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

How to Mars

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

Book Review

Humble Pi

By Matt Parker

Humble Pi

A witty and wide-ranging foray into arithmetical blunders.

Book Review

Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World

A witty and wide-ranging foray into arithmetical blunders.

Book Review

World Without Mind

By Franklin Foer

World Without Mind

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

Book Review

The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World

Examining the worldviews of two influential but largely forgotten thinkers.

Book Review

Reality Is Not What It Seems

By Carlo Rovelli

Reality Is Not What It Seems

Making science understandable to the rest of us.

Book Review

Should the Tent Be Burning Like That? A Professional Amateur’s Guide to the Outdoors

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

Book Review

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

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

Book Review

The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day

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

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

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

Book Review

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity

Making science understandable to the rest of us.

Book Review

Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit

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

Brief Candle in the Dark

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

Feature

On Negative Book Reviews

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

Feature

2013 National Book Awards

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

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The 5 Most Popular Posts of October

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

Feature

A Reading Roundup

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

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Video Interview With the Owners of Literati Bookstore

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

Feature

The Independent’s Top 5 September Posts

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

Feature

Hey MacArthur Fellowship Committee

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

Book Review

Doctor Sleep: A Novel

By Stephen King

Doctor Sleep: A Novel

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

Feature

2013 National Book Festival Extravapalooza

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!).

Feature

2013 Man Booker Shortlist

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

Feature

The Matthew Effect and The Cuckoo’s Calling

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

Feature

The Independent’s Top 5 August Posts

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

Feature

Let’s Talk Books: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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

Feature

The Internet Keeps Buzzing

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

Feature

Jeff Bezos Buys The Washington Post

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

Feature

The Independent’s Top 5 July Entries

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

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Welcome, Neil Gaiman Fans!

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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A Comment on Comments

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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Book Cover Candy

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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The Independent’s Most Popular June Posts

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

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R.I.P. James Gandolfini

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

Feature

Feature

Welcome to the Surveillance State: A Short Reading List

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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The Independent’s Most Popular May Posts

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

Feature

On Pitching To Literary Agents

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

Feature

The Internet Is Buzzing

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

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A Rare and Useful Opportunity

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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Gearing Up For Gaithersburg

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

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The Independent’s Most Popular April Posts

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

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Addicted To Buying Books

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

Feature

Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist

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

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Pulitzer Prize Winners

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

Feature

The Great American Novel?

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

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The Independent’s Most Popular March Posts

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

Feature

More on Amazon and Goodreads

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

Feature

Amazon Buys Goodreads

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

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Book Covers: The Good, The Bad, and The Duplicative

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

Feature

Happy 80th, Philip Roth!

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

Feature

I Lost My Novel To The Internet

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

Feature

The VIDA Count: A Short Critique (And How The Independent Stacks Up)

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

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The Independent’s New Website

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

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The Independent’s Most Popular February Posts

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

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E-Readers And A Renaissance For Short Fiction?

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

Feature

The New Independent Is Coming Soon!

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.

Feature

Seven-Figure Book Deal for Debut Author: No, I’m Not Bitter

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.

Feature

Reading Room Porn

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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Has Gollum’s Literary Progenitor Been Discovered?

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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Hatchet Job Of The Year

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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10 Things That Happen To Our Minds When We Read

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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“Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?” Or: Chick Lit Is Not Self-Help

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

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Tonight: How We Learn About the Books We Love and the Authors Who Wrote Them

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.

Feature

Writing And Distraction

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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Goodreads: Social Media for Readers (and a Word on Bookish)

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

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The Uses of Libraries

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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Top 5 January Reviews and Features

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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Literature: Just Another Data Set?

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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B&N In Big Trouble?

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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Stephen King’s Rage and Gun Violence

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.

Feature

Welcome to An Independent Voice!

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

Two Books on Prediction

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

Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color

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

Feature

The Independent’s Twitter Coverage of the National Book Festival

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

How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life

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

Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution

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

Sad Monsters: Growling on the Outside, Crying on the Inside

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

Book Review

Gino Segré

Ordinary Geniuses: Max Delbruck, George Gamow, and the Origins of Genomics and Big Bang Cosmology

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

Feature

Josh Trapani Responds to Frank Ryan

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

Feature

Frank Ryan Responds to the Independent's Review of The Mystery of Metamorphosis

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

Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn

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

The Fact of Evolution

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

Book Review

By Frank Ryan

The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story

This look at a fascinating subject takes a wrong path.