Books

Gift Guides

The Best Books of 2020

In our efforts to increase and diffuse knowledge, we highly recommend these 80 titles released this year

Our favorite books this year are ones with messages that help kids understand the world around them.

The Ten Best Children's Books of 2020

These top titles deliver history lessons, wordplay and a musical romp through the animal kingdom

The books Smithsonian experts recommend this year are, in a word, relevant.

Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2020

This wide-ranging list offers much-needed context for the issues at the forefront of the national conversation

The Chicken Soup Manifesto features delightful dishes from Ethiopia, Vietnam, Greece and other countries across the globe.

A Journey Around the World, as Told Through Chicken Soup

In her latest book, Portland-based chef Jenn Louis catalogs more than 100 recipes from 64 countries

This year's top titles include One Mighty and Irresistible Tide, You Never Forget Your First, and Caste.

Holiday Gift Guide

The Ten Best History Books of 2020

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and help explain how the country got to where it is today

This year's top ten titles explore the cosmos, fear and cleanliness alongside narratives about owls, fish and eels.

The Ten Best Science Books of 2020

New titles explore the mysterious lives of eels, the science of fear and our connections to the stars

Each year, Purdue University’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering turns into a toy testing laboratory.

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020

Tested and reviewed by engineers, these top picks make coding, robotics and engineering more accessible than ever

Grounded travelers, be thankful for these travel books released in 2020.

Holiday Gift Guide

The Ten Best Books About Travel of 2020

In a year of travel restrictions, these titles helped us channel our wanderlust

Charles Darwin in 1857, photograph by Maull and Fox

Two Darwin Notebooks Quietly Went Missing 20 Years Ago. Were They Stolen?

Staff at Cambridge University Libraries previously assumed that the papers had simply been misplaced in the vast collections

Learn about the underbelly of your neighborhood supermarket, 100-plus uses for beans and more in this year's top food books.

Holiday Gift Guide

The Ten Best Books About Food of 2020

From cookbooks to grocery-store exposés, these new books will tempt palates and fuel curiosity

Student researchers analyzed this leaf from a Book of Hours (left), a devotional Christian manuscript that dates to the 15th century. The students found traces of French cursive writing beneath the visible text (right). The cursive was likely scraped away to make the parchment reusable for the illuminated Gothic script.

Cool Finds

College Sophomores Discover Hidden Text in Medieval Manuscript

Students at Rochester Institute of Technology used a self-developed UV imaging system to assess a 15th-century religious document

Writer and photographer Paul Koudounaris' new book, A Cat's Tale, finds his pet kitty, Baba, channeling famous and little-known felines from history.

A History of Felines, as Narrated and Illustrated by a Cat

Baba the cat is both storyteller and photographic model in what is perhaps the most unique cat history book ever published

Erle Stanley Gardner is best remembered as a novelist. But he was also a lawyer deeply concerned about victims of injustice. “It is too easy to convict innocent persons,” he wrote in a 1959 letter to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

The Case of the Autographed Corpse

The author of the Perry Mason novels rose to the defense of an Apache shaman who was falsely convicted of killing his wife

Left, Self-titled Adaptation of Le Rêve (1932), by Niko Luoma, 2015. Right, Le Rêve, by Pablo Picasso, 1932.

Recreating Modernist Artwork by Photograph

Niko Luoma takes a fresh look at paintings that may seem stale

Former presidents have penned memoirs of varying focus and quality.

A Brief History of Presidential Memoirs

Barack Obama's new autobiography joins a long—but sometimes dull—tradition

Now is a good time to explore the world right at our feet.

Ten Surprising Facts That Will Make Your Walk Around the Block More Interesting

With Covid-19 keeping you close to home, now is a good time to learn about elements of your neighborhood that you take for granted

This month's book picks include A Demon-Haunted Land, South to Freedom and The Light Ages.

Books of the Month

The Heiress Who Stole a Vermeer, Witchcraft in Post-WWII Germany and Other New Books to Read

These five November releases may have been lost in the news cycle

In the television adaptation, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke play point-of-view characters Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen.

Art Meets Science

Data Science, Psychology Reveal Why the 'Game of Thrones' Books Are So Riveting

A network model demonstrates how George R.R. Martin's sprawling series remains comprehensible but surprising

A brightly-colored page in the Codex Borgia, one of the artifacts requested by Mexico's president

Mexico Seeks Apology for Catholic Church's Role in the Spanish Conquest

In a letter to Pope Francis, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also requested the temporary return of a number of artifacts

The Book of Lismore consists of 198 large vellum folios.

Medieval Manuscript Returns to Ireland After Hundreds of Years in British Hands

The 15th-century Book of Lismore features the only surviving Irish translation of Marco Polo's travels, among other historical texts

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