The best Charles Darwin books 📚

Browse the best books on Charles Darwin as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Darwin's Dogs: How Darwin's Pets Helped Form a World-Changing Theory of Evolution

Darwin's Dogs: How Darwin's Pets Helped Form a World-Changing Theory of Evolution

By Emma Townshend

Why this book?

So (so) much has been written about Charles Darwin but this short book captures a side of the great man’s life that had been hiding in plain sight: his love of dogs. When Darwin was a youngster his father complained he “care[d] for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching.” There was only one period of Darwin’s adulthood when he was not living with dogs and that was the five years he spent going 'round the world on a boat named – ironically enough – the Beagle. A love of dogs informed Darwin’s thinking on everything from marriage to his epochal…

From the list:

The best books on how dogs love people

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Book cover of On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection

On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection

By Charles Darwin

Why this book?

This is one of the two or three most influential science books ever published. But unlike the case with other science books, The Origin, published in 1859, is also of profound political importance. Part of this political importance—the implications of Darwin's theory for religious explanations of the diversity of life, which I call "outside" politics—is familiar to all socially-aware citizens. But there is much less awareness of the "inside" politics of evolution—the political implications of controversies within the science of evolutionary biology founded by Darwin. Of course, to understand both the inside and outside politics, you must read much…

From the list:

The best books on "the politics of evolution"

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Book cover of Principles of Geology

Principles of Geology

By Sir Charles Lyell

Why this book?

Lyell’s Principles, though published almost 190 years ago, is a masterful argument for the veracity of deep time. Drawing on his skills as a lawyer as much as his scientific perceptions, Lyell lays out the case for the power of gradual processes operating over vast expanses of time to change the face of our planet. His lucid, compelling case that “the present is key to the past” greatly influenced many subsequent discoveries, including Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. And, happily, various editions are freely available in facsimile on the web.

From the list:

The best books on planet Earth

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Book cover of The Voyage of the Beagle

The Voyage of the Beagle

By Charles Darwin

Why this book?

In 1831 at the age of 22 and freshly minted by his university education, Darwin was offered the chance of a lifetime: to accompany Captain Robert Fitzroy on HMS Beagle for a circumnavigation of the globe. He was in the right place, at the right time, and knew the right people – and although he was only 3rd choice for that position, fate would insist on his being chosen. His experiences on that voyage laid the foundations for his theory of evolution by means of Natural Selection some 28 years later. We are so familiar with the image of Darwin…
From the list:

The best books to stretch your imagination

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Book cover of The Descent Of Man

The Descent Of Man

By Charles Darwin

Why this book?

This is the seminal book on human evolution, published by Charles Darwin twelve years after his On the Origin of Species. Don’t be put off by its length. You can skip a lot, including the huge digression on sexual selection. Focus on the early chapters, first where Darwin gives his reasons to think that human beings, Homo sapiens, are the end result of an evolutionary process, fueled by natural selection, as are all other organisms. We are descended from monkeys. Second, Darwin argues that crude Social Darwinism, life is a brutal struggle for existence, hence “might is right,”…
From the list:

The best books on human evolution and the human story

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Book cover of Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-And the New Research That's Rewriting the Story

Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-And the New Research That's Rewriting the Story

By Angela Saini

Why this book?

If scientists wanted to exclude women, a powerful approach would be to use science itself to demonstrate that female skills would not be fit for science’s purpose, to prop up the idea of female weakness and vulnerability, that there was some kind of evolutionarily determined biological inevitability about women’s status as inferior. Saini’s forensic filleting of the science behind such arguments is a must-read for those wishing to arm themselves against ‘gotcha’ culture, where someone will triumphantly cherry-pick research findings from any branch of science in favour of their own argument. Of course, this works both ways. We are taught…

From the list:

The best books about women’s science superpowers – and why we don’t know about them

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