Nature and Science
The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland's Buried Past and... by Jon GertnerWhat it's about: Greenland, birthplace of glaciology and harbinger of climate change.
Why you might like it: This eye-opening book pairs vividly detailed accounts of early scientific expeditions with present-day assessments of Greenland's rapidly melting ice sheet.
You might also like: William E. Glassley's A Wilder Time, which similarly reveals Greenland's deep past while speculating about its future in a rapidly warming world.
Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything by Robert M. HazenWhat it is: a sweeping history of carbon, the basic yet multifaceted chemical element that's essential to life as we know it.
What sets it apart: Structured like a symphony, this book unfolds in four parts inspired by the classic elements of earth, air, fire, and water.
About the author: Geologist (and semi-professional musician) Robert M. Hazen is a founder of the Deep Carbon Observatory, an international, interdisciplinary group of scientists dedicated to carbon research.
Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us by Ruth KassingerWhat it's about: the 3.7 billion-year history of algae, "Earth's authentic alchemists": powered by sunlight and water, these organisms play a vital role in turning carbon dioxide into organic matter.
Why you might like it: Science writer Ruth Kassinger travels the world to learn about algae's culinary uses, its role in everyday consumer products, and its potential as a renewable fuel.
Don't miss: a selection of tasty, easy-to-prepare seaweed recipes.
Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert MacfarlaneWhat it is: a lyrical and wide-ranging exploration of the world beneath our feet from tunnels and caves to catacombs and burial chambers to underground vaults and bunkers.
Why you might like it: Nature writer Robert Macfarlane embarks on a journey both literal and metaphorical, connecting real-world observations to representations of the underworld in mythology, art, and literature.
Want a taste? "Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save."
The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'MaraWhat it is: an "accessible yet sophisticated chronicle" (New York Times) of Silicon Valley that spans seven decades and includes the U.S. military-industrial complex, Stanford University, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, and a sprawling cast of interesting characters.
Did you know? The name "Silicon Valley" was coined in 1971 by Electronic News writer Don Hoefler.
Try this next: Leslie Berlin's Troublemakers, another well-researched nonfiction account of the region's transformation into a tech hub.
Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay BarbreeWhat it is: an engaging biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong, who, on July 20, 1969, made history as the first person to walk on the moon.
About the author: During his 50-year career as a journalist, veteran NBC space correspondent Jay Barbree reported on every single crewed launch of the U.S. space program.
You might also like: James R. Hansen's First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, which delves into the personal life of a very private individual.
Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James DonovanWhat it is: a comprehensive history of the space race, beginning with the 1957 launch of Sputnik and culminating in the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
Reviewers say: "[Author James] Donovan knows how to tell a gripping story" (NPR).
Further reading: Chasing the Moon by Robert Stone and Alan Andres, American Moonshot by Douglas Brinkley, and Apollo's Legacy by Roger D. Launius.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon... by Nathalia HoltIntroducing: Barby Canright, Macie Roberts, Helen Yee Chow, Barbara Lewis, Janez Lawson, Susan Finley, and others.
Why they matter: This talented group of women calculated rocket trajectories, designed satellites, and analyzed massive amounts of experimental data for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
For fans of: Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, another collective biography of the unsung heroines of the U.S. space program.
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey KlugerWhat it is: an exciting account of the Apollo 8 mission that blends technical details of the mission with profiles of its participants.
Why you might like it: Science writer Jeffrey Kluger draws on interviews with crew members Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, as well as materials from the NASA Oral History Project, to recreate the mission.
You might also like: Robert Poole's Earthrise, which examines the creation of the iconic photograph of Earth as seen from space.
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First... by Robert KursonIntroducing: Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, who carried out one of NASA's most challenging missions.
What they did: Given 50-50 odds of returning safely, the trio risked their lives to complete the first crewed lunar orbit in December 1968.
Why you might like it: Rocket Men contrasts the lofty achievements of the astronauts with historical events of a turbulent period in U.S. history.
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