Birds and Us: A 12,000-Year History from Cave Art to Conservation by Tim BirkheadWhat it's about: the human-avian relationship from the Paleolithic period to the present.
Learn about: the cave paintings of El Tajo de las Figuras in Andalusia, Spain; the bird mummies of ancient Egypt; medieval falconry; the actual appearance of the dodo; eccentric Victorians; and much more.
About the author: Ornithologist Tim Birkhead is the author of Bird Sense and The Most Perfect Thing.
The Year of the Puppy: How Dogs Become Themselves by Alexandra HorowitzWhat it is: a week-by-week, pup's-eye-view of a dog's first year, from birth through adolescence.
Starring: Quiddity (Quid" for short), the lively mixed-breed puppy that author and canine behavior expert Alexandra Horowitz and her family adopted during the pandemic.
About the author: Cognitive scientist Horowitz, head of Barnard College's Dog Cognition Lab, is the author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.
Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions by Sabine HossenfelderWhat it does: explores, in nine provocatively titled chapters (including "Do Copies of Us Exist?" and "Has Physics Ruled Out Free Will?"), what our current understanding of physics can tell us about ourselves.
About the author: Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder (Lost in Math), a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, also created the YouTube channel Science Without the Gobbledygook.
Further reading: David Deutsch's The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World.
Proving Ground: The Untold Story of the Six Women who Programmed the World's First... by Kathy KleimanWhat it is: a collective biography of the women mathematicians who worked on ENIAC, the first programmable electronic general purpose computer, during World War II.
Why you might like it: Internet governance scholar Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project, draws on extensive research and interviews with the women to reveal their contributions to computer science, as well as their post-ENIAC careers.
For fans of: Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, Liza Mundy's Code Girls, or Nathalia Holt's Rise of the Rocket Girls.
The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy by Moiya McTier; illustrated by Annamarie SalaiWhat it is: a tell-all memoir by Milky Way, in which the galaxy dishes the dirt on the Large Magellanic Cloud (aka "Larry"), recounts its friendship with the Andromeda galaxy, and reflects on the black hole at its center.
What sets it apart: Astrophysicist and folklorist Moiya McTier's entertaining autobiography of our galaxy presents the science in a voice that's "authoritative, funny, and moving" (Publishers Weekly).
Want a taste? "Do you understand how lucky you are to be learning this kind of vital information directly from me, an actual galaxy?"
The Neuroscience of You: How Every Brain is Different and How to Understand Yours by Chantel Prat, PhDThe big idea: "Every brain really is unique," explains cognitive neuroscientist Chantel Prat as she sets out to demonstrate how the idea of "normal" is overrated, and maybe even harmful, when it comes to our brains.
Why you might like it: This accessible introduction to neuroscience includes quizzes to help you understand how your brain works, while providing insight into a variety of minds, some very unlike your own.
Further reading: Lisa Barrett Feldman's 7 1/2 Lessons About the Brain; Patrick House's Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness.
The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide by Steven W. Thrasher; foreword byWhat it's about: Journalist Steven Thrasher examines two pandemics -- HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 -- to reveal the ways in which structural inequalities force marginalized groups to bear the brunt of public health crises.
What sets it apart: Arguing that biology is a minor player in disease outcomes, Thrasher identifies 12 "social vectors" that contribute to the creation of a "viral underclass," including racism, capitalism, austerity measures, policing, ableism, and shame.
Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization by Neil deGrasse TysonWhat it does: "unabashedly wades into the political and cultural fray, using a 'cosmic perspective'" (Booklist) to advocate for evidence-based, scientific approaches to controversial topics.
About the author: Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry) is the director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium.
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