Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World's Most Successful Insects by Jonathan BalcombeOn the fly: A biologist makes an argument for admiring the oft-misunderstood order Diptera, explaining the roles of flies in pollination, waste disposal, and the food web.
Did you know? The aptly named Chocolate Midge is the sole pollinator of the cacao plant. All chocolate lovers owe these flies a debt of gratitude.
Further reading: Susanne Foitzik's Empire of Ants, Thor Hanson's Buzz, or Rob R. Dunn's Never Home Alone.
It's Elemental: The Hidden Chemistry in Everything by Kate BiberdorfWhat it's about: a chemist breaks down the role that chemistry plays in everyday life, from what makes dough rise to how coffee boosts energy.
What's inside: a refresher on the basics of chemistry and a witty and engaging approach to the more complex topics.
Media buzz: Dr. Kate Biberdorf, aka "Kate the Chemist," has appeared on TV programs like the Today show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert making chemistry accessible to wide audiences.
My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir by Katherine JohnsonMoon Shot: An African American mathematician chronicles her life and career as a "human computer,” performing complicated calculations that were vital to the success of the U.S. space program.
Read it for: Katherine Johnson's richly detailed personal account of historical events including the Second World War, the Civil Rights movement, and the space race.
For fans of: Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures or the film adaptation starring Taraji P. Henson as Johnson.
Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnultyWhat it is: a year in the life of a 16-year-old climate activist, who appreciates the nature of his Northern Ireland home while dealing with everyday teenage life.
Why you might like it: The lyrical descriptions of our fragile biosphere are paired with candid writing about the complexities of life as an autistic person.
About the author: Dara McAnulty is the youngest recipient of the Wainwright Prize for UK nature writing and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Medal for conservation.
A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Street to the Stars by Hakeem Oluseyi with Joshua HorwitzWhat it is: the candid memoir of an astrophysicist who overcame both a chaotic, impoverished childhood and drug addiction to earn a Ph.D. from Stanford University and embark on a flourishing career.
About the author: When not busy with research, Hakeem Oluseyi can be seen providing commentary on Science Channel shows including How the Universe Works and NASA's Unexplained Files.
Reviewers say: "A sharp, relatable book about self-reinvention and a loving nod to anyone who has ever believed in the potential of another" (Kirkus Reviews).
Brainscapes: The Warped, Wondrous Maps Written in Your Brain -- And How They... by Rebecca SchwarzloseMind maps: A neuroscientist details how the collection of "maps" -- interconnected neurons that transmit signals -- in our brains allows humans to interpret and interact with the world.
Read it for: descriptions of the scientific breakthroughs, like those that allow people with paraplegia to control prosthetics through thought and people in apparent vegetative states to communicate using mental images.
For fans of: Michio Kaku's The Future of the Mind or Ray Kurzweil's How to Create a Mind.
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott KellyWhat it is: a richly detailed memoir by an astronaut who experienced the extreme challenges of long-term spaceflight, including being in space during the assassination attempt on his sister-in-law Gabby Giffords.
Did you know? Scott Kelly holds the record among Americans for the most consecutive days (340) in space.
Reviews say: "fascinating stuff, a tale of aches and pains, of boredom punctuated by terror and worries about what's happening in the dark and back down on Earth" (Kirkus Reviews).
Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances by Leland MelvinWhat it's about: NFL wide receiver turned astronaut Leland Melvin traces his journey from the gridiron to outer space.
Read it for: Melvin's heartfelt account of serving as mission specialist on the space shuttle Atlantis after recovering from the ruptured eardrums he suffered in NASA training, which threatened to leave him earthbound.
Who it's for: fans of inspiring memoirs, sports lovers, and anyone interested in extraordinary STEM careers.
Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut's Story of Invention by Kathryn D. SullivanWhat it’s about: The first American woman to walk in space highlights the ingenuity involved in launching, repairing, and maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope and explains how the ambitious project expanded humanity's understanding of the universe.
So what is takeoff like? According to Sullivan, like "being in an earthquake and a fighter jet at the same time."
Reviewers say: "Sullivan’s fine volume shines a light on the nuts-and-bolts tasks that make extraordinary endeavors possible" (Publisher's Weekly).
How to Astronaut: An Insider's Guide to Leaving Planet Earth by Terry VirtsAn extraterrestrial travel guide: Retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts provides eye-opening details about training for and flying to outer space, from heeding nature's call in a low-gravity environment to the hypotheticals of dealing with human remains.
Side hustle: Virts’ favorite experience in space was helping film the IMAX documentary A Beautiful Planet.
Who it's for: fans of Mary Roach's Packing for Mars and Stiff.
Contact your librarian for more great books!