The Selfish Gene is a landmark 1976 work in the field of biology: It puts the gene at the center of the process of evolution and explains how, when this is taken into account, genes must be seen as “selfish.” Author Richard Dawkins then uses this theory of gene selfishness to explain the massive variety of animal behavior observable on Earth.
Genome (2006, second edition) takes you on an exciting journey into your own body, exploring the genetic building blocks that make up not only who you are but also all life on earth. You’ll examine the basics of genetics and discover what genes influence, from aging to illness to even your own personality. Importantly, you’ll better understand why the future of healthcare and wellness may be found in the human genome.
Energy (2006) offers insights into one of the most elusive concepts in the spectrum of human thought: energy. By understanding what energy is, how it has helped us get where we are today, and what dangers our reliance on certain forms of energy poses, we will be better equipped to handle the challenges faced by modern civilization.
Oxygen (2002) is a guide to the element that is so essential to our very existence that we sometimes forget it even exists. These blinks explain how oxygen enables and boosts life on earth while simultaneously threatening it.
Forensics (2014) provides an inside look at the morbid world of forensic investigation. Filled with fascinating history and anecdotes from real criminal cases, Forensics gives you a complete, compelling overview of everything that happens during the investigation of a crime scene.
The human body evolved to allow us to survive in a world very different from the one we inhabit today. These blinks explain why we’re not suited to the modern world, and the health complications we’re suffering as a result.
Inheritance (2014) is proof that you don’t need to be a scientist to understand the importance of your genetics. These blinks explain how your DNA affects your everyday life, from how you look and what you eat to how susceptible you are to things like anxiety and disease. So arm yourself with knowledge, and discover more about the genes that make you who you are.
A Crack in Creation (2017) describes everything you need to know about CRISPR, a new technique to alter the genes of living organisms. These blinks explain the scientific details of gene editing, while also discussing its medical and ethical implications.
Flow (2009) explores the historical and cultural context of menstruation. By doing so, it seeks to debunk the myths that surround periods and address the misperceptions people have of the basic bodily process of menstruation.
The Extended Phenotype (1982) offers an alternative view on biology and the process of evolution. Breaking with the Darwinian paradigm that puts the individual organism center stage, author Richard Dawkins shifts the focus toward genes as the active agents in natural selection. From this perspective, a world of fascinating insights emerges.
Hacking Darwin (2019) argues that humanity is on the cusp of a future beyond natural selection with the help of assisted reproductive technologies that will enable us to hack our genetic makeup. By mapping the history of genetics, technology and the implications of genetic engineering, it advocates for an informed adoption of the genetic revolution and suggests how to approach its political and ethical challenges.
The Moral Animal (1994) delves into the fascinating – and occasionally controversial – field of evolutionary psychology to ask what really motivates human behavior. Drawing on the work of Darwin as well as a wealth of anthropological sources, Robert Wright sheds new light on a range of familiar everyday situations in the animal kingdom and our own societies.
Good Reasons for Bad Feelings (2018) bridges the gap between evolutionary biology and psychiatry by answering some pressing questions about why we feel the way we do. By focusing on our evolutionary development, we can better understand where many of our most instinctual feelings, moods and emotions come from, and how we can better treat our disorders when they arise.
She/He/They/Me (2019) provides readers with a unique opportunity to explore the many concepts and phenomena of gender. Weaving anthropology, global history and gender studies into a fascinating blend of empirical information and theoretical speculation, author Robyn Ryle opens our eyes to the sheer vastness of the possible forms that gender can take.
America Before (2019) is a mind-expanding quest for an ancient and lost way of life. Drawing on lesser-known DNA and archeological evidence, it proposes the existence of a great, early civilization based in North America. Lost to history in the aftermath of a cataclysmic comet strike, this civilization is visible today only in the traces it left in Egyptian, Native American and other great ancient cultures.
She Has Her Mother’s Laugh (2018) probes the contemporary understanding of genetics and heredity, and provides an accessible history of the subject from the time of the Ancient Greeks onwards. Author Carl Zimmer also looks to the future, forecasting genetic developments on the horizon and unpacking what they might mean for humanity.
Underbug (2018) explores the fascinating world of a bug so unloved it might just beat cockroaches in an unpopularity contest – the termite. The result of years of research and interviews with biologists, entomologists, and geneticists, Lisa Margonelli’s study sets out to rescue the reputation of this underappreciated creature. Along the way she explores termites’ remarkable architectural powers, unpacks their strange relationship with a 250 million-year-old fungus, and shows how the microbes in their guts might just help us create a more sustainable future.
The Book of Humans (2018) is an accessible tour of evolutionary history. It illuminates both the many qualities we share with animals and the many others that set us apart. Incorporating the latest scientific discoveries from genetics and archaeology, it provides a thrilling compendium of the rich variety of life on Earth.
The Book of Eels (2020) takes the reader on a zoological odyssey spanning thousands of years. It’s the story of the eel – a creature that has enthralled humanity with its strange and complex life cycle. Countless scientists have dedicated their careers to the enigma of this fish, which has evolved to undergo several metamorphoses over the course of its life and to endure a grueling migration across the Atlantic to breed. But the eel has proven to be an elusive creature, and there are still many secrets about its life that it seems intent on keeping to itself.
Decoding the World (2020) is a dive into the fascinating world of IndieBio, a biotechnology firm that’s determined to change the world for the better. The long-term health of both people and the planet are at stake – and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grand Transitions (2020) offers a sweeping overview of global transitions, from population growth to environmental changes. It examines the ways that we’ve shaped the world, for better or worse, and looks at the challenges facing humanity in the decades to come.
Some Assembly Required (2020) is an approachable account of the great transformations in the history of life. Paleontologist Neil Shubin started his career looking to fossils for the answers to life’s greatest questions – but with recent scientific advancements, he argues that studying DNA reveals more about the journey we took to become human.
Extra Life (2021) looks at some of the breakthroughs that allowed the global human life expectancy to double in just one hundred years. From seat belts to explosives, from Ireland to Constantinople, it’s an account as gripping as it is wide-ranging.
The Science and Technology of Growing Young (2021) reveals that the Longevity Revolution is just around the corner. Thanks to developments in AI, quantum computing, and genome sequencing, we’re able to engage in genetic engineering, manufacture new body parts, and treat diseases before they’ve even begun to affect us. These developments will soon allow us to live longer and healthier lives than we ever thought possible.
The Extended Mind (2021) is an exploration of the power of thinking outside the confines of your brain. It shows that the path to greater intelligence is not locked within your skull. Rather, it's a path through your body, your environment and your relationships with others.
The Epigenetics Revolution (2011) is an overview of the cutting-edge field of epigenetics – looking at the various factors that interact with your genes and modify the way they behave in order to make you, you. From mental health to obesity, it examines the fascinating and often unexpected ways that epigenetics can influence our lives and health.
The Emerald Planet (2007) looks at the central role plants have played in shaping the planet and its environment. New research makes use of plants, both fossilized and living, to explain how the planet got where it is, and where it might go in the future. The Emerald Planet inspired a three-part BBC series called How to Grow a Planet.
What is Life? (1944) is a classic scientific text based on a series of lectures given at Trinity College, Dublin, by famous physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Though Schrödinger was a physicist, these lectures addressed issues in biology and genetics – primarily the fundamental question of how physics and chemistry can account for the processes that occur within living organisms. The concepts he explored went on to spark a revolution in genetics, inspiring, among others, the biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick, who together proposed the double helix structure of DNA.
Finding the Mother Tree (2021) is a vivid blend of science and memoir that describes the breathtaking personal and professional journey of renowned ecologist Suzanne Simard. It unearths the strange and surprising secrets buried deep in the forests of British Columbia – and, in the process, forever alters our understanding of the natural world.
Our Wild Calling (2020) examines how humans and other animals can enjoy mutually beneficial relationships. It explores stories and philosophy from the ecological movement, and outlines how we can move toward a more hopeful future for all Earthlings.
Vaxxers (2021) follows the race to develop a functional vaccine to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Professor Sarah Gilbert and Dr. Catherine Green, of the University of Oxford, deliver captivating and informative insight into the process of designing, testing, and manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in record time. They recount exciting moments of innovation, as well as the hurdles faced along the way.
Why We Eat (Too Much) (2021) illuminates the new science of metabolism. An exploration of how our bodies process the calories we eat into the fuel that keeps our cells running, it demolishes old myths about the value of dieting. When we really understand appetite, it argues, we can finally begin eating healthfully rather than attempting to starve our bodies into submission.
Stem Cells (2021) provides an introduction to stem cells – how they’re used by scientists, the therapies that exist today, and what the near future holds. It focuses on the medical and scientific consideration of stem cells and only briefly considers ethical, political, and legal aspects. This “very short introduction” is part of a series of over 650 short introductions covering myriad subjects in every discipline.
The Dharma in DNA (2022) explores the intersections between Buddhist philosophy and biology. At first glance, these two traditions couldn’t be more different. One is spiritual; the other empirical. But there are overlaps. Both traditions are attempts to discover meaning, for one. But there’s more to it than that: both the teachings of the Buddha and the findings of biologists appear to converge on a similar understanding of what it means to be human.
Evolve Your Brain (2007) dives deep into the human brain and its structures. It demonstrates the power of neuroplasticity to change thinking, behavior, and biology.
You Can Fix Your Brain (2018) is a step-by-step guide to improving cognitive function and overall brain health. Through dietary choices, environmental adjustments, and other health practices, you can reduce brain fog, enhance your memory, and increase your mental clarity.
The Mind-Gut Connection (2016) explores the complex relationship between the gut and brain, highlighting the crucial role this connection plays in both physical and mental health. The book delves into key insights, such as the brain-gut axis, the impact of stress on gut health, and the connection between food and mental well-being, emphasizing the need for holistic care to improve overall health.
The Evolution of Desire (1994) drew on the largest study of human mating at the time to analyze the evolutionary foundations that lie behind our everyday desires and mating preferences. It was updated with new material in 2016.
A Thousand Brains (2021) explores the fundamental nature of intelligence. It poses the theory that the brain is a collection of thousands of mini-brains, each generating and refining their own predictions. It also delves into the implications of this theory for artificial intelligence and our understanding of consciousness.
Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) is a short history of humanity over the last 13,000 years. The question it poses is as simple to state as it is hard to answer: Why did some parts of the world develop advanced technologies while others didn’t? It rejects explanations that rely on assumptions about the relative intelligence of different peoples. Instead, it argues that the divergence of human societies is best explained by natural factors such as climate, biology, and geology.
The Circadian Code (2018) presents a fascinating look at the science of circadian rhythms – how human biology is timed in daily cycles. It reveals how small tweaks in things like the timing of meals, exercise, or light exposure can have an outsized impact on health and well-being.
The Coming Wave (2023) is a wake-up call. Artificial intelligence and genetic engineering aren’t just technologies of the future; they’re already here, and remaking the world we live in. More than any transformative technology of the past, they have the ability to make the next decades the best in human history – or the worst. Which path our societies go down is up to us and our ability to think clearly about the risks and rewards ahead of us.
Superforecasting (2015) delves into the art and science of predicting the future, highlighting how most individuals, even experts, often falter in their forecasting abilities. Through captivating stories of successes and failures, as well as interviews with high-profile decision-makers, it unveils the secrets behind effective forecasting: a combination of evidence-based thinking, probabilistic reasoning, accountability, and adaptability.