Recommended Reading

I read a lot of books.

There are many intelligent people out there with interesting things to say, and luckily many of them take the time to write down their research, thoughts and conclusions in the form of books.

Below are some of my favorite reads, which I think are worth reading for anyone interested in the subject of biology. I’ve included a few notes about each book to help you choose the ones that would most interest you.


Full disclosure: I have an affiliate account with Amazon, and when you click on any of the links below and purchase a book, I get a small compensation for it. I accept these funds to help support this website, which is not cheap to run. Please be assured that my primary intent here is to share books that I have read and that I believe others will enjoy and benefit from reading as well. The choice to list a book on this page is based solely on my belief that the book is a great read and that I believe other readers will enjoy it as much as I did.

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky

This classic book explains the impact stress has on the various systems in the body. In addition to citing human and rat studies, the author has studied baboons in the wild, bleeding them for stress hormones and to see how the levels relate to the social status in the group.

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways< by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig

This “big picture” book ties many components of dieting together. It gives a sensible safe diet along with clear explanations of why food are or are not on it.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

This book reads like candy. Susannah simplifies the worlds of psychiatry and immunology as she describes going insane due to brain inflammation.

Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

This book explains the biological reasons for the obesity epidemic in clear simple language.

The Violinists Thumb by Sam Kean

Sam Kean is one my favorite Science Writers because of readability. In this book he demystifies genetics using interesting stories from history.

Innovators by Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson makes the history of electronics come alive in this easy to read book. He covers the roles that innovation and collaboration play in man’s inventions.

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

This book makes learning chemistry and its history a delight. Contains story after interesting story about the elements.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

Annie Leonard simply explains how the manufacture of products is polluting the planet. She shows how this is not sustainable and dangerous.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A good place to start learning about science or just to have a master storyteller tell you stories. It covers a bit of everything starting with the Big Bang. He’s great.

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The Death of Cancer by Vincent Devita

This surprisingly uplifting book was written by a man that was there at the beginning of the first successful treatments. He is breathtakingly honest about all the mistakes that were made. He lays out the latest strategy and it looks like soon we will have many better cancer outcomes.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Elizabeth Kolbert has done the planet a huge favor by explaining how fossil fuels are accelerating the mass extinction of our planet’s species. This book made me contact my legislators to urge the stopping of fossil fuel subsidies.

Collapse by Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond covers why civilizations fail because they abuse their environments. He is a big picture guy that gets across the warning that we have to change our wasteful ways.

The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson

In this book, E.O. puts human existence in perspective by tackling religion and our place in nature. This book is valuable because of its addressing of the eternal questions.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

This book changed the way we look at plants and animals forever. He explains why the European nations advanced relative to the rest of the world.

The Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Cancer is made fascinating and more understandable by this well-written book giving its history.

The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson

E.O. is a giant among scientists. In this book he covers the evolutionary reasons for selfishness and altruism.

Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This is the best “big picture” book about humanity that I know of. Yuval’s insights explain why we humans are where we are in dominating the planet.