13 Mind-Expanding Science Books

By Kaitlyn Johnston
Three books displayed on a peach background: "The End of Everything" in blue, "The Genome Odyssey" in multicolor, and "What the Owl Knows" in green, each showing distinct cover designs.

You don’t want to miss out on these awe-inspiring reads.

Curiosity seekers, unite: If you love listening to Radiolab or binge-watching entire seasons of Nova, these mesmerizing science books are for you.

Book cover titled "trippy" by ernesto londoño, featuring a psychedelic design. a vivid road leads through a rocky desert towards a large moon, framed by multicolored concentric circles and a pink sky.

Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics

By Ernesto Londoño

In his revelatory new book, New York Times journalist Ernesto Londoño offers an in-depth look at psychedelics in mental health treatment. Londoño’s account begins with a moment of crisis: In 2018, a severe depression nearly ended his life. Seeking solace and clarity, Londoño embarked on a nine-day ayahuasca retreat deep in the rainforest of Brazil — which opened his eyes to the world of psychedelic therapy. Through conversations with researchers, religious leaders, Indigenous elders, and military veterans suffering from PTSD, Londoño explores this emerging field of therapy, one that contains tremendous potential and risk. A brilliant blend of investigative journalism and first-person experience, Trippy delivers “a scrupulous study of a fascinating development in mental health care” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Book cover of "The Genome Odyssey" featuring a dark blue background, multicolored digital pixels, and prominent text including quotes from reviewers and author credentials.

The Genome Odyssey: Medical Mysteries and the Incredible Quest to Solve Them

By Euan Angus Ashley

In The Genome Odyssey, Stanford professor of medicine and genetics Dr. Euan Angus Ashley embarks on a fascinating journey into genetic sequencing and precision medicine, revealing how these breakthrough technologies can be harnessed to predict and beat disease. Through lively prose, Ashley sheds light on his field of expertise, introducing readers to a diverse cast of researchers, doctor detectives, and inspirational patients. Together, these figures play a vital role in unlocking the secrets of the human genome and revolutionizing medical care for future generations. “The Genome Odyssey is destined to be a landmark narrative in the canon of modern science” (Abraham Verghese, New York Times bestselling author of Cutting for Stone).

Book cover of "Entangled Life" by Merlin Sheldrake, featuring a vibrant illustration of various fungi and microscopic organisms on a dark background.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

By Merlin Sheldrake

A New York Times bestseller, The Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake delves into the wondrous world of fungi. Tunneling far beyond your typical cremini, Sheldrake reveals the unseen fungal network at our feet and outlines the role fungus plays in sustaining life on planet Earth. As makers, metabolizers, and even mind-alterers, fungi are not only fascinating in their own right but offer deep insight into understanding our planet and the way we live. Gorgeously designed and suffused with wonder, The Entangled Life is a mind-expanding science book that will rewrite your perception of the natural world.

Book cover of "An Immense World" by Ed Yong featuring a close-up of a monkey looking upwards, surrounded by a butterfly and lush greenery, with critical acclaim quotes and awards mentioned.

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

By Ed Yong

From Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ed Yong, An Immense World is a multisensory exploration of life on our planet. While every living creature perceives the world through its senses, that bubble of perception captures but a fraction of what Earth has to offer. In this New York Times bestseller, Yong breaks us out of our experiential limitations, describing the remarkable details of our world through the senses of other creatures—magnetic field-tracking turtles, flower-seeking bees, ocularly evolved giant squid, and many, many more. Dazzling and entertaining, An Immense World is a work of exuberant scientific discovery.

 

Book cover of "Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth's Extinct Worlds" featuring a stylized illustration of a large prehistoric bird amid lush green foliage, with bold title text at the top.

Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth’s Extinct Worlds

By Thomas Halliday

Earth’s ancient history is brought back to vivid life in this sweeping science book by Thomas Halliday. Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Halliday explores 16 fossil sites from around the world, describing in wondrous detail what the fossils tell us about primeval eras of existence and the evolution of our planet. Along with immersive depictions of ancient events and adaptations, Otherlands offers an in-depth assessment of Earth’s present state — and what the planet’s future might look like. A fantastic journey of ecosystems, their cycles, and their stories, Otherlands is “an energizing spin through Earth’s past” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

Book cover titled "What an Owl Knows" featuring a close-up of a brown and white owl perched on a branch, with text mentioning it as a New York Times Notable Book and titles by the author Jennifer Ackerman.

What an Owl Knows: The New Science of the World’s Most Enigmatic Birds

By Jennifer Ackerman

New York Times bestseller What an Owl Knows by Jennifer Ackerman explores the hidden life of the magnificent and elusive owl. Owls have intrigued, enraptured, and unsettled us for centuries, yet it’s only recently that scientists have been able to study owl behavior in all its complexity. Researchers have used modern technology to learn how owls live and communicate, hunt, and raise their young. Through her observations in the field and remarkable new scientific information, Ackerman shines a reverential light on these mystifying birds.

Cover of the book "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer, featuring a green, braided sweetgrass strand against a white background with text detailing the title and themes of the book.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

Indigenous botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer opens our hearts and minds to nature’s wisdom in this powerful environmental book. Kimmerer is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and she believes that there is much to learn from the Earth’s plants and animals — if only we remember to listen. Through profound reflection and passionate exploration, bolstered by her scientific background, the author argues that ecological consciousness is only possible by first understanding our relationship with the natural world. A New York Times bestseller, Braiding Sweetgrass is a treasure trove of poetic observation and a celebration of nature and its teachings.

Book cover titled "How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain" by Lisa Feldman Barrett, featuring a colorful brain-shaped splash of paint on a white background, with critical acclaim quotes.

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

By Lisa Feldman Barrett

The human experience is defined by feeling — but where do those feelings come from? In How Emotions Are Made, psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett gets into the science of feelings, revealing just how outdated our ideas about emotions truly are. Barrett not only presents the latest science in fascinating and accessible detail but also identifies the ways that our misconceptions about emotions damage our society. From the giddiness of a crush to the thrill of trying something new and the fear of loss, our feelings are personal and unique, even when we assume they’re universal. With How Emotions Are Made, we’re one step closer to understanding the feelings that drive us.

The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

The 17th-century discovery of the cell ushered in a new era of science and medicine. In The Song of the Cell, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee traces the cell’s story from the beginning. The cell’s discovery spawned a new branch of study that would allow us to better understand the human body and its ailments, as well as open new pathways to combating disease. Told in six parts, The Song of the Cell is an expansive account of scientific history made intimate through Mukherjee’s own experience as a doctor and researcher.

Cover of "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" by Neil deGrasse Tyson, featuring the author's name in large text with a starry night sky and trees in the background.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

By Neil deGrasse Tyson

In this New York Times bestselling science book, Neil deGrasse Tyson offers an accessible guide to the universe. The acclaimed astrophysicist answers questions about the cosmos in succinct, entertaining chapters that you can dip into throughout the day. From the Big Bang and black holes to the search for extraterrestrial life, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a dynamic and easy-to-digest journey through space and time.

Book cover of "The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)" by Katie Mack. Features a cosmic blue background with bright, radiating white lines. Includes accolade from The Times as a 'Notable Book 2020'.

The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)

By Katie Mack

Astrophysicist Katie Mack takes us on an enthralling spin through the five possible ends of the universe in The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking). As a student, Mack became captivated by the question of how the world would end — after all, it could happen at any moment. In this wickedly clever breakdown of scientific concepts, the author lays out each of the ways we could make our grand exit: the Big Crunch, Heat Death, the Big Rip, Vacuum Decay, and the Bounce. As entertaining as it is educational, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) is “a thrilling tour of potential cosmic doomsdays” (The Wall Street Journal).

Cover of the book "Finding the Mother Tree" by Suzanne Simard, showing a large tree trunk with a small fir tree growing on it, labeled as a New York Times Best Seller.

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

By Suzanne Simard

In her New York Times bestselling nature book, forest ecologist Suzanne Simard illuminates the inner lives of trees. We may see trees as timber and material, but Simard knows them to be complex forms of life that communicate through a vast underground network and lead a kind of communal existence. Through captivating prose, Simard catalogs the way that trees have adapted over centuries, explaining how they interact and cooperate with their neighbors and how Mother Trees serve as the central life force of the forest. A beautiful blend of scientific research and personal journey, Finding the Mother Tree invites you into the complex world of trees and encourages you to reassess your view of nature.

Book cover of "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter, featuring a stylized, shadow-casting "GEB" 3D sculpture and a claim of being a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

By Douglas Hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter’s 1979 Pulitzer Prize–winning Gödel, Escher, Bach is an astonishing science book about systems, cognition, meaning, and connections that remains as dazzling today as it did more than 40 years ago. Described by its publisher as “a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll,” Gödel, Escher, Bach traces the connective threads between the titular logician, artist, and composer to reveal how consciousness emerges from formal systems and what that can mean for the future of computer science. Lauded as a “triumph of cleverness” (Parabola), Gödel, Escher, Bach is a spectacular journey through the mind.

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