Just as I get started on the Royal Society's science book shortlist, the winner is announced: Nick Lane's Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution.
I'm currently half-way through James Hannam's God's Philosophers, in which he tries to correct the general conception of the Middle Ages as a period where science was devalued, if not persecuted, by the Church, and position the period instead as a time of development of classical thinking and preparation for the glorious 1500s. It's an absorbing read, if a little too colloquial for my taste; but certainly an amazing insight into the minds of people whose entire thought processes were radically different from our post-Enlightenment positions.
The Guardian has reviewed all the books on the shortlist - why not start on those before you hit the books?
James Hannam - God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
Nick Lane - Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
Frederick Grinnell - Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic
Marcus Chown - We Need to Talk About Kelvin: What everyday things tell us about the universe
Henry Pollack - A World Without Ice
Brian Cox, Jeff Forshaw - Why Does E=mc2?