The best books on Longevity, recommended by Steven Austad

The promises of potions or techniques to achieve longevity have been with us since time immemorial, the outlandishness of some claims matched only by our willingness to believe them. And, yet, today’s scientific research does give some clues on how to live longer and healthier lives. Biologist Steven Austad, Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair in Healthy Aging Research at the University of Alabama, recommends a range of books that give insight into longevity.

Parenting: A Social Science Perspective, recommended by Nate G. Hilger

We think of parenting as a level playing field because loving your kids and doing everything you can for them comes naturally and isn’t determined by socio-economic status. The problem is that it may not be enough, says economist Nate G. Hilger. Here, he argues for a more activist approach so that kids across society have an equal opportunity to do well in life.

The Best Addiction Memoirs, recommended by Matt Rowland Hill

The author and recovering addict Matt Rowland Hill dissects the ‘addiction memoir’—its literary potential, its formal conventions and its offer of hope and catharsis—as he recommends five books that exemplify the form, from Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater to Mary Karr’s bestselling Lit.

The best books on Queer History, recommended by Benno Gammerl

Queer history is not simply about exploring the historical incidence of non-heteronormative sexual desire and experience. It is also a way of looking at the past and of placing gender and sexuality at the heart of historical change. Here, Benno Gammerl, professor of Gender and Sexuality at the European University Institute, explains.

The best books on Sex and Teenagers, recommended by Jennifer Hirsch

We have a responsibility to educate our teenagers about sex and intimacy, says Jennifer Hirsch—Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University and the co-author of a new book on campus sexual assault. Here she recommends five books that offer parents and teens guidance on how to approach an often fraught topic.

Landmark LGBTQI books, recommended by Rosie Wilby

Queer readers have had to transpose themselves into heteronormative stories for most of their lives, says the comedian and writer Rosie Wilby. That’s one of the reasons why straight, cis- readers should make time to read books from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex community. Here she highlights five landmark books by LGBTQI writers that everyone should read.  

Erotic Writing by Arab Women, recommended by Selma Dabbagh

Arab women have been writing erotic literature for millennia and have become more creative and daring in recent years in the wake of the Arab Spring and the spread of social media, says novelist Selma Dabbagh, editor of a new anthology, We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers. Here, she picks five key examples of erotic writing by women of the region.

The best books on Dating, recommended by Mia Levitin

“Love,” wrote Ovid, “is no assignment for cowards.” Cultural critic Mia Levitin talks us through the history of seduction from the Classical era, through ballroom dancing, calling cards and into the present age of swiping on our mobile phones. Here she recommends five of the best books for those braving the modern dating scene.

Diet Books, selected by Tim Spector

Fad diets have been with us for generations, but the the truth is that any regime that focuses on excluding whole food groups should be approached with caution, says Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and author of the bestselling books The Diet Myth and Spoon-Fed. For this reason, he says, intermittent fasting (also known as the 5:2 diet) is the only weight-loss diet he’d truly recommend.

The Best Vaccine Books, recommended by Seth Mnookin

The history of vaccines is fascinating, and we highly recommend all the books discussed in this interview with Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus and Professor of Science Writing at MIT. These are gripping reads that tell the story of vaccines, medicine’s greatest life-saver, and the risks people took to find them.

The Best Self-Help Books of 2019, recommended by Oliver Burkeman

The self-help genre is sometimes dismissed as simplistic or over-earnest. But, at their best, self-help books offer powerful insights into how to live. Oliver Burkeman, the Guardian columnist and author of The Antidote, recommends five of the best self-help books published in 2019.

Meditation Books, recommended by Andy Puddicombe

Two decades ago Andy Puddicombe was ordained as a Buddhist monk. Now back in lay life, he tries to teach the benefits of meditation to the rest of us—most notably through the Headspace app, but also by writing books. Here he chooses some of the books that inspired him, from Japanese poetry to Tibetan philosophy. Not all are meditation books but they are his “old favorites.”

The best books on Sex, recommended by Susan Quilliam

Sex: it’s all around us, but many of us still have questions. Relationship coach and author Susan Quilliam, who updated the 1970s classic, The Joy of Sex, talks us through the best sex guides and also some of the groundbreaking books that broke taboos and paved the way to more open-minded sexual attitudes.

The best books on Death, recommended by Sue Black

As one of the most distinguished forensic anthropologists and human anatomists in the world, Professor Dame Sue Black has spent her working life in close proximity to death. Here she discusses the history of corpses supplied to anatomy houses, the misleading nature of shows like CSI, and how she intends to keep on teaching after her own death: by bequeathing her body.

The best books on Grief, recommended by Sophie Ratcliffe

We often think of bereavement in terms of deep melancholy or gentle sadness, but “grief behaves badly and grief is risk-taking”, says Sophie Ratcliffe, Oxford literary critic and author of the memoir The Lost Properties of Love. Here, she recommends five books that may act as a balm for those who have lost someone, and says that the act of reading—any book, any poem—can be consoling.

The best books on Ageing, recommended by Kathleen Taylor

Old age. We all hope to reach it, but there are big differences between a ‘good’ old age and one beset by dementia or Alzheimer’s. Neuroscientist and science writer, Kathleen Taylor, talks us through the latest science on ageing and the literary works that can give us a clearer picture of what it’s all about.

Ovarian Cancer: a reading list, recommended by Ahmed Ahmed

While survival rates for many types of cancer have improved dramatically in recent decades, progress in ovarian cancer has remained more elusive. Leading ovarian cancer researcher, Ahmed Ahmed, talks us through some of the books and articles that inspired him as he tries to get to the bottom of this ‘very, very enigmatic disease.’

The best books on Midlife Crisis, recommended by Kieran Setiya

It’s an observable phenomenon that the gap in life satisfaction between the very young and the very old with those in their 40s is equivalent to that associated with getting a divorce. Kieran Setiya, the MIT philosopher and author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, chooses the best books to counsel you through this difficult period.

The best books on Millennials, recommended by Malcolm Harris

The Millennial cohort is often characterised as a shallow, social media-obsessed generation that puts avocado toast ahead of the future. But in reality they are overeducated, underemployed and beset by anxiety, says Malcolm Harris, millennial and author of Kids These Days. Here he selects five books that paint a more accurate portrait of the first generation to come of age in the 21st century.

The best books on Educational Testing, recommended by André Rupp

Nearly everyone has had to sit a standardised test at some point in their lives and felt the grip it might hold over their future—and not always in a good way. André Rupp, research director at ETS, the nonprofit company that runs some of the most well-known tests, talks us through what’s going on at the forefront of research and the new kinds of tests that are being developed.

The Best Boarding School Novels, recommended by Anbara Salam

Boarding schools make great settings for novels, says Anbara Salam, author of coming-of-age drama Belladonna. The combination of immense privilege with the claustrophobia of a closed society can create an intense pressure cooker atmosphere in which characters might be forged.

Best Books About Dads, recommended by Paul Howard

Depictions of fathers in children’s books have leapt forward in recent years, says illustrator Paul Howard. He talks us through his favourite visions of modern dads in books, from the ultimate macho man to fathers at their most vulnerable.

Katie Kitamura on Marriage (and Divorce) in Literature

Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but what happens when the horses are spooked and the whole procession is run off the road? Katie Kitamura, whose new novel A Separation charts the disastrous—and tragic—failure of a marriage, considers some of literature’s most heartfelt accounts of relationship failure

Arthur Ammann recommends the best books on the HIV/Aids Plague

When dealing with epidemics, science does not have all the answers and relying on a new miracle drug is not always the solution. We must also learn the lessons of history, argues the veteran doctor of the HIV/Aids epidemic, Arthur Ammann. He picks the best books on ‘plagues.’

The best books on Ageing, recommended by Margaret Drabble

Is old age necessarily degrading? Should we leave home in our final years? Is there ever a good time to go? Novelist, biographer and critic Dame Margaret Drabble, now aged 80, discusses the difficult questions that arise as we age—and recommends five books that examine them in depth.

The best books on Academia, recommended by Les Back

Current UK higher education policies, which treat students as consumers, are not only killing thinking but also likely to lead to a financial crisis. And yet, academia is a beautiful vocation, with the power to transform lives year in, year out. University of London professor, Les Back, picks the best books on academia.

The best books on Children, recommended by Jo Boyden

We all know how children should be brought up, and rarely question the cultural norms that underly that certainty. But what does that mean for the policies we try to impose on the developing world? Jo Boyden, professor of international development at Oxford University and director of its Young Lives study, picks books that question our assumptions about how to successfully raise a child.

The best books on Health and the Internet, recommended by Elad Yom-Tov

A quick search of your symptoms on the internet may lead to an acute case of ‘cyberchondria.’ But it may also provide data which will improve health and even save lives. Elad Yom-Tov, the author of Crowdsourced Health, recommends books showing how internet data and data science can provide exciting new ways of conducting health and medical research.

Deborah Levy on Motherhood in Literature

Aristotle tells us that all politics starts in the family, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the infamously fraught relationship between mother and daughter. Here, the novelist, playwright and poet Deborah Levy chooses five books – or rather, four books and one film – that explore motherhood.

The best books on Dieting, recommended by Gary Taubes

Struggling to hold yourself to a calorie-counting regimen? Ignore the conventional advice on losing weight, says science writer Gary Taubes – what constitutes a healthy diet needs to be drastically re-evaluated