Nature and Science
The Hidden World of the Fox by Adele BrandWhat it is: a mammal ecologist's lyrical mediation on the red fox and its place in an increasingly urbanized world.
Want a taste? "flame-orange on a white canvas, black paws and thick brush, pointed muzzle and diamond-sharp eyes."
Don't miss: an informative chapter on fox vocalizations actually titled "What Does the Fox Say?"
A Polar Affair: Antarctica's Forgotten Hero and the Secret Lives of Penguins by Lloyd Spencer DavisWhat it's about: the life and career of G. Murray Levick, a member of Robert Scott's Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica who became the first person to conduct extensive field research on penguins.
What sets it apart: While researching this book, penguin biologist Lloyd Spencer Davis gained access to Levick's original (coded) field notes and his unpublished (and censored) manuscript on penguin sexual behavior.
The Number of the Heavens: A History of the Multiverse and the Quest to Understand the.... by Tom SiegfriedWhat it is: an exploration of a hotly debated idea that "refuses to stay dead," namely, is there one universe or many?
Is it for you? Coming down firmly on the side of string theory and focusing more on history than physics, The Number of the Heavens is an accessible survey of the multiverse concept from antiquity to the present.
Further reading: Brian Greene's The Hidden Reality or Sean M. Carroll's Something Deeply Hidden.
Unravelling the Double Helix: The Story of DNA by Gareth WilliamsWhat it's about: the quest to determine the nature and structure of DNA.
What sets it apart: Book-ended by the discoveries of nuclein (1868) and the double helix (1953), this well-researched history reveals the crucial contributions made by lesser-known scientists along the way.
Supplementary materials: a timeline of significant milestones and a "Who's Who" containing biographical profiles of the scientists involved.
Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes that Stick by Wendy WoodWhat it's about: Drawing on current research, a psychology professor examines the science behind habit formation and offers pointers on how we can use this information to improve our own lives.
The takeaway: Conscious decision-making is overrated; most of what we do (positive or negative) is the result of unconscious habitual behaviors that can be changed and reinforced through repetition.
Who it's for: everyone interested in making a big change (especially anyone who's ever been criticized for "lacking willpower").
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve BrusatteWhat it is: A captivating look at what current research says about the rise, reign, and (so-called) extinction of dinosaurs.
Did you know? If the dinosaurs discussed here seem different than the ones you remember from childhood, that's because they are: paleontologists discover, on average, one new species a week(!).
About the author: American paleontologist Steve Brusatte served as the scientific consultant for the 2013 film Walking With Dinosaurs.
The Tyrannosaur Chronicles: The Biology of the Tyrant Dinosaurs by David Hone; illustrated by Scott HartmanIncludes: Everything you ever wanted to know about Tyrannosaurus rex and its relatives.
Is it for you? This comprehensive guide to tyrannosaurids takes a deep dive into taxonomy, morphology, and cladistics while examining evidence suggesting that these large carnivores were warm-blooded, surprisingly nimble, and possibly feathered.
About the author: Paleontologist David Hone is a Tyrannosaurus expert who created the popular Lost Worlds and Lost Worlds Revisited blogs.
Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara; illustrated by Mike LemanskiWhat it's about: a paleontologist debunks misconceptions about dinosaurs (e.g. that their extinction resulted from an inability to adapt to changing circumstances) and discusses what we can learn from them.
Food for thought: "Dinosaurs reigned unchallenged for 165 million years. But that's only if you exclude birds, which are truly dinosaurs. If you include the birds, now known as 'avian dinosaurs'...their incredible run spans the past 231 million years."
Don't miss: the author's entertaining list of "crackpot theories" purporting to explain the dinosaurs' demise ("they all perished of constipation")
Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils by Anthony J. MartinWhat it's about: ichnology, the study of "trace fossils" -- i.e. fossils that are neither tooth nor bone, including tracks and trails, burrows and nests, tooth and claw marks, skin, and coprolites (fecal fossils).
Why you should read it: Although they may not make an awe-inspiring museum display, trace fossils are essential to understanding the biology and behavior of prehistoric organisms.
For fans of: the enthusiasm of Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus.
The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth's Ultimate Trophy by Paige WilliamsWhat it does: delves into the international fossil trade, both legal and illicit, by recounting a Florida man's attempt to sell a dinosaur skeleton smuggled out of the Gobi Desert, as well as paleontologists' efforts to have the specimen returned to Mongolia.
Why you might like it: This thoroughly researched account leaves no stone unturned as it explores a world unfamiliar to many.
For fans of: Kirk W. Johnson's The Feather Thief and other books that blend natural history and true crime.
Contact your librarian for more great books!