The Earth

Visions of our world's astonishing history and uncertain future.



How to Build a Habitable Planet

By Charles H. Langmuir and Wally Broecker


In the more than 25 years since this book was first published, Earth's residents have become significantly more enthusiastic about environmental responsibility. Harvard geochemist Langmuir teams up with original author Broecker to update this classic history of our common home with the latest discoveries in planetary science. The resulting narrative is a cutting-edge exploration of the Earth's evolution from the Big Bang to the advent of human civilization. The two scientists delve into the unique qualities that allow Earth to support life and argue for a commitment to sustainable stewardship of its precious resources.



The Social Conquest of Earth

By Edward O. Wilson


Naturalist and bestselling author Wilson provocatively takes on big questions in this wide-ranging tour de force: Where did humans come from? What exactly are we? Where are we going? Focusing on history, philosophy, and biology, Wilson refashions the commonly accepted story of how we arrived at our current state and demonstrates that group selection (who we choose to live with), rather than kin selection (who we choose to mate with), is the driving force behind human evolution. Sure to spark controversy and foster debate, this remarkable book seeks to explain morality, religion, artistic creativity, and the human dominance of Earth's biosphere.



A History of Earth in 100 Groundbreaking Discoveries

By Douglas Palmer


Using more than 200 photos, illustrations, and computer simulations, Palmer breaks down billions of years of global change into 100 key events. His succinct descriptions capture how Earth became rich in natural resources and home to such multitudinous biodiversity. From volcanic eruptions and glacial deposits to land plants and stone tools, Palmer's explanations of the importance of these phenomena are easy to understand and illuminating. Not content to gaze only into the past, he extrapolates future tectonic plate positions and sea changes from existing models to arrive at an idea of what the Earth will look like in the future as more groundbreaking discoveries accrue.



Annals of the Former World

By John McPhee


Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, creative nonfiction pioneer McPhee's history of the 40th parallel's transformation over the last 4.3 billion years is as multi-layered as the terrain it covers. While road-tripping across North America for the better part of two decades with a bunch of noted geologists, McPhee became obsessed not only with the natural history of the continent, but also with the personal styles of the geologists who studied it, individuals who spent their comparatively brief lives fathoming the eons that had come before them. A modern masterpiece and perhaps the accomplished author's greatest work.



Planet Earth

By Alastair Fothergill


When the Discovery Channel and the BBC joined forces to produce the acclaimed miniseries Planet Earth, their cameramen utilized revolutionary technology in aerial surveillance and high-definition photography to bring viewers a nature show of unprecedented sophistication and insight that explored previously inaccessible locations around the world. This companion book overflows with images of animal behavior and awe-inspiring vistas, from wonders as disparate as a three-week-old panda cub to the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta as seen from satellite.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.