100 books like The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

By Caspar Henderson,

Here are 100 books that The Book of Barely Imagined Beings fans have personally recommended if you like The Book of Barely Imagined Beings. 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 Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Alex Rosenberg Author Of How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addiction to Stories

From my list on for getting a grip on our reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even before I became a philosopher I was wondering about everything—life the universe and whatever else Douglas Adams thought was important when he wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. As a philosopher, I’ve been able to spend my life scratching the itch of these questions. When I finally figured them out I wrote The Atheist’s Guide to Reality as an introduction to what science tells us besides that there is no god. In How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addiction to Stories I apply much of that to getting to the bottom of why it’s so hard for us, me included, to really absorb the nature of reality. 

Alex's book list on for getting a grip on our reality

Alex Rosenberg Why did Alex love this book?

Easier to read than On the Origin of Species, this book connects Darwin’s overwhelmingly significant explanatory insight to the last fifty years of advance in our understanding of biology, psychology, social science, and the nature of the mind. Dennett is a brilliantly ingenious builder of images and metaphors that really enable you to grasp Darwin’s breakthrough, one at least as important as Newton’s and Einstein’s, but more relevant to understanding the meaning of life. 

By Daniel Dennett,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Darwin's Dangerous Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life Daniel C. Dennett argues that the theory of evolution can demystify the miracles of life without devaluing our most cherished beliefs.

From the moment it first appeared, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection has been controversial: misrepresented, abused, denied and fiercely debated. In this powerful defence of Darwin, Daniel C. Dennett explores every aspect of evolutionary thinking to show why it is so fundamental to our existence, and why it affirms - not threatens - our convictions about the meaning of life.

'Essential and pleasurable for any thinking…


Book cover of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Sam Kean Author Of The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

From my list on the wonders of biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including The Bastard Brigade, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Disappearing Spoon. He edited The Best American Nature and Science Writing in 2018, and his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air,” and his podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, debuted at #1 on the iTunes charts for science podcasts.

Sam's book list on the wonders of biology

Sam Kean Why did Sam love 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.

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking new book, one of the world's greatest living scientists argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for what he calls consilience, the composition of the principles governing every branch of learning. Edward O Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos. It is a vision that found its apogee in the…


Book cover of A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology

Sam Kean Author Of The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

From my list on the wonders of biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including The Bastard Brigade, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Disappearing Spoon. He edited The Best American Nature and Science Writing in 2018, and his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air,” and his podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, debuted at #1 on the iTunes charts for science podcasts.

Sam's book list on the wonders of biology

Sam Kean Why did Sam love 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.

By Jim Endersby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved," Darwin famously concluded The Origin of Species, and for confirmation we look to...the guinea pig? How this curious creature and others as humble (and as fast-breeding) have helped unlock the mystery of inheritance is the unlikely story Jim Endersby tells in this book.

Biology today promises everything from better foods or cures for common diseases to the alarming prospect of redesigning life itself. Looking at the organisms that have made all this possible gives us a new way of understanding how we got here--and perhaps of thinking…


Book cover of The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Gregg Herken Author Of Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller

From my list on who made and thought about using bombs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an emeritus professor of modern American diplomatic history at the University of California, having previously taught at Oberlin, Caltech, and Yale. I’ve also been chairman of the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, where I was the Curator of Military Space. I’ve been fascinated—and concerned—about nuclear weapons and nuclear war since I was 12, when I saw the movie On the Beach.  Then, as now, nuclear weapons and the (currently-increasing) danger of nuclear war are the most important things on the planet.  

Gregg's book list on who made and thought about using bombs

Gregg Herken Why did Gregg love this book?

Even after almost forty years, Rhodes’s book is still the most detailed, accurate, and readable account of how the atomic bomb came to be. 

The author’s description of the moment Leo Szilard realized the weapon was possible still brings me to tears. Nobody has done this history better.  

By Richard Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Making of the Atomic Bomb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a brand new introduction from the author, this is the complete story of how the bomb was developed. It is told in rich, human, political, and scientific detail, from the turn-of-the-century discovery of the vast energy locked inside the atom to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan. Few great discoveries have evolved so swiftly -- or have been so misunderstood. From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity there was a span of hardly more than twenty-five years. What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan…


Book cover of The Gruffalo

Patricia Cleveland-Peck Author Of You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

From my list on children’s rhyming picture texts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionately keen on poetry of many types because, whether rhyming or not, most poetry employs rhythm which is something that has a subconscious appeal to human senses. For children, rhyme provides an easy introduction to poetry and I enjoy using it because children themselves love it. Mums tell me that they are asked to read the same book time and time again – and not to try to skip any spreads! At the age of three, before she could read, my son’s goddaughter knew the whole of You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus by heart. The rhymes children hear when very young remain with them, sometimes forever. 

Patricia's book list on children’s rhyming picture texts

Patricia Cleveland-Peck Why did Patricia love this book?

Julia Donaldson is the supremo of rhyming. I am certainly not the only writer she has inspired. All her books are really well crafted and the fact that she is a singer and very musical can be felt by reading her exemplary rhyme.  

I recommend this book, the first which made her name in this genre, because it has all the qualities of a best rhyming text. It tells a story to which children can relate, is never boring, and has an unerring and satisfying beat.

By Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Gruffalo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Julia Donaldson's trademark rhyming text and Axel Scheffler's brilliant, characterful illustrations come together in this perfect read aloud-a perfect gift for any special occasion!

A mouse is taking a stroll through the deep, dark wood when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat but smart enough to know this, so he invents . . . the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, the gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, and knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end…


Book cover of Forces of Nature: Two Truths and a Lie

Joyce Grant Author Of Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts

From my list on to improve kids’ critical thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist and a social media prof. I talk to thousands of kids every year about what they read on the Internet. And frankly, they’re confused—as we all are—about what’s true online and what isn’t. To spot misinformation, kids have to become better critical thinkers. That’s why I wrote Can You Believe It? and it’s why I’m recommending these great books. It’s also helpful to know what credible journalism looks like. My TeachingKidsNews.com (TKN) is a kid-friendly news source that kids and teachers can trust. In addition to publishing TKN, I’ve authored six children’s books and I have a Master’s degree in Creative and Critical Writing. 

Joyce's book list on to improve kids’ critical thinking

Joyce Grant Why did Joyce love this book?

This series is critical thinking on steroids. The reader is given three fact-filled stories and has to figure out which one isn’t true. Is there really a pit in Turkmenistan that has been burning for 40 years? Are there radioactive boars in Japan? Did Edgar Allan Poe carry his dead wife’s remains around in a snuffbox? The reader has to find facts and think critically to figure them out. There are three books in the series each with 27 stories, nine of which aren’t true. I recommend younger readers have an adult handy because the book is a bit more complicated to navigate than, say, a novel. End matter provides additional information including websites to help the reader analyze each article. Oh, and the three facts? Yes, yep and heck no.

By Ammi-Joan Paquette, Laurie Ann Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forces of Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Crazy-but-true stories about the natural world make this acclaimed nonfiction series perfect for fans of curiosities and wonders—and anyone looking to explore ways to separate fact from fiction. This nonfiction chapter book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 7 to 9 who are reading independently. It’

Did you know that too many fidget spinners spinning in the same direction could have an adverse effect on Earth’s gravitational field? Or that the remains of a deceased loved one can be turned into a diamond? Or that the loudest known sound in history was made…


Book cover of Gef!: The Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose

Megaera C. Lorenz Author Of The Shabti

From my list on fascination with ghosts, hauntings, and afterlife.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been nostalgic. I long for a connection with times and places I’ve never experienced, and I think my fascination with ghosts and the uncanny is connected to that. As a child, I fell in love with ancient Egypt, with its famously complex religious traditions concerning death and the afterlife. I earned a PhD in Egyptology and spent a lifetime crafting stories about the past, often with a speculative or supernatural twist. For me, ghosts and history are a natural combination.   

Megaera's book list on fascination with ghosts, hauntings, and afterlife

Megaera C. Lorenz Why did Megaera love this book?

I love weird and inexplicable things, and Gef's story is undoubtedly the weirdest tale of a real-life (ostensibly) paranormal phenomenon I have ever encountered.

The more you know about it, the weirder it gets, and Christopher Josiffe’s meticulously researched account really delivers. Gef’s story isn’t exactly about ghosts, per se—it’s not clear where the Extra Special Talking Mongoose came from or what he was supposed to be—but it fits nicely with my interest in the uncanny.

In true Fortean fashion, Josiffe lays out all the evidence for what happened with minimal attempts at interpretation, leaving the reader to puzzle it all out. And the final chapters, which cover similar “hauntings” and potentially relevant folklore, are worth the price of admission alone.  

Gef!

By Christopher Josiffe,

What is this book about?

An exhaustive investigation of the case of Gef, a “talking mongoose” or “man-weasel,” who appeared to a family living on the Isle of Man.

“I am the fifth dimension! I am the eighth wonder of the world!”

During the mid-1930s, British and overseas newspapers were full of incredible stories about Gef, a “talking mongoose” or “man-weasel” who had allegedly appeared in the home of the Irvings, a farming family in a remote district of the Isle of Man. The creature was said to speak in several languages, to sing, to steal objects from nearby farms, and to eavesdrop on local…


Book cover of Seven Deadly Wonders

Alana Woods Author Of A Legal Affair

From my list on suspense intrigue thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a career editor living in the place I love most in the world, Australia's federal capital, Canberra. It's a small city encircled by mountains and populated with so many trees it's affectionately known as The Bush Capital. I love reading most genres but contemporary suspense intrigue above all. I know these books generally fall under the larger Thriller genre but I often feel that's a misnomer, and I think that applies to my novels. I love the range of stories this genre encompasses: it can take you anywhere in the world, into any situation, and follow any type of person as they attempt to come to grips with, and usually right, the wrongs of the world.

Alana's book list on suspense intrigue thrillers

Alana Woods Why did Alana love this book?

Reilly, unlike my first two picks, is still alive and producing books.  And he's Australian so I'm giving him a plug! On top of that, he's an international bestseller who is now turning his attention to directing films based on his own books. Keep an eye out for Interceptor starring Elsa Pataky in early 2022 on Netflix. Seven Deadly Wonders is the first of a seven-book series following the exploits of hero Jack West Jr. If you like fast-paced then Reilly's stories are for you. He hits the ground at full speed and doesn't slow; you find yourself having to stop reading to catch your breath! Incredibly enjoyable reading.

By Matthew Reilly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bestselling author Matthew Reilly takes you on a thrilling treasure hunt in Seven Ancient Wonders.

It is the biggest treasure hunt in history with contesting nations involved in a headlong race to locate the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

4500 years ago, a magnificent golden capstone sat at the peak of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was a source of immense power, reputedly capable of bestowing upon its holder absolute global power. But then it was divided into seven pieces and hidden, each piece separately, within the seven greatest structures of the age.

Now, the coming of a…


Book cover of The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information

David P. Murphy Author Of Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

From my list on absurdity.

Why am I passionate about this?

It is said that Michelangelo could see a statue inside of a block of marble. I believe I have a similar gift – I can find the most idiotic angle to any given story or event and free it into the world. Okay, so some gifts are better than others but this “talent” has afforded me the ability to stay relatively sane in a completely nutso era. Relatively. And to underscore my qualifications, I would ask the reader to take a gander at my sample title below. I rest my case.

David's book list on absurdity

David P. Murphy Why did David love this book?

This is one of those books you can open to any page and immediately start laughing. It resembles an encyclopedia but every given subject is shredded with wit and insight. Personally, I’m eternally grateful to the folks at The Onion for trying to keep up with the organically occurring absurdity in modern life that now has rendered most satire obsolete. It must be a whole lot like dogpaddling. In Jell-O. In the dead of winter.

By The Onion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Onion Book of Known Knowledge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you a witless cretin with no reason to live? Would you like to know more about every piece of knowledge ever? Do you have cash? Then congratulations, because just in time for the death of the print industry as we know it comes the final book ever published, and the only one you will ever need: The Onion's compendium of all things known. Replete with an astonishing assemblage of facts, illustrations, maps, charts, threats, blood, and additional fees to edify even the most simple-minded book-buyer, THE ONION BOOK OF KNOWN KNOWLEDGE is packed with valuable information-such as the life…


Book cover of The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena 2nd Edition

Guido Mina di Sospiro Author Of Forbidden Fruits: An Occult Novel

From my list on extra-canonical voyages that will challenge you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned the Western Canon at school and from various teachers during my youth; all along, I was yearning for something other, different, and, possibly, truer. Since my early twenties I've been exploring another canon, which exists in opposition to the Aristotelian-Euclidean-Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian/Spencerian one. While the western world in the 21st century is free from alacritous canon-enforcing enterprises such as the Holy Inquisition, it nevertheless operates by a canon that remains very much the mentioned Aristotelian-Euclidean-Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian/Spencerian one, inculcated into us all from kindergarten to the grave, echoed not only by schools of all levels, but by governments, the media, official institutions and nonofficial entities, and, last but not least, by the entertainment industry. 

Guido's book list on extra-canonical voyages that will challenge you

Guido Mina di Sospiro Why did Guido love this book?

With scholarly discipline but also with a decidedly English sense of humor, The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena 2 takes a path along that shadowy territory between the known and the unknown, between the dogmas of mainstream scientists and the reality of phenomena that happen regardless of (or even in spite of) such dogmas, much as, in a dramatic reversal, Galileo said centuries ago, after being forced to recant his claim that the Earth moved around the immovable sun: “And yet it moves.” (Back then, science, in its nascent state, was based on unbiased inquiry and rejected dogmas de facto. Today, mainstream science has morphed into a scientific priesthood.) The late John Michell was the author of, among others, View over Atlantis, one of the cult reads of the 1970s; Bob Rickard is the founder and editor of the Fortean Times.

By John Michell, Bob Rickard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena 2nd Edition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena is an exploration of the zone that lies between the known and the unknown, a shadowy territory that's home to the lake monsters, combusting people, teleporting frogs and man-eating trees. Taking a Fortean path between dogmatic scientists and credulous believers, the authors trace tales of wonder back to their sources, drawing from a huge archive of observations, opinions and discussions. This updated second edition boasts new illustrations and plenty of intriguing new sections from near death experiences to ghosts, haunted houses and mysterious mass deaths. There are many things which are not yet known…


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