Science is mankind's great intellectual adventure, and in the last 500 years, it has dramatically changed the way we live. Thanks to science, we can move from continent to continent with an ease that was once unimaginable, and our daily lives are comfortable in ways that were inconceivable a few generations ago. We can cure diseases that once were thought incurable, and, as a consequence, life expectancy of Americans increased 50 percent in the last century. Yet the science behind these advances remains a mystery to most people.

Fortunately, a solution is at hand; popular science books make scientific literacy possible for anyone. Popular science books are not necessarily popular; you will rarely find one on a best seller list. These books are written for the public, and they are entertaining, generally accurate, and amazingly informative. Furthermore, they are crucially important to understanding the way we think and live.

Phillip Manning has been reviewing books on popular science for newspapers for almost a decade. This site contains a selection of his reviews and essays.

For a free subscription to Science Book News, a weekly compendium of new science books and book reviews, email: pvmanning@mindspring.com with "subscribe" in the subject line.