10 of the best science books coming out this month – October 2020

Whether it's smart non-fiction, paperback or hardback, or even some sci-fi backed by hard science, here are our picks of the best popular science books coming out this month.

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Do you have an insatiable thirst for knowledge? Are you curious about the world around you? Itching for something new and thrilling to pass the time, or just something to drag you away from Netflix? Either way, we recommend digging your nose into a good science book. But where to begin?

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We read A LOT of popular science books here at BBC Science Focus (seriously, we could build walls with the many volumes we still need to read on our desks), so we’ve picked out what we think are the must-read books coming out this month.

Whether it’s new non-fiction, a beautiful reissue of an old classic or even a spot of sci-fi, they are all good books to read on this list.

Don’t just take our word for it though. To give you a flavour of what’s inside we often have extracts, interviews and features written by the authors and scientists alongside our recommendation.

And if you’re still searching for great titles to add to your science reading list, sign up to the Science Focus book club newsletter and get free samples of new and popular books, plus reading recommendations and bookish news sent directly to your inbox.

10 of the best popular science books out in October 2020

Is Anybody Out There?

Book cover of Is Anybody Out There?

Dara Ó Briain

£12.99, Scholastic, 01 October 2020

The hilarious Dara Ó Briain offers scientific answers to questions such as: how did life begin? How was the Earth created? Do aliens exist? in this illustrated book for 9+ years.

Island Dreams: Mapping an obsession

Book cover of Island Dreams

Gavin Francis

£20, Canongate, 01 October 2020

Why are humans so interested in islands? Gavin Francis recounts his own island adventures, examines our relationship with the land through history and philosophy, and reveals the psychology behind our collective obsession.

A Life on Our Planet: My witness statement and a vision for the future

Book cover of A Life on Our Planet

David Attenborough

£20, Ebury, 01 October 2020

A message from Britain’s favourite naturalist and broadcaster on the Earth, climate change and our responsibilities to the environment.

A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake – and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right
Sir David Attenborough

Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 things you need to know about the world

Cover of Numbers Don't Lie

Vaclav Smil

£16.99, Viking, 01 October 2020

A book for anyone confused by statistics or dubious of data in a world where numbers seem to mean everything and nothing. Vaclav Smil’s new book reveals why diesel isn’t as bad as you think, how much food is really being wasted, what actually makes people happy, and much more.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 30

Cover of The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 30

Rosamund Kidman Cox

£25.00, The Natural History Museum, 14 October 2020

A gorgeous collection of images from the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Take a look at some of the incredible wildlife pictures from this year’s book.

Fermentation as Metaphor

fermentation-9781645020219

Sandor Ellix Katz

£20, Chelsea Green Publishing, 15 October 2020

A self-confessed fermentation fan, Sandor Ellix Katz has shared his love of food, gardening and nutrition with us since 2012 with his best-selling book The Art of Fermentation.

In Fermentation as Metaphor, Katz uses the lens of his microscope to show the beauty in our everyday, and reveal surprising similarities between human and microbial culture.

Funny You Should Ask: Your questions answered by the QI Elves

Cover of Funny You Should Ask

The QI Elves

£12.99, Faber, 15 October 2020

Have you ever wondered if it is possible to dig a tunnel to the other side of the Earth? Or about the correct pronunciation of a ‘Nice biscuit’?

The QI Elves are the team of researchers and writers behind the BBC Two panel show QI, and their vast, collective knowledge makes for genuinely interesting reading – especially for BBC Science Focus readers whose favourite section is Q&A!

The Wonder Book of Geometry: A Mathematical Story

Cover of The Wonder Book of Geometry

David Acheson

£12.99, Oxford University Press, 22 October 2020

David Acheson has set geometry free from the confines of stuffy textbooks and has let loose its potential to surprise and delight. Grab your pencil, and dive in.

Gigantic Cinema: A weather anthology

Cover of Gigantic Cinema

Alice Oswald and Paul Keegan

£14.99, Vintage, 29 October 2020

A collection of poems, prose and writings on weather, from the Victorian theories of the death of the Sun, to its appearances and meaning as used in famous literature. Importantly, this is not just a single perspective on weather – there are ancient tales and modern science, from all around the world.

Too Much Stuff

Cover of Too Much Stuff!

Emily Gravett

£12.99, Two Hoots, 29 October 2020

Teach your kids the importance of ‘less is more’ with Emily Gravett’s Too Much Stuff. Perfect for the budding environmentalist, this fiction book teaches the importance of wasting less and recycling more.

The best books of all time

We reckon this is a fine selection of books to read this month, 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.

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  • Note: These publication dates might change due to the coronavirus outbreak.