12 Science Books To Read This Summer And Feed Your Brain

Your 2023 summer science reading list has landed.


Rachael Funnell


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Digital Content Producer

science reading books

Looking for science books? This list should keep you busy.

Image credit: GoodStudio /

If you’re after some great new science books to while away the summer days, then look no further. At IFLScience, we’re always on the lookout for fascinating new releases and have been interviewing the authors of some of the most enlightening, informative, and entertaining new popular science books in our monthly free e-magazine, CURIOUS.

You can find excerpts and interviews from authors including Professors Brian Cox and Jeffrey Forshaw, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, neuroscientist Moshe Bar, IFLScience alumnus Kristy Hamilton, and many more in our past issues. However, if you’re after a science reading list that’s conveniently all in one place, we've got you.


Breathe: Tackling The Climate Emergency
 by London Mayor Sadiq Khan

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s new book provides an eye-opening insight into what it’s like trying to fight for the planet from inside the decision-makers, with accounts of his first mayoral visit that forced the media to recognize the climate crisis had arrived in the UK’s capital.

“My book’s core message is one of hope for the future,” Khan told IFLScience. “The climate crisis is not some ‘tomorrow’, far away issue that we can afford to be apathetic about. It’s right here on our doorstep and its impact is being felt today.”

 Check out our interview with Sadiq Khan and read an excerpt here: London Is Choking


Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary Hacks
by Professor of law and philosophy Scott Shapiro

Named for one of the world’s most famous elite cyber espionage groups that favors phishing messages and spoof websites, Shapiro’s new book delves into five great hacks – the who, what, why, and dramatic fallouts in this smart tale of technology and, ultimately, humans. From the day a grad student crashed the Internet, to the hack of Paris Hilton’s cell phone in 2005, it’s a wild ride. Shapiro hopes the book will reframe the way we view cybercrime and the people who commit it.

“Popular media usually portrays hackers as twisted young geniuses who live in their parent's basements, wear hoodies, and subsist entirely on energy drinks,” he told IFLScience. “This is a caricature. Hacking is not a dark art, and hackers are not 400-pound [180-kilogram] wizards or idiot savants. They are regular people who have names, faces, and relationships.”


 Check out our interview with Scott Shapiro and read an excerpt here: Crashing The Internet

Pathogenesis: How Germs Made History
by Dr Jonathan Kennedy

The COVID-19 pandemic showed how microscopic organisms can turn our world upside-down. It fundamentally changed the way humans lived, begging the question: where would we be without germs? In his latest release, Pathogenesis, Dr Jonathan Kennedy takes us through how germs have shaped humanity since the dawn of our evolution.


“In terms of scope, Pathogenesis is similar to Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens but the perspective is closer to Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes,” Kennedy told IFLScience. “It brings together research from a broad range of disciplines – genetics, classics, and economics; archaeology, biology, and sociology – to transform the way the reader thinks about the past, the present, and the future.

“If that sounds a bit heavy, then don’t worry," he added. "I have really tried to make the book fun and accessible. While I do cite plenty of academic studies, I also refer to Monty Python, George R. R. Martin, Charles Dickens, and Gustav Klimt.”

Check out our interview with Dr Jonathan Kennedy and read an excerpt here: Where would we be without germs?


The Spirit Of Mathematics: Algebra And All That
by mathematician David Acheson

In his latest book The Spirit of Mathematics, mathematician and best-selling author David Acheson uses quirky and everyday examples, from snooker to chocolate, to demonstrate mathematical concepts that may have been mind-boggling at school but just needed someone to reveal math’s secret: it’s not just important, it’s fun.  

“I wanted to see if it is possible to capture some of the deepest ideas and pleasures of mathematics using only simple materials, by which I mean the most elementary parts of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry that we all meet at school,” Acheson told IFLScience. “One very important idea, for instance, is that it is possible for infinitely many numbers to have a finite sum, and I establish this in the book with a simple but highly unusual ‘proof by chocolate’.

“I hope [readers] will take away the idea that first-class, serious mathematics of real importance can nevertheless be fun.”


Check out our interview with David Acheson and read an excerpt here: The 1089 Trick

Black Holes: The Key To Understanding The Universe
by Professors Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

 In 2022, we saw the first-ever image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. In Black Holes: The Key To Understanding The Universe, professors Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw briefly touch on what one of those actually is.


“The centre of a black hole is not a point in space,” they explained to IFLScience. “Black holes don’t have a centre in the sense that the Earth has a centre. That’s because they distort space so much. Mathematically speaking, it’s even possible to have an entire other infinitely big second universe hidden inside the event horizon of a black hole.”

It’s time to get to know what happens when stuff falls into a black hole.

Check out our interview with Professors Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw and read an excerpt here: A Brief History Of Black Holes


Mindwandering: How It Can Improve Your Mood And Boost Your Creativity
by neuroscientist Moshe Bar

The name of this e-magazine is a tribute to the way that our creativity and curiosity can inspire great things, but what is actually happening when we allow our minds to explore ideas? In his book, Mindwandering, neuroscientist Moshe Bar explains how letting your mind wander could be the key to checking off a few goals.

“One thing I came to realize is how much guilt society has instilled in us for wandering,” Bar told IFLScience. “Sure, we want to be productive achievers, but mindwandering is there for a reason. Appreciating and making time for regular wandering is key for creative thinking, proper planning, and for a better mood.”

Check out our interview with Moshe Bar and read an excerpt here: What Connects Kink And Creativity?


Subscribe to our newsletter and get every issue of CURIOUS delivered to your inbox free each month. 

What If? 2
by cartoonist Randall Munroe

In his second book of curious questions, What If? 2, engineer and XKCD cartoonist Randall Munroe explores the kind of odd thoughts that are prone to plague us in the shower, such as: How many pigeons would it require to lift the average person and a launch chair to the height of Australia’s Q1 skyscraper? And how many calories does Mario burn in a day?

“A lot of my favorite questions come from little kids; they often seem to ask much better questions than adults,” Munroe told IFLScience. “I think adults tend to try to make their questions sound smart and scientifically interesting, whereas little kids just ask simple, straightforward questions they want to know the answer to. 


“Maybe my favorite came from a five-year-old named Amelia, who asked 'what if the solar system was filled with soup out to Jupiter?' Answering the question involves some fun calculations and a journey into black hole physics. (Spoiler: It doesn’t end well for Earth!)”

Check out our interview with Randall Munroe and read an excerpt here: How Many Pigeons Would It Take To Lift The Average Person?

The Big Bang Of Numbers
by mathematician Manil Suri


In his new mathematical origin story, Manil Suri demonstrates the ideas needed to design our world, starting with numbers and continuing through geometry, algebra, and beyond. Touching on multidimensional crochet and the Mona Lisa’s asymmetrical smile, Suri wields inventive storytelling to outline complex concepts like infinity and relativity.

“From the ellipses that explain planetary motion to the self-similar boundaries called fractals that shape clouds and cauliflowers, maths gives us ways to describe natural phenomena,” Suri said to IFLScience. “It allows us to characterize fundamental attributes like order, symmetry, and randomness that play crucial roles in shaping reality. Every pattern you see, whether in microscopic lifeforms or giant galaxies, is attributable to maths; it is the true intelligence behind the universe.”

Check out our interview with Manil Suri and read an excerpt here: How Do You Define A Number?


The Climate Book
by activist Greta Thunberg

In The Climate Book, activist Greta Thunberg curated over 100 experts to share their wisdom on securing a better future for our planet. The message is clear: There is hope, but we must listen to the science before it’s too late.

“Solving the climate crisis is not backing off from good modern lives,” said foreword writer Professor Johan Rockström to IFLScience. It is taking us towards a new level of higher quality life, which, most importantly, is proving to be the only way of enabling dignified lives for all people in the world.

Check out our interview with Professor Johan Rockström and read an excerpt here: Tipping Points And Feedback Loops


Nature’s Wild Ideas
by science journalist Kristy Hamilton

In creating the kind of book she wanted to read, science journalist Kristy Hamilton (and ex-editor for IFLScience) pieced together a wild ride for a read that explores the discoveries and creations inspired by nature. The stories dig into the sweat of scientific achievement, demonstrating how some of humanity’s greatest epiphanies are the culmination of teamwork.

“I hope people take away just how vital the natural world is to our creativity and innovation, especially in science and medicine,” Hamilton told IFLScience. “We owe a great deal to Earth’s plants and animals, and preserving diversity benefits all creatures on this planet – us included.”


Check out our interview with Kristy Hamilton and read an excerpt here: Getting Coral “Going” In Order To Grow Bricks

Low Carbon Birding
essay series edited by Javier Caletrío

Appreciating nature can sometimes harm it, something the birding community have become increasingly conscious of in recent years as they wonder if there’s a better way that doesn’t rely on traveling far and wide, burning fossil fuels in the process. In this book, a series of essays offer greener solutions for enjoying birds.


“Low-carbon birding is not only possible, but it is also enjoyable,” said editor Javier Caletrío to IFLScience. “You don’t have to visit a hundred countries and see thousands of bird species to be a good bird watcher. Low-carbon birding is not the end of travel. It’s about doing it differently.”

Check out our interview with Javier Caletrío and read an excerpt here: How Can We Make Birding Better For The Planet?

The Rise And Reign Of The Mammals: A New History, From The Shadow Of The Dinosaurs To Us
by Dr Steve Brusatte


We talk a lot about the age of the dinosaurs, but have you ever wondered what came next? In this book, palaeontologist Dr Steve Brusatte dives into the rise of mammals and the natural disasters that stood in their way (think wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, and enough dust to block out the sun).

“I want people to revel in our evolutionary story,” Brusatte said to IFLScience. “We are mammals. This is the tale of our deepest ancestors and our closest cousins, and how they survived and adapted and endured everything that nature could throw at them, from megavolcanoes to asteroid impacts, temperature spikes, and ice ages.”

Check out our interview with Dr Steve Brusatte and read an excerpt here: Who Discovered The First Mammal Fossil?


So, get reading.

CURIOUS magazine is a digital magazine from IFLScience featuring interviews, experts, deep dives, fun facts, news, book excerpts, and much more. Issue 12 is out now.


  • tag
  • environment,

  • books,

  • science