These Are Our Favorite Science Books Of 2022

Books about the pandemic. Books about the ancient past. Books about outer space. These were a few of Science News staff’s favorite reads. If your favorite didn’t make this year’s cut, let us know what we missed at feedback@sciencenews.Org.

Vagina ObscuraRachel E. GrossW.W. Norton & Co.$30

For centuries, scientists (mostly males) have ignored female biology, and women’s health has suffered. But researchers are finally paying attention, as Gross explains in this fascinating tour of what little is known about female anatomy (SN: 4/9/22, p. 29).

The Song of the CellSiddhartha MukherjeeScribner$32.50

Patient stories and conversations with scientific luminaries enliven this tale of cell biology’s past, present and future, and how advances in the field have reshaped medicine (SN: 11/5/22, p. 28).

BreathlessDavid QuammenSimon & Schuster$29.99

In this portrait of the coronavirus and the scientists who study it, Quammen investigates some of the most pressing questions about the pandemic, including whether or not the coronavirus could have accidentally escaped from a lab (SN: 9/24/22, p. 28).

VirologyJoseph OsmundsonW.W. Norton & Co.$16.95

This wide-ranging collection of essays is a meditation on society’s complicated relationship with viruses. In pondering SARS-CoV-2, HIV and more, Osmundson calls for more equitable access to medical care (SN: 7/16/22 & 7/30/22, p. 36).

The Milky WayMoiya McTierGrand Central Publishing$27

This absorbing “autobiography,” written from the perspective of the Milky Way (a very sassy Milky Way), draws on mythology and astronomy to persuade readers that our home galaxy deserves respect and admiration (SN: 9/10/22, p. 28). 

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young WomanLindy Elkins-TantonWilliam Morrow$29.99

In this moving memoir, Elkins-Tanton recounts her journey to becoming a planetary scientist and leader of a NASA asteroid mission. Her struggles with childhood trauma and sexism in her career lay bare the barriers that many women in science still face (SN: 8/13/22, p. 26).

An Immense WorldEd YongRandom House$30

So much of the world is beyond the grasp of human perception, but this safari through animal senses helps readers imagine what we’re missing (SN: 7/16/22 & 7/30/22, p. 36).

How Far the Light ReachesSabrina ImblerLittle, Brown, & Co.$27

By drawing parallels between their own life and the stories of bobbit worms, octopuses, sperm whales and other deep-sea dwellers, Imbler muses on such weighty themes as adaptation, survival and sexuality.  

The Last Days of the DinosaursRiley BlackSt. Martin’s Press$28.99

The basic story of the downfall of nonbird dinosaurs is familiar: They were killed off by an asteroid that slammed into Earth 66 million years ago. Using the most up-to-date science, Black fleshes out this tale, painting a vivid portrait of life before and after this apocalypse (SN: 4/23/22, p. 28).  

The Rise and Reign of the MammalsSteve BrusatteMariner Books$29.99

The perfect follow-up to Black’s book on how the Age of Dinosaurs ended is this sweeping history of how the Age of Mammals began. Brusatte traces the origins of the evolutionary innovations that have made mammals so successful (SN: 6/18/22, p. 28). 

OriginJennifer RaffTwelve$30

Exactly how and when humans first came to the Americas is still unsettled science. But Raff gathers archaeological and genetic evidence to piece together a convincing scenario. She also points out past mistreatment of Indigenous communities by geneticists and calls on researchers to do better and foster more collaborations (SN: 2/12/22, p. 29). 

PestsBethany BrookshireEcco$28.99

So-called pests are a human invention, argues Brookshire, a former staff writer for Science News for Students (now Science News Explores). In coming face to face with rats, feral cats, pythons and even elephants, Brookshire teases out the various social factors that cause people to deem certain animals a nuisance (SN: 12/3/22, p. 26). 

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