Year list – The Inquisitive Biologist’s top 5 reads of 2019

Let me first welcome all my readers to 2020. Casting my gaze back over last year, 2019 was an exceptionally productive year where I managed to read and review 107 books. Although I fully intend to bring you many more book reviews this year, I am not sure whether I will match that output again.

For those who do not feel like trawling through that many reviews, here is my personal top 5 of the most impactful, most beautiful and most thought-provoking books I read during 2019.

1. The Outlaw Ocean: Crime and Survival in the Last Untamed Frontier

212 The Outlaw OceanThe most impactful book I read last year. The Outlaw Ocean takes an unflinching look at the criminal excesses playing out on the high seas. Riveting, exceptional, deeply troubling – this brutal reportage left a lasting impression. Read more…

2. Abundant Earth: Toward an Ecological Civilization

213 Abundant EarthBooks dealing with overpopulation featured quite a few times on my reading list this year. Abundant Earth is a radical and furious cross-examination of the concept of anthropocentrism, arguing it has a stranglehold on our thinking and is holding us back from quitting environmental destruction. Read more…

3. Everything is Fucked: A Book about Hope

187 Everything is FuckedThis is perhaps a strange book for a blog that mostly reviews life science books, but I will make no secret of the fact that I am a big fanboy of his blog, and this book was a worthy follow-up to his last one. With Mark’s trademark vulgar wit and imaginative metaphors, Everything is Fucked tackles the thorny question of why everything seems so fucked when we have never had it this good. Read more…

4. Underland: A Deep Time Journey

163 UnderlandThere were several wonderful travel narratives I read this year, and I was torn between this one and Gange’s The Frayed Atlantic Edge. Macfarlane won. Underland is a beautifully written and contemplative travel companion to our planet’s many subterranean realms. Read more…

5. Lost Anatomies: The Evolution of the Human Form

145 Lost AnatomiesOf all the books I read on human evolution in 2019, this one stood out in particular. At first glance you might think this is “just” a coffee-table book, but Lost Anatomies contains an extraordinary body of beautiful drawings of our human ancestors that combines science and artistry in a way I have not seen before. Read more…

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