Get up to speed with the most popular developments in science, with everything from the tiniest atom to the farthest flung findings of the universe, and every scientific discovery in between. Our selection of books in this category will keep you up to date.
Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over the course of a term, especially chapter four which presents an extensive range of how-to ideas for re-bugging your own patch of the world. But back to the beginning. The book sets out its inspirational stall in the opening chapters by explaining all the vital things bugs do for us, among them pollinating plants, feeding birds, feeding humans, defending our food crops, cleaning our water, controlling pests, and healing us. Maggots, for example, can remove (munch) and disinfect rotting flesh, leeches can stop clots, and the honey made by bees has anti-inflammatory properties. To play a role in the author’s re-bugging initiative, readers might find themselves inspired to build a bug palace, buy bug-friendly food from bug-buddy farmers, and much more. This is packed with plenty of ways to live a bug-better life, which in turn means living on a better planet.
Truly fascinating, this is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in a while. Seriously, I could rave on and on about it! Journey to what feels like an entirely different planet and explore the wonder of fungi. “Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live...Yet they live their lives largely hidden from view , and over 90% if their species remain undocumented.” Author Merlin Sheldrake caught and held my attention from the outset. I had to stop reading every so often just to contemplate the world that was opening up in front of me. I still feel gobsmacked days after reading it. Fungi has shaped our history and “the ability of fungi to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in breakthrough technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘wood wide web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems.” Entangled Life made me reconsider established thoughts and opened my eyes to new ones. I want to recommend it to everyone, for me it’s a genuine must-read and just had to be included on my list of Liz Picks of the Month and as a LoveReading Star Book.
Tom Kerss is an astronomer, astrophotographer and night sky explorer who has previously worked at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and now runs world-class courses on astronomy. The more adventurous will want to avoid paying a premium to an aurora adventure travel business or resort, and find their own path. This book doesn’t simply list destinations and access, but offers scientifically-backed advice on timings with respect to lunar and solar cycles and practical tips such as how best to position yourself with respect to towns and cities. Not being a scientist myself, it was great to read the science behind auroras explained in an accessible and entertaining manner. The book even explores the history of the lights and their interpretation and impact on our earthly cultures. The Northern Lights are out of this world, and they are here for us to enjoy and marvel at. Northern Lights provides everything that is required to take your trip to another level. *** Don't miss Tom Kerss in conversation at A Day at the Riverside, 18th September when he shares the magic, mystery and the science of the Northern Lights.
AS HEARD ON THE CHRIS EVANS SHOW Which scents can lower stress? What music can make you more productive? And why does coffee taste better from a red cup? Our senses have a powerful effect on how we think, feel and behave; yet we don't use them to anywhere near their full potential. Using his extensive knowledge of sensory science, multisensory expert Russell Jones shows you how to make small changes to your day and experience life like you never have before. So, whether you want to feel energised in the morning, get the most from your exercise, be efficient at work, really enjoy your food or have the most restful night's sleep possible, read this book and discover the real power of your senses. Previously published as Sense.
How to Make Good Things Happen is a well-researched book on managing your stress and anxiety levels, and how our mental health influences our physical health and day-to-day lives. Written by an American psychiatrist, it’s not a quick read or self-help book, but is more of a scientific look at our hormones and how our brain works in relation to our emotions – love, sadness, happiness, guilt – especially at times of stress. To combat stress, we need to train ourselves to see positivity in all situations, rather than focusing on negativity, and we also need to learn how to stop overthinking. The book uses practical approaches based on science, including the evidence for mindfulness and omega-3 foods in brain health. I loved the case studies dotted around the book – short stories about people the author has met over the years, some as patients and others just in passing. The book seeks to help its readers see the good in everything so that they can lead a healthier, more fulfilling life. An interesting read.
Calling all outdoor adventurers who want to walk on the wild side by the light of the moon! While there’s no shortage of brilliant books to inspire and guide nature exploration in young adventurers, Chris Salisbury’s Wild Nights Out is the first nature guide to focus on night-time activities, which gives both the book and its activities a distinct and decidedly magical edge. With a foreword by Chris Packham, this is a brilliant book for grown-ups to use with 7+-year-olds who share their passion for the great outdoors. The text addresses adults, as opposed to chattily speaking to children direct, but with a background in theatre and environmental education, and currently working as professional storyteller alongside directing the Call of the Wild Foundation programme for educators-in-training, the author is well-placed to advise on how to engage young explorers. As for the activities, the book covers a blend of games, walks and sensory experiences, the latter of which form an excellent foundation from which to explore the world at night, with exercises designed to focus and enhance one’s sensory perceptions. Then there are practical activities covering the likes of learning to call for owls, detect bats and understand the night sky alongside immersive theatrical activities, such as hosting nocturnal animal performances and fireside storytelling. With black-and-white illustrations throughout and activities to last the entire summer holidays, this certainly shines an inspiring and informative light on night-time nature. You can find more recommended adventure reads in our curation for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.
Your Mental Health Workout focuses on giving your mind some attention, in the same way you might change your eating or exercise habits to get physically fitter. Think of it as the mental health equivalent of a five-week gym membership, focusing on your thoughts and feelings and how you respond to them. The book was very easy to navigate, with weekly checklists and planners at the beginning to keep me on track (printable copies are available from the author’s website). Everything in the book is very practical and explained in simple terms and a friendly tone. I loved the way Zoe Aston, a psychotherapist, approaches a mental health workout in the same way we would approach a physical one – setting goals, warming up, weekly workouts and daily workouts – with easy exercises to build ‘mental muscle’. There’s even an additional chapter on ‘Physio for your feelings’. A fun and informative way to look after my mental health and keep stress and anxiety at bay.
What a fabulously readable and eye-opening book this is. With experts guiding your way, visit the amazing world of ants as they build, raise, grow, and hunt, raid and devour. I’ve always been enthralled by ants and have watched in fascination as they purposefully march their way through life. I’ve also wondered what happens to the lone lost explorer who ends up on your clothing potentially miles away from home, well I found out the answer to this and learned a whole host of other interesting facts in Empire of Ants. Yet this isn’t a data and statistic gala, the writing duo of Susanne Foitzik and Olaf Fritsche have ensured an engaging and absorbing read. One of the first things we are told is that: “If all the ants suddenly disappeared, terrestrial ecosystems across the word would be on their knees… Without ants, the natural world would suffer a long period of instability and would never look the same again”. They’re important then, these bustling ants who exist and create and invent, there’s plenty to learn as we are introduced to them by biologist Susanne. There are so many similarities with humans, and yet their structure could quite easily sit in the realms of fantasy. Empire of Ants is an intensely satisfying and entertaining read that opens up a whole new world.
Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
Thought-provoking, inspiring, and inclusive, this is a wonderful blend of nature and an examination of language, community and friendship. Journalist and writer Anita Sethi decided to hike the ‘backbone of Britain’ The Pennines after she was the victim of a vicious race-hate crime. Born in Manchester and holding a particular love for the natural world around us, in I Belong Here she reclaims her sense of belonging while being open and giving of herself and her thoughts. She walks through the land, often by herself, and explores her experiences and love for nature. Words dance in her hands, she shows how much language matters, looking at the various meanings of words, particularly with regards to nature and emotions, stating: “language can imprison or liberate”. She is so beautifully eloquent. I’ve always had a deep connection to the countryside, yet Anita’s words encouraged me to look again, to not just see the face of our natural surroundings but to look in more depth at our natural history and how it exists and connects us. And, that resonates deeply with her thoughts on the colour of skin: “it is exhausting to be pigeon-holed, people not seeing beyond skin colour”. While at times this is a challenging read as she experiences anger and despair, there is an awful lot of love to be found as she welcomes her surroundings and the people she meets along the way. Ultimately I felt a connection with Anita as she held out a hand and invited me to explore thoughts, feelings and nature alongside her. A LoveReading Star Book, I Belong Here is a truly beautiful and important read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
White Blood explores the history and benefits of human milk, a natural food source that most people take for granted. Human milk nourishes babies from the moment they are born, providing them with all the nutrients they need for growth and development in their early months. Yet the debate on ‘breast versus bottle’ continues, especially in countries where breastfeeding rates continue to decline. Written by a paediatrician, nutritional scientist and gastroenterologist with an interest in history, White Blood is far more than just a reference book looking at how milk is made in the human body. Using research and quotes from leading physicians, historians and social historians, this fascinating book shows how human milk has been crucial to infant health, growth and survival over the centuries. It’s beautifully illustrated with pictures – colour artifacts, paintings and photographs – from ancient civilisations to the present day. This book explores the vital question of ‘why breastfeeding matters?’ and taught me a lot!
An interesting and immersive book about the undeveloped potential of mushrooms. If our relationship with nature interests you, if you believe that in order to thrive we should live in harmony with nature, then I can highly recommend reading In Search of Mycotopia. Doug Bierend is an American journalist who writes about science and technology, food, education, and how we can live in a sustainable world. Here he looks at the potential of fungi, and we meet a variety of people and ideas that could contribute to our working in harmony with nature. The author challenges the reader throughout this book, he questions our idea of expertise and asks us to look at fungi in a completely new way. The various chapters include a section at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London where it is clear that amateurs and experts have worked together throughout its history in the study of fungi. This is readable, inclusive, and the big messages that I kept hearing throughout this book, were about bringing people together and working together in order to gain a better relationship with nature. In Search of Mycotopia highlights the importance of fungi in an eloquent and engaging way.