Politics may be a shambles and we’ve all spent the year so far in bed with the flu, but there is one thing to look forward to this year: exciting new pop science books! I’m compiling a full list of 2018 publications here, but these seven are the highest up on my to-read pile. Order, pre-order, read, and leave a comment about what you thought.
The Infinite Monkey Cage: How to Build a Universe by Brian Cox, Robin Ince, and Alexandra Feachem
Drawing from the hit radio panel show The Infinite Monkey Cage, the show’s two hosts and its producer reflect on some of the best conversations from the eight-year-old program’s run so far, along with illustrations and in-depth explanations from Professor Cox. The book, teasing us as “Part 1,” comes out in October, but since it was published last year in the UK, the audio book is available now! The dialogue between Ince and Cox feels only loosely scripted, like listening to an episode of TIMC.
I’m a big fan of books that turn seemingly unconnected pieces of the year’s science news into a comprehensive picture of what we’ve achieved and where we’re going next. I’m an even bigger fan of Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox and Life on the Edge (among others). What The Future Looks Like will be published April 17 by The Experiment.
The Future Then: Fascinating Art & Predictions from 145 Years of Popular Science by The Editors of Popular Science
The magazine Popular Science celebrates its 145th anniversary with a look at the far-flung inventions announced in archived issues, big ideas that never quite made it off the page. From the samples I’ve seen, the book looks to be absolutely gorgeous: full-color illustrations and cover art from the magazine’s long history.
The Element in the Room: Science-y Stuff Staring You in the Face by Helen Arney and Steve Mould
Just out this month, The Element in the Room is a fun, illustrated guide through the human body, the universe, and even your kitchen, written by Helen Arney and Steve Mould of Festival of the Spoken Nerd fame (with third nerd Matt Parker penning the introduction). Like the team’s stage shows, the book is filled with demonstrations and interjections from other participants (i.e. interrupting footnotes).
Yes, another publication from the publisher The Experiment has made the list, but they pick all the best authors. In 2016, they published Jon Butterworth’s Higgs Boson book Most Wanted Particle, and his guided tour of particle physics is bound to be amusing and illuminating. How to Build a Universe‘s author Brian Cox calls it “A magnificent, compelling, and insightful voyage to the frontier of knowledge from a great writer with a deep understanding.”
This October, University of Chicago Press will publish former Nature editor Philip Ball’s book on quantum physics, a book published this month in the UK from Bodley Head. I don’t know a lot about this book yet, but I’m a sucker for anything weird!
Ever since I heard Lucy Cooke on The Infinite Monkey Cage years ago telling her near-death-by-frog story, I have been a big fan of her zoology adventures. Coming out in April from Basic Books is Cooke’s answer to all the myths about animals and the truths that are weirder than myth. New interviews in Shelf Awareness and Book Shambles to enjoy!