100 books like The Spark of Life

By Frances Ashcroft,

Here are 100 books that The Spark of Life fans have personally recommended if you like The Spark of Life. 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 Shocking Bodies: Life, Death and Electricity in Victorian England

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?

Gruesome experiments extended Luigi Galvani’s early work with frog cadavers into human ones.

Victorian-era scientists shocked the bodies of executed prisoners, or sold improbably electrical cures, all in the hopes of finding the answers to questions about the boundary between life and death.

Iwan Rhys Morus chooses four case studies that explain how science got to grips with electricity and its effects on the human body, and what the intersection implied about both.

The book provides lasting insights into why electric medicine is still widely associated with pseudoscience today.

By Iwan Rhys Morus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the Victorians, electricity was the science of spectacle and of wonder. It provided them with new ways of probing the nature of reality and understanding themselves. Luigi Galvani's discovery of 'animal electricity' at the end of the eighteenth century opened up a whole new world of possibilities, in which electricity could cure sickness, restore sexual potency and even raise the dead. In Shocking Bodies, Iwan Rhys Morus explores how the Victorians thought about electricity, and how they tried to use its intimate and corporeal force to answer fundamental questions about life and death. Some even believed that electricity was…


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 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 Uncover the Human Body

Steven Clark Cunningham Author Of Your Body Sick and Well: How Do You Know?

From my list on the body for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a doctor, perhaps because there were no doctors in my family, and I did not even realize that I wanted to (or could) go to medical school until I was almost done with college. Once I did realize this, however, it became immediately obvious to me that being a physician (a surgeon) was what I wanted to dedicate my life’s work to, and I have been passionate about it ever since. Probably the topics I am most passionate about after surgery are education, books, reading, poetry, etc., so this book lets both these passions dovetail beautifully!

Steven's book list on the body for children

Steven Clark Cunningham Why did Steven love this book?

The thing that I really like about this book is that it is literally built around a 3-D model of the body embedded in the center of the book, so that as you turn the pages, you uncover different layers of the body, since the model is built in layers, each attached to the board-book-style pages. So, opening the cover (the skin, as it were) of the book reveals a page on the dermal system, and the skeletal system, and as you turn the next page, the ribs come with the page to reveal some of the internal organs, and so on. 

By Luann Colombo, Craig Zuckerman (illustrator), Jennifer Fairman (illustrator) , J Max Steinmetz (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Uncover the Human Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It is in very good condition. Seems to have been seldom played. It has normal wear associated with an item of its age


Book cover of Anatomy for the Artist

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Author Of Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up

From my list on for people who draw people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drawing and painting people has been my passion and my profession for a couple of decades now. Fine art, comic books, animation, illustration – as long as I'm drawing people, I'm happy. I love the challenge of trying to capture (or create) a living, breathing, thinking person on paper. And I love talking about art books with other artists. Which ones are great, which ones miss the mark, which ones have tiny hidden gems in them. This list is a mix of books I love, and books I heartily recommend.

Jason's book list on for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Why did Jason love this book?

You gotta know your sacrum from your humerus, and you've gotta know what your sterno-cleido-mastoid attaches to. Even if you forget the names, you've got to learn the shapes and the jobs. This book is pretty awesome for that. And it's pretty, too. I love the mix of photos and drawings. The transparency overlays of muscle over bone are crazy fun and might be that experience that triggers your flash of insight. This book isn't an art-school classic like, say Fritz Schider's Atlas of Anatomy for Artists, but it's good solid material. Drawing from a live model, with this book on your knee for reference? That's a good time.

By Sarah Simblet, John Davis (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anatomy for the Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unlock your inner artist and learn how to draw the human body in this beautifully illustrated art book by celebrated artist and teacher Sarah Simblet.

This visually striking guide takes a fresh approach to drawing the human body. A combination of innovative photography and drawings, practical life-drawing lessons, and in-depth explorations of the body's surface and underlying structure are used to reveal and celebrate the human form.

Combining specially-commissioned photographs of models with historical and contemporary works of art and her own dynamic life drawing, Sarah leads us inside the human body to map its skeleton, muscle groups, and body…


Book cover of The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Roy A. Meals Author Of Muscle: The Gripping Story of Strength and Movement

From my list on friend your body’s marvelous machines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been in love with biology since first playing with earthworms and marveling at the sprouting of radish seeds as a five-year-old. Further interest and curiosity led me to positions as nature counselor at summer camps and an eventual college degree in biology. Medical school was at times tedious, but the efficient, compact, durable mechanics of the musculoskeletal system totally engaged my interest. A residency in orthopedic surgery and a fellowship in hand surgery were natural follow-ons. My other passion is a love of teaching, taking a learner from where ever their understanding is presently and guiding them to what they need to know next. And they should have fun in the process.

Roy's book list on friend your body’s marvelous machines

Roy A. Meals Why did Roy love this book?

Now turning to the human body, Bryson continues his long tradition of combining loads of engaging, thoroughly researched information with ironic humor.

He dissects his subject system by system, starting with the normal structure and function of the skin and eventually moving to the “nether regions.” He follows with chapters on what can go wrong and what can go very wrong. Whereas other books focus on single systems, e.g., skeleton or gut, The Body is broader in its scope but understandably not so thorough.

For a single book to heighten a reader’s marvel and understanding of the human workings, this is the one.  

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body—with a new afterword for this edition.

Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body—how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Brysonesque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding…


Book cover of We Are Electric: Inside the 200-Year Hunt for Our Body's Bioelectric Code, and What the Future Holds

Corinna Lathan Author Of Inventing the Future: Stories from a Techno-Optimist

From my list on the power of technology to make us more human.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a techno-optimist, I believe that technology can make us better!  Technology should make us stronger and healthier, technology should enable us to do things we couldn’t do without it, and technology should create an equitable future. In 25 years, I want superhuman eyesight, joints, and memory.  I want to travel with family and friends both physically and virtually through the metaverse. And I want to make sure that all of our data is used responsibly and ethically to optimize our home and community.  All of the books I selected (including mine!) build on these themes painting a picture of a future that is optimistic, and show us how we can be active participants in creating the future we want to see.  

Corinna's book list on the power of technology to make us more human

Corinna Lathan Why did Corinna love this book?

Science journalist Sally Adee brings alive the fact that yes, we are electric.

If we could truly understand the way our bodies work electrically and not just chemically, it could open the doors to a revolution in medicine. We would look at the brain and the nervous system in a whole different light; pharmaceuticals would be replaced by electroceuticals; and we might sleep better and live longer.  

I recommend this book because I enjoyed going on this journey through history to the future!

By Sally Adee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Science journalist Sally Adee breaks open the field of bioelectricity—the electric currents that run through our bodies and every living thing—its misunderstood history, and why new discoveries will lead to new ways around antibiotic resistance, cleared arteries, and new ways to combat cancer.

You may be familiar with the idea of our body's biome: the bacterial fauna that populate our gut and can so profoundly affect our health. In We Are Electric we cross into new scientific understanding: discovering your body's electrome.

Every cell in our bodies—bones, skin, nerves, muscle—has a voltage, like a tiny battery. It is the reason…


Book cover of You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type

Randy Ross Author Of Fireproof Happiness: Extinguishing Anxiety & Igniting Hope

From my list on the best way to find happiness.

Why am I passionate about this?

My entire career has revolved around helping people find more meaning and fulfillment in their life and work. It’s a fact that happy people are healthier, have better relationships, are more satisfied with life, and are more productive. But, happiness for most folks is elusive. Through my research, personal experience, and coaching and consulting practice, I have found that there is a distinct connection between hope and happiness. Fireproof Happiness is my attempt to show this connection and offer practical wisdom and sound advice to craft a brighter tomorrow, no matter what you may be facing today.

Randy's book list on the best way to find happiness

Randy Ross Why did Randy love this book?

Dr. Daniel Amen is the preeminent authority on brain scanning. Having studied over 200,000 brain scans from over 155 countries, he has provided insights into how brain health is related to happiness, healthy relationships, and productivity. In You, Happier, Dr. Amen offers practical, science-based strategies for optimizing your happiness.

You will discover how your brain functions and what strategies you can employ to create happiness. You will find ways to improve your overall brain health and learn ways to distance yourself from the damaging influences that cause the brain to function less effectively. Creating consistent happiness is a daily journey and this book provides the roadmap.

By Daniel G. Amen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Daniel Amen reveals the seven neuroscience secrets to becoming more than 30 percent happier in just 30 days—regardless of your age, upbringing, genetics, or current situation.

Happiness is a brain function. With a healthier brain always comes a happier life.

After studying more than 200,000 brain scans of people from 155 countries, Dr. Amen has discovered five primary brain types and seven neuroscience secrets that influence happiness. In You, Happier, he explains them and offers practical, science-based strategies for optimizing your happiness. Dr. Amen will teach you how to discover your brain type…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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