Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: How I Killed Pluto & Why It Had It Coming

Published by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, in Dec. 2010
Formats: traditional (256 pages), audiobook (7hrs 48min)

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

Genre: non-fiction, science
Themes: astronomy, family
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Brief Summary: The story of how Mike Brown's search for "planets" beyond Pluto led to Pluto's demotion from planet to dwarf planet (which isn't really a planet at all).
Language: no curse words

Mike Brown does a fantastic job of interweaving the story of his search for large astronomical bodies beyond Pluto with his family life. There's suspense (bad guys trying to steal planets), humor (Mike graphing his newborn daughter's eating and sleeping habits), science (explained so a person of average intelligence can understand it), and controversy (Pluto was kicked out of the planetary fraternity with more than a little discussion). I found it fascinating to discover that the number of accepted planets has fluctuated many times.

The only complaints I've seen about the book focus on the fact that it's not just about Pluto, Eris' discovery, and science. Go into your reading of this book with your eyes open. It's also about several large planetoids he's found, which, for me, helps put things in perspective. It includes a little bit of his childhood. He talks about his wife and child. This isn't really Pluto's story. It's Mike Brown's story and how his discoveries and the question "what is a planet?" resulted in Pluto's demotion.

This was an incredibly fun & informative read and listen. After I borrowed the book from the library, I not only bought a hardbound copy, I purchased an audiobook version too. The narrator did a great job. I recommend this book to everyone.

Do you want another point of view? Check out reviews of this book on

Book Challenges
2011 Audiobook Challenge by Teresa's Reading Corner
2011 Non-Fiction Challenge by The Broke and The Bookish (Category: Science/Nature)


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