The most recommended physiology books

Who picked these books? Meet our 91 experts.

91 authors created a book list connected to physiology, and here are their favorite physiology books.
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Book cover of The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are

Thomas R. Verny Author Of The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

From my list on neuroscience and the mind.

Who am I?

As a thirteen-year-old boy, I read Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and I became totally fascinated by Freud’s slow, methodical questioning that eventually revealed deeply hidden unconscious conflicts in the lives of his patients. Then and there I resolved to become a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, I explored my patients’ early memories. Over the years, I authored seven books, including The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, published in 28 countries now. I have previously taught at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, York University (Toronto), and St. Mary’s University. This book takes my studies of memory a step further and drills right down to the intelligence of cells.

Thomas' book list on neuroscience and the mind

Thomas R. Verny Why did Thomas love this book?

I am a great admirer of Dr. Siegel who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. This is a terrific book in which Siegel explores the role of interpersonal relationships in forging key connections in the brain. As he says, “Human connections shape neural connections, and each contributes to mind. Relationships and your personal linkages together shape the mind. It is more than the sum of its parts; this is the essence of emergence.” His description of brain architecture is excellent

Siegel’s emphasis on relationships is important and I fully agree with it. His take on the mind is interesting. He says, “The mind is a process that emerges from the distributed nervous system extended throughout the entire body and also from the communication patterns that occur within relationships.” I echo those sentiments in The Embodied Mind when I say that the mind is more…

By Daniel J. Siegel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This highly influential work--now in a revised and expanded third edition incorporating major advances in the field--gives clinicians, educators, and students a new understanding of what the mind is, how it grows, and how to promote healthy development and resilience. Daniel J. Siegel synthesizes cutting-edge research from multiple disciplines, revealing the ways in which neural processes are fundamentally shaped by interpersonal relationships throughout life. And even when early experiences are not optimal, building deeper connections to other people and to one's own internal experience remains a powerful resource for growth. Professors praise the book's utility in courses from developmental psychology…

Book cover of The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys

Rachel Ginocchio Author Of Roads to Family: All the Ways We Come to Be

From my list on anatomy, modern human reproduction, and family.

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, my parents answered any/all of my questions about the body, puberty, and sex; often giving me more information than I actually wanted! So when friends asked me questions, I was always eager to pass on my knowledge. Who knew that years later, it would land me a master’s degree in public health (MPH), jobs in sexuality health education, and a passion for writing about human reproduction and family formation? Plus, I have personal experience on the topic: I come from a three-generation family created through adoption and foster care; and overcame the trials and tribulations of infertility with the use of assisted reproduction. 

Rachel's book list on anatomy, modern human reproduction, and family

Rachel Ginocchio Why did Rachel love this book?

How could you not love a book written by a mother-daughter combo? It’s impossible.

Though the books in this series (My Body, My Self for Boys/Girls; What’s Happening to My Body for Girls/Boys) are getting a little old copyright-date-wise, they are packed with detailed information that I go back to over and over again, each time I pull together material for a puberty class.

Though they were written at a time before gender-inclusive language hit the scene, they cover the topics youth are most curious about; and provide checklists, games, inquiries, and other interactive activities for readers to work through. 

By Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, Simon Sullivan

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Everything preteen and teen boys need to know about their changing bodies and feelings Written by an experienced educator and her daughter in a reassuring and down-to earth style, The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys gives sensitive straight talk on: the body's changing size and shape; diet and exercise; the growth spurt; the reproductive organs; body hair; voice changes; romantic and sexual feelings; and puberty in the opposite sex. It also includes information on steroid abuse, acne treatment, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and birth control. Featuring detailed illustrations and real-life stories throughout, plus an introduction for parents…

Book cover of What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins

Emma Marris Author Of Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

From my list on what it is like to be a wild animal.

Who am I?

I have written about the environment as a journalist since 2005, for magazines and newspapers including National Geographic, The New York Times, and Outside. For my last book, I wanted to write about animals as individuals—not just as units in a species, the way they are often thought of by conservationists. Diving into research about animal selfhood was an amazing journey. It helped shape my book, but it also changed the way I see the world around me—and who and what I think of as “people”! 

Emma's book list on what it is like to be a wild animal

Emma Marris Why did Emma love this book?

To research my book I read lots of books about new findings in animal cognition.

Animals are smarter than science used to give them credit for, more emotional than science ever dared believe, and they even have personalities. But for me, the most mind-blowing of the many books I read on this topic was this book about the inner lives of fish.

Like so many others, I had assumed they were pretty dim-witted, and even believed they didn’t feel pain. Not so! This book explains the new science of what fish lives are like and it is truly amazing how much they are like us—and we like them.

By Jonathan Balcombe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What a Fish Knows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


An Observer Book of the Year 2017

A Sunday Times must read

A New York Times Bestseller

Endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama - 'Balcombe vividly shows that fish have feelings and deserve consideration and protection like other sentient beings'

What's the truth behind the old adage that goldfish have a three-second memory? Do fishes think? Can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? Myth-busting biologist and animal behaviour expert Jonathan Balcombe takes us under the sea, through streams and estuaries to the other side of…

Book cover of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

Stan Hieronymus Author Of For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops

From my list on about aroma and flavor.

Who am I?

When I began research on For the Love of Hops about 70 percent of the hops grown worldwide were valued simply for the bitterness they added to beer, but that was about to flip completely. Today, new varieties like Citra and Mosaic are powerful brands, with aromas and flavors that hops never exhibited in the past. That’s why the book begins with a deep dive into how and why we smell and taste what we do, something these books helped me better understand.

Stan's book list on about aroma and flavor

Stan Hieronymus Why did Stan love this book?

Gordon Shepherd gave the developing science of neurogastronomy – which studies how the human brain perceives food from the information processed through smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing – its name. A leading expert on olfaction, he is perfectly qualified to draw the link between aroma and flavor, and why Luca Turin would claim that smell provides 90 percent of what we taste. His description of the importance of retronasal smell, and the mechanics involved, turned a term that was fun to toss around tasting beer with friends into a revelation.

By Gordon M. Shepherd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed. Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, particularly the way it stimulates the nose from the back of the mouth. As we eat, the brain conceptualizes smells as spatial patterns, and from these and the other senses it constructs the perception…

Book cover of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

Tyler Nordgren Author Of Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets

From my list on astronomy books that will rock your world and alter your cosmos.

Who am I?

I was of that generation of children turned on to science by reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos - plus watching the Voyager spacecraft at Jupiter on TV, seeing the 1979 total solar eclipse over my house, and having Mt St Helens erupt outside my childhood window. So, one guess what I wanted to be when I grew up? Since then, I’ve earned a PhD, used the largest telescopes on Earth, designed something driving around on Mars, written popular books, and had my science art collected by the Smithsonian. But all of that started with a single book I read as a kid. Thanks Carl.

Tyler's book list on astronomy books that will rock your world and alter your cosmos

Tyler Nordgren Why did Tyler love this book?

Have you ever wondered where all the stars went? When was the last time you saw the Milky Way? We have national parks to preserve beautiful places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone geysers. But somehow, the Milky Way, a billion glowing stars all blended together in a band everyone could see every moonless night everywhere on Earth, has just faded away to invisibility for 80% of Americans. How did that happen and why we should care is what Bogard writes about in this lovely book written not for scientists or amateur astronomers, but for everyone who’s ever thought about simply “sleeping under the stars.”

By Paul Bogard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Streetlamps, neon signs - an ever-present glow that has changed the natural world and adversely affected our health; Paul Bogard illuminates the problems caused by a lack of darkness. We live awash in artificial light. But night's natural darkness has always been invaluable for our spiritual health and the health of the natural world, and every living creature suffers from its loss. Paul Bogard investigates what we mean when we talk about darkness. He travels between the intensely lit cities - from glittering Las Vegas to the gas-lit streets of Westminster - and the sites where real darkness still remains,…

Book cover of The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War

Allen M. Hornblum Author Of Against Their Will: The Secret History of Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

From my list on human experimentation.

Who am I?

I began working in prisons 50 years ago. I was just out of grad school and I accepted the challenge of starting a literacy program in the Philadelphia Prison System. The shock of cellblock life was eye-opening, but the most unexpected revelation was the sight of scores of inmates wrapped in bandages and medical tape. Unknown to the general public, the three city prisons had become a lucrative appendage of the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. As I would discover years later, thousands of imprisoned Philadelphians had been used in a cross-section of unethical and dangerous scientific studies running the gamut from simple hair dye and athlete’s foot trials to radioactive isotope, dioxin, and US Army chemical warfare studies. My account of the prison experiments, Acres of Skin, helped instill in me an abiding faith in well-researched journalism as an antidote to societal indiscretions and crimes.

Allen's book list on human experimentation

Allen M. Hornblum Why did Allen love this book?

Welsome investigates a particularly repugnant episode in medical history; doctors secretly injecting hospital patients with plutonium as part of the Manhattan Project. Designed to weigh the increased threat of cancer during the outset of the atomic era, the book navigates the governmental and scientific concerns of a new nuclear world, the prestigious players who argued for human experimentation, and the unwitting victims - all hospital patients - who’d be used as test material. In addition, Welsome also explores other Cold War examples of atomic abuse such as “radioactive cocktails” given to pregnant women and radioactive breakfast cereal given to five and six-year-old “morons” at state institutions. 

By Eileen Welsome,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a Massachusetts school, seventy-three disabled children were spoon fed radioactive isotopes along with their morning oatmeal....In an upstate New York hospital, an eighteen-year-old woman, believing she was being treated for a pituitary disorder, was injected with plutonium by Manhattan Project doctors....At a Tennessee prenatal clinic, 829 pregnant women were served "vitamin cocktails"--in truth, drinks containing radioactive iron--as part of their prenatal treatmen....

In 1945, the seismic power of atomic energy was already well known to researchers, but the effects of radiation on human beings were not. Fearful that plutonium would cause a cancer epidemic among workers, Manhattan Project doctors…

Book cover of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

Carl F. Nathan Author Of An Arrow's ARC: Journey of a Physician-Scientist

From my list on a life in science or medicine.

Who am I?

Growing up, I experienced “otherness.” My family was hard up amidst affluence. Typecast as Jewish, where that was a rarity, we were met with suspicion and unease. Being a woman held my mother back from her preferred profession. Racism was rampant; my growing appreciation of it and efforts to intervene added to “otherness.”  My childhood was shadowed by illness, including my mother’s cancer. These influences drew me to medicine and science. Both are a way to overcome “otherness” and to protect one’s family, even as my sense of family expanded. Medicine forges extraordinary bonds between doctor and patient. Science brings people together from diverse backgrounds to share goals. These connections make meaningful stories. 

Carl's book list on a life in science or medicine

Carl F. Nathan Why did Carl love this book?

Yong is not a scientist himself, but he is an extraordinary writer who steps into the world view of one scientist after another to capture their passion for discovery and their amazement at what they learn and to share that with us, simply and clearly. He does all this with an ear for prose that delights with its ring as well as its content.

One of the messages running through this hard-to-put-down book is how differently and precisely various species adapt to their niche to sense what matters to them most. A key subtext is how much we lose by changing environments faster than species adapt.

By Ed Yong,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked An Immense World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Wonderful, mind-broadening... a journey to alternative realities as extraordinary as any you'll find in science fiction' The Times, Book of the Week

'Magnificent' Guardian

Enter a new dimension - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every animal is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving only a tiny sliver of an immense world. This book welcomes us into previously unfathomable dimensions - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

We encounter beetles that are…

Book cover of The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World

Alan E. Johnson Author Of Reason and Human Ethics

From my list on a rational approach to ethics.

Who am I?

Since I was a teenager, I have thought about the connection between reason and ethics. This preoccupation was present during my formal education (A.B. and A.M., University of Chicago; J.D., Cleveland State University), during my three decades as a practicing lawyer, and, finally, as an independent philosopher during more than a decade of retirement from law practice. My book Reason and Human Ethics is the culmination of my reflection about this philosophical issue. The books I have recommended have been among those references that have been most helpful to me in formulating my own conclusions, though my own views are not identical with those of any other writing.

Alan's book list on a rational approach to ethics

Alan E. Johnson Why did Alan love this book?

Early evolutionary biology was preoccupied with notions of Social Darwinism (the survival of the fittest), but later developments in the field have focused not only on evolving patterns of social cooperation but also on the nature of the human brain itself. The latter is the subject of neuroscientist Elkhonon Goldberg’s The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World. Goldberg observes that human cerebral evolution has resulted in the development of a complex human brain. Humans possess, by way of their frontal lobes (especially their prefrontal cortex), complex executive functions involving advanced intentionality and decision-making. Goldberg recognizes that emotional areas of the brain interact with its executive functions, but his neuroscientific investigations support my own view that human reason, rightly understood, should supervise human thought and action.

By Elkhonon Goldberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elkhonon Goldberg's groundbreaking The Executive Brain was a classic of scientific writing, revealing how the frontal lobes command the most human parts of the mind. Now he offers a completely new book, providing fresh, iconoclastic ideas about the relationship between the brain and the mind.
In The New Executive Brain, Goldberg paints a sweeping panorama of cutting-edge thinking in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, one that ranges far beyond the frontal lobes. Drawing on the latest discoveries, and developing complex scientific ideas and relating them to real life through many fascinating case studies and anecdotes, the author explores how the brain…

Book cover of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Victoria Dunckley Author Of Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen

From my list on effects of screen time on kids on neuroscience.

Who am I?

I am an integrative child psychiatrist with a special focus on how screen-time detunes the nervous system, causing issues with sleep, mood, focus, and behavior. In fact, technology use is the most underestimated influence of our time; it causes problems whose connections aren’t always obvious, leads to misdiagnosis and overmedication, and wastes resources. I am passionate about helping children and families methodically reverse these changes using screen fast protocols that provide dramatic improvements in functioning and well-being. I speak regularly to parents’ groups, schools, and health providers, and my work has been featured on such outlets as NPR, CNN, NBC Nightly News, Psychology Today, and Good Morning America.

Victoria's book list on effects of screen time on kids on neuroscience

Victoria Dunckley Why did Victoria love this book?

Discussing the negative impacts of screen time (and its close cousin, sedentariness) can feel overwhelming. In contrast, discovering ways to make the brain stronger is empowering. In this startling book, Dr. Ratey explores exercise’s dramatic impact on the brain and shows how it can not only improve cognitive functioning but actually make the brain bigger and more connected. While as a psychiatrist I have long-prescribed exercise to improve depression, anxiety, and sleep, after reading Spark I had a newfound respect and awe for not just the power of exercise but for the plasticity of the brain itself. This book gives new hope to those who have or work with kids with neuropsychiatric conditions or who are struggling, stuck, or otherwise disadvantaged.

By John J. Ratey, Eric Hagerman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Exercise is not only good for the body: it can transform your mind too. This new scientific revolution will teach you how to boost brain cells, protect yourself against mental illness and dementia, and ensure success in exams and the workplace.

We all know that exercise is good for the body. But did you know that it can transform your mind? This new scientific revolution will teach you how to boost brain cells, protect yourself against mental illness and dementia, and ensure success in exams and the workplace.

Follow the SPARK! training regimen and build your brain to its peak…

Book cover of Music and the Mind

Yiannis Gabriel Author Of Music and Story: A Two-Part Invention

From my list on falling in love with classical music.

Who am I?

Classical music has been one of the great passions of my life, ever since at the age of 6 my father introduced me to the magic of Chopin’s Polonaise héroïque, by improvising the story that the music was telling, creating a magical mosaic of notes and words. I then realized that music tells stories and that musical stories do not only offer pleasure, excitement, and consolation, but also act as sources of insight into the world we inhabit, in all its complexity and drama. I have since made classical music a regular part of my life, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and Beethoven being intimate friends and acquaintances, not distant historical figures. 

Yiannis' book list on falling in love with classical music

Yiannis Gabriel Why did Yiannis love this book?

If you want to delve into how music functions in the human mind and how it helps support communities and groups, then Anthony Storr’s is the book for you. Eminent psychiatrist, Oxford professor, and proficient pianist and violist, Storr (author of Churchill's Black Dog) uses his deep knowledge of philosophy, psychology, and religion to address questions like “Where does music come from?”, “Is music a common language for all humanity?” “How does music trigger emotions?” “Are our encounters with music in any way comparable with encountering persons?” Drawing on the work of Jung, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, Storr argues that music, like religion, is a feature of all human cultures. Like religion, it offers solace and comfort from the hardships of life.

However, music is not universal—different cultures develop their own musical traditions and conventions, just as they develop different political systems and different languages. What is universal, and this…

By Anthony Storr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Examines the psychological, emotional, historical and philosophical roles of the musical experience in a person's life. This text looks at music as both a social and a solitary experience and supports the contention that music is the most significant experience in life.