41 books like Shocking Bodies

By Iwan Rhys Morus,

Here are 41 books that Shocking Bodies fans have personally recommended if you like Shocking Bodies. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

One of the most common category errors in neuroscience is the conflation of brains with computers.

Matthew Cobb, who is both a scientist and a historian of science provides a breathtaking and sweeping history of our understanding of the brain - and how it always seems to be epitomised by humanity’s most impressive engineering achievements.

So in the 19th century, the nervous system was described as a telegraph; in the 20th and 21st century, it became a computer.

Cobb shows how these evolving metaphors helped advance neuroscience, but also how overindexing on that computer metaphor is beginning to seriously limit our ability to grasp what the brain really is.

By Matthew Cobb,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Idea of the Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize

A New Statesman Book of the Year

This is the story of our quest to understand the most mysterious object in the universe: the human brain.

Today we tend to picture it as a computer. Earlier scientists thought about it in their own technological terms: as a telephone switchboard, or a clock, or all manner of fantastic mechanical or hydraulic devices. Could the right metaphor unlock the its deepest secrets once and for all?

Galloping through centuries of wild speculation and ingenious, sometimes macabre anatomical investigations, scientist and historian Matthew Cobb reveals how…


Book cover of Shocking Frogs: Galvani, Volta, and the Electric Origins of Neuroscience

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

Luigi Galvani found the first evidence that the signals between the brain and the body are electric at the end of the 18th century in Italy.

But his discovery was almost immediately overshadowed by the much more immediately useful invention of the battery. After this, the very idea of bioelectricity fell into disrepute along with Galvani’s reputation.

Neurophysiologist Marco Piccolino and historian of science Marco Bresadola dig into the original controversy over animal electricity and detail how this schism would shape the next 200 years of neuroscience and electrophysiology.

The authors draw on deep-cut archival source material to conclusively restore the unfairly tarnished reputation of Galvani.

This is not a book for people with a mild interest, but will nourish those with an obsessive interest in every detail around the controversy. 

By Marco Piccolino, Marco Bresadola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shocking Frogs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"... and still we could never suppose that fortune were to be so friendly to us, such as to allow us to be perhaps the first in handling, as it were, the electricity concealed in nerves, in extracting it from nerves, and, in some way, in putting it under everyone's eyes."

With these words, Luigi Galvani announced to the world in 1791 his discovery that nervous conduction and muscle excitation are electrical phenomena. The result of more than years of intense experimental work, Galvani's milestone achievement concluded a thousand-year scientific search, in a field long dominated by the antiquated beliefs…


Book cover of The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

This book tells the story of how bioelectricity was finally accepted in modern neuroscience, how it interacts with biochemical elements of the nervous signal, and how its manipulation led to great medica and scientific advances in the late 20th century.

The author knew several of the leading figures who made these discoveries and provides personal anecdotes about them, as well as illuminating episodes from the history of neuroscience. 

By Frances Ashcroft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spark of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What happens during a heart attack? Can someone really die of fright? What is death, anyway? How does electroshock treatment affect the brain? What is consciousness? The answers to these questions lie in the electrical signals constantly traveling through our bodies, driving our thoughts, our movements, and even the beating of our hearts.

The history of how scientists discovered the role of electricity in the human body is a colorful one, filled with extraordinary personalities, fierce debates, and brilliant experiments. Moreover, present-day research on electricity and ion channels has created one of the most exciting fields in science, shedding light…


Book cover of The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology

Sally Adee Author Of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

From my list on the history and future of bioelectricity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a science and technology journalist who has reported on neurotech and bioelectricity for over 15 years, for publications including New Scientist, IEEE Spectrum and Quartz. After a formative experience in a DARPA brain-stimulation experiment, I began to dig into the history and science of bioelectricity, trying to understand both the science at the level of membrane biophysics, and the history and psychology of how biology lost custody of electricity. My resulting book is an effort to create a repository of the real, rigorous studies that have advanced our understanding of this fascinating science at an accelerating rate in the past 20 to 40 years - and what the new science means about the future.

Sally's book list on the history and future of bioelectricity

Sally Adee Why did Sally love this book?

They say the law is perpetually at least five years behind new developments in technology.

Nowhere is it more important to reverse this phenomenon than in neurotechnology. We may not understand the brain, but that hasn’t stopped neurotech startups and big tech companies from trying to eavesdrop on and interpret its bioelectric signals.

Farahany, a bioethics professor at Duke University, says that this market is expected to reach $21 billion by 2026 largely because it will be a boon for surveillance capitalism. The devices don’t even have to actually tell you what a person is thinking or feeling for the information to be used that way by companies and governments.

People become credulous when AI tells them something, whether it’s a policing or recidivism algorithms. Wearable says you are about to commit a crime or have an affair? 

Farahany makes an impassioned argument to build the legal framework that will…

By Nita A. Farahany,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Battle for Your Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new dawn of brain tracking and hacking is coming. Will you be prepared for what comes next?

Imagine a world where your brain can be interrogated to learn your political beliefs, your thoughts can be used as evidence of a crime, and your own feelings can be held against you. A world where people who suffer from epilepsy receive alerts moments before a seizure, and the average person can peer into their own mind to eliminate painful memories or cure addictions.

Neuroscience has already made all of this possible today, and neurotechnology will soon become the “universal controller” for…


Book cover of Electrify: An Optimist's Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future

Joseph P. O'Connor Author Of Off Grid Solar: A handbook for Photovoltaics with Lead-Acid or Lithium-Ion batteries

From my list on understand future potential of renewable energy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve dedicated my career to renewable energy, because I think it really will save us from climate change disaster. Solar, wind, and advanced energy storage will usher us into the 21st century. I’ve seen many innovative people and companies use technology to create a better future. We still have a long uphill battle to reverse climate change, but we now have the technology that can help save our planet. It is time to implement it. These five books (in very different ways) give us the tools and understanding of how renewable energy will shape the future.

Joseph's book list on understand future potential of renewable energy

Joseph P. O'Connor Why did Joseph love this book?

I’ve been working in the solar and battery industry for over 15 years and I can say firsthand that it is totally feasible to electrify everything in your home and live comfortably. Griffith recommends that you should never buy a new fossil fuel appliance ever again. Switching to an electric vehicle, all-electric kitchen appliances, and heat pumps primes us to have a carbon-free home in the future, even if our electrical usage currently relies on fossil fuels. Appliances with a life of 10 to 30 years will eventually be powered by renewables as they get installed on the grid.

Although this transition won't be easy. Appliance manufacturers need some time to improve the reliability of these new electric appliances. Imagine the frustration after installing an expensive, new heat pump water heater and it breaks after two weeks! In addition, some industries will have a very hard time going fully electric,…

By Saul Griffith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Electrify as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An optimistic--but realistic and feasible--action plan for fighting climate change while creating new jobs and a healthier environment: electrify everything.

Climate change is a planetary emergency. We have to do something now—but what? Saul Griffith has a plan. In Electrify, Griffith lays out a detailed blueprint—optimistic but feasible—for fighting climate change while creating millions of new jobs and a healthier environment. Griffith’s plan can be summed up simply: electrify everything. He explains exactly what it would take to transform our infrastructure, update our grid, and adapt our households to make this possible. Billionaires may contemplate escaping our worn-out planet on…


Book cover of Bees: Their Vision, Chemical Senses, and Language

Bernd Heinrich Author Of Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

From my list on nature and the study of life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Biology is the study of life, and I cannot think of anything more important. It’s like being interested in what’s happening to the ball when you are playing the ball game. I was very fortunate to have grown up in close contact with nature and it led me down this path. I love discovering intricate mechanisms not by thoughts but with data. Those discoveries almost always turn out to be surprising and more than what had, or could be, imagined and assumed. 

Bernd's book list on nature and the study of life

Bernd Heinrich Why did Bernd love this book?

I received this book from my father as a Christmas present at age 16, in 1956. The author is a Professor of Zoology who made one of the most stunning discoveries of biology of the last century: honeybees communicate direction and distance of a food source they had found to their hive-mates, within the darkness of their hive.

The code involves the movements of their bodies in a "dance," that gives directions with respect to the position of the sun, but at the same time that position shifts with time, the bees without seeing it take into account its movement in the sky, to within about 15 minutes. His experimental proofs deciphering the bees' "dances" are simple and direct, as was his writing of them. The book was and still is an inspiration,  a revelation of nature's beauty that no one had seen before.

By Karl Von Frisch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over half a century of brilliant scientific detective work, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Karl von Frisch learned how the world, looks, smells, and tastes to a bee. More significantly, he discovered their dance language and their ability to use the sun as a compass. Intended to serve as an accessible introduction to one of the most fascinating areas of biology, Bees (first published in 1950 and revised in 1971), reported the startling results of his ingenious and revolutionary experiments with honeybees.

In his revisions, von Frisch updated his discussion about the phylogenetic origin of the language of bees and also…


Book cover of The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World

Howie Singer Author Of Key Changes: The Ten Times Technology Transformed the Music Industry

From my list on innovators and innovation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my entire professional life dealing with how technology impacts business. I started out writing code to improve the operations of retail stores and factories. I managed teams developing products from videophones to cellphones. I’ve had a front-row seat to the evolution of the music business, from selling CDs to streaming files to billions of fans. These experiences provided the background for writing a book about tech disruption in the music business, starting with the phonograph and leading to Generative AI. The books on this list gave me the broader historical perspective I needed and the context to understand how other industries dealt with their own seismic changes.

Howie's book list on innovators and innovation

Howie Singer Why did Howie love this book?

It is impossible to overestimate the breadth and importance of Edison’s contributions to our lives. But Stross gave me a much better picture of Edison as a relentless competitor who often struggled to develop the business practices and processes to achieve commercial success with his numerous inventions.

The fact that I could visit the Menlo Park historical site in NJ to see things for myself made the book come alive.

By Randall E. Stross,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Wizard of Menlo Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas Edison’s greatest invention? His own fame.

At the height of his fame Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as “the Napoleon of invention” and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light and the first motion picture cameras, Edison’s name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels.

But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edison’s…


Book cover of Violet Black

Fleur Beale Author Of Juno of Taris

From my list on young people trapped by draconian rules.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer from Aotearoa New Zealand and I’ve always been drawn to stories of struggle, especially where a character fights against outside control. I started writing for the high school students I was teaching and got hooked on the YA genre. I love it partly because it crosses all genres – I can write about a 14-year-old girl trying to live in a repressive religious cult but I can also write about a 15-year-old boy who’s a champion kart driver. Karting at top level takes enormous skill as I discovered, but it also has room for dirty tricks.

Fleur's book list on young people trapped by draconian rules

Fleur Beale Why did Fleur love this book?

Violet Black is the first book in a trilogy set in the near future. Violet Black and Ethan Wright are both in a coma after contracting the lethal M-fever. They have never met:

I couldn’t speak, but I was trying so hard to communicate and then... then... I pushed. And something, someone, pushed back. Her name is Violet. Violet, but she is sunshine-yellow, and I need to find her because I think she might be just like me.

But there is a far more serious reason for Ethan to find Violet: the sinister Foundation is trying to hunt them down.

Violet Black in the first book of a trilogy where Violet must fight for her sanity and her freedom from those who want to control her. It’s always wonderful when you’ve got captured by a story and its characters to know that there are more books to come. I love…

By Eileen Merriman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Violet Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The first book in the Black Spiral Trilogy

Set in the near future, this first book in a fast-paced trilogy will hook you in from the first page.

Violet Black and Ethan Wright are both in a coma after contracting the lethal M-fever. They have never met-

I couldn't speak, but I was trying so hard to communicate and then . . . then . . .
I pushed. And something, someone, pushed back.
Her name is Violet. Violet, but she is sunshine-yellow, and I need to find her because I think she might be just like me.

But there…


Book cover of Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day

María José Fitzgerald Author Of Turtles of the Midnight Moon

From my list on animal and nature-loving-empaths who are curious.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up near the outskirts of a lush Honduran cloud forest, I remember searching for magic in the woods, a fairy behind the waterfall, and an emerald quetzal bird in the canopy. I have always been a lover of nature, ecology, and wildlife, and I appreciate how each of these five books speaks to the passion that I have for ecology in a unique way. From fantastical rabbits to hidden systems we all rely on, to turtles and whales and the entire animal kingdom, these books will resonate with those of us who believe that we each have a place in our interconnected planet.

Maria's book list on animal and nature-loving-empaths who are curious

María José Fitzgerald Why did Maria love this book?

In Dan Nott’s eye-opening and masterfully drawn nonfiction book, we get a glimpse into the intricacies of how the systems we use (and take for granted) every day actually work!

I love this book because my kids can pick it up from our coffee table, read a few pages, and unlock a mystery. I also appreciate how Dan’s explanations included the social and ecological impacts and implications of these systems. This book is for anyone who has ever been curious about our world and the fascinating things humans have built. 

By Dan Nott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hidden Systems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

We use water, electricity, and the internet every day--but how do they actually work? And what’s the plan to keep them running for years to come? This nonfiction science graphic novel takes readers on a journey from how the most essential systems were developed to how they are implemented in our world today and how they will be used in the future.

What was the first message sent over the internet? How much water does a single person use every day? How was the electric light invented?

For every utility we use each day, there’s a hidden history--a story of…


Book cover of The Ambiguous Frog: The Galvani-Volta Controversy on Animal Electricity

Patricia Fara Author Of Life after Gravity: Isaac Newton's London Career

From my list on enlightenment science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Emeritus Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and I’ve written several popular books as well as featuring in TV/radio programmes such as In Our Time and Start the Week (BBC). I love the challenge of explaining to general audiences why the history of science is such an exciting and important subject – far more difficult than writing an academic paper. I believe that studying the past is crucial for understanding how we’ve reached the present – and the whole point of doing that is to improve the future. My underlying preoccupations involve exploring how and why western science has developed over the last few centuries to become the dominant (and male-dominated) culture throughout the world.

Patricia's book list on enlightenment science

Patricia Fara Why did Patricia love this book?

Electricity was by far the most popular science of the Enlightenment – ‘an Entertainment for Angels’, as one fictional young woman enthused. Marcello Pera’s slim book is delightfully written, but also philosophically profound. It surveys with great humour the diverse array of electrical devices, tricks and performances that were created as money-spinners in Europe’s rapidly commercialising society. But it also picks apart the confrontation between electricity’s two Italian figureheads: Luigi Galvani (who made frogs’ legs twitch) and Alessandro Volta (the Napoleonic devotee who introduced current electricity). These debates were not only about who was right, but also about how to win over converts and eliminate the opposition.

By Marcello Pera,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ambiguous Frog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do ideas become accepted by the scientific community? How and why do scientists choose among empirically equivalent theories? In this pathbreaking book translated from the Italian, Marcello Pera addresses these questions by exploring the politics, rhetoric, scientific practices, and metaphysical assumptions that entered into the famous Galvani-Volta controversy of the late eighteenth century. This lively debate erupted when two scientists, each examining the muscle contractions of a dissected frog in contact with metal, came up with opposing but experimentally valid explanations of the phenomenon. Luigi Galvani, a doctor and physiologist, believed that he had discovered animal electricity (electrical body…


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