Two books with ties to CU win Colorado Book Awards
Todd Neff’s “From Jars to Stars,” and Jeff Bennett’s “Math for Life,” two books with ties to the University of Colorado Boulder, were awarded a Colorado Book Award in Aspen this summer in the history and general nonfiction categories, respectively.
Winning this honor “provides some substantiation that I can write a decent book, which I think is something all writers wonder about, and it’s motivated me to press ahead with the next ones,” comments Neff.
The Colorado Book Award was first presented in 1992. Each year this award, presented in at least 10 categories, honors Colorado’s outstanding authors, editors, illustrators and photographers.
In “From Jars to Stars,” Neff explores how both Ball Aerospace and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics emerged from a group of pioneering CU students in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Neff’s book highlights the complementary roles and highly productive relationship that exist between academic research and private enterprise.
“From Jars to Stars” pieces together the motivations and backgrounds of the women and men who created spacecraft and kept the American space program functioning. These people shared common denominators of brainpower and commitment to seeing incredibly challenging projects through.
Neff reflects that, “the motivation behind their commitment was often derived from a sort of ‘band of brothers’ mentality, particularly when things got tough. They worked 100-hour weeks because they knew if they didn’t, they’d be letting their teammates down.”
Bennett, author of “Math for Life,” is a CU alumnus, astronomer, teacher and writer whose works range from children’s books and those geared toward the general public to upper-level astronomy textbooks. In “Math for Life,” Bennett clearly explains the crucial ideas of quantitative reasoning and applies them to address topics and problems from the personal to the global level.
“Math for Life” also was honored with the 2012 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction.
In “Math for Life,” Bennett provides practical knowledge for people making decisions to improve their health, happiness, and financial future. This book also aims to draw attention to the mathematical foundation upon which many important problems, including the national budget challenges, future energy needs and the projected global population boom, rest.
Additionally, Bennett articulates the necessity of improving the mathematics taught in schools, discussing both the problems that exist in our current educational system as well as proposing solutions for new approaches.
Neff commends Bennett’s work, commenting that Bennett helps his readers make sense of numbers, allowing voters to make more informed decisions. Neff notes that “rather than stopping after the equals signs, he makes policy recommendations based on the math he’s described to us.” This book is accessible to educators, student, and interested adults with any level of mathematical ability, all of whom will surely take something worthwhile from the read.
Neff is now working on two books. First, Neff is proposing a book about CU-alumnus Alan Stern and his New Horizons mission to Pluto. Second, Neff is piecing together a story about he and his wife’s world travels and his current role as primary caregiver to their daughters.