The KB Hus Biology Book List

The temperatures are dropping. The Julebord (Christmas party) is planned. The Julemarkeder (Christmas markets) have started. The Thanksgiving turkeys in the U.S. have been diminished to leftovers. The season of giving has arrived! Whether you are looking for gifts for your own wish-list, or something meaningful for someone else in your life, check out these highly recommended biology-related books from folks at the Kristine Bonnevie Hus.

What to put under the Juletre (Christmas tree)? Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kelvin Kay

This list is the response to an email I wrote asking...
"What is your favorite book about biology? Who would you recommend it to?
Please send me these details about your favorite biology book(s):
What is it (name, author and genre of the book)? Why it is so great?!
And who you would give it to as a gift (family, friend, co-worker,
daughter, nephew...etc.
And without further ado, and in no particular order... værsågod!

 The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins, (popular science).
"It's a great book on the history of evolution, both for those who already know some biology (there are many interesting anecdotes) and for newbies.
I would give it to a friend or relative who is curious, but doesn't know so much about evolution and history of life on Earth."

Recommended by Kristina Øie Kvile

For more books by Richard Dawkins: The Richard Dawkins Foundation

Recommended by Luka Olsen

Cod by Mark Kurlansky

"It's great because it reads the history of western world in the last 1000 years in light of the economical interests that cod generated.

It's a good book for non-scientists and scientists alike, it's a popular science book, so it would do for either friends or colleagues."

Recommended by Giovanni Romagnoni

For more books by Mark Kurlansky (including children's books!), see his Blog


Ernst Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature (originally in German, Kunstformen der Natur). Genre: basically pictures of organisms

"Just have a look at the images, it's a fantastic celebration of how forms in nature are just like art. For example, look at these google search results: HERE."

A good gift for: coworker, family, artists

Recommended by Lex Nederbragt

The Genome War, by James Shreeve

Also Recommended by Lex Nederbragt

Bird sense: what it's like to be a bird by Tim Birkhead

"Do you know the reason why birds of prey have such an excellent vision? Or how owls can locate their prey in the dark and even under snow cover? Have you been aware of the extraordinary magnetic sense which allows birds to migrate? These and many more questions are answered in that book and I was over and over again surprised by the answers."

You don't have to be a biologist to understand the book but it might help if you have a rough anatomical understanding and have heard of i.e. a fovea. I would give it as a gift to everybody who is interested in birds."

Recommended by: Julia M.I. Barth

Feathers: the evolution of a natural miracle by Thor Hanson

"I always wondered how feathers evolved - this is an easy to read scientific summary about the history of feather research, the evolution of birds, archeology, paleontology and engineering science. Most astonishing I found the chapter about how feathers are able to keep birds warm in i.e. a Norwegian winter while at the same time be able to keep a bird cool around the equator in Africa.

A good gift to the evolutionary interested. But also bird lovers and boys having an interest in dinosaur. ;) "

Also recommended by Julia M.I. Barth

Hver morgen kryper jeg opp fra havet, Frøydis Sollid Simonsen, (lyrikk/sakprosa).

"This is so great because it shows how fascinating nature can be for a non-biologist. It covers everything from sexual selection to DNA.

I would give it to a norwegian speaking (or someone learning norwegian, as it is short!) mom or friend, biologist or non-biologist."

Recommended by Anna Blix

Last chance to see by Douglas Adams (popular science)

"This old book goes through many endangered species, and it is funny.

I would give it to a family member above 15 years old, friends and co-workers"

Recommended by Maria Tesaker

Molecular Ecology by Joanna R. Freeland

"It starts off very easy and is therefore easy and fluffy to read but discusses some interesting things later on (although I have read the older version of this)"

A good gift for: colleague/friend, or very nice student :-)

Recommended by Claudia Junge

Kükenthal - Zoologisches Praktikum by Volker Storch and Ulrich Welsch
(it is in German though, but great book!)

"It is a practical guide throughout the animal kingdom and gives instructions on how to cut them open properly to see what's inside, it is very interesting and the standard practical zoology book in Germany"
A good gift for: biology students or simply bio geeks
Also recommended by Claudia Junge

Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond

"I've been meaning to read this for many years now." ~Annie

Recommended by Anne Brysting, per recommendation of Ola Westengen

More books by Jared Diamond: His Website

The Swarm, by Frank Schätzing (Science Fiction)

"One of the main characters is a maritime biologist studying marine worms in Trondheim, Norway. Sounds cool to me!" ~Annie

Recommended by Christopher Hinchcliffe

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen (Young adult novel)

"This is a good one for younger folks, though anyone can enjoy it according to the reviews on Good Reads" ~Annie

Recommended by Rebecca Trubitt

The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the eye of the beholder, essays by David Quammen

"I'm currently reading this and love it. The short stories are easy to read in a few T-bane rides, yet each one is captivating and inspiring. It makes me love being a biologist. My husband, an economist, likes it too!" ~Annie

Recommended by Emil Dimantchev (Annie's husband)

More books by David Quammen: His blog

Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver (Novel)

"Barbara is a gifted author. She tells a story and teaches biology at the same time. I had a hard time putting this book down.

I would give this book to anyone who enjoys books about nature, with strong female characters... my mom, friends, anyone older than 15."

Recommended by Annie Evankow

More books by Barbara Kingsolver: Her Site

Last but not least...

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (Children)

"This is a classic children's book about what happens when we don't think about the repercussions of our actions. A must read.

I would give this to kids, but also adults that enjoy poems and well written stories."

Recommended by Annie Evankow

Is your favorite biology-related book missing from this list??? Add it to the comments below.



Tags: CEES, Books
Published Nov. 29, 2013 7:44 AM - Last modified July 13, 2016 1:00 PM
Add comment

Log in to comment

Not UiO or Feide account?
Create a WebID account to comment