The Worst of Times: How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions
By Paul B. Wignall
About 250 million years ago, things got very bad indeed. The sheer scale of the Permian-Triassic mass extinction boggles the mind: More than 90 percent of life on Earth was wiped out. And yet, the event set the stage for an explosion of new species. In this scholarly but accessible analysis, geologist Wignall explores the perfect storm of cataclysms, plate tectonics and other forces that led to “The Great Dying” — and the rebound of life in its aftermath.
Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour From the Cranium to the Calcaneum
By Gavin Francis
Scottish physician Francis racked up awards for his memoir Empire Antarctica, which chronicled his time as the doctor at a remote research station at the bottom of the world. He carries over that book’s sense of wonder and wit in this intelligent, intimate exploration of human anatomy that draws on history, philosophy and his own experiences in operating rooms and ERs. Francis covers the body from head to toe, literally, opening with a brain surgery assist and closing with ruminations on the humble footprint that’s the unique signature of our species.