From Nature magazine, five books to read if you’re tired of trash


Our pick of the best science and science-fiction books to read now (even if it’s winter — I see you, Southern Hemisphere):

  • A history of the metaphors behind brain research faces a dark past and disquieting future in biologist and historian Matthew Cobb’s The Idea of the Brain.
  • After a century of digging, archaeologists are still tantalized by the secrets of the 7,000-year-old city of Megiddo. Explore the archaeology of the place that gave rise to the word ‘Armageddon’ with Eric Cline in Digging Up Armageddon.
  • From tobacco to food and fuels, industries use denial, deceit and doubt to corrupt. Epidemiologist and former safety regulator David Michaels explores the weaponization of uncertainty in his excoriating account of the corporate denial industry, The Triumph of Doubt.
  • Astrophysicist Mario Livio’s Galileo and the Science Deniers places the original Renaissance man and his discoveries in modern scientific and social contexts. In particular, he argues, the charges of heresy that Galileo faced for his scientific claims in the seventeenth century have their counterparts in science deniers’ condemnations today.
  • Historian Frank Snowden’s sweeping history Epidemics and Society charts the impact of infectious diseases from the Black Death to the present. Snowden’s broader thesis is that infectious diseases have shaped social evolution no less powerfully than have wars, revolutions and economic crises.

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