The Slovenian philosophy professor decries the tyranny of choice and says we now expect long life, a beautiful body, sexual and job satisfaction. But the idea that we can perfect ourselves dooms us to failure and misery
The author guides us through the intoxicating world of the perfumer, from ancient Egypt to wartime Paris – and explains what Guerlain meant when he said his fragrances contained a whiff of his mistress’s bottom
You won’t become happy by trying to achieve happiness so why not embrace the full repertoire of human emotions? Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman recommends the best books on negative thinking.
Fathers and mothers play very different roles in a child’s development, says Kyle Pruett, Clinical Professor in the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine—and both are essential. He recommends books on fathers and fatherhood—for both parents.
If you’ve stepped inside a school recently, you’ve probably heard teachers talking about the importance of a ‘growth mindset.’ Here psychologist Carol Dweck, who pioneered research into this key concept, explains what it’s all about and recommends books—other than her own—that shed light on it.
For thousands of years, human societies have tried to regulate sexual activity. The author of Sex and Punishment tells us why this should be so, and how what’s permissible has varied according to time and place.
Historian and author Louise Foxcroft prescribes reading on medical practices of the past, from treatments of madness and non-existent disease, to drug use and the origins of hypochondria.
In a culture obsessed with speed, the author of In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honoré, asks us to take a step back, from slower eating to unhurried thinking – and traces the leisurely history of the slow movement
Will it be possible to live forever? Is there such a thing as the soul, or immortality in one’s legacy? Stephen Cave, philosopher and author of Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization, explores the eternal questions, from elixirs of life to modern-day cryonics.
The roots of our (generally) open attitude to sex lie not in the sixties but the 1760s, says the historian and author of The Origins of Sex, who explores this earlier sexual revolution through its literature.
Half of the world’s population live in cities, and more are moving in. Urbanist Leo Hollis explains how city living makes us smarter and more creative, why slums are set to grow, and what the future of the city holds.
Novelist Tim Lott, whose autobiographical book Under the Same Stars lays bare a dysfunctional relationship with his brother, tells us about love and rivalry among siblings – and, from Cain and Abel on, the dark, even murderous, impulses that can be engendered between them.
The psychologist and professor of cognitive neuroscience, Elaine Fox, reveals the benefits of positive thinking—if grounded in realism. Some of us may be genetically predisposed towards pessimism, but can overcome it.
Is the Internet dividing our attention? Are we so buried in technology that we ignore one another? The technology writer discusses the history and implications of the information age, from the mechanical clock to the iPhone
From an early age, girls learn to be pretty in pink while boys are marketed a prepackaged masculinity. The author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter explains how parents can give their children a broader, more imaginative outlook
Bibliotherapist Ella Berthoud prescribes some reading for love. Rekindle your relationship, remember first passions and beware obsessive love with help from these suggestions.
The author, critic and creative writing professor tells us about the battle to establish gay fiction. He recommends five novels where beautiful writing and gay themes come together.
The lawyer, who’s defended many clients on death row, tells us why the legal system in capital cases is set up to fail, and says all of us should know more about what happens in an execution
Our culture tells us to follow our hearts, but self-deception can wreck lives. The therapist advocates a new model of prudence when it comes to major life choices, and recommends reading that illustrates his advice
Family dynamics are changing dramatically in our modern, workaholic age. The novelist – and sister of Steve Jobs, separated at birth – selects five works of fiction that illustrate some truths about families in all their variety
Play is a vital learning experience. But not all play is equal. Some helps children develop their imagination and learn cooperative behaviour. Some doesn’t. The Yale psychologist explains all
Education writer Peg Tyre says many parents don’t understand how children learn and so don’t know what to look for in a school. She recommends five books to bring parents up to speed.
The educationalist tells us about her experience as head of Washington DC’s public school system and explains how poorly performing children, and institutions, can be helped to improve
The Dutch science journalist takes a light-hearted look at national stereotypes: why Dutch women are happy, and what it means to be blonde. She picks the best books on Dutch women.
The author who gave us The Happiness Project passes on tips for happier living, with a little help from Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin and a nun with humour on her mind.
The anthropologist explains how infants are socially aware and why behaviour thought inevitable in some cultures, such as tantrums, can be uncommon elsewhere
The author of the self-satirising memoir on ambitious “tiger mothers” talks us through the books about motherhood that have made the most impact on her.
Clinical psychologist, author and broadcaster discusses the stigmas attached to mental health problems, and asks whether, as a society, we are really doing what’s best for our children
Justine Picardie, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK and author of Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life, chooses her favourite fashion biographies, and considers whether fashion and art are inextricably linked.
Biologische Untersuchungen (Die Spermien der Vogel)
by Gustaf Retzius
by J.R. Krebs (Editor), N.B. Davies (Editor)
Sperm Competition and the Evolution of Animal Mating Systems
by Robert L. Smith (Editor)
by William Eberhard
Sperm Competition and its Evolutionary Consequences in the Insects
by Leigh W. Simmons
Professor Tim Birkhead is one of the pioneers of spermatology. He explains how promiscuous females can be selective about sperm, even after multiple inseminations
The professor of dermatology talks about the ferocious inwardness and aching solitude of pain. Pain destroys language, reducing the sufferer to a pre-linguistic state: to primal screams
The award-winning journalist and the world’s leading Wrongologist discusses human error and selects five books on wrongness in both public life and literature
Finding meaning in life is not the same as finding happiness, argues Canadian philosopher Paul Thagard. He picks the best books on the meaning of life.
The respected author in an intimate discussion about his personal views on autism, prompted by his relationship with his own autistic son. Discusses books that reflect the values of empathy and authenticity
Most of us want to be happy, and yet it’s hard to achieve. Jonathan Haidt, psychologist and author of the classic The Happiness Hypothesis, talks us through five books, old and new, to better understand happiness.
The sociology professor and blogger at spiked-online.com says when society is faced with problems like homophobia, healthy eating or integration, for example, then we try to
The Italian cardiologist and fellow of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine proposes five books on Medicinal Marijuana and explains why we should be reading them.
The Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs talks drugs and selects the best books on the subject. Enlightening discussion around drug policies and potential benefits of hallucinogens
The CEO of iOpener, a human asset management consultancy, explains how you can increase happiness and thus productivity in the workplace. She picks five essential reads for bosses and employees.
Poet, writer and Bafta winning TV and film producer, Henry Normal, talks about his experiences bringing up his autistic son, the need for acceptance and why we should all embrace our human imperfections. Along the way he recommends five books that inspired him as a young man and continue to inspire him today.
Author and social psychologist discusses the nature of drug addiction and the problems associated with it. Discusses books by Coelho, Welsh and Kerouac
Research shows that middle-aged sex is the best of people’s lives, says journalist and author Kate Figes. She picks the best books on sex and marriage.
Tom Shakespeare, a professor of disability research at Norwich Medical School, says early books on disability focused too much on physical impairment, and not enough on the stigma attached to it.
Television presenter Riz Khan chooses books on enduring love. Wuthering Heights, Remains of the Day, John Irving and Julian Barnes all make the list
The Consultant Psychotherapist at The Tavistock Clinic explains the history of Child Psychotherapy and walks us through the five books that have influenced her most
The poet, novelist and author of memoirs explores parallels between faith in the divine and commitment to a worldly erotic passion, and books that show you can have purity within licentiousness
As a young Dutch Jewish girl, Johanna Reiss survived World War II hidden in the attic of a farmer called Johan Oosterveld. Her memoir of that time, The Upstairs Room, is still read in schools today. But while she was researching that book in 1969, her American husband, Jim, killed himself. In this interview, she recommends books on the painful subject of suicide, as well as the music that helped heal the pain.
Mary Poppins [DVD]
by Robert Stevens
Dancer from the Dance
by Andrew Holleran
And the Band Played on
by Randy Shilts
What's Happening to the American Family?
by Professor Frank Gallo, Professor Richard Belous & Professor Sara A. Levitan
The Case for Marriage
by Linda J. Waite, Maggie Gallagher
Jonathan Rauch, the National Journal columnist and author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, recounts his own marriage odyssey, starting with Mary Poppins.