100 books like The Story of the Human Body

By Daniel E. Lieberman,

Here are 100 books that The Story of the Human Body fans have personally recommended if you like The Story of the Human Body. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of Their Lost World

Michael J. Benton Author Of Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World

From my list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been mad about dinosaurs and ancient life since I was seven. I have been amazingly lucky to be able to develop a career as a professional palaeontologist and to be able to research and talk about the subject. We were first to show the original colours of dinosaur feathers, and this discovery provides a perfect way to open the discussion about how palaeontologists know what they say they know. In my books, I seek to amaze, amuse and inform. I have written many books, including pop science, textbooks, technical-scientific works, and books for children, and every year brings new discoveries to be transmitted to the world.

Michael's book list on dinosaurs from a palaeontologist

Michael J. Benton Why did Michael love this book?

The best seller of all time, a lively romp through dinosaur research (and researchers).

This is for all readers, and you’ll be hooked by the lively, pacy text by Steve, as he hurtles from continent to continent, digging up bones from China to Poland, working on Tyrannosaurus rex and other great beasts in the basements of the world’s museums, and sharing with readers what it’s like to be a working paleontologist.

For aspiring young bone-diggers, this is an inspiration, although it’s not like this all the time: paleontologists also sometimes have to mark student essays and fight with university systems to get their field trip costs refunded!

By Steve Brusatte,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Times Science Book of the Year.
A Sunday Times Bestseller.

66 million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today, Dr. Steve Brusatte, one of the leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters, armed with cutting edge technology, is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years.

The world of the dinosaurs has fascinated on book and screen for decades - from early science fiction classics like The Lost World, to Godzilla terrorizing the streets of Tokyo, and the monsters of Jurassic Park. But…

Book cover of Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

Ben Stanger Author Of From One Cell: A Journey into Life's Origins and the Future of Medicine

From my list on science written by scientists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Harvard- and MIT-trained physician-scientist, and I am drawn to research problems that bridge the basic and the practical – how a better understanding of cells and tissues can inform new therapies for cancer and other diseases. As children, we are all scientists – mini-hypothesis generators trying to make sense of the world. I suppose I never outgrew that curiosity. My list of best science books credits writers who bring to life the excitement that comes from looking at the natural world in a new way, a spirit that I try to emulate in my own writing. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!

Ben's book list on science written by scientists

Ben Stanger Why did Ben love this book?

I can’t think of a better tale of discovery written by a scientist than Shubin’s engaging account of the unearthing of Tiktaalik, the first fish to walk on land.

I remember reading about the find on the front page of The New York Times, and this book is the backstory. By weaving his own boots-on-the-ground experience as a paleontologist with a highly approachable background on the relevant biology, Shubin us a front row seat to one of the most important events in evolution. 

By Neil Shubin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Your Inner Fish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The paleontologist and professor of anatomy who co-discovered Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” tells a “compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human” (Oliver Sacks).

By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genomes look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light. This is science writing at its finest—enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible…

Book cover of Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution

Graham Shields Author Of Born of Ice and Fire: How Glaciers and Volcanoes (with a Pinch of Salt) Drove Animal Evolution

From my list on science in action written by scientists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist who has worked at the coal face of the debate around the origin of animals and ‘Snowball Earth’ his entire career, using a combination of experimental and descriptive science. Over three decades, I have witnessed first-hand how careful attention to detail in study after study has removed doubt from once provocative, even crazy, ideas that are now widely accepted. I love reading popular science from the perspective of the hands-on scientist who has witnessed the debate first-hand and contributed to received knowledge by conceiving new experiments, amassing data, and, more than often, in entirely unexpected ways through sheer curiosity.

Graham's book list on science in action written by scientists

Graham Shields Why did Graham love this book?

I love this book because of the author’s infectious passion for fossils and geology. 

The book reads like a detective story, with the innermost secrets of long-extinct animal groups unveiled bit by bit by a master of forensic paleontology.

When I was an undergraduate student over 40 years ago, Richard showed us behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum in London. What I remember most was him describing how long it took his team to reveal just one trilobite eye. Only after many months of painstaking attention to detail were they finally able to work out how a trilobite saw the world 500 million years ago.

By Richard Fortey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Trilobite as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With Trilobite, Richard Fortey, paleontologist and author of the acclaimed Life, offers a marvelously written, smart and compelling, accessible and witty scientific narrative of the most ubiquitous of fossil creatures.

Trilobites were shelled animals that lived in the oceans over five hundred million years ago. As bewilderingly diverse then as the beetle is today, they survived in the arctic or the tropics, were spiky or smooth, were large as lobsters or small as fleas. And because they flourished for three hundred million years, they can be used to glimpse a less evolved world of ancient continents and vanished oceans. Erudite…

Book cover of The Meaning of Fossils: Episodes in the History of Palaeontology

Andrew H. Knoll Author Of A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters

From my list on fossils and the history of life.

Why am I passionate about this?

An acclaimed scientist, teacher, and writer, Andrew Knoll has travelled the world for decades, investigating ancient rocks to understand the intertwined histories of our planet and the life it supports. His boyhood thrill at discovering fossils has never deserted him. It continues to motivate him to explore topics that range from the earliest records of life and the emergence of an oxygen-rich atmosphere; the diversification of both plants and animals, and the intricacies of mass extinctions, past and present. He has also participated in NASA’s exploration of Mars.

Andrew's book list on fossils and the history of life

Andrew H. Knoll Why did Andrew love this book?

It’s one thing to appreciate that fossils record the history of life, but something else altogether to understand how we came to know that. Rudwick’s classic book recounts the discoveries, large and small, that over centuries revealed fossils to be remnants of lost worlds. An exceptional exercise in the history of science. The Meaning of Fossils is required reading for students of paleontology.

By Martin J.S. Rudwick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"It is not often that a work can literally rewrite a person's view of a subject. And this is exactly what Rudwick's book should do for many paleontologists' view of the history of their own field."-Stephen J. Gould, Paleobotany and Palynology

"Rudwick has not merely written the first book-length history of palaeontology in the English language; he has written a very intelligent one. . . . His accounts of sources are rounded and organic: he treats the structure of arguments as Cuvier handled fossil bones."-Roy S. Porter, History of Science

Book cover of Plucked: A History of Hair Removal

Elise Hu Author Of Flawless: Lessons in Looks and Culture from the K-Beauty Capital

From my list on challenging beauty standards and diet culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest and curiosity in this topic primarily came from life experience: not fitting in as a gangly Asian girl growing up in white suburbs and picked on for how I looked, working as a teen model in the late 1990s and early aughts, becoming a mother to three girls while opening up NPR’s first-ever bureau and living in Seoul, South Korea, the plastic surgery capital of the world. Ever since graduating from The University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Journalism, I’ve been a professional journalist. Most of my career has been as an NPR correspondent, but I’ve also worked as a reporter for VICE and appeared in The Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, and numerous other publications.

Elise's book list on challenging beauty standards and diet culture

Elise Hu Why did Elise love this book?

Oh my goodness, this is the most surprisingly fascinating book I’ve ever picked up, because I originally thought, how much could there be to learn about body hair removal? Well, the answer is, a lot.

It is ostensibly all about the history of body hair and body hair removal, but really it’s about abuse, freedom, and bodily autonomy and so many other sweeping topics. It’s funny, it’s fast-paced, it’s full of tidbits I continue to share with friends at cocktail parties.

Without giving too much away, I will say that as we move into an era in scientific innovation where it’s easier than ever before to genetically modify ourselves and other creatures, Herzig’s book is so evergreen and relevant.

By Rebecca M. Herzig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Uncovers the history of hair removal practices and sheds light on the prolific culture of beauty
From the clamshell razors and homemade lye depilatories used in colonial America to the diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals available today, Americans have used a staggering array of tools to remove hair deemed unsightly, unnatural, or excessive. This is true especially for women and girls; conservative estimates indicate that 99% of American women have tried hair removal, and at least 85% regularly remove hair from their faces, armpits, legs, and bikini lines. How and when does hair become a problem-what makes some growth "excessive"?…

Book cover of Man & Woman He Created Them

S. L. Smith Author Of Pray the Rosary with Saint John Paul II

From my list on the life of Pope St. John Paul II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Scott L. Smith, Jr. is a Catholic author, attorney, and theologian. He is the author of Pray the Rosary with Saint John Paul II, the St. Joseph Consecration for Children and Families, along with Fr. Donald Calloway, a new translation of St. Louis de Montfort's Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. He contributes regularly to his blog, The Scott Smith Blog, and is the co-host of the Catholic Nerds podcast.

S. L.'s book list on the life of Pope St. John Paul II

S. L. Smith Why did S. L. love this book?

St. John Paul II was also a brilliant philosopher and theologian. Here is his answer to errors of our modern age. Here is his antidote to the deconstruction and disintegration of the family, marriage, manhood, womanhood, and even sex, itself. I would list it higher, but it's not precisely about his life—though it is his greatest life's work. Like the falling of small stones that start an avalanche, this book is slowly restoring the world.  

By Pope JohnPaul II,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man & Woman He Created Them as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new critical translation of Pope John Paul II's talks on the Theology of the Body by the internationally renowned biblical scholar Michael Waldstein. With meticulous scholarship and profound insight, Waldstein presents John Paul II's magnificent vision of the human person. Includes a preface by Cardinal Schönborn, a foreword by Christopher West, a comprehensive index of words and phrases, a scriptural index, and a reference table for other versions of the papal texts. Recipient of a CPA Award!

Book cover of The Magic School Bus Presents: The Human Body: A Nonfiction Companion to the Original Magic School Bus Series

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?

This entire Magic School Bus series has also been a favorite of ours with our kids. I love the way that the bus goes inside of the human body and gets up close and personal with the cells of the human body. I remember thinking about how it made the difficult-to-see and -imagine immune system easy to picture in the mind of the reader.

By Dan Green, Carolyn Bracken (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Magic School Bus Presents as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS PRESENTS THE HUMAN BODY is a photographic nonfiction companion book to the original bestselling title, THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS INSIDE THE HUMAN BODY.

INSIDE THE HUMAN BODY taught thousands of kids about the incredible systems that work together to make the human body function. what makes us who we are. MAGIC SCHOOL BUS PRESENTS THE HUMAN BODY will expand upon the original title with fresh, updated Common Core-aligned content about our amazing bodies. With vivid full-color photographs on each page and illustrations of the beloved Ms. Frizzle and her students, the Magic School Bus Presents series…

Book cover of Medieval Bodies: Life, Death and Art in the Middle Ages

Hana Videen Author Of The Deorhord: An Old English Bestiary

From my list on books with a unique perspective of the medieval past.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in medieval history comes from a love of language. My favourite Old English word is wordhord, which refers to a poet’s mental stockpile of words and phrases. My word hoarding (and sharing) started with tweeting the Old English word of the day in 2013. This spread to other social media platforms, a blog, an app, and now two books. I have a PhD in English from King’s College London (my thesis was on blood in Old English, even though blood actually makes me squeamish). I enjoy histories that make me think about the past from a different perspective.

Hana's book list on books with a unique perspective of the medieval past

Hana Videen Why did Hana love this book?

This book is filled with fascinating facts about medieval medicine, surgery, humoural theory, disease, and diagnosis. But what is surprising is how many other aspects of the Middle Ages are covered through the theme of bodies.

We learn about strange creatures like blemmyae (who have no heads and faces in their chests) and cynocephali (dog-headed people), saints and relics, race relations and politics, manuscript manufacture, religion, literature, travel, eating habits, love, sexuality, and gender identity.

I love how the chapters are organized by body part, from head to feet, a clever approach I have never seen in a history book before. Hartnell demonstrates how the medieval past is "an uncanny place at once startlingly different from and strangely familiar to our own."

By Jack Hartnell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Medieval Bodies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just like us, medieval men and women worried about growing old, got blisters and indigestion, fell in love, and had children. And yet their lives were full of miraculous and richly metaphorical experiences radically different from our own, unfolding in a world where deadly wounds might be healed overnight by divine intervention, or where the heart of a king, plucked from his corpse, could be held aloft as a powerful symbol of political rule.

In this richly illustrated and unusual history, Jack Hartnell uncovers the fascinating ways in which people thought about, explored, and experienced their physical selves in the…

Book cover of Der Nackte Mensch: Hand- und Lehrbuch der Anatomie fur Kunstler

Uldis Zarins Author Of Anatomy For Sculptors: Understanding the Human Figure

From my list on human anatomy for artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a traditional sculptor with more than 25 years of experience. Being a dyslectic student in the 2000s, I developed a systematic approach to translating medical anatomy texts into visual information that I could use while sculpting.  All the anatomy books for artists at the time were text-centered. My reference sketches became quite popular among colleagues. It was clear that visual artists perceive information best when it’s visual, and that is how I got the idea for my first book. Now the Anatomy for Sculptors handbooks are bestsellers among visual artists striving to better understand the human form.

Uldis' book list on human anatomy for artists

Uldis Zarins Why did Uldis love this book?

While the West was busy with postmodernism, the Soviet world cultivated social realism based on the 19th-century figurative tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. East Germany was no exception with its own figurative tradition at Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. Gottfried Bammes was a professor of art there, and he further developed classical anatomy studies by introducing a more scientific approach. Illustrations in Der Nackte Mensch are precisely measured and reliable, and each of them introduces a new way to look at human anatomy. Concepts such as wire-framing and splitting organic form into geometric shapes appear here. This book is full of ideas, and it has been a huge influence on how I perceive human anatomy. Gottfried Bammes is, in my opinion, the greatest anatomist of the 20th century!

By Gottfried Bammes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gottfried Bamme - The naked man. Hand and textbook of anatomy for artists VEB Verlag of Art | 1982 | ISBN: 3364000166 | German | 480 pages Shown with special reference of their own tasks, objectives and methodological problems. With around 840 individual anatomical drawings by the author, over 120 examples of masterpieces of the fine arts, model 190 single shots and many students work.

Book cover of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

K. Lee Lerner Author Of Biotechnology: In Context

From my list on biotechnology.

Why am I passionate about this?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 

K.'s book list on biotechnology

K. Lee Lerner Why did K. love this book?

With both humor and scientific precision, Ed Yong takes us through the microscope lens into the world of microbes and microbiology that share our world and, in some cases, our bodies. Yong's book connects those worlds to show our interdependence. His book provides ample evidence that while disease-causing microbes grab most of the headlines, many others in the microbiome are essential allies for a healthy life and are critical to advancements in biotechnology.

By Ed Yong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Your body is teeming with tens of trillions of microbes. It's an entire world, a colony full of life.

In other words, you contain multitudes.

They sculpt our organs, protect us from diseases, guide our behaviour, and bombard us with their genes. They also hold the key to understanding all life on earth.

In I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong opens our eyes and invites us to marvel at ourselves and other animals in a new light, less as individuals and more as thriving ecosystems.

You'll never think…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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