The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean
Discussing (among other things) cat ladies and JFK's bronze skin, the author of The Disappearing Spoon takes on genetics this time. How do those lines of DNA code shape us and what happens when they get rewritten wrong?
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
From the rise and fall of Angkor Wat to modern day Montana Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs and Steel fame) looks at environmental disasters that have felled societies. Or you can watch his TED talk.
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt
Greenblatt pieces together Shakespeare's life and work to understand how a young man from a provincial town became the world's greatest playwright.
NY Times Review