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10 of the best science books out in August 2020

Here are our picks of the best popular science books released in August 2020.

Want to know what’s hot off the press? Check out our pick of 10 of the best popular science books coming out this month

10 of the best popular science books coming in August 2020

Cover of Spoon-Fed by Tim Spector

Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food is Wrong

Tim Spector


£12.99, Jonathan Cape, 27 August 2020

Think you know which foods are good for you, and which are bad? Think again.

Professor Tim Spector reveals how little scientific research exists behind common misconceptions about nutrition – even those that form the basis of many medical and government food recommendations.

In this follow-up to his best-selling book The Diet Myth, Spector separates fact from the fiction to answer questions like: should we count calories? Do supplements work? Is fast-food really terrible for us?

Cover of What Do You Think You Are? by Brian Clegg

What Do You Think You Are?

Brian Clegg

£12.99, Icon Books, 6 August 2020

What makes you, you? From the atoms in your body to the origin of consciousness, this comprehensive guide to how humans came to be is a must-read.

In science writer Brian Clegg’s clear and authoritative voice, What Do You Think You Are? takes the present-day, modern human reader on a journey through evolutionary history, back to the very beginnings of space and time.

Cover of Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald

Vesper Flights

Helen MacDonald

£16.99, Jonathan Cape, 27 August 2020

The author of the deeply moving book H is for Hawk returns this month with Vesper Flights, a collection of essays about the relationship between humans and nature.

Regarded as one of this century’s greatest nature writers, Helen Macdonald takes simple moments – of nesting birds, wild boars emerging from the woods, foraging for mushrooms on an autumn day – and weaves them with history, personal reflection and political comment.

Cover of The Last Stargazers by Emily Levesque

The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers

Emily Levesque

£18.99, Oneworld, 6 August 2020

Astronomer Emily Levesque charts the history of the profession, following her colleagues across the globe and back in time. But now, we sit at the precipice of a new way of observing the starts – through robots, instead of our own eyes – and that has consequences across the sciences.

Levesque’s writing is witty and honest, and asks us all to reconsider our relationship with the Universe.

Cover of Clean by James Hamblin

Clean: The New Science of Skin and the Beauty of Doing Less

James Hamblin

£16.99, Bodley Head, 6 August 2020

James Hamblin has not used soap on anywhere but his hands for the last five years. In 2016 he began showering less, and now has “pretty much stopped altogether”.

But why would a doctor do such a thing? According to Hamblin, the microbes on our skin don’t benefit from the constant washing, scrubbing and moisturising as much as we think they do. Though whether there’s such a thing as being ‘too clean’ is up for debate.

The science of our largest organ is one often overlooked, but in Clean all is laid bare – do with it what you will. But remember, don’t stop washing your hands.

Cover of The System by James Ball

The System: Who Owns the Internet and How it Owns Us

James Ball

£18.00, Bloomsbury, 20 August 2020

The internet knows us. We give our data almost too willingly, clicking ‘accept all’ without much reflection. But by offering up our information so easily, we’re putting power in someone’s hands.

The System spells out the past, present and future of the internet. From the cables and servers that make up the physical building blocks of the internet, to the organisations and social media giants that decide who sees what. James Ball’s new book is an eye-opening, engaging expose.

Cover of The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack

The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)

Katie Mack

£20.00, Allen Lane, 4 August 2020

The end of the Universe may be a common feature in science fiction, but this one isn’t a crisis that can be averted by a team of superheroes. The Universe really will come to an end one way or another, and we have an idea how – five ideas, actually.

In The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), astrophysicist Dr Katie Mack dives into these five possible apocalypses, from the Universe gradually fading out to the ‘quantum bubble of death’.

Book cover of The Great Inoculator: The Untold Story of Daniel Sutton and his Medical Revolution by Gavin Weightman © Yale University Press

The Great Inoculator: The Untold Story of Daniel Sutton and his Medical Revolution

Gavin Weightman

£16.99, Yale University Press, 11 August 2020

The story of Edward Jenner’s vaccination is well-known, and he’s revered as the man who helped to save the world from smallpox. But Gavin Weightman believes there’s another person who also deserves the credit.

Surgeon Daniel Sutton worked on inoculation, making it simpler and more effective. But because he didn’t publicise his methods widely until the end of his life, he never received the credit he may have deserved.

Cover of Survival of the Friendliest by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

Survival of the Friendliest

Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

£16.99, Oneworld, 20 August 2020

Professor of anthropology Brian Hare and research scientist Vanessa Woods reveal how the ability to cooperate with members of the same species is vital for evolutionary success.

Drawing on animal behaviour research, Hare and Woods pose a new theory of ‘self-domestication’: how selection against aggression in mammals, such as dogs and apes, had effects on their physiology and psychology.

Cover of Calling Bullsh*t by Carl T Bergstrom and Jevin D West

Calling Bullsh*t: The Art of Scepticism in a Data-Driven World

Carl T Bergstrom and Jevin D West

£20.00, Allen Lane, 4 August 2020

On the surface, the world seems awash with fake news, false hype and click bait. But where did it all begin? Why does it spread? And how can you tell the false from the real when both look the same on the screen?

A biologist and a data scientist come together in Calling Bullsh*t to unpick the data and provide the reader with the tools needed for skeptical browsing.

The best books of all time

We reckon this is a fine selection of books to read, but there are plenty more that are well worth your time from the annuls of history. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are a few more of our book recommendations to mull over:


Are you excited to read any of the books on this list? Let us know what you think of our pick of the best science books out this month by messaging us on Twitter or Facebook, tag us in a picture of you reading the book on Instagram, and join the Science Focus Book Club for a community of other science book lovers.