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We are delighted to reveal the shortlisted entries for the inaugural Society of Biology Book Awards. There are three categories of award and they are intended to celebrate outstanding authors in the fields of biology, biosciences and life sciences.

The shortlisted candidates are:

Undergraduate textbook:

  • Introduction to Cancer Biology by Robin Hesketh (Cambridge)
  • Physical Biology of the Cell (second edition) by Rob Phillips, Jane Kondev, Julie Theriot & Hernan G Garcia, illustrated by Nigel Orme (Garland Science)
  • Essential Developmental Biology (third edition) by Jonathan M W Slack (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Introduction to Bioorganic Chemistry and Chemical Biology by David Van Vranken & Gregory Weiss (Garland Science)

Postgraduate textbook:

  • Principles of Plant Genetics and Breeding (second edition) by George Acquaah (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Evolutionary Perspectives on Pregnancy by John C Avise (Columbia University Press)
  • Host Manipulation by Parasites edited by David P Hughes, Jacques Brodeur & Frédéric Thomas (Oxford)
  • Landslide Ecology by Lawrence R Walker & Aaron B Shiels (Cambridge)

General biology book:

  • Anatomies by Hugh Aldersey-Williams (Viking)
  • Secret Chambers: the inside story of cells and complex life by Martin Brasier (Oxford)
  • Pieces of Light by Charles Fernyhough (Profile)
  • My Beautiful Genome by Lone Frank (Oneworld)
  • The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson (University of Chicago Press)
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen (The Bodley Head)

Each of the categories was judged by a panel of experts in their fields; ranging from research scientists and lecturers to authors, editors and broadcasters. Overall, the judges were pleased to see a broad range of books entered into each of the different categories.

Judges of the undergraduate and postgraduate textbook categories were looking for well written entries that provide a clearly explained summary of the current knowledge and introduce ideas for the future of the research. They were particularly impressed by the cross-disciplinary approaches applied by a number of authors, as well as their 'innovative ideas' and 'super illustrations'.

The general biology book award is a much broader category. The criteria state that entries should be accessible, engaging and informative, and written for a non-specialist audience. Judges were thrilled by the 'hugely enjoyable' books presented in this category and found books that: 'draw you in, lead you somewhere and equip you with the understanding to engage with the discussion'.

Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, says: "The awards celebrate outstanding textbooks and general biology books that are engaging and accessible to students and non-specialist audiences. A good book can inspire, entertain or enthral. An excellent textbook can do this and more. The very best textbooks inspire students to want to explore the subject beyond the course content."

The winners will be announced at the Society's Annual Award Ceremony in the King's Fund on Thursday 17th October during Biology Week 2013.

The Society of Biology would like to thank judges Ian Carter, Lewis Dartnell, Sue Howarth, William Marshall, Sue Nelson, Martin Redfern, David Slingsby, Connie St Louis and Ian Turner.