Carey, John, editor, Eyewitness to Science. An impressive collection of short essays from Galileo to Isaac Asimov. (1995) 

Bolles, Edmund Blair, Galileo's Commandment: An Anthology of Great Science Writing. A large collection of exemplary essays, mostly modern, but dating back as far as Herodotus in 444 B.C. (1997)


Davis, Wade, One River. The exciting story of Richard Schultes, a Harvard professor, who explored the Amazon basin and founded the study of ethnobotany, the study of how indigenous peoples use plants as food and as drugs. (1996)    Astronomy  Ferris, Tim, The Red Limit. A classic popular history of the discovery of the expanding  universe, and a major best-seller. (1977)

Cokinos, Christopher, The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars, Stories of meteorites and the men who hunt them. Good story-telling interwoven with personal observations. (2009) Greenstein, George, Frozen Star. The discovery and understanding of black holes and neutron stars. (1983)   Hawking, Stephen, A Brief History of Time. Hawking's personal ideas about the big bang, black holes, and the nature of the universe. Very popular book, but not the clearest example of good science writing.   Mather, John, and Boslough, John, The Very First Light. An account of the Cosmic Background Explorer Mission--which detected the light from the big bang. A different personal account from George Smoot's book. Read both for an interesting insight into how science is done. (1997)   Overbye, Dennis, Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos. Offbeat story of Edwin Hubble, Alan Sandage, and the cosmologists who are attempting to determine the age of the universe from the expansion of the galaxies.(1991) 

Plait, Philip, Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax" .   Lively blogger and astronomer Plait reveals the fads and fallacies in popular misconceptions about astronomy.  Preston, Richard, First Light. Eloquent journalistic account of astronomers at work on Palomar Mountain. Appeared first in The New Yorker. (1997 edition)   Smoot, George, Wrinkles in Time An account of the Cosmic Background Explorer Mission--which detected the light from the big bang. A different personal account from the book by Mather and Boslough. Read both for an interesting insight into how science is done. (1993)   Thorne, Kip, Black Holes and Time Warps. Lively discussion of both the physics and the personalities involved in the study of black holes. Entertaining and thought-provoking. (1994)
Biology  Gould, Stephen Jay, Ever Since Darwin,  Collected essays on Darwin, evolution, science and society, extinctions, Velikovsky, and other subjects.   (1977)    Gould, Stephen Jay, Wonderful Life. An eponymous book. Wonderfully written and profoundly argued, it's ostensibly about the discovery of the rich and fantastic fossils revealed by the Burgess Shale in Canada. But its really about how the madly innovative trial-and-error process of evolution. (1989) 

Holldobler, Bert, and Wilson, Edward O. , The Ants. Fascinating, encylopedic study of ants that succeeds both as a coffee-table book and as a scientific treatise.  (1990) 

  Novacek, Michael, Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs. Describes recent discoveries of many new types of dinosaurs in sediments in Mongolias Gobi Desert, and the adventures of those who seek the fossils. (1996)    Quammen, David, The Song of the Dodo. All about the ecology of endangered species on islands and the implications for diversity in the world at large. (1996) 

Thomson, Keith Steward, Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelcanth.   How the weird fish was discovered , and what we know about its ancient lineage. (1991) 

  Weiner, John, The Beak of the Finch. Pulitzer-prize winning story of Darwinian evolution in action in our times. Exquisitely written and carefully argued. (1994) 

Zimmer, Carl, Parasite Rex : Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures.  Parasites are everywhere, and their behavior is often chilling. Zimmer's is one of the best written of recent science books, combining riveting narrative and lots of fascinating ideas. (2001)
Chemistry  Hoffman, Roald, The Same and Not the Same. Eloquent essays on the intellectual and ethical issues inherent in doing chemistry research, by a Nobel prize winning scientist and poet. (1995)    Computers 
      Weizenbaum, Joseph, Computer Power and Human Reason.  Somewhat dated, but thought-provoking essay on the uses and abuses of computers.  Are there some things computers shouldn't do, even if they can? (1976)

Environmental Science 

Cohen, Joel, How Many People can The Earth Support?  A definitive treatment of the population problem. The answer, of course, depends on how one chooses to interpret the question.  (1995)

Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel. A masterful discussion of how the fate of civilizations is influenced by biology. (1999)    Pyne, Stephen J., World Fire. The role of fire in the environment, and in human culture. (1995) 

Streever, Bill, Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places.  Personal journeys to cold places and cold climates, from avalanches to glaciers, to igloos and icebergs, and even laboratories looking for absolute zero. (2009)   Wilson, Edward O., The Diversity of Life. Eloquent book by the eminent writer, researcher, and teacher, describing how diverse life is, and why maintaining biodiversity is important.   
Geology  McPhee, John, Basin and Range. Wide-ranging and literate essay about the geology of the Western United States, and the people who study it. (1981)    Sullivan, Walter, Continents in Motion: The New Earth Debate. Readable, informative story of the discovery of continental drift by a veteran New York Times science reporter.(2nd ed. 1991)    General Science  Holton, Gerald, Science and Anti-Science,  Essays on the epistemology  of science, including the question of whether science is a social construction.  (1993) 

Sagan, Carl, Billions and Billions. Sagans last collection of essays, ranging widely from the wonders of astronomy to the meaning of life. (1997) 

  Sagan, Carl, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark. Essays on why science is important as an antidote to superstition. (1995)    Taubes, Gary, Bad Science: The short Live and Weird Times of Cold Fusion. The story of Drs. Pons and Fleischman, who electrified the world by announcing that theyd produced limitless supplies of energy from water in a canning jar. (1993)   
History and Biography of Science  Ferris, Tim, Coming of Age in the Milky Way. History of major astronomical ideas since ancient times (1988).    Desmond, Adrian, Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest,  More than a biography, a social and intellectual history of the late Victorian age. (1997)    Desmond, Adrian, and Moore, James,  Darwin: The life of a Tormented Evolutionist, A mammoth, informative biography of the great biologist and naturalist, again with Desmond's wide-ranging political and social insight.  ((1992)    Gleick, James, Genius. Biography of Richard Feynman, Nobel Physicist, one of the most remarkable personalities of the century. (1992) 

Holmes, Richard, The Age Of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. Well-written and revelatory account of the late 18th and early 19th century, and how science inspired the arts in the works of people like Coleridge, Mary Shelly, and Keats.

Jardine, Lisa, Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution. The men and institutions of the late 18th Century that laid the groundwork for modern science---especially the Royal Society of London.

Koestler, Arthur, The Sleepwalkers. A classic, highly readable account of the development of our concepts of the universe from ancient Greece through Galileo and Newton. (1954)    Landes, David S., Revolution in Time. The history of clocks, clockmaking, and how they changed our concepts of time and space and led to the making of the modern world. (1983)    Quinn, Susan, Marie Curie. The life of the great chemist, who won two Nobel prizes for her discovery of radium and her work with radioactivity.(1995)    Russell, Jeffrey Burton, Inventing the Flat Earth. Describes what Columbus and his contemporaries knew and didnt know about that the earth(they did know, for instance, that it was a globe, though they differed about its size), and how the myth that they thought the earth was flat arose in the late 1800s. (1992) Mathematics  Berlinski, David, A Tour of the Calculus. Quirky, impressionistic exploration of the major ideas of mathematics and the history of calculus. Not your usual math book, nor your usual popular science book.(1995) 

Livio, Mario, The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number. A theoretical physicist traces the history of a remarkable but little-known number from the time of Plato to the present.

Paulos, John Allen, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its consequences. Influential short book on why Johnny and Jane can't do numbers, and what can be done about it. (1988) 

Medicine  Hall, Stephen S. A Commotion in the Blood. Recent advances in understanding the immune system and how it can be used to combat various illnesses. Discusses the current research on inteferon, immune diseases, cancer therapies, etc. (1997)    Preston, Richard, The Hot Zone. Terrifying story of the emergence of the ebola virus, and other virulent diseases that threaten epidemics. (1994)    Oceanography  Broad, William J., The Universe Below. How the end of the Cold War has brought about an explosion of knowledge about the sea; and what we are learning about the life and geology of the depths. (1997) 

Bascom, Willard, The Crest of the Wave.  Reflections and remembrances of the birth of modern oceanography, by one of the veterans of the field., a practical scientist who helped develop deep-sea drilling.(1989) 

Physics  Bartusiak, Marcia, Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space Time. The story of graviatational waves, why they are important, and how scientists are building huge devices to detect them.

Chandraskhar, Subramanyan, Truth and Beauty, Musings on aesthetics in science by one of the masters of 20th century astrophysics. 

Gleick, James, Chaos, Best-selling book on how physicists are discovering that seeming simple systems can behave in very complex fashion. (1987) 

Greene, Brian, The Elegant Universe, A best-selling book later made into a TV series on the fundamental structure of subatomic matter, and how superstrings and hidden dimensions may give us insight into a unified theory of everything. 

  Krauss, Laurence, The Physics of Star Trek. What would work, and what wouldn't, in the popular TV/film series. (1995) 

Pagels, Heinz R. The Cosmic Code. An eloquent explanation of how quantum mechanics works, and why what it tells us about the microstructure of matter is so strange. (1982) 

Taubes, Gary, Nobel Dreams: Power, Deceit, and the Ultimate Experiment.  Portrait of Carlo Rubbia, who shared the 1984 Nobel Prize for work leading to  the discovery of the W and Z particles.  It's a no-holds-barred portrayal of the world of high-energy physics research, which illuminates the good and the bad aspects of high-stakes science. (1987) 

Von Baeyer, Hans Christian, The Fermi Solution, Eloquent narrative essays on the methods of science and some of its recent developments. (1993) 

      Calvin, William H., The River that Flows Uphill, While floating down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, the author muses on the meaning of consciousness and the vastness of the evolutionary time scale. A meandering, fascinating book. (1986) 

      Norman, Donald A., The Psychology of Everyday Things. What cognitive psychology tells us about how humans interface with machines and other artifacts.  Tells what we know about how to design teapots that we won't spill, and light switches that turn on just what we think they ought to. (1988)

      Pinker, Steven, How the Mind Works. An eloquent Harvard scientist and writer explains what the mid is, how it evolved, and how it interacts with the outside world.

Technology  Buderi, Robert, The Invention that Changed The World. A history of Radar in World War II and beyond. (1966)    Levy, Matthys, and Salvadori, Mario, Why Buildings Fall Down. Two architects, with a flair for storytelling, explain how we learn to build better buildings from studying the ones that dont make it. (1992)    Petroski, Henry, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance. Masterful telling of how a simple item we take for granted came into being, and the many choices that people made in producing and adopting it. Surprisingly fascinating. (1990)    Rhodes, Richard, The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Pulitzer-prize winning account of the discovery of atomic power and its first, horrific application. A classic of modern science writing.(1986)    Rhodes, Richard, Dark Sun. The history of the US-Soviet race to create a superweapon, the Hydrogen bomb. (1995)   
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