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ASTRONOMY
The Autobiography Patrick Moore A remarkable combination of stories from life an opinions on the world from the UK's best known astronomer and TV eccentric Biography, astronomy
Bad Astronomy Philip Plait Misapprehensions and the even more fascinating facts in astronomy Astronomy, sceptics
Bang! The Complete History of the Universe Patrick Moore, Brian May, Chris Lintott A superbly illustrated introduction to the basics of cosmology, for all ages, though we think it works best for younger readers. Astronomy, cosmology
Beyond UFOs Jeffrey Bennett Warm and well-written book on the search for extra terrestrial life, but no real surprises. Astronomy
The Big Questions: The Universe Stuart Clark Useful summary of the basics of cosmology in a rather stylish package, but lacks much popular science context. Astronomy
Black Genesis Robert Bauval & Thomas Brophy Further thoughts on alignments of some newly discovered prehistoric structures in Egypt, plus a theory on the nature of the ancient Egyptians - but much less readable than the Egypt Code. Archaeology, astronomy
The Book of the Moon Rick Stroud Good compendium of information about the moon (if some slightly flaky topics), but not really a popular science book. Astronomy
The Calendar David Ewing Duncan The struggle to establish a calendar that matches reality Astronomy, technology
Chasing the Sun Richard Cohen A huge exploration of humanity's relationship with the sun. Overlong and sometimes a little vague on the science, but a fascinating read. Astronomy
Conflict in the Cosmos/Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science Simon Mitton Biography of brilliant astronomer and huge character, Fred Hoyle. Fascinating, but could have been better Biography, astronomy
Cosmos Carl Sagan The book of the classic TV series on the universe from one of the best US science popularizers. Astronomy
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 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
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: 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
Eyes on the Universe Patrick Moore Enjoyable if rather compact guide to the history of the telescope Astronomy
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
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 History of Astronomy Michael Hoskin Part of the "very short introduction" series. Best on ancient history, but fine up to 1800s. Astronomy
How Old is the Universe David A. Weintraub An interesting topic, but too technical and detailed for the average reader - more for the astronomy enthusiast or undergrad. Astronomy, cosmology
Hubble: the mirror on the universe Robin Kerrod & Carole Stott Attractive coffee table book of Hubble photos with a good text. It is unlikely to be read end to end, but great to flip through. Astronomy
Hubble: Window on the Universe Giles Sparrow Massive coffee table book of photos from the solar system the farthest visible extents of the universe taken by Hubble and other probes. Superb photography puts text in the shade a little. Astronomy
The Magic Furnace Marcus Chown Where atoms come from - a remarkable story that takes us from the big bang to now Physics, astronomy, cosmology
Measuring the Universe Kitty Ferguson A solid survey of the attempts to pin down the size of the universe through the ages. Fine, but never soars. Cosmology, astronomy
Miss Leavitt's Stars George Johnson Not the biography the title suggests - sadly little is known of Miss Leavitt - but a good, brief introduction to measuring the size of the universe Astronomy
Our Cosmic Habitat Martin Rees A clear and well-written guide to the universe from the Astronomer Royal Cosmology, astronomy
The Planets Dava Sobel Highly poetic and personal exploration of the solar system - enjoyable reading but a little weak on science Astronomy
Planets - a very short introduction David A. Rothery Despite the limitations of the compact pocket format, this proves a surprisingly readable and informative summary of the planets and their moons. Astronomy
The Pluto Files Neil deGrasse Tyson Glossy book on Pluto that falls down by not being sure what it is, and having a bit of a dull subject. Astronomy
Postcards from Mars Jim Bell Great photographs of the Martian surface taken by the rovers, with good explanatory text, but after a while the pictures are very similar to each other. Astronomy
Solar System Marcus Chown Chown's excellent Solar System app ported to book form. Not quite as good, but still has great images and easy to follow text. Astronomy
Spacecam Terry Hope A good, colourful NASA-based space picture book. Better than many as it's portable and has manned missions, Hubble, planetary probes and Earth-facing images. Astronomy
The Stargazer's Almanac Bob Mizen et al Excellent month-by-month guide to what's in the (Northern) night sky in the format of a large calendar. Really useful. Astronomy
The Story of Astronomy Heather Couper & Nigel Henbest Excellent historical narrative of the development of astronomy and our gradual discovery of what is out there in the universe, told through the characters involved. Astronomy
The Sun Kings Stuart Clark Well-written and enjoyable history of discoveries about the Sun and its influence on the Earth from renaissance times. Astronomy
The Transit of Venus Peter Adds et al Mixed collection of essays on the eponymous transit, its significance to New Zealand, and New Zealand's significance to science. Astronomy
Universe: a journey from Earth to the Edge of the Cosmos Nicholas Cheetham Nice idea - photographic record of a 'journey' from Earth to the edge of the universe, but the result is a coffee table book. Astronomy
We Are Not Alone Dirk Schulze-Makuch & David Darling Gives a real understanding of why we should be spending less on manned spaceflights and more on exploring the possible life-bearing worlds of the solar system. Astronomy, biology
What if the Earth had two Moons? Neil F. Comins Really clever idea of exploring astronomy through 10 'what if' variants on the Earth - but use of fiction poor and gets a bit samey. Astronomy
BIOGRAPHY
Animal David Burnie (Ed.) Wonderful illustrated reference guide to the animal kingdom - not popular science really, hence only Biology
The Autobiography Patrick Moore A remarkable combination of stories from life an opinions on the world from the UK's best known astronomer and TV eccentric Biography, astronomy
The Autobiography Charles Darwin Not at all stuffy - short book is a fascinating insight into Darwin as a human being Biography, biology
Avoid Boring People James D. Watson Dull autobiography that has none of the style and panache of the much younger Watson's The Double Helix. Biography
The Born-Einstein Letters Max Born & Albert Einstein Fascinating letters between two of the 20th century greats of physics. History, physics
Boyle: between God and Science Boyle: between God and ScienceMichael Hunter Detailed biography of Robert Boyle, superbly researched, which disappointingly has very little explanation of the science. Biography
Broken Genius Joel Shurkin Exceedingly well-told biography of William Shockley, physics Nobel prize winner and founder of Silicon Valley whose reputation was ruined by his social theories. Biography
The Comet Sweeper Claire Brock Interesting view of the life of Caroline Herschel, the first female professional astronomer, if a little tinted by the author's viewpoint. Biography
Conflict in the Cosmos/Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science Simon Mitton Biography of brilliant astronomer and huge character, Fred Hoyle. Fascinating, but could have been better Biography, astronomy
The Curies Denis Brian Interesting and in-depth biography of both the Curies and the Joliot-Curies, though could have been even better with judicious editing. Biography
Curious Minds John Brockman (Ed) 27 "why I turned to science" essays that is so much more interesting than it sounds. Really. Biography
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
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
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
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 Earth Moves Dan Hofstadter In depth look at Galileo's enhancement of the telescope and his trial, with some interesting unfamiliar material. Biography, astronomy
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
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
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
Eureka Man Alan Hirshfeld Attempting the impossible with a biography of Archimedes, about whom little is known. Partially successful.. Biography, maths
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
Faraday in 90 minutes John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin Quick and dirty intro to Faraday. No great shakes, but gives you the basics Biography
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 First Scientist Brian Clegg Readable biography of thirteenth century friar and proto-scientist, Roger Bacon. Biography, overview
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
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
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 in 90 minutes John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin Quick and dirty intro to Galileo. No great shakes, but gives you the basics Biography
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
The Georgian Star Michael D. Lemonick Workmanlike but ultimately not hugely exciting biography of William Herschel. Biography
God's Equation Amir Aczel An exploration of 'Einstein's greatest mistake' - the cosmic constant Biography, cosmology, physics
Heal Thyself (US) see The Herbalist
The Herbalist (UK) Benjamin Woolley Life and works of herbalist and medic Nicholas Culpeper Biography, human science
Isaac Newton James Gleick Newton biog with good insight into his physics Biography, physics
Isaac Newton Gale Christianson Short Newton biography, strong on historical context, not so good on the science Biography
Isaac Newton, the Last Sorcerer Michael White Newton biog with emphasis on personal development and his interest in alchemy Biography, physics
Joseph Priestley in Calne Norman Beale Readable short biography of the discoverer of oxygen, focussing on his key years at Bowood House. Biography, chemistry
Jurassic Mary Patricia Pierce Detailed insight into the life of Mary Anning, one of the great Victorian fossil hunters whose name is largely hidden because she was a working class woman Biography
The Last Man Who Knew Everything Andrew Robinson The first modern biography of the polymath Thomas Young whose strong contributions to physics, engineering and more make him a fascinating if enigmatic character. Biography
Lavoisier in the Year One Madison Smartt Bell Good to see a chemistry popular science book, and Lavoisier's contribution is interesting (as were the times), but overall disappointingly dull Chemistry, biography
Leonardo, the First Scientist Michael White A biography of Leonardo da Vinci concentrating on his contributions to science rather than art Biography
Longitude Dava Sobel Clockmaker John Harrison's attempts to devise an accurate chronometer for navigation Biography, technology
The Man Who Knew Infinity Robert Kanigel Biography of 20th century mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan Biography, maths
The Man Who Stopped Time Brian Clegg Engaging biography of the motion picture pioneer and murderer. Not a huge amount of science in his life, but brings out the science of photography etc. well. Biography
The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III Peter Byrne Interesting biography of the man behind the many worlds quantum interpretation and a major contributor to game theory. Bio parts good, science a bit impenetrable. Biography, physics
Mathematics with Love Mary Stopes-Roe Delightful correspondence and maths lessons between Barnes Wallis, inventor of the bouncing bomb and his sweetheart Biography, technology
Max Perutz and the Secret of Life Georgina Ferry A delightful surprise to find out about this pioneering molecular biologist, supported by excellent writing. Biology, Biography
Michael Faraday and the Electrical Century Iwan Rhees Morus Combines skimpy biography of Faraday with interesting insights into early attitudes to electricity Biography, physics
Microcosm Carl Zimmer Fascinating study of the bacterium E. coli with plenty of lessons for the understanding of life as a whole, and our attitude to human genetic material. Biology
The Mo[u]ld on Doctor Florey's Coat Eric Lax The true story of the development of penicillin - both fascinating and very different from the myth Biology, biography
The Mystery of the Aleph Amir Aczel Good biography of Georg Cantor and explanation of his maths of the infinite. Maths, biography
The Northern Lights Lucy Jago Kristian Birkeland, the Norwegian scientist who first uncovered the secret of the Northern Lights Biography, physics
Pandora's Breeches Patricia Fara Interesting exploration of women's early role in science Biography
Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track [Don't You Have Time to Think?] Richard Feynman Absolutely fascinating collection of letters from one of the greatest scientists ever Biography
Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein's Brain Carolyn Abraham Occasionally gory but fascinating account of what happened to Einstein's brain after his death Biography, human science
Prisoner's Dilemma William Poundstone Interesting biography of John von Neumann plus introduction to game theory and its cold war significance Maths, biography
Pythagoras Kitty Ferguson A difficult task in writing a book on a person we know almost nothing about (and not much more on his theories) - but instead we follow his influence through the centuries in a fascinating fashion. Biography
The Queen's Conjuror Benjamin Woolley The remarkable John Dee and his fascinating mix of science and magic Biography
Richard Feynman: A Life in Science John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin Plodding style and under-done explanation of the science make this biog of super-scientist Feynman disappointing Biography, physics
Sex, Botany and Empire Patricia Fara Joseph Banks (and Linnaeus) and his contribution to biological classification Biography, biology
Stephen Hawking Kitty Ferguson Interesting and revealing on the life of one of the most famous living scientists, but not brilliant at explaining his science. Cosmology, biography
Strange Angel George Pendle The totally bizarre and fascinating story of the life and horrible death of rocket science and occult enthusiast John Whiteside Parsons Biography
The Strangest Man Graham Farmelo Very detailed and well researched biography of the most secretive of the quantum physicists, Paul Dirac. A welcome addition. Biography, physics
Surely you are Joking, Mr Feynman Richard Feynman Wonderful anecdotes from the great physicist Biography, physics
Tesla: Man out of Time Margaret Cheney Biography of the remarkable inventor Nikola Tesla. Good on his personal life, but the author isn't very good at science. Biography
The Third Man of the Double Helix Maurice Wilkins Autobiography of the third DNA Nobel prize winner. Not great writing, but fascinating insight, especially into the Frankin affair Biography, biology
Tweeting the Universe Marcus Chown & Govert Schilling One of those 'great idea, didn't quite work' concepts - explaining cosmology in 140 character maximum 'tweets'. Astronomy, cosmology, physics
The Ultimate Quotable Einstein Alice Calaprice (Ed.) Fat book of Einstein quotes. He certainly was quotable - but it's hard to see what this book is for. Biography
Wegener's Jigsaw Clare Dudman Biographical novel, providing excellent insights into the life and works of the man who thought up continental drift, Alfred Wegener. Biography
What Do You Care What Other People Think? Richard Feynman Feynman's follow up collection of reminiscences, distinguished by amazing section on the Challenger enquiry Biography
When We Were Kids John Brockman (Ed) 27 "why I turned to science" essays that is so much more interesting than it sounds. Really. Biography
BIOLOGY
After Dolly Ian Wilmut & Roger Highfield Excellent combination of a history of the development of the first animal clone, Dolly the sheep, with an exploration of the ethics and practicality of cloning by one of the team behind Dolly's birth. Biology
The Age of Empathy Frans de Waal Lessons from nature, and primates in particular, into the reasons for the existence of empathy and its value. Touching and based on de Waal's work Biology
The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins Atypical Dawkins - less polished argument than coffee table gloss. Still excellent content in this trip into our biological past, but very bitty. Biology
Anthill E. O. Wilson A novel that sandwiches a section about the life of an anthill between two describing a naturalist who wants to save it. Doesn't work very well. Biology
The Autobiography Charles Darwin Not at all stuffy - short book is a fascinating insight into Darwin as a human being Biography, biology
Bats Sing, Mice Giggle Karen Shanor & Jagmeet Kanwal A whole pile of surprising and fascinating facts about the inner lives of animals, though could have been less of a long list. Biology
The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins Superb explanation of how complexity emerges through evolution, slightly let down by writing style Biology
The Buzz about Bees Jürgen Tautz A delightful surprise when what appears to be a textbook proves to be a fascinating, beautifully illustrated exploration of these remarkable superorganisms. Biology
Coral Steve Jones The parts of this far-ranging book about coral are good, but the asides take up far too much of it.. Biology
The Creation E. O. Wilson A short and beautifully put together plea for better stewardship of the natural world, let down by lack of coherence. Biology
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
The Future is Wild Douglas Dixon & John Adams Excellent idea, mostly extremely well done, of speculating on the way animal life will evolve in the next 200 million years. Glossy & illustrated. Biology
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
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
Heatstroke Anthony Barnosky Excellent exploration of the impact of climate change on species, and how the present global warming could devastate nature. Earth science, biology
A History of Molecular Biology Michael Morange Molecular biology, explaining biological functions at the molecular level, has transformed the science. An interesting book, but not enough on the people. Biology
Hope for Animals and their World Jane Goodall Very personal and moving accounts of animals being saved from the brink of extinction - just a bit overlong. Biology
If Dogs Could Talk Vilmos Csányi Real eye-opener on the nature and sophistication of the mind of a very familiar creature: the dog Biology
In Search of Memory Eric R. Kandel Excellent account of the work of the Nobel Prize winner Kandel, putting his studies of the cellular nature of memory into the context of his life. Biology
In the Beginning was the Worm Andrew Brown Delightful introduction to the first creature to have its genome sequenced - and the scientists who did it Biology
Introducing Darwin Jonathan Miller & Borin van Loon Illustrated trip around Darwin and his work. A little dated and patchy in quality, but reasonable. Biology
Introducing Evolution Dylan Evans & Howard Selina Easily pocketed guide to evolution with all the basics and some useful excursions into altruism etc. Not outstanding but solid. Biology
Life as Energy Alexis Mari Pietak Interesting idea of paralleling the way physics has models working at both quantum and macro levels in biology, but ruined by New Age feel. Biology
The Lives of Ants Laurent Keller & Elisabeth Gordon Well written and endlessly fascination exploration of the lives of ants in all their strange and wonderful ways. Biology
Lonesome George Henry Nicholls The attempts to mate the sole known tortoise from Pinta Island in the Galapagos is used to introduce the islands themselves, and a touch of Darwin Biology
The Long Tomorrow Michael R. Rose Excellent description by evolutionary biologist Michael Rose of his work on aging in fruit flies, put into the context of his life and the possibilities for understanding human aging. Biology
The Mathematics of Life Ian Stewart Exploration of the increasing use of maths in biology. A brilliant introduction to biology, and some of the maths is interesting but some a bit abstruse. Maths, Biology
Max Perutz and the Secret of Life Georgina Ferry A delightful surprise to find out about this pioneering molecular biologist, supported by excellent writing. Biology, Biography
Metamorphosis Frank Ryan Fascinating theory of the origins of animals with a very different larval form (think caterpillar and butterfly) with lots of detail on the nature of metamorphosis. Biology
The Mo[u]ld on Doctor Florey's Coat Eric Lax The true story of the development of penicillin - both fascinating and very different from the myth Biology, biography
The Music of Life Dennis Noble An attempt to put right the misunderstanding generated by the selfish gene metaphor, let down by a confusing musical alternative Biology
Natural Acts David Quamman Collection of beautifully crafted short pieces on science and nature, especially good on unexpected animal topics. Biology, overview
Nature's Robots: A History of Proteins Charles Tanford & Jacqueline Reynolds Accessible history of science textbook on proteins and their discovery, but not really popular science Biology
Our Inner Ape Frans de Waal The affection the author feels for chimps and bonobos comes through strongly as he explores the behaviour of our closest relatives, and what it can tell us about ourselves Biology
Oxygen Nick Lane Not, as it may seem a book on the element, but on its complex relationship with life. Great content but very hard work for the reader. Biology, human sciences
Pleasurable Kingdom Jonathan Balcombe Can animals feel pleasure? Pet owners will say "yes" - this book shows they're probably right, and explains why it happens and why we should consider it in animal welfare. Biology
The Poison Paradox John Timbrell Comprehensive but rather repetitive and weakly edited guide to the nature of poisons, both natural and synthetic Biology, chemistry
Power, Sex, Suicide Nick Lane It sounds like a political thriller, but it's a fascinating if fat exploration of the role of mitochondria, the invader power packs of complex life. Biology
Rats Robert Sullivan A study of the wild rat in New York, in Robert Sullivan's unique style that brings in many fascinating tangential stories Biology
Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think Alan Grafen & Mark Ridley Collection of essays inspired by Richard Dawkins, sadly lacking his style and readability, and not addressing the man himself Biology
Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen The highly entertaining and original combo of Discworld fantasy and scientific precision is aimed at evolution. A few quibbles but great Biology
Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism Andrew J. Petto & Laurie R. Godfrey Despite being a collection of academic essays, this is surprisingly readable explanation of what creationism and intelligent design are, and why they mistakenly take on evolution. Biology
Second Nature Jonathan Balcombe The book presents important messages about animals' ability to feel and how we should treat them, but does so in a repetitious and poorly argued way. Biology
The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins Evolutionary biology from its foremost protagonist Biology
The Selfish Genius Fern Elsdon-Baker Excellent analysis of what's right and wrong with Richard Dawkins' approach to evolution and public understanding of science, with real insights into science in society. Biology
Seven Deadly Colours Andrew Parker Superb description of nature's mechanisms for producing colour and colour's impact on the eye, a little let down by poor physics Biology
Sex, Botany and Empire Patricia Fara Joseph Banks (and Linnaeus) and his contribution to biological classification Biography, biology
Shadows on the Cave Wall: a new theory of evolution Keith Skene A charming but unconvincing attempt to unseat Darwin, packed with biological information and delivered in engaging prose Biology
Simplexity Alain Berthoz Tries to explain a concept in biology but totally incomprehensible. Biology
Sleepfaring: A journey through the science of sleep Jim Horne Wonderfully readable tour of the science of sleep. Sags just a little in the middle, but overall excellent Biology
Soft Machines Richard A. L, Jones Interesting book on one aspect of nanotechnology (nano machines), but more of a good textbook than popsci Technology, biology
Spider Silk Leslie Brunetta & Catherine L. Craig The origins and nature of spiders, everything you want to know about silk and webs and more in this study of the life and loves of the arachnids. Biology
Super Cooperators Martin Nowak & Roger Highfield Interesting extension to evolution, adding cooperation to mutation and selection as shaping 'forces' - not the best written book, but some good points. Biology
The Super-Organism Bert Holldobler and E. O. Wilson Big glossy and in-depth study of the super-organism behaviour of bees and ants. Fascinating, though can get a bit heavy in both senses. Biology
The Third Man of the Double Helix Maurice Wilkins Autobiography of the third DNA Nobel prize winner. Not great writing, but fascinating insight, especially into the Frankin affair Biography, biology
Toxin Alistair Lax A readable combination of history of the discovery of the role of bacteria and their toxins and the science behind it Biology
We Are Not Alone Dirk Schulze-Makuch & David Darling Gives a real understanding of why we should be spending less on manned spaceflights and more on exploring the possible life-bearing worlds of the solar system. Astronomy, biology
Why Do Men Have Nipples? Mark Leyner & Billy Goldberg Delightful answers to all those silly questions people want to ask doctors, only missing perfect because of the painfully unfunny sections in between the Q&A Human science
Why Evolution is True Jerry A. Coyne A persuasive and plain-spoken summary of the evidence for evolution by natural selection, with some minor conceptual problems. Biology
Witness to Extinction Samuel Turvey The sad story of the attempt to preserve the Yangtze river dolphin and the lessons it gives on practical conservation. Biology
Wormwood Forest Mary Mycio An engrossing personal experience of the contaminated zone from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, revealing the amazing spread of wildlife since the accident Biology
Written in Stone Brian Switek Excellent exploration of how our understanding of fossils has developed over time and why science thinks the things it does about the development of animals on the Earth Biology
CHEMISTRY
Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug Dairmuid Jeffreys The story of aspirin from quinine substitute to heart medicine. Excellent background; truly fascinating  Chemistry, human sciences
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
Joseph Priestley in Calne Norman Beale Readable short biography of the discoverer of oxygen, focussing on his key years at Bowood House. Biography, chemistry
Lavoisier in the Year One Madison Smartt Bell Good to see a chemistry popular science book, and Lavoisier's contribution is interesting (as were the times), but overall disappointingly dull Chemistry, biography
The Periodic Table Eric R. Scerri An in-depth exploration of the birth and development of the periodic table. Too technical and not enough context for the general reader. Chemistry
Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey-Williams Entertaining exploration of the elements with lots of stories about their use and discovery, plus the author's personal experience of accumulating elements. Chemistry
The Poison Paradox John Timbrell Comprehensive but rather repetitive and weakly edited guide to the nature of poisons, both natural and synthetic Biology, chemistry
Reactions Peter Atkins Beautifully illustrated introduction to the fundamentals of chemistry at the level of atoms and molecules, but more for the student than the general reader. Chemistry
Venomous Earth Andrew Meharg Interesting exploration of arsenic's duel role as poison and medicine, fascinating on poisonous wallpaper Chemistry

 

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Last update 16 April 2011