Ever wanted to know more about the universe, epidemiology, or geometry but couldn't wade through the jargon? Check out these popular science books that cover fascinating topics written for people without a Ph.D in the field!

Compiled by:
Matt N.
The Arbornaut: a Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us

Margaret Lowman
Adult Nonfiction - 921 Lowman Low

From climbing solo hundreds of feet into the air in Australia’s rainforests to measuring tree growth in the northeastern United States, from searching the redwoods of the Pacific coast for new life to studying leaf eaters in Scotland’s Highlands, from conducting a BioBlitz in Malaysia to conservation planning in India and collaborating with priests to save Ethiopia’s last forests, Lowman launches us into the life and work of a field scientist, ecologist, and conservationist. 

Atlas of the Invisible: Maps & Graphics That Will Change How You See the World

James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti
Adult Nonfiction - 304.2 Che

With their joyfully inquisitive approach, Cheshire and Uberti explore happiness levels around the globe, trace the undersea cables and cell towers that connect us, examine hidden scars of geopolitics, and illustrate how a warming planet affects everything from hurricanes to the hajj.

The Book of Minds: How to Understand Ourselves and Other Beings, from Animals to AI to Aliens

Philip Ball
Adult Nonfiction

Popular science writer Philip Ball explores a range of sciences to map our answers to a huge, philosophically rich question: How do we even begin to think about minds that are not human?

The Desperate Hours: One Hospital's Fight to Save a City on the Pandemic's Front Lines

Marie Brenner
Adult Nonfiction

In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 arrived in New York City. Before long, America’s largest metropolis was at war against a virus that mercilessly swept through its five boroughs. It became apparent that if Covid wasn’t somehow halted, the death count in New York alone would be in the hundreds of thousands. And if New York’s hospitals failed, what chance did the rest of the country have?

The Disordered Cosmos: a Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Adult Nonfiction - 523.01 Pre

In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter—along with a perspective informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.

Endless Forms: The Secret World of Wasps

Seirian Sumner
Adult Nonfiction

A leading behavioral ecologist transforms our understanding of wasps, exploring these much-maligned insects’ secret world, their incredible diversity and complex social lives, and revealing how they hold our fragile ecosystem in balance.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

Mary Roach
Adult Nonfiction - 591.5 Roa

Join "America’s funniest science writer," Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

The Joy of Sweat

Sarah Everts
Adult Nonfiction - 612.793 Eve

Sweating may be one of our weirdest biological functions, but it’s also one of our most vital and least understood. In The Joy of Sweat, Sarah Everts delves into its role in the body—and in human history.

A Portrait of the Scientist As a Young Woman

Lindy Elkins-tanton
Adult Nonfiction

From one of the world’s leading planetary scientists, a luminous memoir of exploration on Earth, in space, and within oneself—equal parts ode to the beauty of science, meditation on loss, and roadmap for personal resilience.

The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us

Steve Brusatte
Adult Nonfiction

A sweeping and revelatory history of mammals, illuminating the lost story of the extraordinary family tree that led to us.

The Science of Can and Can't: a Physicist's Journey Through the Land of Counterfactuals

Chiara Marletto
Adult Nonfiction 501 Mar

A luminous guide to how the radical new science of counterfactuals can reveal that the scope of the universe is greater, and more beautiful, than we ever imagined.

Shape: the Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else

Jordan Ellenberg
Adult Nonfiction - 516 Ell

Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face. Geometry asks: Where are things? Which things are near each other? How can you get from one thing to another thing?

Thriving: the Breakthrough Movement to Regenerate Nature, Society, and the Economy

Wayne Visser
Adult Nonfiction - 338.927 Vis

An innovation agenda for turning our biggest global societal challenges into opportunities to thrive. The future will be better than you think. Thriving shows how innovation can regenerate nature, society, and the economy by taking us from degradation to restoration of ecosystems, from depletion to renewal of resources, from disparity to responsibility in communities, from disease to revitalization of health, from disconnection to rewiring through technology, and from disruption to resilience of infrastructure and institutions.

Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between

Joseph Osmundson
Adult Nonfiction - 579.2 Osm

Invisible in the food we eat, the people we kiss, and inside our own bodies, viruses flourish—with the power to shape not only our health, but our social, political, and economic systems. Drawing on his expertise in microbiology, Joseph Osmundson brings readers under the microscope to understand the structure and mechanics of viruses and to examine how viruses like HIV and COVID-19 have redefined daily life.