Science Friday’s Top Science Books of 2023: A Year in Review

Science Friday's Top Science Books of 2023: A Year in Review

From terraforming to menstruation, a diverse range of science-focused books captivated readers in 2023.

As another year comes to a close, Science Friday reflects on the multitude of science-focused books that have graced our program. With 35 different titles discussed, covering topics ranging from terraforming to menstruation, it’s clear that 2023 has been a year of diverse and thought-provoking reads. In this article, we compile a comprehensive list of all the books featured on our show, offering readers the opportunity to explore these fascinating works and delve deeper into the worlds of pop-sci and sci-fi.

1. “The Terraformers” by Annalee Newitz
In “The Terraformers,” Newitz challenges our misconceptions about “untouched” nature and highlights the long history of human influence on Earth’s environment. Through engaging storytelling, Newitz explores the ways in which humans have been terraforming the planet for thousands of years, ultimately questioning our perception of what is natural.

2. “Seaweeds of the World: A Guide to Every Order” by John Bothwell
Bothwell takes readers on a journey into the world of seaweeds, offering a comprehensive guide to every order. From sharing his personal favorite seaweed species to unraveling the complexities of their reproductive systems, Bothwell provides a fascinating look into the diverse and often overlooked realm of marine algae.

3. “The Ship Beneath the Ice: The Discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance” by Mensun Bound
Bound recounts the gripping tale of the discovery of Shackleton’s Endurance, the famous shipwreck that lay trapped in the Antarctic ice for over a century. With vivid descriptions and a sense of wonder, Bound reveals the remarkable preservation of the ship and the awe-inspiring story of its ill-fated expedition.

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4. “The Devil’s Element: Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance” by Dan Egan
Egan delves into the complex relationship between humanity and phosphorus, a vital element that is both essential for life and a potential environmental threat. Through in-depth research and expert insights, Egan explores the consequences of our overuse of phosphorus and its impact on freshwater resources and ecosystems.

5. “Life on Other Planets: A Memoir of Finding My Place in the Universe” by Aomawa Shields
Shields, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist, shares her personal journey of discovery and her belief in the existence of life beyond Earth. With a focus on inclusivity and expanding the boundaries of scientific exploration, Shields inspires readers to join the quest for knowledge and embrace the possibilities of extraterrestrial life.


The science books of 2023 have taken readers on a captivating journey through a wide range of topics. From exploring the hidden world of seaweeds to unraveling the mysteries of phosphorus and contemplating the existence of life beyond Earth, these books have expanded our understanding of the natural world and challenged our preconceived notions. As we bid farewell to 2023, let us continue to embrace the wonders of science and eagerly anticipate the new discoveries and stories that await us in the coming year.