Fathoms: The world in the whale by Rebecca GiggsWhat it's about: whales and their watery world, both of which humans are destroying.
Is it for you? Although filled with evocative facts about cetaceans (their milk is pink, their demise is called "whalefall"), Rebecca Giggs' lyrical yet sobering narrative is book-ended by heartbreaking accounts of beached whales.
Further reading: Nick Pyenson's Spying on Whales.
The last stargazers: The enduring story of astronomy's vanishing explorers by Emily LevesqueWhat it's about: an astronomer recounts her career in science while contemplating the past, present, and future of her field.
Don't miss: visits to Hawaii's Mauna Kea Observatories, Chile's Paranal Observatory, and the airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
Did you know? Professional astronomers spend relatively little time looking through giant telescopes (and a lot of time on laptops).
Vesper flights: New and collected essays
by Helen Macdonald
The award-winning author of H Is for Hawk presents a collection of top-selected essays about humanity's relationship with nature, exploring subjects ranging from captivity and immigration to ostrich farming and the migrations of songbirds from the Empire State Building.
The end of everything (astrophysically speaking) by Katie MackWhat it is: theoretical cosmologist Katie Mack's engaging survey of five potential ways in which the universe could end: the Big Crunch, Heat Death, the Big Rip, Vacuum Decay, and the Bounce.
Reviewers say: a "rollicking tour through the nooks and crannies of physics" (New Scientist).
Further reading: Bob Berman's Earth-Shattering (for those interested in cosmic cataclysms); Brian Greene's Until the End of Time (for a more philosophical take on cosmology).
The smallest lights in the Universe: A memoir by Sara SeagerWhat it is: the memoir of a planetary astrophysicist that weaves together her Canadian childhood, her career in physics, her marriage and widowhood, and her later-in-life autism diagnosis.
About the author: astrophysicist Sara Seager is a recipient of the Sackler International Prize in Physics and a MacArthur Fellowship.
You might also like: the intimate blend of science writing and memoir found in Sarah Stewart Johnson's The Sirens of Mars and Hope Jahren's Lab Girl.
Owls of the eastern ice: A quest to find and save the world's largest owl by Jonathan C. SlaghtWhat it's about: a conservationist's five-year study of the endangered Blakiston’s fish owl in its natural habitat, the Primorye region of Russia.
Read it for: an authentically detailed account of scientific fieldwork, vivid descriptions of the terrain and its inhabitants (both animal and human), and, of course, the quest for an elusive bird.
For fans of: ornithology-themed travelogues, such as Tim Gallagher's Imperial Dreams.
Tales from the ant world by Edward O. WilsonWhat it is: a memoir by acclaimed biologist Edward O. Wilson, in which he shares his passion for myrmecology (the study of ants) while reflecting on a lifetime of studying the natural world.
Lessons learned? "There is nothing I can even imagine in the lives of ants that we can or should emulate for our own moral betterment."
Reviewers say: a "rapturously unapologetic hymn of praise to the roughly one quadrillion ants on the planet" (The Boston Globe).
Focus on: The Lighter Side of Science
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