The Top 26 Science Books of 2022
Magazine / The Top 26 Science Books of 2022

The Top 26 Science Books of 2022

Science
The Top 26 Science Books of 2022

You may have heard about the recent breakthrough in nuclear fusion, a history-making moment that points toward a future of unlimited, clean energy. It’s a reminder of how powerful science is, and how it shapes our lives. And if you’re feeling inspired to explore other new scientific advances, we at the Next Big Idea Club can help.

We looked at the data to determine which science books were loved most by our tens of thousands of app users this year. (Our curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Adam Grant only pick each season’s two official selections.) So to read up on the remarkable present and exciting future of science, check out the 26 titles below.

Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe  By Brian Thomas Swimme

26. Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe

By Brian Thomas Swimme

From the host and cocreator of PBS’s Journey of the Universe, a fresh look at how the rich collision between science and spirituality has influenced contemporary consciousness. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Brian Thomas Swimme, in the Next Big Idea App

Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting The Story of Parenthood By Chelsea Conaboy

25. Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood

By Chelsea Conaboy

An acclaimed health and science journalist explodes the concept of “maternal instinct” and tells a new story about what it means to become a parent. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Chelsea Conaboy, in the Next Big Idea App

Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why it Matters By Marlene Zuk

24. Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters

By Marlene Zuk

Filled with delightful anecdotes and fresh insights, Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test helps us see both other animals and ourselves more clearly, demonstrating that animal behavior can be remarkably similar to human behavior, and wonderfully complicated in its own right. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Marlene Zuk, in the Next Big Idea App

How To Speak Whale: A Voyage into the Future of Animal Communication By Tom Mustill

23. How to Speak Whale: A Voyage into the Future of Animal Communication

By Tom Mustill

What if animals and humans could speak to one another? A nature documentarian—who went viral when a thirty-ton humpback whale breached onto his kayak—asks this question in his thrilling investigation into whale science and animal communication. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Tom Mustill, in the Next Big Idea App

The Exquisite Machine: The New Science of the Heart By Sian E. Harding

22. The Exquisite Machine: The New Science of the Heart

By Sian E. Harding

A world leader in cardiac research explores the relation between the emotions and heart function, reporting that the heart not only responds to our emotions, but creates them as well. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Sian E. Harding, in the Next Big Idea App

Taxi from Another Planet: Conversations with Drivers about Life in the Universe By Charles Cockell

21. Taxi from Another Planet: Conversations with Drivers About Life in the Universe

By Charles S. Cockell

Insightful, good-humored essays on the possibilities of alien life and the uses of space exploration, based on an astrobiologist’s everyday conversations with his fellow humans―taxi drivers, to be precise. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Charles S. Cockell, in the Next Big Idea App

This is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You By Susan Rogers & Ogi Ogas

20. This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You

By Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas

A sound engineer turned cognitive neuroscientist guides readers to recognize their musical personality, and offers language to describe one’s own unique taste. This is a journey into the science and soul of music that reveals the secrets of why your favorite songs move you. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Susan Rogers, in the Next Big Idea App

A Voice in the Wilderness: A Pioneering Biologist Explains How Evolution Can Help Us Solve Our Biggest Problems By Joseph L. Graves Jr.

19. A Voice in the Wilderness: A Pioneering Biologist Explains How Evolution Can Help Us Solve Our Biggest Problems

By Joseph L. Graves Jr.

A pioneering Black biologist, leftist, and Christian uses his personal story—his journey from a child of Jim Crow to a major researcher and leader of his peers—to rewrite his field. A Voice in the Wilderness is a powerful work of scientific anti-racism and a moving account of a trailblazing life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Joseph L. Graves Jr., in the Next Big Idea App

Methuselah’s Zoo: What Nature Can Teach Us about Living Longer, Healthier Lives By Steven Austad

18. Methuselah’s Zoo: What Nature Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Healthier Lives

By Steven N. Austad

An acclaimed biologist (and former Hollywood lion trainer) shares stories of long-lived animal species—from thousand-year-old tubeworms to 400-year-old sharks—and what they might teach us about human health and longevity. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Steven N. Austad, in the Next Big Idea App

Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them By Antonio Padilla

17. Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them: A Cosmic Quest from Zero to Infinity

By Antonio Padilla

A leading theoretical physicist and YouTube star takes the reader on an irreverent cosmic tour of nine of the most extraordinary numbers in physics, offering a startling picture of how the universe works. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Antonio Padilla, in the Next Big Idea App

If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity By Justin Gregg

16. If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity

By Justin Gregg

A scientist highlights the features seemingly unique to humans, like our use of language, our rationality, our moral systems, and our so-called sophisticated consciousness. What emerges is both demystifying and remarkable, and will change how you look at animals, humans, and the meaning of life itself. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Justin Gregg, in the Next Big Idea App

Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death by Nick Lane

15. Transformer: The Deep Chemistry of Life and Death

By Nick Lane

From the renowned biochemist and author of The Vital Question comes an illuminating inquiry into the Krebs cycle and the origins of life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Nick Lane, in the Next Big Idea App

Wonder: Childhood and the Lifelong Love of Science By Frank Keil

14. Wonder: Childhood and the Lifelong Love of Science

By Frank Keil

An acclaimed Yale psychologist describes the cognitive dispositions that set children on their paths of discovery and explains how we can all become lifelong wonderers. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Frank Keil, in the Next Big Idea App

The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World by Oliver Milman

13. The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World

By Oliver Milman

Three out of every four of our planet’s known animal species are insects. In The Insect Crisis, an acclaimed journalist dives into the evidence that suggests this kaleidoscopic group of creatures is suffering a great existential crisis—an emergency with profound consequences for us all. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Oliver Milman, in the Next Big Idea App

Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey By Florence Williams

12. Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey

By Florence Williams

A remarkable merging of science and self-discovery that will change the way we think about loneliness, health, and what it means to fall in and out of love. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Florence Williams, in the Next Big Idea App

Sweat: A History of Exercise By Bill Hayes

11. Sweat: A History of Exercise

By Bill Hayes

A New York Times contributor runs, jogs, swims, spins, walks, bikes, boxes, lifts, sweats, and downward-dogs his way through the origins of different forms of exercise, chronicling how they have evolved over time, dissecting the dynamics of human movement. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Bill Hayes, in the Next Big Idea App

Moonshot: Inside Pfizer's Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible by Albert Bourla

10. Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible

By Albert Bourla

A riveting, fast-paced, inside look at one of the most incredible private sector achievements in history, Moonshot recounts the intensive nine months in 2020 when the scientists at Pfizer created, tested, and manufactured a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine that previously would have taken years to develop. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Albert Bourla, in the Next Big Idea App

Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence by James Bridle

9. Ways of Being: Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence

By James Bridle

A brilliant, searching exploration of different kinds of intelligence―plant, animal, human, artificial―and how they transform our understanding of humans’ place in the cosmos. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author James Bridle, in the Next Big Idea App

The Joy of Science

8. The Joy of Science

By Jim Al-Khalili

A quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host reveals how eight lessons from the heart of science can help you get the most out of life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jim Al-Khalili, in the Next Big Idea App

Dark and Magical Places: The Neuroscience of Navigation By Christopher Kemp

7. Dark and Magical Places: The Neuroscience of Navigation

By Christopher Kemp

Navigation is one of the most ancient neural abilities we have―older than language. In Dark and Magical Places, a molecular biologist embarks on a journey to discover the remarkable extent of what our minds can do. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Christopher Kemp, in the Next Big Idea App

A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain By Sara Manning Peskin

6. A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain

By Sara Manning Peskin

Our brains are the most complex machines known to humankind, but they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. Here are gripping accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Sara Manning Peskin, in the Next Big Idea App

Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions By Sabine Hossenfelder

5. Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions

By Sabine Hossenfelder

Does the past still exist? Do particles think? Was the universe made for us? A contrarian scientist reveals how close physicists are to answering these questions, where the current limits are, and what questions might well remain unanswerable forever. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Sabine Hossenfelder, in the Next Big Idea App

Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking By Leonard Mlodinow

4. Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

By Leonard Mlodinow

We’ve all been told that thinking rationally is the key to success. But at the cutting edge of science, researchers are discovering that feeling is every bit as important as thinking. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Leonard Mlodinow, in the Next Big Idea App

The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss By Mary-Frances O'Connor

3. The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss

By Mary-Frances O’Connor

A renowned grief expert and neuroscientist shares surprising discoveries about what happens in our brain when we grieve, providing a new paradigm for understanding love, loss, and learning. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Mary-Frances O’Connor, in the Next Big Idea App

The Anatomy of Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming the Body's Fear Response By Ellen Vora

2. The Anatomy of Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming the Body’s Fear Response

By Ellen Vora

From an acclaimed psychiatrist comes a groundbreaking understanding of how anxiety manifests in the body and mind—and what we can do to overcome it. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Ellen Vora, in the Next Big Idea App

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

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

By Philip Ball

A popular science writer 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? Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Philip Ball, in the Next Big Idea App

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