Nature and Science
Symphony in C: Carbon and the Evolution of (Almost) Everything by Robert M. HazenWhat it is: a sweeping history of carbon, the basic yet multifaceted chemical element that's essential to life as we know it.
What sets it apart: Structured like a symphony, this book unfolds in four parts inspired by the classic elements of earth, air, fire, and water.
About the author: Geologist (and semi-professional musician) Robert M. Hazen is a founder of the Deep Carbon Observatory, an international, interdisciplinary group of scientists dedicated to carbon research.
Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us by Ruth KassingerWhat it's about: the 3.7 billion-year history of algae, "Earth's authentic alchemists": powered by sunlight and water, these organisms play a vital role in turning carbon dioxide into organic matter.
Why you might like it: Science writer Ruth Kassinger travels the world to learn about algae's culinary uses, its role in everyday consumer products, and its potential as a renewable fuel.
Don't miss: a selection of tasty, easy-to-prepare seaweed recipes.
Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert MacfarlaneWhat it is: a lyrical and wide-ranging exploration of the world beneath our feet from tunnels and caves to catacombs and burial chambers to underground vaults and bunkers.
Why you might like it: Nature writer Robert Macfarlane embarks on a journey both literal and metaphorical, connecting real-world observations to representations of the underworld in mythology, art, and literature.
Want a taste? "Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save."
Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight by Jay BarbreeWhat it is: an engaging biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong, who, on July 20, 1969, made history as the first person to walk on the moon.
About the author: During his 50-year career as a journalist, veteran NBC space correspondent Jay Barbree reported on every single crewed launch of the U.S. space program.
You might also like: James R. Hansen's First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, which delves into the personal life of a very private individual.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon To Mars by Nathalia HoltIntroducing: Barby Canright, Macie Roberts, Helen Yee Chow, Barbara Lewis, Janez Lawson, Susan Finley, and others.
Why they matter: This talented group of women calculated rocket trajectories, designed satellites, and analyzed massive amounts of experimental data for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
For fans of: Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, another collective biography of the unsung heroines of the U.S. space program.
Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey KlugerWhat it is: an exciting account of the Apollo 8 mission that blends technical details of the mission with profiles of its participants.
Why you might like it: Science writer Jeffrey Kluger draws on interviews with crew members Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, as well as materials from the NASA Oral History Project, to recreate the mission.
Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon by Robert KursonIntroducing: Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, who carried out one of NASA's most challenging missions.
What they did: Given 50-50 odds of returning safely, the trio risked their lives to complete the first crewed lunar orbit in December 1968.
Why you might like it: Rocket Men contrasts the lofty achievements of the astronauts with historical events of a turbulent period in U.S. history.
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