The best books that will open your mind to the wonders of biology

The Books I Picked & Why

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

By Daniel Dennett

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

Why this book?

Like Kant reading Hume, this book woke me up from my small-minded intellectual slumbers. Before this, I thought biology was basically just memorizing different parts of cells. Dennett opened my mind to the intricacies of evolutionary theory and did so with wit and elegance.


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Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

By Edward O. Wilson

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Why this book?

The ultimate big-picture book. Wilson outlines how fields like history and the humanities can incorporate insights from biology and the study of human nature—to the benefit of both science and the arts. A bracing look at the future of human knowledge.


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A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology

By Jim Endersby

A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology

Why this book?

A topsy-turvy look at biology from the point of view of the animals (and plants) that make it possible. Richly detailed and full of engrossing characters, from Darwin’s time up to the genetically engineered marvels of today.


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The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhode

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Why this book?

A deep, deep dive into one of the most important, and consequential, scientific projects in history. It’s an epic story whose consequences we’re still living with today.


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The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

By Caspar Henderson

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

Why this book?

Imagine a medieval bestiary of whimsical creatures, but with a twist. Instead of being imaginary, the animals here really exist. The book moves alphabetically from axolotl to zebrafish, with a new delight on every page. It’s a perfect reminder of what biologist J.B.S. Haldane once said: that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine.


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