Tired of trashy novels with over-blown action, ludicrous sex, and a dead body-count that makes the Yorkshire Ripper look like an ineffectual dweeb?


If you’re in the northern hemisphere you’re probably looking for reading on the beach. (Forest, ocean, or wherever you take yourself for a recreational break In Real Life.)

Those like me far south of the equator are more likely looking for fire-side reading on cold nights. I’d add a decent wine and nibbles on the side. Or a single malt. Chocolate for the chocoholics.

Every now and then I list a few books with a science angle to them. Here I offer a few places to search for new candidates for your shelves.

Bora Zivkovic has a list of recently-published and up-coming books written by authors who also write blogs. Look through the comments too, as more are suggested there. There is also some interesting discussion about the relationship between blogging and books, with many of the comments coming from authors.


Jennifer Ouellette plugs her own The Calculus Diaries over at Cocktail Party Physics, with a few words on Written in Stone.

Looking ahead to Christmas, pre-orders for Jennifer Rohn’s new book, The Honest Look, should be available soon. The book will be out in mid-November. She has blogged about her book at Mind the Gap. (Now that’s as ‘London’ as a blog title can get! That metallic ‘Mind the Gap’ is still stuck in my head like a scene from a bad sci-fi movie.)

Worth keeping an eye on is Science magazine’s Books et al page, which lists books received and reviewed. (The books received are reported with each issue of the magazine.) Although there is relatively little lighter reading on the Science book list, there is an interestingly wide range of titles that may invite you to look at a topic you hadn’t considered before.


You will need a subscription to the journal to read the reviews, but the lists themselves are open access and worth browsing.  I find the quickest way to find the recently received books is to drop to the bottom of the page and choose either the latest books received or books received over the past three months, sorted into topics. Details include the US dollar (and sometimes British pound) price and ISBN number for the book.

Those who are subscribers to Science can read Some Stops for Summer Trips.

As far as I am able to tell Nature does not have a comparable on-line list, or if they do I haven’t found it! (If someone knows of the link, let me know.) They do have regular book reviews for subscribers.

Other sources of lists of books are the LabLit list (which I have previously written about) and lists on other blogs, such as Chad Orzel’s Scientist-Approved Beach Reading and Professor Salmo Timo’s Book List of Popularized Natural and Behavioral Sciences (now a little dated, but it may still be useful for some).


long discussion offering book suggestions broadly in the science-related area can be found at Less Wrong.

If you already have a subject matter in mind, you could try searching the subjects at Open Library. If you search for ‘science’, for example, you will get a list of sub-topics, that you can delve into further. You can do similar browsing at the commercial book sites, but I don’t want to be promoting one over others by their absence. OpenLibrary is neutral in this respect.

Good luck browsing – and happy reading!

Other articles on Code for life:

What is your relationship with your research notebook?

Book sales, frumpy readers, and mental rotation of book titles

I remember because my DNA was methylated

Professors, lost souls with great oratory power?

Career pathways for NZ science Ph.D. students