New and forthcoming

Octopuses: A Ladybird Expert Book

Dr Helen Scales

Part of the new Ladybird Expert series, Octopuses is a clear, simple and entertaining introduction to these eight-armed, ink-making, soft-bodied wonders.

Written by the leading lights and most outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

For an adult readership, the Ladybird Expert series is produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds. Each beautifully illustrated book features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years.

The Four Horsemen

Richard Dawkins (and others)

Known as the ‘four horsemen’ of the New Atheism, these four big thinkers of the twenty-first century met only once. Their electrifying examination of ideas on this remarkable occasion was intense and wide-ranging. Everything that was said as they agreed and disagreed with one another, interrogated ideas and exchanged insights – about religion and atheism, science and sense – speaks with urgency to our present age.
Questions they asked of each other included: ‘Is it ever possible to win a war of ideas? Is spirituality the preserve of the religious? Are there any truths you would rather not know? Would you want to see the end of faith?’
The dialogue on that unique occasion was recorded, and is now transcribed and presented here with new introductions from the surviving three horsemen.
With a sparkling introduction from Stephen Fry, it makes essential reading for all their admirers and for anyone interested in exploring the tensions between faith and reason.

Good Reasons for Bad Feelings

Randolph M. Nesse

One of the world's most respected psychiatrists provides a much-needed new evolutionary framework for making sense of mental illness

With his classic book Why We Get Sick, Randolph Nesse established the field of evolutionary medicine. Now he returns with a book that transforms our understanding of mental disorders by exploring a fundamentally new question. Instead of asking why certain people suffer from mental illness, Nesse asks why natural selection has left us with fragile minds at all.

Drawing on revealing stories from his own clinical practice and insights from evolutionary biology, Nesse shows how negative emotions are useful in certain situations, yet can become excessive. Anxiety protects us from harm in the face of danger, but false alarms are inevitable. Low mood prevents us from wasting effort in pursuit of unreachable goals, but it often escalates into pathological depression. Other mental disorders, such as addiction and anorexia, result from the mismatch between modern environments and our ancient human past. Taken together, these insights and many more help to explain the pervasiveness of human suffering, and show us new paths for relieving it.

Good Reasons for Bad Feelings will fascinate anyone who wonders how our minds can be so powerful, yet so fragile, and how love and goodness came to exist in organisms shaped to maximize Darwinian fitness.

The Demon in the Machine

Paul Davies

How does life create order from chaos? And just what is life, anyway?

Leading physicist Paul Davies argues that to find the answers, we must first answer a deeper question: 'What is information?' To understand the origins and nature of life, Davies proposes a radical vision of biology which sees the underpinnings of life as similar to circuits and electronics, arguing that life as we know it should really be considered a phenomenon of information storage. In an extraordinary deep dive into the real mechanics of what we take for granted, Davies reveals how biological processes, from photosynthesis to birds' navigation abilities, rely on quantum mechanics, and explores whether quantum physics could prove to be the secret key of all life on Earth.

Lively and accessible, Demons in the Machine boils down intricate interdisciplinary developments to take readers on an eye-opening journey towards the ultimate goal of science: unifying all theories of the living and the non-living, so that humanity can at last understand its place in the universe.

Origins

Lewis Dartnell

Why do so many of us eat cereal for breakfast?

Is it because we like the taste? Because it's so readily available?

Or because 20 millions years ago, a certain species of plant colonised the same hospitable land that humanity did?

Why is the world the way it is? If we follow chains of explanation as far back as they go – and keep asking, like a curious child, ‘Why? Why? But WHY?’ – the answers become more and more amazing. We reach the point where history becomes science.

In this ultimate origin story, Professor Lewis Dartnell investigates how the fabric and activity of our planet have governed our evolution, influenced civilisations over millennia, and continue to shape our lives today.

Plate tectonics and ancient climate change, atmospheric circulation and ocean currents – Origins unravels the human story by exposing vast webs of connections that stretch deep into the past, underwrite our modern world and help us face the challenges of the future.

It may even change how you look at your bowl of cereal tomorrow morning…

The Origin of Species

Charles Darwin

PATTERNED PLANET: SPECIAL EDITIONS OF GROUNDBREAKING SCIENCE BOOKS

When the eminent naturalist Charles Darwin returned from South America on board the HMS Beagle in 1836, he brought with him the notes and evidence that would form the basis of a world-changing theory: the evolution of species by a process of natural selection. This theory, published as On the Origin of Species in 1859, is the basis of modern biology and the concept of biodiversity. Its publication sparked a fierce scientific, religious and philosophical debate which continues to this day.

Sapiens

Yuval Noah Harari

PATTERNED PLANET: SPECIAL EDITIONS OF GROUNDBREAKING SCIENCE BOOKS

Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens?

In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we’re going. Sapiens is a thrilling account of humankind’s extraordinary history – from the Stone Age to the Silicon Age – and our journey from insignificant apes to rulers of the world.

'Unbelievably good. Jaw dropping from the first word to the last' Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2

Adventures in the Anthropocene

Gaia Vince

PATTERNED PLANET: SPECIAL EDITIONS OF GROUNDBREAKING SCIENCE BOOKS

In recent decades human beings have altered the planet beyond anything it has experienced in its 4.5 billion-year history. We have become a force on a par with earth-shattering asteroids and planet-cloaking volcanoes. As a result, our planet is said to be crossing a geological boundary – from the Holocene into the Anthropocene, or the Age of Man.

Gaia Vince quit her job to travel the world and to explore what all these changes really mean to our daily lives. She discovers the shocking ways in which we have reshaped our living planet and reveals the ingenious solutions we’ve evolved to engineer Earth for the future.

The Wren

Stephen Moss

From the bestselling author of The Robin: A Biography

The wren is a paradox of a bird. On the one hand wrens are ubiquitous. They are Britain’s most common bird, with 8.5 million breeding pairs and have by far the loudest song in proportion to their size. They also thrive up and down Britain and Ireland: from the smallest city garden to remote offshore islands, blustery moors to chilly mountains.

Yet many people, particularly a younger generation, are not sure if they have ever seen a wren. Perhaps because the wren is so tiny, weighing just as much as two A4 sheets of paper, and so busy, always on the move, more mouse than bird.

However if we cast our eyes back to recent history wrens were a mainstay of literary, cultural and popular history. The wren was on postage stamps and the farthing, it featured in nursery rhymes and greetings cards, poems and rural ‘wren hunts’, still a recent memory in Ireland particularly.

With beautiful illustrations throughout, this captivating year-in-the-life biography reveals the hidden secrets of this fascinating bird that lives right on our doorstep.

Silver Shoals

Charles Rangeley-Wilson

On these rain-swept islands in the North Atlantic man and fish go back a long way. Fish are woven through the fabric of the country’s history: we depend on them – for food, for livelihood and for fun – and now their fate depends on us in a relationship which has become more complex, passionate and precarious in the sophisticated 21st Century.


In Silver Shoals Charles Rangeley-Wilson travels north, south, east and west through the British Isles tracing the histories, living and past, of our most iconic fish – cod, carp, eels, salmon and herring – and of the fishermen who catch them and care for them.


In the company of trawlermen, longshoremen, conservationists and anglers Charles goes to sea in a trawler, whiles away hot afternoons setting eel nets, tries to bag his first elusive carp and drifts for herring on Guy Fawkes night as fireworks starburst the sky.


Underscoring this journey is a fascinating historical exploration of these creatures that have shaped our island story. We learn how abundant and valued these fish were centuries before our current crisis of over-fishing: we learn how eels built our monasteries, how cod sank the Spanish Armada, how fish and chips helped us through two World Wars.


Of course there is a deeper environmental dimension to the story, but Charles' optimistic perspective is this: no one is more invested in fish than the fishermen whose lives depend on them. If we can find a way to harness that passion then the future of fish and fishermen in Britain could be as extraordinary as its past.

Europe

Tim Flannery

A place of exceptional diversity, rapid change, and high energy, for the past 100 million years Europe has literally been at the crossroads of the world. By virtue of its geology and geography, evolution in Europe proceeds faster than elsewhere. The continent has absorbed wave after wave of immigrant species over the millennia, taking them in, transforming them, and sometimes hybridising them.

Flannery's exploration of the nature of Europe reveals a compelling intellectual drama, with a cast of heroic researchers - of whom Tim Flannery is the most recent - whose discoveries have changed our understanding of life itself.

Blueprint

Robert Plomin

One of the world's top behavioural geneticists argues that we need a radical rethink about what makes us who we are

The blueprint for our individuality lies in the 1% of DNA that differs between people. Our intellectual capacity, our introversion or extraversion, our vulnerability to mental illness, even whether we are a morning person - all of these aspects of our personality are profoundly shaped by our inherited DNA differences.

In Blueprint, Robert Plomin, a pioneer in the field of behavioural genetics, draws on a lifetime's worth of research to make the case that DNA is the most important factor shaping who we are. Our families, schools and the environment around us are important, but they are not as influential as our genes. This is why, he argues, teachers and parents should accept children for who they are, rather than trying to mould them in certain directions. Even the environments we choose and the signal events that impact our lives, from divorce to addiction, are influenced by our genetic predispositions. Now, thanks to the DNA revolution, it is becoming possible to predict who we will become, at birth, from our DNA alone. As Plomin shows us, these developments have sweeping implications for how we think about parenting, education, and social mobility.

A game-changing book by a leader in the field, Blueprint shows how the DNA present in the single cell with which we all begin our lives can impact our behaviour as adults.

The Secret Network of Nature

Peter Wohlleben

Did you know that trees can make clouds?
Or that a change in wolf population can alter the course of a river?
Or that earthworms give wild boar directions?

The natural world is a web of intricate connections, many of which go unnoticed by humans. But it is these connections that maintain nature’s finely balanced equilibrium, and tinkering with one tiny element can set off a chain reaction that affects an entire ecosystem.

In The Secret Network of Nature, forester and bestselling author Peter Wohlleben opens our eyes to surprising connections and unlikely partnerships in nature. We’ll see how different animals, plants, rivers, rocks and weather systems co-operate, and what happens when these delicate systems are unbalanced.

Genetics

Adam Rutherford

Part of the ALL-NEW LADYBIRD EXPERT SERIES.

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Who discovered genetics?

How does gene inheritance work?

Is DNA common to all living things?


We inherit CODES from our parents. And these codes are written in the molecule DNA. This DNA means that we RESEMBLE each other, namely our families.

This raises so many questions such as how does DNA influence evolution? How was it discovered? And what does it mean for the future of the human race?

Discover the answers and more inside Adam Rutherford's Ladybird Expert - Genetics, the thrilling and accessible account that explains race and genetics, whether it is our DNA or the environment that influences us most, what are our chances of being related to royalty, genetic engineering and much more . . .

Consciousness: A Ladybird Expert Book

Hannah Critchlow

Part of the ALL-NEW LADYBIRD EXPERT SERIES.

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Are other animals, or even plants, conscious?

Can we create conscious robots?

Are we able to assume the consciousness of someone else?


We all experience the world differently.

REALITY is shaped by our individual memories.

So we respond to THE WORLD in our own ways.

Our UNIQUE EXPERIENCE underpins what it means to be CONSCIOUS.

This raises so many questions such as where does consciousness live? And what is it for?

Discover the answers and more inside Hannah Critchlow's Ladybird Expert - Consciousness, the thrilling and accessible account that explains what it means to be conscious - from what defines it, to questioning the existence of free will.

Rest

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

* WITH INTRODUCTION BY ARIANNA HUFFINGTON - BESTSELLING AUTHOR AND FOUNDER
OF THE HUFFINGTON POST AND THRIVE*


Ten proven methods for resting that will radically improve your life

'An incredibly timely read for my own increasingly rest-starved life. This might be the book to finally persuade us that downtime isn't in conflict with good work; rather, it's an essential ingredient of it'
Oliver Burkeman, Guardian


For most of us, overwork is the new normal. Resting means late-night TV binges or hours spent surfing social media. We never truly take the time to rest and recharge.

In this revelatory book, Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang offers the antidote to becoming more productive and fulfilled in every aspect of our lives, and shows us that in order to actually get more done we need to work less and relax more.

Whether through taking daily naps, as Winston Churchill did during the Second World War, spending a week alone in a cabin like Bill Gates, or simply walking, 'deliberate rest' as Pang calls it is the key to getting more done and working better.

Drawing on emerging neuroscience, Rest is packed full of tips for upping our downtime - from sleep to hobbies to holidays. It's time to make a change to the way we work, rest and play.

Take a break and read Rest: you'll make smarter decisions, have better relationships, and be happier and more creative. James Wallman, author of 'Stuffocation'