Happy reading season from the MIT Press: Part 1

Treat your shelf to something nerdy this winter

As winter approaches, we here at the MIT Press prepare ourselves for the upcoming chill in the time-honored fashion of all readers—by gathering our books, blankets, and mugs of our hot beverage of choice and perching ourselves next to a fireplace for the next three-to-five months. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.

This reading season, we invite you to treat yourself—and your shelf—to something new as you hunker down. In this first entry of our four-part winter reading series, we highlight some of the best nerdy titles on our list, with books on snails, 3D printing, and the sex lives of animals.

Without further ado, we urge our fellow readers to grab a book, grab a blanket, and join us in our wintery forays. (We’ll see the rest of you in May.)

Use code MITPHoliday22 at checkout on PenguinRandomHouse.com for 20% off MIT Press titles with free shipping from November 14, 2022 to January 31, 2023. *

(*Discount code applies to US addresses.)

Cover of Seeing Science, featuring a macro image of a yellow-orange, spikey atom-like figure in a black background.

Seeing Science: The Art of Making the Invisible Visible by Jack Challoner

We live among patterns of delicate beauty and exquisite chaos that our eyes can’t detect; we are surrounded by invisible particles and shifting fields of matter that permeate all of space. Our very cells are intricate molecular machines, and the story of our origins stretches back through an unimaginable amount of time. How can we see the richness of what lies beyond our sensory perception? Scientists have developed visualization tools that can make the invisible visible. This bountifully illustrated book demonstrates the power of images to represent the unseeable, offering stunning visualizations of science that range from the microscopic to the incredibly vast.

“A worthy addition to any science collection, featuring stunning full-color images with broad appeal for multiple levels of engagement.” —Library Journal

Cover of Sexus Animalis, featuring a pastel drawing of a squid, its arms spread about it. One eye peers at the viewer. At the bottom of the cover is a much smaller, baby squid suspended in white space. The lefthand side of the cover shows the mauve-colored spine.

Sexus Animalis: There Is Nothing Unnatural in Nature by Emmanuelle Pouydebat

There may be nothing unnatural in nature, but nature still encompasses much that seems fantastically strange—the amazingly multifarious sex lives of animals, for example. Sexus Animalis tells us everything we never dreamed we wanted to know about the reproductive systems, genital organs, and sexual practices of animals, from elephants (who masturbate with their trunks) to fruit flies (who produce spermatozoa twenty times their size). In the animal kingdom we find heterosexual, lesbian, gay, and bisexual behavior, as well as monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry, not to mention fellatio and many varieties of erections and orgasms.

Watch the book trailer for Sexus Animalis

Cover of A World in a Shell, featuring three images of snails sitting on green leaves, the outlines of the images amorphous and round-ish.

A World in a Shell: Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions by Thom van Dooren

In this time of extinctions, the humble snail rarely gets a mention. And yet snails are disappearing faster than any other species. In A World in a Shell, Thom van Dooren offers a collection of snail stories from Hawai’i—once home to more than 750 species of land snails, almost two-thirds of which are now gone. Following snail trails through forests, laboratories, museums, and even a military training facility, and meeting with scientists and Native Hawaiians, van Dooren explores ongoing processes of ecological and cultural loss as they are woven through with possibilities for hope, care, mourning, and resilience.

“Attentive, elegiac… Eschewing more obvious fauna, A World in a Shell makes a strong case for overcoming ‘geographical and taxonomic biases,’ noting that every species lost is a tragedy.” —Foreword Reviews

The cover of Stars in your Hand, featuring the title, subtitle, and authors' names against a light blue background. The words "Stars" and "Hand" are rendered in 3D, standing up against the cover, with cosmic colors, stars, and planets featured within the letters. The letters cast shadows on the blue background.

Stars in Your Hand: A Guide to 3D Printing the Cosmos by Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke

Astronomers have made remarkable discoveries about our Universe, despite their reliance on the flat projection, or 2D view, the sky has offered them. But now, drawing on the vast stores of data available from telescopes and observatories on the ground and in space, astronomers can now use visualization tools to explore the cosmos in 3D. In Stars in Your Hand, Kimberly Arcand and Megan Watzke offer an illustrated guide to exploring the Universe in three dimensions, with easy-to-follow instructions for creating models of stars and constellations using a 3D printer and 3D computer imaging.

“This book provides needed motivation for creating 3D models required for tactile learners of astronomy, including at schools and organizations for the blind.” —Ana Marie Larson, University of Washington

The cover of Imperfection, featuring a close-up image of a wolf's face. The wolf's left eye is brown, and the right eye is an icey blue.

Imperfection: A Natural History by Telmo Pievani

In the beginning, there was imperfection, which became the source of all things. Anomalies and asymmetries caused planets to take shape from the bubbling void and sent light into darkness. Life on earth is a catalog of accidents, alternatives, and errors that turned out to work quite well. In this book, Telmo Pievani shows that life on our planet has flourished and survived not because of its perfection but despite (and perhaps because of) its imperfection. He begins his story with the disruption-filled birth of the universe and proceeds through the random DNA copying errors that fuel evolution, the transformations of advantages into handicaps by natural selection, the anatomical and functional jumble that is the human brain, and our many bodily mismatches.

“This book is mesmerizing, delightful, profound, persuasive, and amiably conversational from the first page to the last, helping us understand how evolution works and why.” —David Quammen, author of Spillover and Breathless

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