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6 Fascinating science books to dive into this year

BY Alice Gawthrop

22nd Nov 2022 Must Reads

6 Fascinating science books to dive into this year
Whether you want to uncover 300 million years' worth of history or come face-to-face with climate change denial, these popular science books are must-reads
Ground-breaking geological discoveries, the mysteries of ageing and the exhilarating history of life itself—these are just a few of the topics covered by the books shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2022. (On 29th November, the Royal Society announced Dr Henry Gee's A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth as the winner.)
Whether you have a science background or are just looking to dip your toes into science reading, you’re sure to find something among these titles that piques your interest. Their authors share what they hope you might take away from them. 

Age Proof: The New Science of Living a Longer and Healthier Life by Professor Rose Anne Kenny

Age proof
With 35 years of experience in ageing medicine, Professor Rose Anne Kenny explores the biological, social and psychological aspects of ageing, and the control we have over it. Scientific theory is blended with practical advice to create an engaging and illuminating book that questions our cultural fear of ageing
Professor Rose Anne Kenny says: “[I want to] empower readers aged from 30 upwards to understand why we age and how we can live longer lives. Action is never too late.”

Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial by Professor Peter Stott

Hot Air Peter Stott
Professor Peter Stott is a voice from within the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, offering an insight into the frontline of the battle against climate change and, in particular, climate change denial. He shines a light on the often thankless work that climate scientists are doing, as they strive to warn us of a terrifying future only to be met by resistance and denial from lobby groups. 
"Professor Peter Stott shines a light on the often thankless work that climate scientists are doing"
Professor Peter Stott says: “What do I hope people take from my book? Gripping tales from the frontline of the climate crisis, an appreciation of why it has taken so long to confront this issue thanks to the disruptive actions of climate deniers, and the sense that it is still possible to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown providing we all get involved in helping to build a more sustainable future.”

Spike: The Virus vs The People—the Inside Story by Jeremy Farrar with Anjana Ahuja

Spike Jeremy Farrar and Anjana Ahuja
Jeremy Farrar (director of the Wellcome Trust and member of the UK government's SAGE committee) and Anjana Ahuja (Financial Times science columnist) provide a unique vantage point into the Covid-19 pandemic: right from the heart of it. Spike blends scientific fact with gripping storytelling to help make sense of a situation that many of us were left scrambling to understand. What results is a brutally honest portrayal of the government’s response to the pandemic.
Anjana Ahuja says: “I hope Spike brings to life the sheer chaos, fear and panic of early 2020 as politicians and scientists realised the scale of the Covid outbreak rushing towards them; the tense international discussions over the origins of the virus, featuring burner phones and the security services; and the untold personal stories of key figures in the pandemic. Every infectious disease outbreak is a race against the clock—and Spike sets out a roadmap for quicker action when the next outbreak hits.”

Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender by Frans de Waal 

Different
Different is a unique take on gender, drawing on decades spent observing chimpanzees and bonobos. World-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal playfully delves into our shared evolutionary history with apes to see what we can learn about gender and sexuality from the animal world
"Different is a unique take on gender, drawing on decades spent observing chimpanzees and bonobos"
Frans de Waal says: “We urgently need to inject more biology into the gender debate. But not the rigid biology of the past century, which told us that we are the slaves of our genes. Biology is not destiny, also not for our fellow apes. Like us, they mix biology and culture resulting in the same sort of flexibility and variability in behavior that we call gender diversity in our own species." 

The Greywacke: How a Priest, a Soldier and a School Teacher Uncovered 300 Million Years of History by Nick Davidson 

The greywacke
Documentary filmmaker and amateur geologist Nick Davidson traces the footsteps of a priest, a soldier and a school teacher whose paths collided as they discovered the narrative structure of the Paleozoic Era. Davidson takes the world of 19th-century geology and brings it to life, weaving a tale of ambition, cooperation and rivalry among some of our most important geologists: Murchison, Sedgwick and Lapworth.
Nick Davidson says: “As I wrote this book two themes emerged that I hope readers will find as fascinating as I do. The first is the turbulent collaboration between two of the greatest geologists of the 19th century as they criss-crossed the Welsh hills in an attempt to solve one of the great scientific challenges of their time—the age and history of the earth. 
The second is the extraordinary nature of the rocks around us: ordinary everyday objects that contain within them an almost unbelievable record of changing climates, mega extinctions and movements in the earth’s crust over tens, sometimes hundreds, of millions of years.”

A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters by Dr Henry Gee (Royal Society Science Book Prize 2022 winner)

life on earth
Just over four and a half billion years of life on earth are condensed into less than 200 pages in this fast-paced history. Palaeontologist, evolutionary biologist and Nature editor Dr Henry Gee shares an awe-inspiring story of continents forming, volcanoes erupting, temperatures changing and life persevering. 
"Just over four and a half billion years of life on earth are condensed into less than 200 pages"
Dr Henry Gee says: “Considered as a narrative, the history of life on our planet has everything. A sense of wonder aplenty, heroes, villains, victory against overwhelming odds, tragedy, even comedy and cliffhangers.”
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