In 2013, the winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books will be chosen by Jon Culshaw, impressionist and comedian; Dr Emily Flashman, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at University of Oxford; Professor Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at University College London; Joanne Harris, novelist and author of Chocolat; and Lucy Siegle, journalist and writer on environmental issues.
Here, the chair of judges, Professor Uta Frith, sheds some light on what it has been like to judge the Prize.
"When I was asked to chair the jury for this year's prize I was really excited because I love reading popular science books. Perhaps I should not admit this, but it is the reason I came to love science in the first place. There is a thrill from having science explained - in the right way. Sometimes the right way is to make the obvious appear wondrously complex, and sometimes, to make the fearfully complex lucid and simple.
"Not all science books are equal. They must of course be accurate, well written, timely and original, but there still has to be something more to reach the high standards set by the previous winners. It came as a great relief that there was a lot of agreement among the judges. It was really important to us not to simply agree on the lowest common denominator, but to agree on books that the majority of us felt passionate about. Still, there were so many possible choices that each of us shed some virtual tears for seeing some of their favourites being placed in the large pile of the rejected.
"Here are some things that I myself valued highly: the ambition of the project, the aesthetic beauty of the book, and the pleasure in reading. Pleasure is possibly the least reliable and most vague of these to judge. Ambition is another matter. The books I prefer, dare to explain the intricate complexity of science, and are meticulous in this pursuit. They often bring together different disciplines in novel ways, all the while distinguishing between speculation and empirically verifiable hypotheses.
"As to aesthetics, here I can't help being critical about those publishers who, in my opinion, do not seem to care enough about the visual aspects of science communication. Isn't a picture often worth a thousand words? Fortunately there were examples of beautifully illustrated and visually satisfying books, and these only highlight the contrast to those that follow a rather mean tradition of having very few if any illustrations. Do we really need to have tipped-in coloured plates in this age of publishing innovation? Having the images embedded in the text makes a huge difference. When I find a book where content, form and function come together, then this book will have the edge. But what I really long for is a book that is beautiful to look at and to handle: an object of desire".
The Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books winner is announced at a public event on 25 November.
Read the shortlist for the awards and tell us what you think on Reading Groups for Everyone.
Download the Royal Society Winton Prize shortlist poster.