The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2023 book cover

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2023

For the 2023 edition of The Best of American Science and Nature Writing, Carl Zimmer selected a captivating range of stories about our times, from climate change to Covid. 

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

Life’s Edge: The Search for What it Means to be Alive

Zimmer travels the mysterious borderland between the living and the non-living in his latest book, reckoning with a question that still bedevils scientists and philosophers alike: what is life?

She Has Her Mother's Laugh cover

She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Power, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

An exploration of the most intimate mystery of all: how our ancestors help make us who we are. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh traces the history of heredity, both as a scientific question and a cultural touchstone.

A Planet of Virueses 3rd edition cover

A Planet of Viruses

In this slender volume, Zimmer introduces readers to the hidden world of the most abundant forms of life on Earth. A Planet of Viruses reveals how viruses hold sway over the biosphere, how they produce new diseases, and how we can harness viruses for our own ends.

Evolution: Making Sense of Life, Thrid Edition

Making Sense of Life (co-authored with Doug Emlen)

With riveting stories about scientists at work everywhere from the high Arctic to tropical rain forests to hospital wards, this textbook grabs the imagination to show why evolution makes such brilliant sense of life.

The Tangled Bank

The Tangled Bank:
An Introduction to Evolution

The first textbook ever written for non-biology-major college students. Richly illustrated with over 300 illustrations and photographs, The Tangled Bank is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of life on Earth.

Science Ink

Science Ink:
Tattoos of the Science Obsessed

From archaeology to astronomy, from neuroscience to chemistry, Science Ink is a guide to the universe, illustrated on the bodies of scientists.

Parasite Rex

Parasite Rex:
Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures

Parasite Rex opens up the hidden, fascinating world of parasites—from protozoans that turn rats into suicidal kamikazes to wasps that transform their cockroach hosts into zombies.

Brain Cuttings

Brain Cuttings:
Explorations of the Brain

Zimmer takes readers on fascinating tours of the frontiers of neuroscience, shedding light on our innermost existence–the speed of thought, our perception of time, the complex flashes of electricity that give rise to fear and love.


E. coli and the New Science of Life

In this startlingly original biography of a germ, Zimmer traces E. coli’s pivotal role in the history of biology, from the discovery of DNA to the latest advances in biotechnology. It is also the story of life itself–of its rules, its mysteries, and its future.

The Descent of Man

The Descent of Man:
The Concise Edition

The Descent of Man: The Concise Edition introduces a new generation of readers to Charles Darwin’s scientific masterpiece. Each selection from his book is accompanied by an introductory essay by Carl Zimmer, reflecting on the history of Darwin’s ideas about humans, and what twenty-first century science has to say about them.

Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea

The Triumph of an Idea

Zimmer takes readers to the cutting edge of evolutionary biology—from the origins of life to mass extinctions to the latest theories on diseases, sex, and psychology—and explores the far-reaching implications of Darwin’s theory on our place in the world.

Soul Made Flesh

Soul Made Flesh:
The Discovery of the Brain and How It Changed the World

Soul Made Flesh chronicles the groundbreaking revelations and gory experiments that first enshrined the brain as the chemical engine of reason, emotion, and madness–as the very seat of the human soul.

At the Water's Edge 

At the Water’s Edge:
Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back To The Sea

Our ancestors came on land 360 million years ago, and our cousins—the whales—went back in about 50 million years ago. At the Water’s Edge tells the story of how the mystery of these great transitions was solved.

Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins

Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins

How did our ancestors evolve from tree-dwelling apes into the most successful species ever to live on Earth? Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins tells this seven-million-year story, accompanied by handsome photographs and illustrations.