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(see also the separate children's and the SF sections)

Click on the book's name or the summary to find out more. Most recent additions are printed in blue. To see just the very best, rated books, click here. For the still superb rated books, click here.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters Gary Zukav Dated but reasonable attempt to explain "new" physics flawed by unnecessary mysticism Physics
Dark Side of the Moon Wayne Biddle A summary history of the rise of Nazi Germany and of the von Braun family combine to explain how Wernher von Braun went from aristocrat to US hero. Technology
Dark Side of the Moon Gerard DeGroot Shows clearly how the race to the moon was driven by politics, not science. Only scores low because there's so little science in the story Technology
Darwin: Discovering the tree of life Niles Eldredge Not just another Darwin biography, but a very readable and well illustrated attempt to show just how Darwin's thinking was shaped Biology, biography
Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist Adrian Desmond & James Moore A rich narrative of a "billionare of bizarre facts" and his struggle between a revolutionary idea and a conservative social context. Biography
The Darwinian Tourist Christopher Wills Biologist Christopher Wills examines the living world from an evolutionary perspective, and demonstrates the extent to which evolution has shaped all of life Biography
Darwin's Dangerous Idea Daniel Dennett Good exploration of evolution, but irritating attempt to put it at the heart of all science Biology
Dazzled and Deceived Peter Forbes Excellent book on the fascinating topic of mimicry and camouflage, covering both the natural world and military attempts. Great insights into evolutionary mechanisms. Biology, technology
Death by Black Hole Neil deGrasse Tyson Reasonable collection of cosmological articles. Well written, but failed to excite. Cosmology
Deceit and Self-Deception Robert Trivers Interesting exploration of self-deception and how it helps us deceive others. Some parts great, other parts personal politics intrude. Overall worthwhile but could be better. Human science
Deciphering the Cosmic Number Arthur I. Miller Though mostly on physicist Wolfgang Pauli, intertwines the life and work of Carl Jung. Interesting science, but too much mystical claptrap and dream analysis. Physics, biography
Decoding Reality Vlatko Vedral Fascinating subject - the significance of information in the universe - but could have been much better written.. Physics
Decoding the Heavens Jo Marchant The twists and turns of the story of a remarkable 2,000 year old mechanical computer and how it was decoded. Technology
Deep Down Things Bruce A. Schumm Introduces the standard model of particle physics in some depth. Has elements of popular science, but will be too technical for many. Physics
Deep Future Curt Stager Gives a unique perspective on global warming by taking the long view, both historically and far into the future. Absolutely fascinating. Earth science
Deep Simplicity John Gribbin Chaos, complexity and simplicity related to the origins of life, but sadly not very well explained. Maths, overview
Defusing Armageddon Jeffrey T. Richelson Very dull story of NEST, the organization that deals with nuclear incidents. Technology
The Demon and the Quantum Robert J. Scully with Marlan O. Scully Interesting exploration of thermodynamics that unfortunately loses the reader as it tries to tie into quantum theory. Physics
The Demon Haunted World Carl Sagan An eloquent plea for reason and the scientific method instead of wide-eyed acceptance Sceptics, overview
A Devil's Chaplain Richard Dawkins Collection of essays from our foremost spokesperson for neo-Darwinian thinking. Superb and challenging (in a positive sense). Overview
The Devil's Doctor Philip Ball Revealing look at the medieval mix of magic and science that lay behind the life and theories of Paracelsus the strange and often reviled early medic Biography
De La Mettrie's Ghost - The Story of Decisions Chris Nunn Enjoyably written but patchy exploration of the scientific basis for free will and how we choose to act Psychology, human science
Diagnosis [Every Patient Tells a Story] Lisa Sanders A profuse collection of diagnosis stories from the doctor behind the TV programme House, M. D.  An engaging and informative read, but could have been better structured. Human science
Different Engines Mark L. Brake & Neil Hook Interesting topic - the interplay between science and science fiction - with some good points, but not hugely readable, and some glaring omissions. Overview
A Different Universe Robert M. Laughlin An argument for a different kind of physics, that is more dependent on emergent properties, rather than bottom up. Interesting but not entirely convincing. Physics
Digging up the Dead Druin Burch Riveting, if occasionally stomach churning biography of the top surgeon from around 1800, Astley Cooper. Highly recommended. Human Science
Dino Gangs Josh Young Despite the childish title and an irritating format because it's lifted from a TV documentary, a very interesting concept on how a group of dinosaurs behaved. Biology
Dinosaurs: a field guide Gregory S. Paul Detailed and technically excellent book on dinosaurs and their skeletons, but hard to see quite who it is aimed at. Biology
The Disappearing Spoon Sam Kean Instead of plodding through the periodic table this delightful book on elements has random but highly entertaining excursions into the people and events that are associated with the elements. Chemistry
Discoverers of the Universe Michael Hoskin Excellent biography of William Herschel and his sister Caroline with just the right balance of their lives and their remarkable scientific achievements. Astronomy, biography
The Discovery of the Germ John Waller Much more interesting than the title sounds - the transformation of medicine from fantasy to reality Biology, human science
Dissent over Decent Steve Fuller Almost impossible to decipher what this analysis of evolution and intelligent design is trying to say. Biology
Do we need Pandas? Ken Thompson An accessible exploration of biodiversity and conservation. Thompson argues we should concentrate on preserving ecosystems rather than individual species. Biology
Don't be Such a Scientist Randy Olson Excellent book on how scientists can communicate better and learn from the movies, but not really for a general audience. Overview
Don't You Have Time to Think Richard Feynman Absolutely fascinating collection of letters from one of the greatest scientists ever Biography
Donald Michie: on Machine Intelligence, Biology & more Donald Michie & Ashwin Srinivasan (ed.) An enjoyable collection of writings by a pioneer of artificial intelligence and IVF. Technology
Doomsday Men P. D. Smith History of the hydrogen bomb concentrating on mass destruction, Leo Szilard and reflections in fiction. Technology
The Double Helix James D. Watson Forget the tendency to disregard this book because it's not politically correct - it's a wonderful personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA Biology, physics
Dreaming J. Allan Hobson Dream and sleep science hauled out of the Freudian dark ages with an excellent introduction Human sciences
Drive On! A social history of the motor car L. J. K. Setright Infuriatingly pompous, yet fascinating exploration of the development and impact of the automobile Technology
Dry Store Room No. 1: the secret life of the Natural History Museum Richard Fortey A passionate tour of this British institution, taking in the exhibits and the people who work there and reflecting on the changes that are under way. Biology
Dying to Live Susan Blackmore One of the few books to address a possible piece of evidence for life after death (near death experiences) in a rational, scientific fashion Human science
E=mc2 David Bodanis Great historical storytelling, if a little sketchy on the science in this biography of an equation, reviewed on E=mc2's 100th birthday Physics
Earth James F. Luhr One of DK's highly illustrated books that sits between a reference and a coffee table book - fascinating if not true popular science Earth science
The Earth: an intimate history Richard Fortey Not only a good explanation of how the Earth works, but a tour of key locations too. Earth science
Earth: in 100 groundbreaking discoveries Douglas Palmer Despite the format, some interesting writing shines through and excellent photos make this an interesting exploration of the Earth's development Earth science
The Earth Moves Dan Hofstadter In depth look at Galileo's enhancement of the telescope and his trial, with some interesting unfamiliar material. Biography, astronomy
Eclipse Duncan Steel The history of eclipses and humanity's scientific and spiritual reactions to them Astronomy
Ecologic Brian Clegg Moves green issues away from knee-jerk emotional responses and bogeymen to uncover greenwash and establish what really is effective for the environment. Earth science
Economyths David Orrell Stunning dissection of economics that shows how it's based on totally inappropriate misapplication of scientific tools without understand the scientific method. Masterly.. Maths
The Edge of Physics Anil Ananthaswamy Great science-as-travel-writing, visiting the places where some of today's most exciting science is under way. Cosmology, physics
The Egypt Code Robert Bauval Don't be put off by the new-agey title: this is a real thriller of an exploration of the relationship between Ancient Egyptian buildings and stellar observation. Archaeology, astronomy
Einstein and Relativity Paul Strathern Compact book on Einstein's life and work - a good introduction, but quite short. Physics
Einstein: A Life in Science Michael White & John Gribbin Between them, White & Gribbin iron out each others faults to produce a good, balanced Einstein biog Biography, physics
Einstein: His Life and Universe Walter Isaacson Perhaps the best of the Einstein biographies - really seeks to get the man behind the legend, and does well at explaining the physics. Biography
Einstein's Heroes Robyn Arianrhod Excellent exploration of the move of maths to centre stage in physics, mostly focussing on the life and work of James Clark Maxwell Physics, maths
Einstein's Mistakes Hans C. Ohanian Brilliantly different exposition of Einstein's work, only slightly let down by smugness and at least one error. Physics
Einstein's Moon F. David Peat Good simple explanation of quantum theory coupled with rather fuzzy exploration of what reality is Physics
Einstein's Refrigerator [A Matter of Degrees] Gino Segre Excellent exploration of temperature, heat and cold, taking in a trip through much of science Physics, overview
Einstein's Refrigerator Steve Silverman Rather 'gee whiz' exposition of weird but true, mostly science-based tales Overview
Einstein's Telescope Evalyn Gates Okay exploration of the hunt for dark matter and dark energy. Cosmology
Einstein's Universe: the layperson's guide Nigel Calder Short and useful book which outlines special and general relativity - good start for anyone who is first encountering the subject. Physics
The Electric Life of Michael Faraday Alan Hirshfeld A fascinating look at the life and particularly the work of this pre-eminent Victorian physicist. Biography, physics
Electric Universe David Bodanis Excellent as a teen introduction to the wonders of electricity, but a bit too gushing for some adults. Physics
Electronic Brains Mike Hally The early days of electronic computer are uncovered around the world - US, UK, Australia and USSR - in an engaging little book Technology
Elegance in Science Ian Glynn Usefully puts some well-known theories into historical context, but less effective at establish its argument about elegance. Overview
The Elements of Murder John Emsley A history of the use of several key elements from mercury to lead in poisonings - fascinating stories and surprisingly interesting Human science
The Essential Einstein: His Greatest Works Albert Einstein Stephen Hawking edits and comments on Einstein's best work - but you probably need a physics degree.. Physics
Evolving the Alien [What does a Martian Look Like] Jack Cohen & Ian Stewart Clever idea of exploring alien life possibilities, partly driven by SF ideas, but suffers from smugness Biology
The Elegant Universe Brian Greene Precursor to Fabric of the Cosmos with considerable overlaps. Not as good on relativity/quantum theory but more on string theory. Physics, cosmology
The Elegant Universe of Albert Einstein Tom Barnes et al Collection of essays based on radio broadcasts linked to the 100th anniversary of Einstein's great year. A little fragmented, but some very good. Physics
The Emperor's New Drugs Irving Kirsch An analysis of the ineffectiveness of anti-depressant drugs and the importance of the placebo effect that is a good guide to scientific method. Human science
Empire of the Stars Arthur I. Miller The battle over the nature of white dwarf stars and the emergence of black holes in the life of Chandrasekhar, well told but long Cosmology, biography
The End of Discovery Russell Stannard Accessible exploration of some of the most difficult topics facing scientists today, and whether we will ever get satisfactory answers. Overview
Endless Universe: Before the Big Bang Neil Turok & Paul J. Steinhardt Accessible and readable book from the respected proponents of a theory of the creation of the universe without a big bang. Cosmology
Energy: the subtle concept Jennifer Coopersmith Though by no means an easy read with many physics concept taken as read, this book is a valuable exploration of the nature of energy and our increasing knowledge of it. Physics
Enhancing Me Pete Moore Although using a restrictive definition of enhancement, a thought-provoking look at how humans can be made more than human. Human Science, technology
Entanglement Amir Aczel Over-technical background to the workings of quantum entanglement Physics
An Entertainment of Angels Patricia Fara Interesting if compact story of eighteenth century electrical psuedo-science Physics
The Epigenetics Revolution Nessa Carey Fascinating and enlightening book on the way DNA goes beyond genes in controlling the body. Should have been five star if it wasn't for the overabundance of impenetrable names. Human science
The Equation that Couldn't be Solved Mario Livio Brilliant popular maths coverage of group theory and symmetry, throwing in a quick history of algebra. Highly approachable with excellent historical context. Mathematics
The Essential Difference Simon Baron-Cohen Fascinating new evidence on the genetic difference between male and female brains, but a bit stodgy Human science
The Eternal Child Clive Bromhall Stunningly effective theory of how the human ape became more like an infant to survive in large groups, and its impact on our bodies and behaviours Human science
Eureka Man Alan Hirshfeld Attempting the impossible with a biography of Archimedes, about whom little is known. Partially successful.. Biography, maths
Eureka! The Birth of Science Andrew Gregory Although it's arguable the ancient Greeks didn't do science, they certainly laid the foundations: this book is essential reading Overview
Everyday Practice of Science Frederick Grinnell Excellent as an academic study of the real nature of the scientific method, but hopeless as popular science. Overview
Everyday Survival Laurence Gonzales Brilliant first half of the book on the way our programmed behaviour puts us at risk, ruined by poor second half. Human science
Everything and more: a compact history of David Foster Wallace Much more style than readability in this patchy infinity title Maths
Evolution: A Very Short Introduction Brian & Deborah Charlesworth Pocket-sized but effective basic introduction to evolution. Could do with a bit more historical context, but fine. Biology
Exploring the Universe Brian Clegg An attractive pictorial introduction to astronomy and cosmology, small enough to be readable but big enough to get good colour pictures. Astronomy
Extraordinary Weather Richard Hamblyn A collection of very dramatic photographs of weather phenomena with extended captions but no running text. Great subjects but photos could be more contrasty. Earth science
Eyes on the Universe Patrick Moore Enjoyable if rather compact guide to the history of the telescope Astronomy
The Fabric of the Cosmos Brian Greene Great exploration of the nature of space, time and matter, starting with relativity and quantum theory and reaching out to the universe Physics, cosmology
Farmer Buckley's Exploding Trousers Stephanie Pain (Ed.) An informative collection of short of histories of strange, unexpected and unlikely developments in the history of science and technology. Technology
Faster James Gleick A description of the way we are constantly demanding to fit more and more into our time - probably Gleick's weakest book, but still interesting Overview
Faraday in 90 minutes John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin Quick and dirty intro to Faraday. No great shakes, but gives you the basics Biography
Faster Than Light Nick Herbert Age and so-so writing pull down the rating for this book, but still has good insights on getting around the light barrier Physics
Fatal Attraction Patricia Fara Enlightenment magnetism seen through the lives of three key characters: Halley, Knight and Mesmer Biography
The Father of Forensics Colin Evans The life and work of pioneer forensic pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Great read, but more true crime than science. Biography
The Fellowship John Gribbin History of the founding of the Royal Society built on biographies of the key figures - comes alive with Hooke, but elsewhere can be dull.. Overview
Fermat's Last Theorem Simon Singh The history and the final solution of this knotty mathematical problem Maths
Findings Hugh Aldersey-Williams Examination of 20th century science by pulling apart in detail a scientific paper for each decade. Heavy going but full of insights. Overview
The First Scientist Brian Clegg Readable biography of thirteenth century friar and proto-scientist, Roger Bacon. Biography, overview
Flow Philip Ball A study of the science of flow that offers many pleasures to the reader (but a clear statement of the book's aims is not one of them) Overview
The Fly in the Cathedral Brian Cathcart Brilliant story of the race to crack open the atomic nucleus: a must! Physics
The Forensic Casebook Ngaire E. Genge An attempt to explore the science of crime scene investigation, very readable but let down by style Human Science
The Forensics Handbook Pete Moore A useful mini-encyclopedia of the practices and technology of police forensics, but lacks narrative and the science Human Science
Four Laws (that drive the Universe) Peter Atkins A good concise introduction to the four laws of thermodynamics that would be great for a physics undergraduate, but just doesn't hack it as popular science. Physics
Francis Crick Matt Ridley A very readable and insightful biography of one of the key figures in the discovery of the structure of DNA - much more than retelling a well-known story Biography
Frank Whittle: Invention of the Jet Andrew Nahum Unsatisfactory attempt to tell the story of  the struggle to produce a working jet engine Technology, biography
Freaks of Nature Mark Blumberg Interesting take on how developmental pressures can produce freaks as much as genetic faults. Human science
Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science/Conflict in the Cosmos Simon Mitton Biography of brilliant astronomer and huge character, Fred Hoyle. Fascinating, but could have been better Biography, astronomy
Fred Hoyle's Universe Jane Gregory A thorough and effective biography of the great astronomer Fred Hoyle - not perfect, but probably the best Biography, cosmology
Free Radicals Michael Brooks An unusual look behind the facade of cool, rational thinkers that scientists like to project to show the way some great science came from off-the-wall thinking and how scientists are all too human.. Overview
Freedom Evolves Daniel Dennett Fascinating (if long-winded) exploration of free will, only low scoring as more philosophy than science Psychology
The Friar and the Cipher Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone Limited biography of proto-scientist Roger Bacon coupled with speculation on supposedly connected enciphered manuscript Overview
From Cosmos to Chaos Peter Coles Stunning introduction to probability and statistics, particularly in cosmology, plus Bayesian statistics, sadly only readable by a degree-level science student or above. Mathematics
From Eternity to Here Sean Carroll The book A Brief History of Time should have been - really does explore time and the significance of entropy to cosmology. Excellent book. Physics, cosmology
From Here to Infinity Ian Stewart Surprisingly readable and low-equation tour of the heart of today's mathematics Maths
Froth Mark Denny The science of beer - starts well with a good history, but then becomes much too technical on yeast populations, beer thermodynamics and more. Physics
The Fruits of War Michael White A huge sweep - effectively a brief history of all of technology, pointing out where its development was accelerated by war proves interesting but too much to cover Overview
The Future is Wild Douglas Dixon & John Adams Wonderful idea, mostly extremely well done, of speculating on the way animal life will evolve in the next 200 million years. Glossy & illustrated. Biology
The Future of Food Brian J. Ford A sharp assessment of what's wrong with the way we produce and consume food, and how things might change. Idiosyncratic tone might irritate, but will also interest. Overview
Future Proof Nick Sagan, Mark Frary and Andy Walker Good, if unoriginal concept of showing how the future technology of earlier days hasn't come into being. Glossy, but not very inspiring. Overview
Galileo: watcher of the skies David Wootton Heavyweight academic biography of Galileo. Not an easy read, but excellent at getting under the skin of why he did what he did. Biography
Galileo's Daughter Dava Sobel Biography of Galileo and exploration of his work, cunningly linked by a series of letters from his daughter Biography, overview
Galileo's Finger Peter Atkins Attempt to identify the key scientific breakthroughs of history Overview
Galileo in 90 minutes John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin Quick and dirty intro to Galileo. No great shakes, but gives you the basics Biography
Galloping with Light Felix Alba-Juez A self-published attempt to explain Einstein's theories to the general reader. Too plodding and too concerned with words rather than science. Physics
The Georgian Star Michael D. Lemonick Workmanlike but ultimately not hugely exciting biography of William Herschel. Biography
The Gecko's Foot Peter Forbes Wonderful examples of the potential for nature to inspire remarkable new technology, particularly at the nano level. Highly recommended Biology, technology
Geek Nation Angela Saini Engaging exploration of the new burst of science and technology in India in the form of a personal visit to interview many of those involved. Technology
Genesis Robert M. Hazen Wonderfully personal exploration of the possible origin of life from both experiment and field work, with engaging description of how experimental science works Biology
Genius - a very short introduction Andrew Robinson A pocket 'very short introduction' book on the nature of genius - frustrating because it's such a subjective concept. Human science
The Genius in All of Us David Shenk Unnecessarily negative, limited and primarily sports-based exploration of how the interaction of genes and environment produce genius. Human science
Genius: The Life and science of Richard Feynman James Gleick The best biography of this superb physicist and complex man - still flawed but well worth reading Biography
Genome Matt Ridley Already classic exploration of human genetics via 23 genes - excellent Human science
Giant Leaps John Perry & Jack Challoner Light and surprisingly good collaboration between the Science Museum and the tabloid newspaper, The Sun, covering our greatest scientific advances. Overview
God Does Play Dice with the Universe Shan Gao Interesting theory on the random and discontinuous nature of movement, but poorly written. Physics
The God Effect Brian Clegg Remarkable exploration of quantum entanglement, a bizarre effect that has amazing applications. Excellent explanation of the science Physics
The God Particle Leon Lederman & Dick Teresi In-depth and often funny look at the history of particle physics and the development of the standard model, viewed by an insider. Physics
The God Species Mark Lynas In a fascinating book, Lynas examines the 'boundaries' where humans need to set limits to avoid ecological disasters, from climate change to toxic chemicals. Earth sciences
Gödel, Escher, Bach Douglas Hofstadter Linking the music of Bach, the art of Escher and the maths of Gödel to illustrate human thought Psychology, overview
God's Equation Amir Aczel An exploration of 'Einstein's greatest mistake' - the cosmic constant Biography, cosmology, physics
God's Philosophers James Hannam Highly informative and surprisingly readable book filling in just what developments were made in the history of science during the medieval period. Overview
The Goldilocks Enigma Paul Davies Why are all the physical constants so fine-tuned for an environment we can live in? A thought provoking exploration of the cosmological reasons why things are just right. Cosmology
The Goldilocks Planet Jan Zalasiewicz & Mark Williams A surprisingly readable trip through the Earth's 4 billion year climate history. Though it can get a little samey, very well written. Earth science
A Grand and Bold Thing Ann Finkbeiner Wonderfully told story of the effort to produce the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and how it has transformed astronomy. Excellent popular science writing. Astronomy
The Grand Design Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow Very glossy (though illustrations sometimes wrong) attempt to explain everything with science, disposing of philosophy and religion. Good physics summaries, but poor thesis. Cosmology, physics

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Last update 16 April 2011