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5 short science books you can read in a day

by Eva Amsen

Happy World Book Day! Maybe you’ve picked up a book for World Book Night in the UK, or participated in #ProjectReadathon, or maybe you heard about this annual emphasis on reading through another channel. Or maybe this is the first you’re hearing about World Book Day. It’s today, April 23. To mark the occasion, I’ve selected five very short science books.

You can finish reading each of these books within a day, and feel accomplished that you read another book. A science book, no less! The longest book on this list is around 125 pages, but most are even shorter and/or have images. They cover different areas of science, and are written in very different styles. Find one you like, and happy reading!


Five short science books

ASAPscience: Answers to the World’s Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, and Unexplained Phenomena
Mitchell Moffit & Greg Brown
This is a fun book, explaining the surprising science behind a lot of day-to-day things. If you like the ASAPscience YouTube channel, you’ll like this book as well. For more details, see the review I wrote when the ASAPscience book came out.

Buy on Amazon UK or Amazon USA.


Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words
Randall Munroe
XKCD’s Randall Munroe challenged himself to write an entire book using only the world’s 1000 most commonly used words. He explains everything from airplane cockpits (“stuff you touch to fly a sky boat”) to the periodic table (“the pieces everything is made of”). Will you learn anything? Probably not, but it’s a fun book, full of pictures.

Buy on Amazon UK or Amazon USA.


Developmental Biology: A Very Short Introduction
Lewis Wolpert
Developmental biology is the field of biology that explains how organisms develop from a single cell to a fully-formed human, animal or plant. It’s a complex field, but very interesting. This introduction by Lewis Wolpert is a summary of some of the main concepts of developmental biology. It’s part of Oxford University Press’s series of A Very Short Introduction books. There are lots of other topics to choose from!

Buy on Amazon UK or Amazon USA.


The cartoon introduction to climate change
Yoram Bauman
Can you learn about climate change from a comic book? I was skeptical (about the book, not about climate change, which is definitely happening and almost certainly disastrous), but this book was a lot more clear than I thought it would be. If you want to make your climate change reading as entertaining as possible, considering the topic, this is the book for you. For more details, see the review I wrote earlier.

Buy on Amazon UK or Amazon USA.


Generation us: the challenge of global warming
Andrew Weaver
If you’d rather read a linear, non-cartoon book about climate change, but you still want to be able to finish the book in one day, this one clocks in at under 125 pages, so you should be able to manage that. (But will humanity be able to manage climate change? Yes, okay, I will shut up about it now.) This short read was suggested by Thomas Arildsen on Twitter.

Buy on Amazon UK or Amazon USA.

Bonus foreign language short science book

Elastisch universum: ABC van de baanbrekende ideeën van Erik Verlinde
George van Hal
This one is also very short and can be read in one day – provided you can read Dutch. I can, and I know several of my readers can as well, so I’ve included it here as a bonus book. The title translates to “Elastic Universe”, and the book describes the work of Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde. There is no translation available as far as I can tell. It was suggested by Jan Velterop on Twitter

Buy on Amazon UK.




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Naomi Lavelle April 23, 2017 - 8:50 PM

Great list and I haven’t yet read any of them so now I have a great excuse for some more science reading. I love the fact that they are short enough to read in a day!

Bianca Kramer April 23, 2017 - 11:42 PM

To add to the ‘1000 words’ bandwagon: Robert Trotta’s The edge of the sky’ (112 pages) is a wonderful read about the universe and astrophysics, again using only the 1000 most common words in English:

Jamie April 24, 2017 - 2:00 PM

A Brief Guide to Thinking Like a Scientist is a short accesible ‘how to’ guide to improve your critical thinking using principles of science as an underpinning http://www.forloveofsci.com/book

Grant Jacobs April 26, 2017 - 6:02 AM

There are few short(er) science-related books at NZ publisher, BWB Books. They’ll also available as eBooks.


Janet Browne has written a short book on Darwin’s Origin of Species and all that). I haven’t read it, but she writes well and has written a large two-part biography, so she certainly has the material.

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