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A virtual bookclub on Darwin’s classic

All the Darwin celebrations this year will certainly make some of us reread On the Origin of Species and others pick it up for the first time. One of the latter is John Whitfield, who trained as an evolutionary biologist before turning to science writing. (He’s written several stories for Science including one on cheating ants and another on the junk-food hypothesis as an explanation for why certain marine predators are struggling–subscription to Science required for access.)

On a new blog, Whitfield ruefully admits he’s never read Darwin’s celebrated manuscript. He vows to read almost a chapter a day, informing readers of his thoughts along the way and discussing the issues with those who comment.

Will I be thrilled? Horrified? Sceptical? Baffled? Bored? Let’s use part of our brains to try and ignore all that we now know about Darwin’s biography and legacy, pretend that this is our first encounter with his theory, and that evolution must stand or fall on the quality of the science and writing in the Origin.

Whitfield plans to finish reading the book by 12 February, Darwin’s birthday.

About the author

John Travis is the News Managing Editor at Science and also plans and edits news coverage of biology and biomedical topics.