What to Read in December

’Tis the season for gift-giving, as well as settling into a cozy spot with a good read and a cup of hot cocoa. We found some pages worth turning for even the most hard-to-please reader on your list.

By Gemma Tarlach|Thursday, October 29, 2015
book1
book1

FOR ARMCHAIR ADVENTURERS

White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen’s Fearless Journey Into the Heart of the Arctic
By Stephen R. Bown

Not as famous as Shackleton or Nansen, Inuit-Danish Rasmussen was arguably even more intrepid, traveling by dog sled from Greenland to Alaska in the 1920s. Bown captures both his charisma and soulful side in a biography full of wonder and peril.

FOR FOODIES

book23
book23

First Bite: How We Learn to Eat
By Bee Wilson

Food writer Wilson probes the psychology of food memories, dips into the chemistry of flavor and digs deep into the physiological and social roots of obesity in this smorgasbord of insights.

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love
By Simran Sethi

From the industrialization of chocolate to the art of turning grapes into bottles worth triple digits, Sethi tucks into the science, business and culture of our most treasured foods — and why they’re at risk of extinction.

FOR NIGHT OWLS

book45
book45

The Secret Lives of Bats: My Adventures With the World’s Most Misunderstood Mammals
By Merlin Tuttle

Creatures of the night, what wonderful science they make! Ecologist Tuttle, who has studied bats for more than half a century, reveals their unique intelligence, social hierarchies and necessity for healthy ecosystems.

Moonstruck: How Lunar Cycles Affect Life
By Ernest Naylor

From werewolves to lunacy, folktales claim the moon has instigated a long list of odd behaviors. The reality of the moon’s influence on life is even more intriguing: It may have been playing a guiding role since evolution’s earliest days.

book6
book6

FOR NUMBER CRUNCHERS

A Numerate Life: A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours
By John Allen Paulos

Mathematics is an elegant field, but too often its beauty gets lost in translation for outsiders. Paulos manages to get deep while keeping the tone light by mixing personal anecdotes and asides with key concepts: It’s a rumination on numeration.

book7
book7

FOR HISTORY BUFFS

This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason
By Mark Molesky

In 1755, long before global seismograph networks or tsunami warning systems, a powerful earthquake hit Portugal, devastating the cosmopolitan city but also inspiring a new, scientific approach to understanding Earth’s shudders.

book8
book8

FOR STAR CHASERS

Searching for the Oldest Stars: Ancient Relics From the Early Universe
By Anna Frebel

Stellar archaeologist Frebel takes a novel approach to this biography of the young cosmos, building complexity from one chapter to the next, textbook style, but with numerous personal musings.

book9
book9

FOR ANTHRO-ENTHUSIASTS

Written in Stone: A Journey Through the Stone Age and the Origins of Modern Language
By Christopher Stevens

In what may be one of the more intriguing dictionaries ever assembled, Stevens compiles words at the root of Indo-European languages: a near-global, 6,500-year-old mother tongue that, he argues, remains the basis for everything we speak and write.

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