Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca GiggsWhat it's about: whales and their watery world, both of which humans are destroying.
Is it for you? Although filled with evocative facts about cetaceans (their milk is pink, their demise is called "whalefall"), Rebecca Giggs' lyrical yet sobering narrative is book-ended by heartbreaking accounts of beached whales.
Further reading: Nick Pyenson's Spying on Whales, Philip Hoare's The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea, or Micheline Jenner's The Secret Life of Whales.
The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers by Emily LevesqueWhat it's about: an astronomer recounts her career in science while contemplating the past, present, and future of her field.
Don't miss: visits to Hawaii's Mauna Kea Observatories, Chile's Paranal Observatory, and the airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
Did you know? Professional astronomers spend relatively little time looking through giant telescopes (and a lot of time on laptops).
The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie MackWhat it is: theoretical cosmologist Katie Mack's engaging survey of five potential ways in which the universe could end: the Big Crunch, Heat Death, the Big Rip, Vacuum Decay, and the Bounce.
Reviewers say: a "rollicking tour through the nooks and crannies of physics" (New Scientist).
Further reading: Bob Berman's Earth-Shattering (for those interested in cosmic cataclysms); Brian Greene's Until the End of Time (for a more philosophical take on cosmology).
The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir by Sara SeagerWhat it is: the memoir of a planetary astrophysicist that weaves together her Canadian childhood, her career in physics, her marriage and widowhood, and her later-in-life autism diagnosis.
About the author: astrophysicist Sara Seager is a recipient of the Sackler International Prize in Physics and a MacArthur Fellowship.
You might also like: the intimate blend of science writing and memoir found in Sarah Stewart Johnson's The Sirens of Mars, Hope Jahren's Lab Girl, or Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz's The Dance of Life.
Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl by Jonathan C. SlaghtWhat it's about: a conservationist's five-year study of the endangered Blakiston’s fish owl in its natural habitat, the Primorye region of Russia.
Read it for: an authentically detailed account of scientific fieldwork, vivid descriptions of the terrain and its inhabitants (both animal and human), and, of course, the quest for an elusive bird.
For fans of: ornithology-themed travelogues, such as Tim Gallagher's Imperial Dreams or Vernon R.L. Head's The Rarest Bird in the World.
Tales from the Ant World by Edward O. WilsonWhat it is: a memoir by acclaimed biologist Edward O. Wilson, in which he shares his passion for myrmecology (the study of ants) while reflecting on a lifetime of studying the natural world.
Lessons learned? "There is nothing I can even imagine in the lives of ants that we can or should emulate for our own moral betterment."
Reviewers say: a "rapturously unapologetic hymn of praise to the roughly one quadrillion ants on the planet" (The Boston Globe).
Focus on: The Lighter Side of Science
Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death by Caitlin Doughty; illustrated by Dianne RuzThe premise: a mortician answers children's questions about death in an engaging and matter-of-fact style.
About the author: Funeral director Caitlin Doughty is the creator of the web series "Ask a Mortician" and the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity.
So...will your cat eat your eyeballs? Not immediately. (Not when there are tastier tidbits like eyelids.)
Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow Through Our Lives by Mark MiodownikWhat it's about: Having tackled solids in Stuff Matters, materials scientist Mark Miodownik introduces readers to the unique properties of liquids from the confines of an airplane cabin during a transatlantic flight.
Why you might like it: Filled with fascinating facts (airplanes are essentially glued together), this accessible book pairs scientific principles (viscosity, vaporization) and their real-life applications (how ballpoint pens work, brewing the perfect cup of tea).
The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine by Thomas MorrisWhat it is: Historian (Matters of the Heart) and blogger Thomas Morris' well-researched and eye-opening compendium of medical oddities.
Is it for you? As you might expect from a book containing chapters dedicated to "Horrifying Operations," "Unfortunate Predicaments," and "Dubious Treatments," these case studies are not for the squeamish.
For fans of: Sam Kean's The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons or Arnold van de Laar's Under the Knife.
Imagined Life: A Speculative Scientific Journey Among the Exoplanets in Search of.... by James Trefil and Michael SummersWhat it's about: a physicist and a planetary scientist draw on current scientific knowledge to speculate about exoplanets and their potential to support "life like us, like not like us, or life really not like us."
Includes: discussions of tidally locked planets, subsurface ocean worlds, super-Earths, and rogue planets (which do not orbit stars).
You might also like: Alan Boss' Universal Life, about the Kepler Space Telescope.
Contact the library for more great books!