New and forthcoming

Tweet of the Day

BBC Natural History Radio (and others)

The complete first series of Tweet of the Day, with introductions by Sir David Attenborough, Chris Packham, Kate Humble and many others.

First heard every weekday morning at 5.58am on BBC Radio 4, Tweet of the Day captured the imagination of early risers and bird lovers, proving so popular that it was named Radio Programme of the Year 2014. Each episode begins with a bird call or song, followed by fascinating ornithological detail about its owner.

This collection contains every edition from the first series, British Birds. The songs of over 160 birds can be heard over the course of a year, from the Cuckoo's call in spring to the summer seaside sound of the Herring Gull, the autumn song of the Robin and the Song Thrush's voice of hope in the depths of winter.

Featuring a mix of native birds, such asthe Blackbird and Tawny Owl, and migrant visitors including the Icterine Warbler and Ortolan Bunting, the series provides memorable insight into their behaviour and habits, explains their literary or folkloric associations, and tells stories of scientific or conservation success.

Presented by wildlife experts including Miranda Krestovnikoff, Steve Backshall,Michaela Strachan, Brett Westwood,Chris Watson, Martin Hughes-Games, John Aitchison and Bill Oddie, Tweet of the Day is a treat for the ears. Duration: 6 hours approx.

The Robin

Stephen Moss

No other bird is quite so ever-present and familiar, so embedded in our culture, as the robin. With more than six million breeding pairs, the robin is second only to the wren as Britain’s most common bird. It seems to live its life alongside us, in every month and season of the year. But how much do we really know about this bird?

In The Robin Stephen Moss records a year of observing the robin both close to home and in the field to shed light on the hidden life of this apparently familiar bird. We follow its lifecycle from the time it enters the world as an egg, through its time as a nestling and juvenile, to the adult bird: via courtship, song, breeding, feeding, migration – and ultimately death. At the same time we trace the robin's relationship with us: how did this particular bird – one of more than 300 species in its huge and diverse family – find it’s way so deeply and permanently into our nation’s heart and its social and cultural history? It’s a story that tells us as much about ourselves as it does about the robin itself.

A Map of the Invisible

Jon Butterworth

How do we know what the universe is made of? And what does this knowledge tell us about our place within it?

Over the last sixty years, scientists around the world have worked together to explore and classify the fundamental constituents of matter. The result is the ‘Standard Model’ of elementary particles: a theoretical map of the basic building blocks of the universe. With the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle in 2012, the map as we know it was completed, but also extended into strange and wonderful new realms.

A Map of the Invisible is an explorer’s guide to the Standard Model and the extraordinary world of particle physics. In words and pictures, pioneering physicist Jon Butterworth charts the terrain of atoms and quarks, electrons and neutrinos, and the forces that shape the universe. Step by step, discovery by discovery, we journey into the world of the unseen, from early theories to the latest research, from the smallest particle to black holes and dark matter, and beyond, to the outer reaches of the cosmos and the frontiers of human knowledge.

Bold, beautiful and eye-opening, A Map of the Invisible is an essential introduction to particle physics, and a landmark work of non-fiction by one of the great scientists and science writers of today.

Caesar's Last Breath

Sam Kean

It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell.

In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it.

With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation.

Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.

Realtime

Kevin Fong

Within minutes of the crash, you land at the scene. But nothing can prepare you for what you now find. So what do you do?

Professor Kevin Fong flies with the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, making split-second, life-or-death decisions in the most extreme circumstances. In this gripping blend of memoir and reportage, he confronts a disturbing truth: sometimes even the best trained expert cannot know the right thing to do.

Telling stories of astonishing skill and catastrophic error, he shows that our ability to move at ever greater speeds in ever greater safety comes with a bitter irony: when something goes wrong – as it must – reacting quickly and effectively enough is now beyond human capability. Reflecting on his own dramatic experiences and those of war medics, pilots and surgeons, Fong considers he we might come to terms with the mess and blur of real decisions made in realtime.

Mysteries of the Quantum Universe

Thibault Damour (and others)

The bestselling French graphic novel about the wonders of quantum physics

Join Bob the explorer and his dog Rick on a rip-roaring trip through the quantum universe as they meet Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger and many other scientists who encourage them to uncover the mysteries of physics with the help of pancakes, cats, mice and all kinds of optical illusions. Marvellous fun and absolutely enthralling, Mysteries of the Quantum Universe is full of surprises - perfect for lovers of comics and all geeks.

The One Device

Brian Merchant

Imagine your favorite dystopian scenario. The physical and digital apocalypse is nigh, and we’re all wiped out, save for a few hardy souls who perpetuate the species and allow us to rebuild. When the archaeologists dig us up in a couple thousand years, there’s going to be this band of sediment packed with indestructible screens, shimmering silver casings, slim batteries, and mosaics of chips.
What would they piece together? What would they glean that it said about us? What history would it reconstruct? What did this thing—this iPhone—mean?
They might thread together our ancient legend; that this device was willed into existence by a single, larger-than-life man about whom many tales were told; he of the black turtleneck, a wizard with an alchemy of design and ruthless practice.
And indeed we do give Steve Jobs and his disciples the credit for inventing the iPhone—but as we think of our distant progeny it may occur to us that our fixation on him (and Apple, for that matter) in this story may be one marvelous oversimplification. He may have been a genius, but the story of the iPhone is so much more than the centerpiece in Jobs’ biography.
The true story of the iPhone, the meaning we piece together from all that it holds within and all that it projects without, is a grand story of the biggest technological, social, and economic trends of the 21st Century, which have collided at the right places and at the right times, in global concert and collaboration, and, in the process, sealed a contemporary account of our current day and our evolving future into five and a half cubic inches.
And so, this book. A people’s history of the most successful product we have ever created.

Letters to a Beekeeper

Alys Fowler (and others)

This the story of how, over the course of a year, Alys, the Guardian gardening writer, learns how to keep bees; and Steve, the urban beekeeper, learns how to plant a pollinator-friendly garden.

Part beautifully designed coffee-table book, part manifesto, this collection of engaging letters, emails, texts, recipes, notes and glorious photos creates a record of the trials, tribulations, rewards and joys of working with, rather than against, nature. And along the way, you will pick up a wealth of advice, tips and ideas for growing food and keeping pollinators well fed.

Letters to a Beekeeper is for lazy gardeners, novice beekeepers and everyone in between. It is the best rule-breaking, wildlife-friendly, guerilla, urban gardening, insect-identifying, honey-tasting, wax-dripping, epistolary how-to book you could ever hope to own.

Science in the Soul

Richard Dawkins

Science in the Soul is a kaleidoscopic argument for the power and the glory of science. Breathtaking, brilliant and passionate, the essays, journalism, lectures and letters in this new collection make an unanswerable case for the wonder of scientific discovery and its power to stir the imagination; for the practical necessity of scientific endeavour to society; and for the importance of the scientific way of thinking – particularly in today’s ‘post-truth’ world.
More than forty pieces are gathered here, with an introduction and new commentary by the author in dialogue with himself across the years. They range over subjects from evolution and Darwinian natural selection to the role of scientist as prophet, whether science is itself a religion, the probability of alien life in other worlds, and the beauties, cruelties and oddities of earthly life in this one. Alongside the explications, the celebrations and the controversies are wonderfully funny ventures into satire and parody, and moving personal reflections in memory and honour of others.
A sparkling showcase for his rapier wit, the clarity, precision and vigour he brings to an argument, the beauty of his prose, the depth of his feeling and his capacity for joy, Science in the Soul is further evidence of Richard Dawkins’ status as one of science’s all-time great communicators.

A Crack in Creation

Jennifer Doudna (and others)

A handful of discoveries have changed the course of human history. This book is about the most recent and potentially the most powerful and dangerous of them all.

It is an invention that allows us to rewrite the genetic code that shapes and controls all living beings. Unlike previous techniques, it hands us that power wholesale – and with it, the power to cure disease and alleviate suffering, to create new sources of food and energy, and the power to re-design any species, including humans, for our own ends.

Jennifer Doudna is the co-inventor of this technology, known as CRISPR, and a scientist of worldwide renown. Writing with fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, here she provides the definitive account of her discovery, explaining how this wondrous invention works and what it is capable of.

More than this, A Crack In Creation asks us to consider what our new-found power means: how do we enjoy its unprecedented benefits while avoiding its equally unprecedented dangers? As Doudna argues, every member of our species is implicated in the answers to these questions. Somehow we must consider and act together.

The future of humankind – and of all life on Earth – is at stake. This book is an essential guide to the path that now lies ahead.

The Plant Messiah

Carlos Magdalena

From the world's tiniest waterlily to the 'Coral Tree', Carlos Magdalena has an uncanny ability to bring rare, breathtakingly beautiful plants back from the brink of extinction.

As botanical horticulturist at London's famous Kew Gardens - the most biodiverse place on the planet - he has over 7,000 species under his care in his 'Noah's Ark' plant nursery. He is highly regarded around the world for his pioneering work with waterlilies, battling to save rare specimens against man-made ecological destruction and even thieves hunting for wealthy collectors.

Carlos travels to remote and dangerous locations - from the jungles of Mauritius to the most remote areas of the Australian outback - and develops groundbreaking, leftfield techniques to encourage weird and wonderful plants to propagate and prosper.

In The Plant Messiah, Carlos shares his thrilling adventures, telling the stories of these incredible plants and his lifetime spent racing to save them.

Pale Rider

Laura Spinney

With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.

In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. Telling the story from the point of view of those who lived through it, she shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.

Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, Laura Spinney narrates a catastrophe that changed humanity for decades to come, and continues to make itself felt today. In the process she demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.

Collecting the World

James Delbourgo

Hans Sloane was a young doctor from Northern Ireland who made his way in London and eventually become physician to the king and much of London society. In his youth he made a defining visit to Jamaica, where he began collecting 'curiosities' of all kinds. He eventually became the centre of a worldwide network which allowed him to assemble the collections which became the core of the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the British Library. This is the first major biography of Sloane in 60 years. It explores not just the impact of an extraordinary man, but allows us a window onto the moment when the meaning of collections and collecting changed.

The Matter of the Heart

Thomas Morris

For millennia, the human heart was the deepest of mysteries, as untouchable as the human soul.

But we have always been curious and frail, and by the twentieth surgeons were exploring the secret recesses of the human body, searching out the heart’s imperfections, holes and tears, and with the advent of World War, bullets.

The implications of these life-changing endeavours stretch far beyond the merely surgical and into a dizzying moral maze. What should we make of the grotesque and macabre experiments of the Russian surgeons who created bizarre and unnatural animal hybrids, the advances of vivisection, or the moral dilemma of transplants that led to the redefinition of death across the globe and the coining of the phrase ‘brain dead’?

The Matter of the Heart is a story of human ingenuity, perseverance and ambition, an astonishing compendium of technological invention, alongside some catastrophic failures, bringing us right up to the medical miracles of the present day.

Behave

Robert M Sapolsky

Why do we do what we do?

Behave achieves what no other book has previously attempted: it brings together a whole host of sciences – the study of our brains, genes and hormones, the investigations of psychology, anthropology and evolutionary history – and by gathering them together offers the richest and most accurate understanding yet of the causes of human behaviour. It shows that any explanation of why we behave the way we do is incomplete until we consider all of these factors together; when combined, the insights that emerge are unprecedented and astonishing.

Robert Sapolsky’s ingenious method is to move backwards in time from the moment at which a behaviour occurs, layer by layer through the myriad influences that led to it. He begins with the split-second reactions of the brain and nervous system, and considers their response to sight, sound and smell in the minutes and seconds beforehand. Next he explains the interactions of hormones, which prime our behaviour in the preceding hours and days. He proceeds through the experiences of adolescence, childhood and foetal development that shape us over our lifespans, and continues over centuries and millennia through the profound influences of genetic inheritance, cultural context and ultimately the evolutionary origins of our species. Throughout, Sapolsky considers the most important question: what causes acts of aggression or compassion? What inspires us to terrible deeds and what might help foster our best behaviour?

Brought to life through simple language, engaging stories and irreverent wit, Behave is at once a dazzling tour and a majestic synthesis of the whole science of human behaviour, revealing the fullest picture yet of the origins of tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, that is unlikely to be surpassed for many years.

Linescapes

Hugh Warwick

It is rare to find a landscape untouched by our lines – the hedges, walls, ditches and dykes built to enclose and separate; and the green lanes, roads, canals, railways and power lines, designed to connect. This vast network of lines has transformed our landscape.
In Linescapes, Hugh Warwick unravels the far-reaching ecological consequences of the lines we have drawn: as our lives and our land were being fenced in and threaded together, so wildlife habitats have been cut into ever smaller, and increasingly unviable, fragments.
Hugh Warwick has travelled across the country to explore this linescape from the perspective of our wildlife and to understand how, with a manifesto for reconnection, we can help our flora and fauna to flourish.
Linescapes offers a fresh and bracing perspective on Britain’s countryside, one that proposes a challenge and gives ground for hope; for while nature does not tend to straight lines and discrete borders, our lines can and do contain a real potential for wildness and for wildlife.

Non-fiction

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