These are Science News’ favorite books of 2021


A lot of Scientific news Staff Favorite Books of the Year challenge our understanding of the world, from reshaping human history to reinventing the toilet. For a satisfactory read, you can’t go wrong with any of these books, including a few of our Scientific news colleagues. Find in-depth reviews here.


The dawn of everything
David Graeber and David Wengrow
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
$ 35

This provocative story challenges the conventional wisdom that societies have progressed through a series of stages that inevitably led to inequalities – arguing instead that people have experienced a variety of social systems since the Stone Age (NS: 11/6/21, p. 34).


First steps
Jeremy DeSilva
Harpist
$ 27.99

It is impossible to identify a single thing that makes humans human. But DeSilva, a paleoanthropologist, argues that the emergence of standing walking led our ancestors on an evolutionary path that resulted in the characteristics that make humans unique (NS: 04/24/2021, p. 28).


Edge of life
Carl Zimmer
Dutton
28 $

Considering the supposed characteristics of life and the exceptions to the rules, this book tackles one of the thorniest questions in biology: What makes something alive? (NS: 03/27/21, p. 28).


The code breaker
Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster
$ 35

Immediately after winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Jennifer Doudna is the subject of a biography that delves into her seminal work on CRISPR / Cas9 and delves into the ethics of gene editing (NS: 03/27/21, p. 29).


Find the mother tree
Suzanne Simard
Knopf
$ 28.95

In this moving memoir, Simard tells how she went from a forestry company to an ecologist and to the discovery of the hidden underground networks that connect the trees inside a forest (NS: 7/3/21 & 7/17/21, p. 36).


Wild souls
Emma marris
Bloomsbury
28 $

Combining science and philosophy, Marris, an environmentalist writer, explores the ethical dilemmas associated with preserving wildlife and forces readers to think about what humans owe other animals (NS: 07/31/21, p. 28).


Pipe Dreams
Chelsea wald
Press passionate about reading
$ 27

In this lively toilet tour around the world, readers meet scientists, activists and entrepreneurs who find creative ways to improve access to sanitation and make human waste management more economically sustainable. environmental (NS: 10/4/21, p. 29).


book cover "Empire of Pain"

Empire of Pain
Patrick radden keefe
Double day
$ 32.50

Keefe, editor at the New Yorker, studies how the actions of three generations of the Sackler family – owners of the pharmaceutical company that made the painkiller OxyContin – set the stage for the opioid crisis.


On the fringe
Michel D. Gordin
University of Oxford.
$ 18.95

Gordin, historian, reviews astrology, alchemy, eugenics and other topics – many
which were once considered the mainstream science – to show how difficult it is to define pseudoscience (NS: 08/28/21, p. 30).


Flashes of creation
Paul Halpern
Basic books
$ 30

In the middle of the 20th century, George Gamow and Fred Hoyle opposed a big debate about how the universe started. By recounting the careers of these dueling physicists, this book traces the birth of the Big Bang theory and modern cosmology (NS: 08/28/21, p. 30).


Bright galaxies, dark matter and beyond
Ashley Jean Yeager
MIT Press
$ 24.95

Astronomer Vera Rubin has provided key evidence for the existence of dark matter, an invisible substance now believed to make up the majority of the mass of the universe. In this biography, Yeager, Scientific news‘Associate Editor, examines how Rubin persevered in the face of skepticism about his work and the sexism that permeated science in the mid-20th century (NS: 08/14/21, p. 29).


Bloody details
Erika Engelhaupt
National geography
$ 26

Morbidly curious readers look no further. Engelhaupt, a frequent contributor to Scientific news, entertains with stories on topics not suitable for polite conversation. Everything from stool transplants and bugs on legs, to facial mites and other critters that just might give you the heebie-jeebies made the cut (NS: 02/27/21, p. 29).


Buy these books at Bookshop.org. Scientific news is an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a commission on purchases made from the links in this article.


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