with us!

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Here are the best book covers of 2012. Should we send book covers the way of the dodo bird ... or keep them around?

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A look at the book reviews and features that earned the most eyeballs last month.

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The actor who played Tony Soprano showed us something important about what makes great art.

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In the wake of revelations about our government collecting data on Americans' phone calls and online activity, people are - with good reason - turning to literature.

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A look back at the May book reviews and features that garnered the most views.

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Some advice from someone who has pitched successfully before to help you as you prepare for the Books Alive! Conference.

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Some interesting news and opinion about books from various and sundry sites, accompanied by snide commentary.

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Pitching your work to agents is a great way to advance your writing, and our upcoming Books Alive! Conference provides you with the opportunity.

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Getting ready for the 4th annual Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday, May 18.

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A look back at the reviews and features that attracted the most readers last month.

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The first step is admitting you have a problem, and I admit: I have a problem.

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A look at the finalists for what used to be called the Orange Prize.

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The Independent's reviews of the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that won this year's Pulitzer Prizes.

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A recent Publishers Weekly poll raises more questions than it answers about "The Great American Novel."

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A recap of the most popular of our 50 March posts.

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The crux of the concern over Amazon's expansion is its meaning for the future of artistic expression.

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The online mega-store links up with readers' most prominent social networking site.

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"You can't judge a book by its cover" might apply to people, but it probably doesn't apply to books.

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Philip Roth turns 80 today, and despite his recent retirement from writing, he's more in the spotlight than ever.

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Writers aren’t the only ones struggling these days, you know: technological distractions are a productivity challenge for everyone.

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Each year VIDA presents The Count, wherein they analyze, by gender, books reviewed and reviewers for major literary publications.

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Managing Editor Josh Trapani walks through the changes and features of the new website in this screencast.

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February may be the shortest month of the year, but it was a busy month here at the Independent.

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The New York Times recently published a piece heralding the rebirth of short stories, thanks to the increasing frequency of e-readers.

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Last week, the Independent celebrated its second anniversary. That’s right, our organization has now reached the stage of temper tantrums, poopy diapers, screaming fits, and creating havoc everywhere we go.

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When the jackpot gets large enough, I like to play the Powerball. I try not to think of writing the same way: as a luck-driven, strike-it-rich kind of enterprise.

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I came across this photo gallery of the reading room in Donald Oresman’s midtown Manhattan apartment and I had to share it here, knowing that some of you would appreciate it.

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A recent piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books claims so, relating Gollum to the character Sigurd in Marie Corelli’s Thelma.

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Ron Charles, Washington Post book critic as well as everyone’s favorite Totally Hip Video Book Reviewer, reports that he was disappointed to learn he had not won The Hatchet Job of the Year Award, given by The Omnivore for “the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months.”

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Here is a cool piece describing 10 things that happens to our minds when we read, from encouraging the creation of mental imagery to making us more empathetic.

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A new research study concludes that chick-lit novels may have detrimental effects on women’s self-esteem.

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Tonight, come hear the Independent’s founder and president, author David O. Stewart, talk at the Mount Pleasant Library about how we learn about the books we love and the authors who wrote them.

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This piece about writing and distraction by Benjamin Nugent resonated with me. Nugent – as prone to technological and other distractions as anyone else – managed to get into a writing program in a “college town on the prairie” and immersed himself in his fiction to the exclusion of all else.

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The proliferation of social media sites is almost as annoying as it is understandable.

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As a teenager, I used to frequently walk to the public library in the much wealthier neighboring town, where I loved to browse and with my county-wide library card could even take books out.

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Here at the Independent, the year is off to a strong start. In January we posted reviews of 28 books, as well as 15 other literary features including author Q&As, blog posts, and of course the launch of An Independent Voice.

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How problematic is the application of Big Data methods to literature? That is: is there a problem in taking huge swaths of literature and subjecting them to data mining techniques?

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Shelf Awareness reports that Barnes & Noble may close up to 20% of its retail stores over the next decade. It’s worth it, if you have the time and have access, to dig into the longer Wall Street Journal piece on which the report is based.

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About a year ago I found myself at the Tucson Festival of Books and came across an old copy of Stephen King’s Bachman Books, which I promptly purchased. I’d lost my copy years before, and hadn’t seen these four novellas packaged together for a long while.

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This is what happens when you agitate. This is what happens when you go around for months telling your fellow volunteers that the online book review on which you all spill way too much blood, sweat, and tears needs more interaction with its readers, more free-form content, more edge, more voice.

Book Review

Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise and Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab apply Moneyball-style predictions to a variety of fields.

Book Review

Nina Jablonski

This compact book investigates the significance and meanings of human skin color through human history and across cultures.

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Susana and Josh Trapani "live-tweeted" the National Book Festival; check out a timeline of their pictures, tweets, and retweets of others.

Book Review

Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky

Revisiting Keynes’s predictions about greater leisure, the authors ― an economist and a philosopher ― argue that he failed to consider how our modern society conflates needs and wants.

Book Review

Rebecca Stott

A long line of thinkers who influenced the development of evolutionary theory get their due in this highly readable and personality-driven book.

Book Review

Frank Lesser, Illustrated by Willie Real

From a writer on “The Colbert Report,” picnicking zombies attacked by humans and other tales that will have you laughing.

Book Review

Gino Segré

In the lives of two physicists, an engrossing view of how science advances through individual talent and curiosity.

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The Independent's Josh Trapani replies to Frank Ryan's response to the review of The Mystery of Metamorphosis.

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Response to Josh Trapani’s review of my book, The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story, from Dr. Frank Ryan.

Book Review

By Cathy N. Davidson

A cogent and powerful argument on why we need to realign our lives for the demands of the 21st century.

Book Review

Cameron M. Smith

A scientist offers practical examples from the natural world to improve public understanding of evolution.

Book Review

Frank Ryan

This look at a fascinating subject in science takes a wrong path.