The Ultimate Scisnack Book List to Understand the World

During the course of 2023, we asked Scisnackers to tell us if they had to choose one book to understand the world, which would it be? Scisnackers responded and here are 10 plus 1 books that comprise the Ultimate Scisnack Book List to Understand the World.


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


Buckle up for a journey spanning popular science, fiction and fantasy; physics, history, biology and economics. These are the go-to books of Scisnackers for understanding the physical and social world.



1. A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking

Suggested by Andrew Seidl (Climatesnack)

A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?


2. The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow

Suggested by Karen O’Toole (Archaeosnack)

A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation.


3. The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

Suggested by Johannes Lutzmann (Climatesnack)

Drawing on groundbreaking new discoveries, Wohlleben presents the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities; he describes how these discoveries have informed his own practices in the forest around him.


4. Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun

Suggested by Elena Vallianatou (Archaeosnack)

A grand, sweeping saga of sacrifice and struggle, this epic tale recaptures the world of Norwegian homesteaders at the turn of the 20th century.


5. Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution by Eric J. Hobsbawm

Suggested by Vana Orfanou (Archaeosnack)

In his book E. J. Hobsbawm described and accounts for Britain’s rise as the world’s first industrial power, its decline from its temporary dominance, its rather special relationship with the rest of the world, and some of the effects of all of these on the life of the people of the country.


6. The Source by James A. Michener

Suggested by Sam Reiter (Archaeosnack)

Through the predecessors of four modern men and women, we experience the entire colorful history of the Jews, including the life of the early Hebrews and their persecutions, the impact of Christianity, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition, all the way to the founding of present-day Israel and the Middle-East conflict.


7. Invisible Women by Caloline Criado Perez

Suggested by Fiona Walker-Friedrichs (Archaeosnack)

Caroline Criado Perez investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women​, diving into women’s lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more.


8. Guns, Gems and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Suggested by Anastasia Thamnopoulou (Archaeosnack)

A global account of the rise of civilization that is also a stunning refutation of ideas of human development based on race.


9. If this is a man by Primo Levi

Suggested by Vana Orfanou (Archaeosnack)

Levi’s Holocaust memoirs of his Auschwitz incarceration has become a classic. Levi uses the confessional memoir’s deliberate inconclusiveness to shift among memory, expectation, and unfinished business by shaping containers suited to his public subject and private needs (after Alex Zwerdling).


10. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (trilogy)

Suggested by Elena Parolovo (Archaeosnack)

The Lord of the Rings is considered one of the greatest fantasy books ever written, and it has helped to create and shape the modern fantasy genre. The Lord of the Rings has had a profound and wide-ranging impact on popular culture. In 2015, the BBC ranked The Lord of the Rings 26th on its list of the 100 greatest British novels (Wikipedia).


11. Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert-László Barabási

Suggested by Sam Reiter (Archaeosnack)

Albert-László Barabási takes us on an intellectual adventure to prove that social networks, corporations, and living organisms are more similar than previously thought.


Read responsibly!


* Book descriptions are from Goodreads, unless otherwise stated.

** Books are listed in the order they were suggested.

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Vana Orfanou

Archaeological scientist working with past technologies, analysing material culture, and talking about past peoples' worldviews, currently an MSCA postdoctoral fellow at LMU, Munich.