Probe this collection of six science books written by contributors to Alta Journal. Part of a special guide of 83 titles, this category includes works by Emily Anthes, Julian Guthrie, and Annalee Newitz, and a spotlight on Bonnie Tsui.
A finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, Emily Anthes is a journalist whose latest book is about the indoor spaces in which we spend 90 percent of our time. Anthes investigates how interiors mold our lives and influence our mental health and social networks. The Great Indoors asks us to consider how the places where we work and dwell can be transformed for our betterment. Picador, June 2021, 304 pages, $18 paperback
Call it a buddy movie about innovation. Po Bronson and Arvind Gupta penned Decoding the World, an account of their collaboration at IndieBio, a laboratory and launching pad for biotech companies. As they ambitiously tackle some of the world’s most pressing concerns, from cancer to melting glaciers to pandemics, they trade clues and discover transformative technologies. Twelve, October 2020, 352 pages, $30 hardcover
In Good Blood, Julian Guthrie describes the race to cure Rh disease, a disorder affecting the red blood cells of newborns. A U.S. doctor with an unlikely idea for a cure and an Australian boy with an elevated amount of the antibody needed for treatment are at the heart of the story. Guthrie takes readers between laboratories and hospitals on both continents as she shares this account of medicine, progress, and heroism. Abrams, September 2020, 256 pages, $26 hardcover
Do great cities simply crumble, or do various pressures cause their inhabitants to go elsewhere? Science journalist Annalee Newitz investigates by wandering the ancient ruins of Çatalhöyük, Pompeii, Angkor, and the Indigenous metropolis of Cahokia near the Mississippi River, joining archaeologists and other researchers in the field. Four Lost Cities challenges widely accepted theories on how civilizations collapse and suggests that modern societies may not be so different from those of 9,000 years ago. W.W. Norton & Company, February 2021, 320 pages, $26.95 hardcover
Going to Trinidad captures the story of doctors Stanley Biber and Marci Bowers, Coloradans who performed 6,000 gender-confirmation surgeries on transgender patients between 1969 and 2010. Two of Biber’s patients, Claudine Griggs and Walt Heyer, receive closer attention in the book, which examines their medical and gender histories to offer insight into the process and aftermath of the operations. Martin J. Smith has drawn criticism for highlighting Heyer, who detransitioned eight years after his surgery and is now opposed to the procedure. Bower House, April 2021, 248 pages, $27 hardcover