Nature and Science
Einstein's Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes by Chris ImpeyWhat it's about: black holes, those mysterious regions of spacetime where gravitational forces are so strong that not even light can escape.
Why you might like it: Author and astronomer Chris Impey presents complex topics in theoretical physics in an accessible manner.
Further reading: Black Hole by Marcia Bartusiak, which profiles prominent physicists and their work; Einstein's Shadow by Seth Fletcher, about a team of astronomers attempting to photograph a black hole.
Dreaming in Turtle: A Journey Through the Passion, Profit, and Peril of Our Most Coveted... by Peter LauferWhat it's about: turtles, tortoises, and terrapins -- from their prehistoric origins to their increasingly uncertain future.
What sets it apart: Author and journalist Peter Laufer includes amusing anecdotes about his experiences fostering a tortoise named Fred.
Is it for you? Although turtle-lovers may flinch at detailed descriptions of poaching and animal trafficking, readers with an interest in wildlife conservation will find this book to be eye-opening.
End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals by Ross D.E. MacPhee; illustrated by Peter SchoutenIntroducing: a menagerie of megafauna, from mastodons (Mammut americanum) and sabertooth cats (Smilodon fatalis) to giant ground sloths (Lestodon armatus) and elephant birds (Aepyornis maximum).
Why you might like it: This thought-provoking book offers a paleomammalogist's perspective on the extinction of Earth's large vertebrates, examining evidence that points to humans as the cause.
Contains: photorealistic paintings of megafauna, as well as maps, charts, timelines and line drawings that supply necessary context.
In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, A Cypress, and a Changing World by Lauren E. OakesWhat it's about: Biologist Lauren Oakes reflects on six years in Alaska studying the yellow cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis) and getting to know the locals whose lives are intimately connected to the dying forests.
Want a taste? "I was flying in search of the forests I'd study -- the graveyards of standing dead trees and the plants I so wanted to believe could tell me, through science, that the world wasn't coming to an end."
For fans of: John Vaillant's The Golden Spruce.
Your Place in the Universe: Understanding Our Big, Messy Existence by Paul M. SutterWhat it is: an accessible, amusing tour of the universe and its mysteries.
About the author: Astrophysicist and cosmologist Paul M. Sutter is the creator of the "Ask a Spaceman!" podcast.
You might also like: Jorge Cham's similarly irreverent (but illustrated) We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe; Carlo Rovelli's concise Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.
What It's Like to be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience by Gregory BernsWhat it's about: Human and canine brains show striking structural similarities, offering intriguing hints about dogs' emotional lives.
About the author: To study the canine brain, neuroscientist Gregory Berns trained dogs to climb into MRI machines. And his training regimen is almost as fascinating as his research findings.
For fans of: John Bradshaw's Dog Sense or Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog.
The Animals Among Us: How Pets Make Us Human by John BradshawWhat it's about: the complex and ever-evolving relationships between humans and their companion animals, which shape human nature.
Contains: evidence-based answers to such timeless questions as "Would my pet eat me if I died?"
About the author: Anthrozoologist John Bradshaw is the author of Cat Sense and Dog Sense, which reveal the secrets of pet behavior while debunking myths and misconceptions.
The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History by Brian FaganWhat it is: a thought-provoking history of the human-animal bond from prehistoric times to the present.
What sets it apart: Anthropologist Brian Fagan examines the process of domestication in dogs, goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, donkeys, horses, and camels. (The not-quite-domesticated cat gets a mention, too.)
Don't miss: discussions of the role of animal domestication in creating and maintaining social hierarchies.
Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World by Richard C. FrancisWhat it's about: Drawing on current research, science writer Richard C. Francis demonstrates that domestication is an evolutionary process.
Who it's for: readers with a basic understanding of molecular genetics and evolutionary biology.
Want a taste? "The human population explosion has been bad for most other living things, but not so for those lucky enough to warrant domestication."
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNameeWhat it is: A guide to cats by nature writer (and Guggenheim Fellow) Thomas McNamee, who identifies best practices for cat care by consulting zoologists, animal behavior experts, and others.
Don't miss: appearances by the author's feline companion, Augusta.
You might also like: John Bradshaw's Cat Sense or Abigail Tucker's The Lion in the Living Room.
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