Last year saw a flood of think pieces declaring a “golden age of neuroscience,” and this fall, publishers seem intent on proving it. The neuroscience trend bleeds into a rise in medical (hi)stories. And plenty of astronomers and mathematicians are vying for the attention of those who want to escape the body.
Science Top 10
Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease
Jon Palfreman. FSG/Scientific American, Sept. 15
Palfreman, diagnosed with Parkinson’s himself, charts the international effort to best the disease, which is seen as a prime window into the brain.
Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again
Tom Jackson. Bloomsbury/Sigma, Sept. 22
Refrigeration technology, crucial to many scientific breakthroughs of the last 100 years, may be a key to turning current science fiction into scientific reality.
Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body
Jo Marchant. Crown, Jan. 19
Marchant explores the cutting edge of medicine in this rigorous, skeptical, deeply reported look at the new science behind the mind’s extraordinary ability to heal the body,.
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
Lisa Randall. Ecco, Oct. 27
Renowned particle physicist Randall uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the connections between the furthest reaches of space and life on Earth.
Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness
Harriet A. Washington. Little, Brown, Oct. 6
NBCC Award winner Washington reveals connections between germs and mental illness, giving practical advice on how to navigate exposure to infectious threats.
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World
Andrea Wulf. Knopf, Sept. 1
Historian Wulf examines the ideas of visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), which continue to influence how we view ourselves and our relationship with the natural world.
The Last Volcano: A Man, a Romance, and the Quest to Understand Nature’s Most Magnificent Fury
John Dvorak. Pegasus, Dec. 15
Dvorak looks into the early years of volcanology and its “father,” Thomas Jaggar, revealing the journey of a man on a mission to understand the power of volcanic eruptions.
The Laws of Medicine
Siddhartha Mukherjee. S&S/TED, Oct. 13
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author and renowned cancer researcher reveals the philosophy behind the little-known principles that govern medicine and how they can empower us.
The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self
Anil Ananthaswamy. Dutton, Aug. 4
Ananthaswamy leads a tour of the latest neuroscience of schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, ecstatic epilepsy, and other disorders to reveal the power of the human sense of self.
Population Wars: A New Perspective on Competition and Coexistence
Greg Graffin. St. Martin’s/Dunne, Sept. 15
The punk rocker and Cornell lecturer argues that the popular conception of evolution as “survival of the fittest” is wrong—a mistake that has allowed humans to justify wars even when less-violent solutions may be available.
The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives by Theresa Brown (Sept. 22, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-320-7). A practicing nurse and New York Times columnist gives readers an insider’s account of 12 hours on a hospital oncology ward, following four patients whose lives hang in the balance during that one shift.
Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum by Gavin Francis (Oct. 13, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-465-07968-1) leads readers on a journey into the hidden pathways of the human body, from the brain’s pea-sized pineal gland—the so-called seat of the soul—to the delicate machinery of the foot.
Home: How Habitat Made Us Human by John S. Allen (Dec. 29, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-465-03899-2) argues that to “feel at home” is more than just an expression; it reflects a deep-seated cognitive basis for the human desire to have, use, and enjoy a place of one’s own.
The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why by Arthur Benjamin (Sept. 8, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-465-05472-5). Using an assortment of examples, Benjamin empowers readers to see the beauty, simplicity, and fun behind those formulas and equations that once left your head spinning.
Monsters: The Hindenburg Disaster and the Birth of Pathological Technology by Ed Regis (Sept. 8, hardcover, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-465-06594-3). As he ponders the dangers of technological hubris, Regis examines the perils of what he calls “pathological technologies,” those whose substantial risks are discounted or ignored under the influence of their emotional, almost mystical appeal.
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup (Sept. 8, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-4729-1130-8). Former research chemist Harkup takes 14 Agatha Christie novels and investigates the poison used by the murderer in each, looking at how the chemicals interact with the body and the logistics of using them, both when Christie was writing and today.
Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again by Tom Jackson (Sept. 22, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-4729-1143-8). Refrigeration technology has been crucial to numerous scientific breakthroughs of the last 100 years and may be what turns the science fiction of teleporters and intelligent-computer brains into scientific reality.
Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant (Jan. 19, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-385-34815-7). A rigorous, skeptical, deeply reported look at the new science behind the mind’s extraordinary ability to heal the body. Marchant travels the world to meet the physicians, patients, and researchers on the cutting edge of this new world of medicine.
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker (Jan. 19, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-307-98567-5). Journalists Donvan and Zucker, whose families have both been affected by autism, introduce an unforgettable cast as they delve into one of the most contentious debates dividing the autism community today.
The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self by Anil Ananthaswamy (Aug. 4, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-525-95419-4). A master of science journalism leads a tour of the latest neuroscience of schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, ecstatic epilepsy, Cotard’s syndrome, out-of-body experiences, and other disorders to reveal the awesome power of the human sense of self.
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe by Lisa Randall (Oct. 27, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-232847-2). In this exploration of our cosmic environment, renowned particle physicist Randall uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the connections between the furthest reaches of space and life here on Earth.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Brain Electric: The Dramatic High-Tech Race to Merge Minds and Machines by Malcolm Gay (Oct. 20, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-13984-1). With access to many of the field’s top scientists, Gay illuminates the extraordinary race to unlock the secrets of the mind, and introduces the brave, vulnerable patient-volunteers at the heart of this research.
The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable—and How We Can Get There by Vincent T. DeVita Jr. and Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn (Nov. 3, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-13560-7). DeVita argues that America’s cancer patients are being shortchanged by timid doctors, misguided national agendas, and compromised bureaucracies.
Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease by Jon Palfreman (Sept. 15, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-11617-0). The story of the world’s seven million Parkinson’s sufferers becomes personal when TV producer Palfreman is diagnosed with the illness. He charts the massive international effort to best the disease, recognized as one of the best windows into the brain itself.
Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time—and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything by George Musser (Nov. 3, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-374-29851-7) sets out to answer the question “What is space?” offering a provocative exploration of nonlocality and a celebration of the scientists who are trying to understand it.
The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton (Dec. 8, hardcover, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-175952-9). In this history spanning continents and centuries, historian Wootton offers a lively defense of science, arguing that the Scientific Revolution was actually five separate yet concurrent events that developed independently, but came to intersect and create a new world view.
The Society of Genes by Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher (Jan. 11, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-674-42502-6). The question of how “selfish” genes work together to construct an organism has remained a mystery. With a wealth of new research, Yanai and Lercher—pioneers in the field of systems biology—provide a vision of how genes cooperate and compete in the struggle for life.
Johns Hopkins Univ.
The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals by Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich (Aug. 27, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-4214-1718-9). Three distinguished conservationists tell the stories of the birds and mammals we have lost and those that are now on the road to extinction.
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf (Sept. 1, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-35066-2) reveals the forgotten life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), whose ideas continue to influence how we view ourselves and our relationship with the natural world today.
Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington (Oct. 6, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-316-27780-8). NBCC Award–winner Washington reveals the connection between germs and mental illness, and gives practical advice on how to protect yourself and your children from exposure to infectious threats that could sabotage your mental and physical health.
(dist. by PGW)
Of Bonobos and Men: A Journey into the Congo by Deni Béchard (Sept. 15, paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-57131-345-4). Béchard’s travel memoir, exploration of Congolese history, and meditation on the shared ancestry of primates and humans details the successful efforts to save bonobo apes from extinction.
Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA by Erin E. Murphy (Oct. 6, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-56858-469-0). This eye-opening exploration of the ethical and social issues surrounding the collection, storage, and use of DNA as forensic evidence shows why the system is broken, and what it means for our privacy and civil liberties.
(Dist. by Random)
Pristine Seas: Journeys to the Ocean’s Last Wild Places by Enric Sala (Sept. 22, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-4262-1611-4). National Geographic explorer-in-residence Sala takes readers on an unforgettable journey to 10 astounding locations to showcase the thriving marine ecosystems he is working to protect.
A Brief History of Creation: Science and the Search for the Origin of Life by Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves (Dec. 7, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-08355-2) narrates the stories of the scientists who have addressed life’s biggest mystery: how did it begin?
The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé (Nov. 16, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24440-3). The two scientists explore how microbes are transforming the way we see nature and ourselves, as well as the ways microbes could revolutionize agriculture and medicine.
Neuro-Philosophy and the Healthy Mind: Learning from the Unwell Brain by Georg Northoff (Nov. 16, paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-393-70938-4). Taking an integrative approach to understanding the self, consciousness, and what it means to be mentally healthy, this book brings insights from neuroscience to bear on philosophical questions.
Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind by George Makari (Sept. 14, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-393-05965-6). Makari, director of Cornell’s Institute for the History of Psychiatry, shows how writers, philosophers, doctors, and anatomists worked to construct notions of the mind as not an ethereal thing, but a natural one.
A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking: How One Texas Town Stood Up to Big Oil and Gas by Adam Briggle (Oct. 19, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-007-1). From the front lines of the fracking debate, this is a firsthand account of one activist’s successful efforts to fight Big Oil and what it meant for other communities grappling with this divisive technology.
In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis by Casey Schwartz (Aug. 25, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-307-91152-0).
A thorough, witty, and accessible journalistic exploration of the culture of modern psychiatry, focusing on the nascent reconciliation of neuroscience and psychoanalysis—historically opposed approaches to understanding how human beings think, feel, and behave.
NeuroLogic: The Brain’s Hidden Rationale Behind Our Irrational Behavior by Eliezer Sternberg (Jan. 12, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-307-90877-3). A young neuroscientist investigates the brain’s hidden logic behind our strangest behaviors, explaining how conscious and unconscious systems interact in order to create our experience and preserve our sense of self.
(dist. by Norton)
The Last Volcano: A Man, a Romance, and the Quest to Understand Nature’s Most Magnificant Fury by John Dvorak (Dec. 15, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-60598-921-1) looks into the early years of volcanology and its “father,” Thomas Jaggar, and reveals the journey of a man on a mission to understand the awesome power of volcanic eruptions.
Stories in the Stars: An Atlas of Constellations by Susanna Hislop, illus. by Hannah Waldron (Oct. 27, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-14-312813-7). Waldron’s illustrations and Hislop’s engrossing descriptions allow readers to travel the night sky and discover the universe of stories that lie in the stars.
Searching for the Oldest Stars: Ancient Relics from the Early Universe by Anna Frebel (Nov. 3, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-16506-6). Frebel, credited with discovering several of the oldest and most primitive stars using the world’s largest telescopes, takes readers into the far-flung depths of space and time to provide a gripping firsthand account of the cutting-edge science of stellar archeology.
The Worst of Times: How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions by Paul B. Wignall (Sept. 29, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-691-14209-8) delves into the mystery behind wave after wave of cataclysmic extinctions 260 million years ago, and the role the primeval supercontinent Pangea may have played in these global catastrophes.
Kepler and the Universe: How One Man Revolutionized Astronomy by David K. Love (Nov. 10, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-63388-106-8). A lively and informative biography of an important though often overlooked astronomer of the Renaissance, clearly explaining for the lay reader the importance of his discoveries to our contemporary understanding of the solar system.
Numbers: Their Tales, Types, and Treasures by Alfred S. Posamentier and Bernd Thaller (Aug. 11, paper, $19, ISBN 978-1-63388-030-6). Two veteran mathematicians offer an entertaining primer on the properties, history, and many uses of numbers.
Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear by Margee Kerr (Sept. 29, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-61039-482-6). The in-house sociologist at ScareHouse, a nationally renowned haunted house in Pittsburgh, Penn., explores the experience of fear—what causes it, and why we seek it out.
The Hunt for Vulcan: And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson (Nov. 3, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-8129-9898-6). The head of MIT’s Science Writing Program tells the captivating, unusual, and nearly forgotten story behind Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which completely changed the course of science and proved that the “missing” planet Vulcan never existed.
Simon & Schuster
The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality by Rachel Hills (Aug. 4, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-4516-8578-7). Equal parts social commentary, pop culture, and powerful personal anecdotes from people across the English-speaking world, this work by journalist Hills exposes the invisible norms and unspoken assumptions that shape the way we think about sex today.
Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant with Tom Fields-Meyer (Aug. 4, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-4767-7623-1). An internationally renowned autism expert suggests a major shift in understanding autism: instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, he sees them as part of a range of strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming.
The Laws of Medicine by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Oct. 13, hardcover, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-8484-7). A Pulitzer Prize–winning author and one of the world’s premiere cancer researchers reveals three key principles that govern medicine—and how understanding these principles can empower us all.
The Heart Healers: The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives by James Forrester (Sept. 29, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05839-3). A world-renowned cardiac surgeon tells about the mavericks and rebels who defied the accumulated medical wisdom of the day to begin conquering heart disease.
Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future by Brian Clegg (Dec. 8, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05785-3) brings to life a whole host of science fiction topics as Clegg details the real-life technology derived from science fiction as well as its impact on the world.
The End of Memory: A Natural History of Aging and Alzheimer’s by Jay Ingram (Sept. 29, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-07648-9). An illuminating biography of “the Plague of the 21st Century,” which traces scientists’ efforts to understand and, they hope, prevent it.
Population Wars: A New Perspective on Competition and Coexistence by Greg Graffin (Sept. 15, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1-250-01762-8). Graffin, a Cornell lecturer and punk rocker, argues that the popular conception of evolution as “survival of the fittest” is wrong—a mistake has allowed humans to justify wars even when other, less violent solutions may be available.
Univ. of Chicago
Risky Medicine: Our Quest to Cure Fear and Uncertainty by Robert Aronowitz (Sept. 22, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-226-04971-7). Why does contemporary medicine worry more about risk than disease? This book by sociologist Aronowitz explores that question and explains why we overmedicate, overtreat, and overspend.
Dirt: A Love Story, edited by Barbara Richardson (Sept. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-61168-766-8). Community farms, mud spas, mineral paints, nematodes: the world is waking up to the beauty and mystery of dirt. This anthology celebrates the Earth’s generous crust, bringing together essays by award-winning scientists, authors, artists, and dirt lovers to tell dirt’s exuberant tales.
The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It... Every Time by Maria Konnikova (Jan. 12, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-525-42741-4). From multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes to smalltime frauds, Konnikova shares fascinating stories to demonstrate what all cons share, drawing on scientific, dramatic, and psychological perspectives.
Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity by Rebecca Lemov (Nov. 24, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-20952-5). An acclaimed science historian uncovers the fascinating story of a Harvard psychologist who, just a few years before the dawn of the digital age, assembled a vast, now lost sociological database that captured the dreams, stories, and innermost thoughts of a varied range of the world’s peoples.
The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age by David S. Abraham (Oct. 27, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-300-19679-5). A natural resource strategist analyzes the rare metal trade, illustrating how growing demand for these ingredients— increasingly at the heart of electronic, military, and renewable-energy technologies—contributes to economic, environmental, and geopolitical instability.
Intelligence in the Flesh: Why Your Mind Needs Your Body Much More Than It Thinks by Guy Claxton (Sept. 29, hardcover, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-300-20882-5) provocatively draws on the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology to upend the prevailing view of consciousness and demonstrate how our bodies—long dismissed as mere conveyances—actually constitute the core of our intelligent life.
When the Sun Bursts: The Enigma of Schizophrenia by Christopher Bollas (Nov. 24, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-300-21473-4). A leading psychoanalyst shares his experiences working with schizophrenic patients to show how effective talk therapy can be as a treatment.