Close Encounters with Humankind: A Paleoanthropologist Investigates Our... by Sang-Hee Lee with Shin-Young YoonWhat it's about: Korean paleoanthropologist Sang-Hee Lee discusses a variety of topics pertaining to human evolution in this eye-opening book.
Topics of note: cannibalism, fatherhood, lactose intolerance, and more.
You might also like: For another accessible introduction to paleoanthropology, try Lydia Pyne's Seven Skeletons, which examines human evolution through seven sets of ancient remains.
The Earth Gazers: On Seeing Ourselves by Christopher PotterWhat it's about: Discover how human flight has transformed our perceptions of planet Earth in this history of aviation from World War I to the Space Age.
What's inside: Profiles of aviator Charles Lindbergh, inventor Robert Goddard, and engineer Wernher von Braun, plus the experiences of the Apollo astronauts who first saw the Earth from space.
Read this next: Robert Poole's Earthrise, which documents the creation of the iconic "Earthrise" photograph.
A Magical World: Superstition and Science from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment by Derek K. WilsonWhat it's about: Richly detailed yet briskly paced, A Magical World surveys the profound intellectual and cultural shifts that occurred in Europe between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
What sets it apart: Historian Derek K. Wilson rejects the notion of humanity's steady progress from barbarism to civilization and views great thinkers as products of their time, not anomalies.
Read it for: a thought-provoking meditation on the complementary roles of science and religion in Western civilization.
Leonardo da Vinci by Walter IsaacsonWhat it is: An engaging biography of Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, which examines his extraordinary ability to think across disciplines.
About the author: As with his biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs, journalist Walter Isaacson conducts copious research to tell the story of "history's most creative genius."
You might also like: Mike Lankford's Becoming Leonardo, another biography that celebrates da Vinci's intellectual curiosity.
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World by Steven JohnsonWhat it's about: This thought-provoking book explores six simple concepts -- glass, refrigeration, sound recordings, sanitation, clocks, and artificial light -- that paved the way for modern life.
About the author: Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air and Where Good Ideas Come From, is known for his accessible style and anecdote-rich approach to fascinating, yet overlooked, topics.
You might also like: James Burke's Connections and The Day the Universe Changed, as well as Henry Petroski's technology-focused microhistories.
Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein -- Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists... by Mario LivioWhat it's about: Even geniuses make mistakes. This engaging book examines how so-called "blunders" can lead to scientific breakthroughs.
Contains: Plenty of examples! Charles Darwin, Linus Pauling, and Albert Einstein are just a few of the scientists who made major errors during their careers.
Want a taste? "Even the most impressive minds are not flawless; they merely pave the way for the next level of understanding."
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