UPDATED AUG. 12: The accolades keep rolling in for Marcia Bjornerud’s 2018 book that explores Earth’s deep past and the lessons we need to take from it to ensure a more sustainable future.
Bjornerud, the Walter Schober Professor of Environmental Sciences and Professor of Geology at Lawrence University, has received a number of national honors for Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World.
In early August, Bjornerud learned of yet another honor — Timefulness was named to the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards Short List. The award winners will be announced Oct. 1.
That follows word earlier this year from the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, where Timefulness was selected as a finalist in the category of Science and Technology. Bjornerud joined four other finalists for the award.
That honor followed a January announcement that the Bjornerud book had been selected for a PROSE Award from the American Association of Publishers in the category of popular science and mathematics. She was one of 48 winners in subject categories, selected from 156 finalists.
That followed the news in December that Timefulness had been long-listed for the PEN America Awards, one of the nation’s most prestigious literary awards. Bjornerud was nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing, which honors “a book that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.”
Bjornerud said she’s savoring the attention from the run of literary awards, in part, because it shows the book is finding an audience.
“I wrote the book in the belief — possibly naive — that if more people understood our shared history and destiny as Earth-dwellers, we would treat each other, and the planet, better. So, it is tremendously heartening to find that the book is gaining visibility and reaching receptive readers.”
In the LA Times Book Prize competition, Bjornerud was joined in the Science and Technology category by Mona Hanna-Attisha, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City; Rose George, Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood; Eliza Griswold, Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America; and Beth Macy, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.
The complete list of finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize included, among others, Michelle Obama, Susan Orlean, Michael Ondaatje and Terrance Hayes. There are 10 categories in the annual literary prize competition.
In her book, Bjornerud writes of the dangers of not paying attention to the passage of time as it relates to the Earth’s history. The rocks can tell us important things.
“As a species, we have a childlike disinterest and partial disbelief in the time before our appearance on Earth,” Bjornerud writes in Timefulness. “With no appetite for stories lacking human protagonists, many people simply can’t be bothered with natural history. We are thus both intemperate and intemporate — time illiterate. Like inexperienced but overconfident drivers, we accelerate into landscapes and ecosystems with no sense of their long-established traffic patterns, and then react with surprise and indignation when we face the penalties for ignoring natural laws.”
Timefulness, which includes illustrations from Lawrence alumnae Haley Hagerman ’14, has drawn rave reviews for its ability address complex geological issues in an accessible way.
Science wrote: Timefulness is a delightful and interesting read. The author’s cadence and the illustrator’s … figures made me feel as though I was having a glass of wine with a friend who was explaining geologic history while sketching on a napkin.”
Timefulness was published by Princeton University Press.