While it may be easier to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in our world and beyond, the truth is the more we know about something, the better we understand it, and the easier it may be to “fix” it if indeed it can or needs to be fixed.

The pandemic, the rising temperatures, the floods, the hurricanes—all these and other disasters have brought to light just how fragile our world is. The state of the planet, the future of humankind, and the unknown entity of space all raise questions as to what is yet to come. These 10 books from Barnes & Noble offer insights into a variety of topics that affect our life here on earth. Some are dark and dystopian, others are uplifting and hopeful, but they are all thought-provoking, provocative, and inspiring.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

Beyond starting one of the most successful companies, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has a profound interest in climate change. In 2015 he spearheaded the formation of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to fund clean energy initiatives. Over the past decade, together with experts in the field, he has concentrated on what we must do to stop our planet's almost inevitable demise. In this book, he outlines why we need a plan for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and how we can do this.

What is Life? by Paul Nurse

Now there’s a question that many of us ask ourselves. But beyond the philosophical, renowned biologist and Nobel-prize-winning scientist, Paul Nurse explores five key ideas that form the basis of biology, and of life itself— the cell, the gene, evolution by natural selection, life as chemistry, and life as information.

A Brief Welcome to the Universe by Neil deGrasse Tyson, J. Richard Gott, and Michael Strauss

There’s probably not a person in the world that hasn’t looked up into the sky and wondered, “How does the universe actually work?” Let bestselling authors and acclaimed astrophysicists Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott take you on an unforgettable journey of exploration and explanation from our own solar system to the final frontiers.

Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going by Neil deGrasse Tyson and James Trefil

How did life begin? What is our place in the universe? Are we alone? Thought-provoking questions indeed, and uber-astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, together with James Trefil, a renowned physicist and science popularizer, take these on. Filled with dazzling photos and revealing graphics this book will take you on a journey into the wonders of the universe and beyond.

Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb

There have been many claims of alien sightings, of UFOs hurtling through space, of close encounters of the third kind, none of which have ever been proven. But Harvard’s top astronomer, Avi Loeb, is convinced that in late 2017, he witnessed an object that he believes was a piece of advanced technology created by a distant alien civilization. This book outlines his controversial theory and its profound implications on science, religion, and on the future of our species and our planet.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

A #1 New York Times bestseller, The Code Breaker is a particularly timely and stimulating account of how 2020 Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies. The book explores the technique of gene editing that she, together with Emmanuelle Charpentier, patented, known as CRISPR-Cas9, that makes it possible to selectively alter bits of DNA.

Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer by Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson begins his book with an intriguing fact: in the last hundred years, our life expectancy has doubled. Modern medicine, better living conditions, technology—all these are factors that attribute to this, yes, but what other forces helped to lead to such a dramatic improvement? The New York Times best-selling author sets out to investigate.

The God Equation by Michio Kaku

For the past 2,000 years, scientists have been trying to explain the universe. Theories abound—the big bang theory, string theory, quantum theory. Theoretical physicist and futurist, Michio Kaku has authored this New York Times bestselling book that explores melding these sciences together into one equation to answer some of the world’s deepest mysteries—the quest for a theory of everything.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Looking back at 70,000 years of human history could help us predict the future, and Yuval Noah Harari does just that in his latest bestseller. Our life on earth has been fraught with disasters, disease, war, yet we have overcome. Is mankind evolving from Homo Sapien (wise human) to Homo Deus (god human)? Harari explores these predictions and more in this profound and insightful book.

Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

We see it happening already—animal species dying out, icebergs melting, land disappearing. Are we on the brink of another extinction? Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert looks at five previous mass extinction events spanning five hundred million years and compares them to what’s happening in our world today as a result of human-created global warming and ocean acidification, the destruction and fragmentation of forests, and our spread of invasive species around the world.

All these books and more are available at Barnes & Noble.

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