6 of the most thought-provoking popular science books

From the science of why we dream to how science can actually make you more intelligent, here is a selection of some of our favourite popular science books.

28/02/2019
2 minutes to read

From finding the formula for success to uncovering the secrets behind your dreams, popular science books this year are already proving truly groundbreaking.

Even for those of us who never paid attention to biology in school, these books will finally open the doors to understanding the wonders of the universe – and learning everything from where our emotions come from, to how science might actually save the world from the dangers of climate change.

Here are some of the most exciting pop science books that you’ll need on your bookshelf this year.


The Formula

by Albert-László Barabási

Book cover for 9781509843534

Did you always think success was just down to luck? It turns out, there’s a lot more science to it than that. In The Formula, Barabasi has discovered the indisputable scientific laws that actually dictate who gets ahead and why.

Why We Dream

by Alice Robb

Book cover for 9781509836246

We can all be guilty of reading too much into our dreams – but in this book, Alice Robb finally reveals what they actually mean, how we can control them, and the incredible impact they can have on the rest of our waking lives.

She Has Her Mother's Laugh

by Carl Zimmer

Book cover for 9781509818532

The rise of websites like 23andMe shows that people are getting more interested than ever in who they are, where they come from, and what they inherited from their ancestors. Carl Zimmer’s book shines a brand new light on this question, examining not only the genes that we pass through the generations, but everything else as well – from microbes to technologies.

The Genius Within

by David Adam

Book cover for 9781509804993

What if you have more intelligence than you realize? Dr David Adam has been testing the exciting boundaries of neuroscience, and he’s here to show you how science can actually make your brain sharper, more focused, and even more intelligent.

How Emotions Are Made

by Lisa Feldman Barrett

Book cover for 9781509837526

Our understanding of emotion hasn’t changed since Plato: we believe that emotions are hardwired into our brains, and we’re just taken along for the ride. But what if this view is wrong? And what implications does this have for society? When judges give lesser sentences for crimes of passion, when police officers fire at threatening suspects, what if they’re all relying on a dangerously outdated view of emotion?

The Wizard and the Prophet

by Charles C. Mann

Book cover for 9781509884186

Never has the future of our planet been so pressing as it is today. As global temperatures soar, the population races towards ten billion, and our food sources threaten to run out, The Wizard and the Prophet weighs up the crucial perspectives of two little-known scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt. Vogt, the Prophet, believes that our prosperity can only lead to ruin – but Borlaug, the Wizard, believes science will continue to rise to the challenges we face.


For even more pop science book recommendations, check out this episode of Book Break with guest host Simon Clarke: