Paperback: 960 pages
As those who are familiar with Asking About Life know, this is a textbook with a philosophy. That philosophy is to present biology not as a canonical set of facts about life, but as a dynamic, ongoing dialogue with nature, in which real people who happen to be scientists ask meaningful questions and take understandable steps over time to discover answers to them. The book mixes an engaging narrative style, a strong historical perspective, great examples, and authoritative factual knowledge into an eminently readable, extremely informative, and scientifically impeccable text. As a result, a student or reader can turn to this book not simply to learn about the structure of DNA or how the human immune system functions, but also about Rosalind Franklin's role in discovering the double helix and about why HIV "continues to perplex medical researchers." And, as shown by the book's section headings (How Do Zygotes Cleave? How Does Gastrulation Set Up the Three-Layered Structure?), it embodies the truth that the best scientific questions start not with "what" but with "how."
Asking About Life is also full of beautiful, crystal-clear photos and illustrations, many of which, like the text, do a wonderful job of depicting not just static objects, but dynamic processes.