Basic modern physics (including quantum theory and relativity)
Atkins, Peter, The laws of thermodynamics: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Kindle edition.
Feynman, Richard P. Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of physics explained by its most brilliant teacher. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books, 1995. Print.
Feynman, Richard Phillips. Six Not-so-easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-time. London: Penguin, 1999. Print.
Kumar, Manjjit. Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the great debate about the nature of reality. London: Icon Books Ltd, 2009. Print.
Seife, Charles. Decoding the universe: How the new science of information is explaining everything in the cosmos, from our brains to black holes. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.
Shankar, R. Fundamentals of Physics. Mechanics, Relativity, and Thermodynamics. New Haven: Yale UP, 2014. Print.
Susskind, Leonard and Friedman, Art. Quantum mechanics, the theoretical minimum. New York: Basic Books, 2014. Print.
Susskind, Leonard and Hrabovsky, George. The theoretical minimum: What you need to know to start doing physics. New York: Basic Books, 2013. Print.
Von Baeyer, Hans Christian. Warmth disperses and time passes: The history of heat. New York: Modern Library Paperbacks, 1999. Print.
Carroll, Sean. From eternity to here: The quest for the ultimate theory of time. New York: Plume, 2010. Print.
Carroll, Sean M. The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World. London: Oneworld, 2012. Print.
Chandra X-ray Observatory, web site, http://chandra.harvard.edu/index.html.
Coles, Peter. Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.
Goldberg, Dave and Blomquist, Jeff. A users’s guide to the universe: Surviving the perils of black holes, time paradoxes, and quantum uncertainty. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010. Print.
Greene, Brian. The fabric of the cosmos: Space, time, and the texture of reality. New York:Vintage Books, 2005. Print.
Greene, B. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. New York: Vintage, 2011. Print.
Guth, Alan. The inflationary universe: The quest for a new theory of cosmic origins. New York: Basic Books, 1997. Print.
Kirshner, Robert P. The extravagant universe: Exploding stars, dark energy, and the accelerating cosmos. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. Print.
Larson, Richard B. and Bromm, Volker. The first stars in the universe. Scientific American, 2004 (update from December 2001 issue).
Rothery, David A. Planets: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Tegmark, Max. Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. London: Penguin, 2014. Print.
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, “Universe 101: Big Bang Theory”. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Online at http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/cosmology/cosmology.html.
There are geology books, e.g,, those by Spooner or McDougall, which are excellent introductions to physical and historical geology. Benton’s book is more recent than McDougall’s, but it is shorter and so denser and less easy to follow, although filled with interesting information. Then there are the books of Richard Fortey. Fortey’s books are not textbooks and, in this writer’s opinion, not good for learning the subject. But they are simply wonderful field trips. Yes, trips. Fortey has a way of describing a tour of, say, the 250-Mya supercontinent Pangea or of the Cretaceous Era as if you were actually wandering around it with Fortey as guide and companion. He does the same for current environments, like the area around Vesuvius. It is very human, a combination of field trip and tour guide and not to be missed.
The USGS web site is a mine of information for amateur geologists. The article “This dynamic earth” is an excellent explanation of plate tectonics, explained clearly with very good illustrations.
For a general history of earth and life on it, McDougall’s book Is excellent, including geology, climate and the origins of life and its subsequent evolution. But Emiliani’s book is extraordinary. Ostensibly an earth-science book, it starts with atomic physics, cosmology, chemistry and works its way through geology and paleontology. He is not afraid of using some mathematics and the result is almost like reading a novel. An excellent book. Too bad Emiliani died shortly after the book’s publication in 1992, but it is still mostly quite useful.
Benton, Michael J. The history of life: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
Bonewitz, Ronald Louis. Rocks and Minerals: The definitive visual guide. London: DK, 2012. Print.
De Palma, Christopher. Astro 801, on-line course from Pennsylvania State University. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/astro801/
Emiliani, Cesare. Planet Earth: Cosmology, Geology, and the Evolution of Life and Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print.
Fortey, Richard A. Earth: An Intimate History. New York: Vintage, 2005. Print.
Fortey, Richard. Fossils: The key to the past. London: Natural History Museum. 1982. Print.
Fortey, Richard. Life: An unauthorised Biography. London: Flamingo. 1998. Print.
Kious, W, Jacquelyne and Tilling, Robert I. This dynamic earth: The story of plate tectonics. Washington: USGS, 2012. Online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/dynamic.html.
McDougall, J. D. A short history of planet earth: Mountain, mammals, fire, and ice. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1998. Print.
Marshak, Stephen. Earth: Portrait of a Planet, 4th Ed. New York: Norton, 2012. Print.
Redfern, Martin. The earth: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.
Spooner, Alecia M. Geology for dummies. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011. Print.
[Various authors]. U. S. Geological Survey. www.usgs.gov
Genetics, evolution, paleontology
Coyne, Jerry A. Why Evolution Is True. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. A devil’s chaplain: Selected writings. London: Orion Books, 2003. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. The greatest show on earth: The evidence for evolution. New York: Free Press, 2009. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. The magic of reality: How we know what’s really true. London: Transworld Publishers, 2011.
Dawkins, Richard. The selfish gene (30th anniversary edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. Unweaving the rainbow: Science, delusion and the appetite for wonder. London: Penguiin, 1999. Print.
Hublin, Jean-Jacques, and Bernard Seytre. Quand d’autres hommes peuplaient la terre: Nouveaux regards sur nos origines. Paris: Flammarion, 2011. Print.
Knoll, Andrew H. Life on a Young Planet: The first three billion years of evolution on earth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2003. Print.
Leakey, Richard E.. The origin of humankind. New York: Basic Books, 1994. Print.
Meredith, Martin. Born in Africa: The quest for the origins of human life. London: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.
Monod, Jacques. Le hasard et la nécessitë. Paris: Le Seuil, 1970. Print. (Available in English translation as Chance and necessity)
Picq, Pascal. Au commencement était l’homme. Paris: Odile Jacob, 2013. Print.
Picq, Pascal. Les origines de l’homme: L’odysée de l’espèce. Paris: Editons Tallandier, 2005 Print.
Picq, Pascal and Roche, Hélène. Les premiers outils. Paris: Le pommier, 2013. Print.
Picq, Pascal, Sagar, Laurent, Dehaene, Ghislaine and Lestienne, Cécile. La plus belle histoire du langage. Paris:Editions du Seuil, 2008.Print.
[Various authors]. Hominidés, les évolutions de l’homme. Online at www.hominides.com. (In French)
[Various authors]. Smithsonian Human Origins Program. Online at humanorgins.si.edu.
Wells, Spencer. The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002. Print.
Wilson, David Sloan. Darwin’s cathedral. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003. Print.
Wilson, David Sloan. Evolution for everyone: How Darwin’s theory can change the way we think about our lives. New York: Bantam Dell, 2007. Print.
Wood, Bernard A. Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.
Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
Aamodt, Sandra, and Sam Wang. Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. Print.
Amthor, Frank. Neuroscience for Dummies. Mississauga, Ont.: Wiley, 2012. Print.
Bear, Mark F., Barry W. Connors, and Michael A. Paradiso. Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007. Print.
Damasio, Antonio. Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason and the human brain. New York: Penguin, 1994. Print.
Edelman, Gerald M. Second nature: Brain science and human knowledge. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Print.
Edelman, Gerald M. Wider than the sky: A revolutionary view of consciousness. London: Penguin, 2004. Print.
Frith, Chris. Making up the mind: How the brain creates our mental world. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Print.
Gibb, Barry J. The rough guide to the brain. London: Rough Guides, 2007. Print.
Kratz, René Fester. Molecular & Cell Biology for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009. Print.
Levitin, Daniel J. This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York: Penguin Group, 2006. Print.
Norris, Maggie, and Donna Rae Siegfried. Anatomy & Physiology for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Print.
Pinker, Steven. How the Mind Works. New York: Norton, 1997. Print.
Pinker, Steven. The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: Harper Collins, 1994. Print.
Ramachandran, Vilayanur and Blakeslee, Sandra. Phantoms in the brain. London: Harper, 2005. Print.
Ramachandran, Vilayanur. The emerging mind: The Reith Lectures 2003. London: Profile Books, 2003. Print.
Ramachandran, Vilayanur. The tell-tale brain. London: Windmill Books, 2012. Print.
Rose, Steven. The 21st-century brain: Explaining, mending and manipulating the mind. London: Vintage, 2005. Print.
Sacks, Oliver. Hallucinations. New York: Borzoi, 2012. Print.
Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain. New York: Vintage, 2008. Print.
Sacks, Oliver. The man who mistook his wife for a hat. New York: Touchstone, 1970. Print.
Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field notes from a catastrophe: A frontline report on climate change. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2007. Print.
Bryson, Bill. A short history of nearly everything. London: Transworld Publishers, 2003. Print.
Lightman, Alan P. Mr G: A Novel about the Creation. New York: Pantheon, 2012. Kindle Edition. Fascinating short novel about a godling who lives in a multiverse and like to make and observe universes.