These are Science News’ favorite books of 2023

These are Science News’ favorite books of 2023

Books introducing emerging areas of science, as well as new looks at familiar fields, were among the Science News staff’s favorite science reads this year. Did we overlook your favorite? Let us know at feedback@sciencenews.org.


"Blight" book cover

Blight
Emily Monosson
W.W. Norton & Co., $28.95

HBO’s The Last of Us introduced many people to the dangers of fungi. But while a fungus-induced zombie apocalypse is pure fiction, this book warns that a fungal pathogen could spawn the next pandemic (SN: 8/12/23, p. 28).


"Fires in the Dark" book cover

Fires in the Dark
Kay Redfield Jamison
Knopf, $30

A psychiatrist examines what it takes to be a great healer of mental suffering by exploring the relationship between British poet Siegfried Sassoon, who suffered emotional wounds from combat during World War I, and his physician, W.H.R. Rivers (SN: 7/1/23, p. 28).


"We are Electric" book cover

We Are Electric
Sally Adee
Hachette Books, $30

This trip through a slice of biology history shows how researchers have tended to ignore the electricity that flows through the body and brain. But that’s changing, and studies of the “electrome” could spark medical breakthroughs (SN: 2/25/23, p. 28).


"Period" book cover

Period
Kate Clancy
Princeton Univ., $27.95

Menstruation is such a taboo topic that even the people who experience it once a month or so hold many misconceptions about it. This book draws on history and science to clear up the confusion and destigmatize periods (SN: 4/8/23, p. 29).


"Crossings" book cover

Crossings
Ben Goldfarb
W.W. Norton & Co., $30

Millions, perhaps even billions, of animals become roadkill every year. This book highlights the work of a passionate group of scientists, known as road ecologists, who study how interventions like wildlife crossings can reduce the toll (SN: 8/26/23, p. 30).


"Eight Bears" book cover

Eight Bears
Gloria Dickie
W.W. Norton & Co., $30

A reporter travels across three continents to meet the world’s eight remaining species of bears, sharing tales of science, folklore and conservation along the way (SN: 7/15/23 & 7/29/23, p. 33).


"Most Delicious Poison" book cover

Most Delicious Poison
Noah Whiteman
Little, Brown Spark, $30

One creature’s poison is another’s secret to making a balanced, full-bodied wine. In this blending of science and memoir, an evolutionary biologist chronicles how humans have co-opted nature’s toxins to do everything from spicing up food to putting people under anesthesia (SN: 11/4/23, p. 32).


"The Deepest Map" book cover

The Deepest Map
Laura Trethewey
Harper Wave, $32

This adventure on the high seas follows scientific explorers who are charting the seafloor in exquisite detail. But as with any exploration of uncharted territory, mapping the bottom of the ocean risks spoiling a place largely untouched by humans (SN: 9/9/23, p. 34).


"Under Alien Skies" book cover

Under Alien Skies
Philip Plait
W.W. Norton & Co., $30

In this intergalactic travelog, readers are transported to the moon, a comet, Mars, Pluto, exoplanets, a black hole and other celestial worlds to imagine what it would be like to stargaze in these alien places (SN: 6/17/23, p. 30).


"Off-Earth" book cover

Off-Earth
Erika Nesvold
MIT Press, $27.95

As the possibility of humans living in outer space inches closer to reality, an astrophysicist ponders the numerous ethical questions that should be addressed while planning for future settlements on the moon, Mars and beyond (SN: 3/25/23, p. 28).


"Is Math Real?" book cover

Is Math Real?
Eugenia Cheng
Basic Books, $30

In school, students often learn that the point of math is to solve equations and compute right-or-wrong answers to questions. But exploration is also fundamental to the field. By considering a series of seemingly simple questions, like why 1 + 1 = 2, a mathematician delves into the logical foundations of Western mathematics to reveal the discipline’s true nature (SN: 10/7/23 & 10/21/23, p. 32).


"Ghost Particle" book cover

Ghost Particle
Alan Chodos and James Riordon
MIT Press, $32.95

Written by a physicist and a Science News writer, this comprehensive story of neutrinos is the perfect primer for anyone curious about how the elusive subatomic particles were discovered, why they matter to physics, and what mysteries are still waiting to be solved (SN: 3/11/23, p. 28).


Buy these books from Bookshop.org. Science News is a Bookshop.org affiliate and will earn a commission on purchases made from links in this article.

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