21 science books that make excellent gifts | Popular Science
Want More?

Gift Guides

21 science books that make excellent gifts

For the friend who would like a Sci, hold the Fi.


Books for the science enthusiast in your life.

Even the biggest know-it-all on your gift list can't know everything. Give your science-hungry friends something fun for their brain to chew on with these engaging (and sometimes enraging) books about scientific topics. Your friend more a science fiction lover? We've got a list for those folks as well.

big chicken

Big Chicken

By Maryn McKenna.

National Geographic

Does chicken even taste like chicken anymore? Maryn McKenna dives deep into the world of antibiotics and modern farming that have made today's poultry. Big Chicken lays bare the issues of our food system while maintaining a glimmer of hope. Read an excerpt here.

book cover the radium girls

Radium Girls

By Kate Moore.


The factories offered a shining chance at a new life for the young women who worked there, delicately painting watch faces with glowing radium-inbued paint. A glow suffused their clothes, their skin, and eventually lead to their deaths in a little-known chapter of American history explored by Kate Moore in The Radium Girls. Read an excerpt here..

Kelly and Zach Weinersmith


By Kelly and Zach Weinersmith.

Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

We may not have a crystal ball ready to tell you what the future holds, but we do have Soonish by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith. Kelly is a scientist who hosts Science...Sort of and Zach is the cartoonist behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Together, they explore the near future, and the tech that will take us from here to there. Read an excerpt here.

and then you're dead cover

And Then You're Dead

By Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty.

Penguin Random House

Talking about death doesn't have to be depressing. In And Then You're Dead, explore what it might be like to die in a black hole or a volcano. It brings some joy to an otherwise dark topic.

yellow book cover for beyond infinity with seemingly infinite doors

Beyond Infinity

By Eugenia Cheng

Basic Books

Puff pastry can teach us a lot about math in Eugenia Cheng's Beyond Infinity, which peers into the infinite with helpful diagrams, formulas, and accessible easy-to-follow language.

star wars cover

The Physics of Star Wars: The Science Behind a Galaxy Far, Far Away

By Patrick Johnson.

Copyright © 2017 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster

How does Cloud city stay afloat, and what's going on with light sabers anyway? If you've ever wondered how physics works in Star Wars, you'll understand the appeal of this book. Patrick Johnson explains The Physics of Star Wars: The Science Behind a Galaxy Far, Far Away, looking into what happens in that distant galaxy, and how it differs from our own.

quakeland cover

QUAKELAND: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

By Kathryn Miles

Kathryn Miles

FedEx is getting ready for a big one, but in a lot of places around the country, the threat of earthquakes takes a back seat to other, more pressing worries. Kathryn Miles outlines the massive scope of the risk we all face in QUAKELAND: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

astrophysics cover

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

By Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Want to sound smart about complex physics without getting a new degree? Neil deGrasse Tyson's got you covered in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. It's exactly what it sounds like: simple, lovely prose to explain some very out-there concepts. Read an excerpt here

night sky book cover

100 Things To see In The Night Sky

By Dean Regas.

Dean Regas

Ever look up at the night sky and wonder what particular twinkling bit of the heavens you're looking at? In 100 Things To see In The Night Sky, Dean Regas will help you identify planets, stars, and whatever else happens to be passing overhead. This guide also gives you a bit of background for each item, and tells you upfront how difficult or easy it might be to spot.

crack in creation

A Crack in Creation

By Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg.

Doudna and Sternberg

The gene editing technology CRISPR has revolutionized the field in the few years since its discovery. In *A Crack in Creation*, written by Jennifer Doudna (who helped create the technology) and fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, read about how the technique was discovered and the complex questions we now face in putting it to use.

From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

By Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty

Mortician Caitlin Doughty looks at our approach to death across cultures and technologies, from 'skeleton farms' to crematoriums to mummification rituals. The author has a detached fascination with death, and after reading From Here to Eternity your friend might, too.

get well soon

Get Well Soon

By Jennifer Wright.

Jennifer Wright

In Get Well Soon Jennifer Wright studies some of the worst plagues in history, and the brave people who fought back against pestilence everywhere.

immune cover


By Catherine Carver.

Catharine Carver

In a world crawling with biological offenses to the body, it's good to have a worthy defense. Immune by Catherine Carver takes you on a tour of your own immune system, including its great triumphs and weaknesses.

improbable destinies cover

Improbable Destinies

By Jonathan Losos.

Jonathan Losos

Packed with stories of capturing lizards in the field, Improbable Destinies explores how we think evolutionary changes happen in populations, from mice to microbes to sticklebacks. Get this for the backyard biologist in your life.

Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction

Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction

By Grady Klein and Danny Oppenheimer.

Grady Klein and Danny Oppenheimer

Psychology courses can be fun, but not as fun as Psychology: The Comic Book Introduction by Grady Klein and Danny Oppenheimer. Even if you avoided Psych 101, this offers an easy and joyful introduction to what's going on inside of our heads.

spaceport earth

Spaceport Earth

By Joe Pappalardo.

Joe Pappalardo

It might seem like there's a rocket launch every day now, but in the not-so-distant future the tempo of blastoffs could increase even more. In Spaceport Earth, Joe Pappalardo takes us to future launchpads around the world, showing us how spaceports are being built to launch us into the stars.

spineless cover


By Juli Berwald

Juli Berwald

There is perhaps no more soothing sight than the illuminated jellyfish tanks in an aquarium. In Spineless Juli Berwald brings us inside, unraveling a memoir about the scientific exploration of these strange, wonderful creatures.

ends of the world

Ends of the World

By Peter Brannen.

Peter Brannen

Sure, it might feel like the world is ending, but let's put that in perspective. In Ends of the World, Peter Brannen takes a look at apocalypses that have already happened, examining Earth's past mass extinctions caused by everything from volcanic eruptions to climate change.

the water will come cover

The Water Will Come

By Jeff Goodell

Jeff Goodell

In The Water Will Come, Jeff Goodell discusses how rising sea levels will force cities and towns to decide whether to sink or swim.

smashed codes cover

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

By Jason Fagone.

Jason Fagone

You probably haven't heard of Elizabeth Smith Friedman. But if you know someone who loves history, code breaking, and intelligence, you should introduce them to Friedman through Jason Fagone's The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The book chronicles the life of a person who started analyzing Shakespeare and rose to crack codes and train codebreakers throughout the nascent government intelligence agencies from WWI onward.

rutherford cover

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

By Adam Rutherford.

Adam Rutherford

In A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, geneticist Adam Rutherford untangles our DNA to reveal a complicated picture of human history from its earliest origins to present day. Get it for the person who loves caring for the family tree.

Interested in talking about deals and gadgets? Request to join our exclusive Facebook group. With all our product stories, the goal is simple: more information about the stuff you're thinking about buying. We may sometimes get a cut from a purchase, but if something shows up on one of our pages, it’s because we like it. Period.

Latest News