16 of the best science books from 2018

16 of the best science books from 2018

Science writers took on a tonne of fascinating topics this year, infusing their books with facts, comedy, human narratives and practical tips - this is our pick of the best.

Nodding Off

Alice Gregory
£16.99, Bloomsbury

Nodding Off Alice Gregory £16.99, Bloomsbury

After two decades as a prominent sleep researcher, Prof Alice Gregory is well placed to teach us how to sleep better. In Nodding Off, she explains the science of sleep and what happens if we don’t get enough of it. She also offers important tips on how to improve our shut-eye, to help us feel better in our waking hours.

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Science Focus Podcast: How to get a good night’s sleep – Alice Gregory

Notes on a Nervous Planet

Matt Haig

£12.99, Cannongate

Notes on a Nervous Planet Matt Haig £12.99, Cannongate

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, Matt Haig began to looks for the links between how he was feeling and what was going on around him. Notes On A Nervous Planet is Haig’s look into how to feel happy on a fast and nervous planet, and tells us how we can lead happier, healthier and saner lives.

How to Invent Everything

Ryan North

£16.99, Ebury Publishing

How to Invent Everything Ryan North £16.99, Ebury Publishing

Picture this: you’ve gone back in time for a casual gander at what cavemen were like, or to have a go at taming a dinosaur, but your time machine broke. And you can’t fix it. But don’t stress, you’ve got Ryan North’s informative manual on how to rebuild civilisation from scratch. Get started with inventing language, and then over 400 pages build your way up to modern computers.

Science Focus Podcast: This is how to invent everything – Ryan North

Wonders: Spectacular Moments in Nature Photography

Rhonda Rubinstein

£26, Chronicle Books

Wonders: Spectacular Moments in Nature Photography Rhonda Rubinstein £26, Chronicle Books

Wonders features the award-winning images from the BigPicture Natural World Photography competition. Along with stunning photos, the book explains the scientific phenomena and photography behind each shot.

The Happy Brain

Dean Burnett

£12.99, Guardian Faber Publishing

The Happy Brain Dean Burnett £12.99, Guardian Faber Publishing

In our constant quest for happiness, we change jobs, pursue relationships, watch stand-up comedy and take up hobbies, among many, many other things. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett combines cutting-edge research and views from all kinds of experts to explain where happiness comes from, and why we need it so much.

Science Focus Podcast: The neuroscience of happiness – Dean Burnett

Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics

Jeffrey Bub, Tanya Bub

£17.99, Princeton University Press

Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics Jeffrey Bub, Tanya Bub £17.99, Princeton University Press

In this graphic novel about entanglement, you’ll learn how entanglement has led to wild theories about cats who are both dead and alive, and you’ll listen in on Niels Bohr’s therapy sessions with Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger. It’s more fun than you ever thought you could have learning about quantum mechanics.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Stephen Hawking

£14.99, John Murray

Brief Answers to the Big Questions Stephen Hawking £14.99, John Murray

Published posthumously, Stephen Hawking’s last book tackles some of the Universe’s biggest questions. Is time travel possible? Is there other intelligent life in the Universe? How do we shape the future? And unlike A Brief History Of Time, this one is actually intelligible to the average armchair reader.

Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 12

£25, AA Publishing

Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 12 £25, AA Publishing

Photographer Dave Fieldhouse captured the below nightscape of Battersea Power Station, where feverish activity is turning the architectural icon into a development of bars, restaurants and apartments. You can see this photo, and many more, in the latest edition of Landscape Photographer Of The Year.

Sleeping Giant, Battersea, London, England © Dave Fieldhouse
Sleeping Giant, Battersea, London, England © Dave Fieldhouse

Inventing Ourselves: The secret life of the teenage brain

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

£20, Doubleday

Inventing Ourselves: The secret life of the teenage brain Sarah-Jayne Blakemore £20, Doubleday

Adolescence is a crazy time: there’s a need for intense friendships and extreme risk-taking, and it’s also when many mental illnesses begin to develop. In her Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2018 winning book, Neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore draws on cutting-edge research to explain what’s happening in the brains of teenagers, and what it can tell us about how we’ve all developed.

Science Focus Podcast: What we got wrong about teenagers – Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Endure

Alex Hutchinson

£9.99, Harper Collins

Endure Alex Hutchinson £9.99, Harper Collins

The capacity to endure underlies most great athletic performances, but what limits endurance? Against the backdrop of some of the world’s best athletes trying to break the two-hour marathon mark, Alex Hutchinson explores new science around what defines our limits: is it our bodies, food, or pain? Or is it all in our heads?

Science Focus Podcast: How to push the limits of human endurance – Alex Hutchinson

The Science of Sin

Jack Lewis

£16.99, Bloomsbury Sigma

The Science of Sin Jack Lewis £16.99, Bloomsbury Sigma

We all sin to some extent, whether that’s eating more cake than we know is good for us, or carrying out more serious illicit acts. In The Science Of Sin, neurobiologist Jack Lewis talks us through why we do bad things, illuminates the neural battles between temptation and restraint, and helps us understand why we do the things we shouldn’t.

Science Focus Podcast: Sin: Why we do the things we shouldn’t – Jack Lewis

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 28

£25, The Natural History Museum

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 28 £25, The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum’s annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition always delivers beautiful wildlife images. Portfolio 28 features the best of 2018’s competition.

Ocean

Hélène Druvert, Emmanuelle Grundmann

£19.95, Thames & Hudson

Ocean Hélène Druvert, Emmanuelle Grundmann £19.95, Thames & Hudson

Ocean by Hélène Druvert and Emmanuelle Grundmann explains the most fascinating facets of the sea, including waves, coral reefs and the food chain. With captivating fold-out infographics and stunning laser-cut illustrations, it’s a beautiful, interactive tome that’ll help both kids and adults appreciate our oceans.

Apollo

Matt Fitch, Chris Baker, Mike Collins

£15.99, SelfMadeHero

Apollo Matt Fitch, Chris Baker, Mike Collins £15.99, SelfMadeHero

Apollo tells the suspense-filled story of the first Moon landing in graphic novel form. It’s well-researched and includes rich historical detail, tracking not only the mission itself, but the political tension around the programme and the nerve-racking experience shared by the crew’s families.

Dictionary of Dinosaurs

Matthew G Baron

£14.99, Wide-Eyed Editions

Dictionary of Dinosaurs Matthew G Baron £14.99, Wide-Eyed Editions

This beautiful book, illustrated by Dieter Braun, details every dinosaur that’s ever been discovered, from Aardonyx to Zuniceratops. It includes up-to-date facts from dinosaur experts about where these creatures lived, what they ate and when they roamed the planet.

Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space

Scott Kelly

£20, Doubleday

Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space Scott Kelly £20, Doubleday

Astronaut Scott Kelly had a year that photographers would envy. He circled the Earth 5,400 times, witnessing 10,944 sunrises and sunsets – about 16 per day. From the International Space Station, he viewed our planet in a unique way, and shares his incredible photos with us in Infinite Wonder.


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