Toronto Public Library Homepage

We Recommend

Popular Science

Interesting and accessible, these science books will appeal to all readers who are curious about the world.

Book cover
Khan, Amina.
A fascinating look at how scientists and engineers use biological processes found in nature to drive the development of new technologies. For example, understanding how a cuttlefish changes the colours and patterns on its skin to avoid detection and hypnotize prey is key to improving camouflage materials for military and other applications. Biologically inspired design brings together scientists from diverse backgrounds "to explore how adapting nature's innovations to improve human technology will allow us to do more things not bigger but better".
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Baron, David, 1964- author.
Baron weaves the stories of three scientists into this look at a total solar eclipse that tracked across the western states in 1878. James Craig Watson was an astronomer who wanted to prove the existence of a new planet between Mercury and the sun, Vassar professor Maria Mitchell led an all-female expedition to demonstrate that women could play a role in the sciences, and the young Thomas Edison tested an instrument he hoped would establish his scientific reputation. An entertaining look at an event that helped establish America as a centre of scientific research and brought people together in appreciation of nature's wonder.
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Cheng, Eugenia, author.
Cheng has made it her mission to convince the intimidated that math is practical and even fun. This new book from the author of How to Bake π (2015) is an accessible introduction to infinity as a mathematical concept. Cheng uses clear, concrete examples - from baking to lotteries to socks - to illustrate her points.
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
MacNeal, David, 1985- author.
MacNeal has a childlike enthusiasm for his subject as he explores the world of insects and how they impact humans. Highlights include chapters about our efforts to eradicate insect "pests", bee colony collapse and insects as food. We may like to think that we're in charge, but as the author says, "insects are the microscopic lever-pullers calling the shots, shaping our ecological world for over 400 million years".
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Wohlleben, Peter, 1964- author.
The author, a forester, cites scientific research to support his beliefs, based on decades of observation, that trees can communicate with each other and that undisturbed forests are communities which promote tree sustenance and growth. From the forward by Tim Flannery: "Opening this book, you are about to enter a wonderland. Enjoy it."
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Dunn, Rob R, author.
A thoughtful look at the achievements and risks of commercial agriculture. While we now produce enough food to support the world's population, the diversity of crops has been shrinking as agriculture has become more globalized. And as the number of crops decreases, our food supply becomes more vulnerable to disease. Dunn reminds us of past famines caused when crops such as bananas and potatoes were destroyed by pathogens or pests. But he also describes efforts to preserve the diversity and stability of our food supply and so make the world a safer place for all.
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Gibala, Martin, author.
The author explains the science behind popular high intensity interval training (HIIT). It turns out interval training has been around for decades, although we are only recently learning how it works and why it is effective. Learn how to incorporate "exercise snacking" - short bursts of activity - into your daily routine. Includes sample workouts and microworkouts. Gibala heads the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University.
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Shtulman, Andrew.
Cognitive scientist Shtulman argues that the intuitive explanations we develop as children about how the world works, which are often wrong, can contribute to broader social issues such as science denial. From the preface: "In this book I hope to convince you of two main ideas. The first is that we...get the world wrong...The second is that, to get the world right, we need to do more than just change our beliefs...we must dismantle them and rebuild them from their foundations".
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Czerski, Helen, 1978- author.
Physicist Czerski's enthusiasm for her subject makes this popular science title stand out in a crowded field. She says learning basic principles of physics helps satisfy our curiosity about natural phenomena and gives us tools to understand the world around us. Accessible, entertaining explanations of concepts such as gravity, pressure and time using everyday life examples.
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Balcombe, Jonathan P.
According to the author, thanks to recent scientific advances "we can now better understand what the world looks like to fish, how they perceive, feel, and experience the world". He describes research which shows that fish experience emotions, are able to think, plan and play, and can work cooperatively in social groups. An entertaining and surprising look at remarkable creatures that, because their world is hidden to us, have mostly escaped our attention.
Also available in these formats:
Book cover
Owen, David, 1955- author.
The author travelled the Colorado River from its source in the Rockies to a dry riverbed in the Mexican desert, miles from the original delta. Dams and irrigation canals have reduced this once mighty river to a trickle as its waters have been diverted for use by cities, businesses and farms. Raises important issues about water rights and the management of vital resources in a time of environmental and climate change.
Also available in these formats: