The Royal Society Science Books Prize is an annual £25,000 prize awarded by the Royal Society to celebrate outstanding popular science books from around the world. It is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience, and since it was established in 1988 has championed writers such as Stephen Hawking, Jared Diamond, Stephen Jay Gould and Bill Bryson. In 2015 The Guardian described the prize as "the most prestigious science book prize in Britain".
The Royal Society established the Science Books Prize in 1988 with the aim of encouraging the writing, publishing and reading of good and accessible popular science books. Its name has varied according to sponsorship agreements.
|1990–2000||Rhône-Poulenc Prize for Science Books||Rhône-Poulenc|
|2001–2006||Aventis Prize for Science Books||Aventis|
|2007–2010||Royal Society Prize for Science Books||none|
|2011–2015||Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books||Winton Group|
|2016–2018||Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize||Insight Investment|
A panel of judges decides the shortlist and the winner of the Prize each year. The panel is chaired by a fellow of the Royal Society and includes authors, scientists and media personalities. The judges for the 2016 prize included author Bill Bryson, theoretical physicist Dr Clare Burrage, science fiction author Alastair Reynolds, ornithologist and science blogger GrrlScientist, and author and director of external affairs at the Science Museum Group, Roger Highfield. In 2019, the jury consisted of Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Shukry James Habib, Dorothy Koomson, Stephen McGann, and Gwyneth Williams.
All books entered for the prize must be published in English for the first time between September and October the preceding year. The winner is announced at an award ceremony in September and receives £25,000. Each of the other shortlisted authors receives £2,500.
- Explaining Humans, Camilla Pang
- The Double X Economy, Linda Scott
- The Great Pretender, Susannah Cahalan
- Transcendence, Gaia Vince
- The Body: A Guide for Occupants, Bill Bryson
- The World According to Physics, Jim Al-Khalili
- Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez
- Clearing the Air, Tim Smedley
- Infinite Powers, Steven Strogatz
- The Remarkable Life of the Skin, Monty Lyman
- The Second Kind of Impossible, Paul Steinhardt
- Six Impossible Things, John Gribbin
- Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
- The Unexpected Truth About Animals, Lucy Cooke
- The Beautiful Cure: Harnessing Your Body’s Natural Defences, Daniel M Davis
- Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine, Hannah Fry
- Liquid: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives, Mark Miodownik
- Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World, Simon Winchester
- Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds, Cordelia Fine (Icon Books)
- Beyond Infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of the Mathematical Universe, Eugenia Cheng (Profile Books)
- Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life, Peter Godfrey-Smith (William Collins)
- In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's, Joseph Jebelli (John Murray)
- To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death, Mark O'Connell (Granta Books)
- I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, Ed Yong (Bodley Head)
- The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science, Andrea Wulf (John Murray)
- The Hunt for Vulcan: ... and How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe, Thomas Levenson (Head of Zeus)
- The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World, Oliver Morton (Granta)
- The Gene: An Intimate History, Siddhartha Mukherjee (Bodley Head)
- Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind over Body, Jo Marchant (Canongate)
- The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird's Egg, Tim Birkhead (Bloomsbury)
- Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made, Gaia Vince (Chatto & Windus)
- Life’s Greatest Secret, Matthew Cobb (Profile)
- Smashing Physics, Jon Butterworth (Headline)
- The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, David Adam (Picador)
- Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life, Alex Bellos (Bloomsbury)
- Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology, Johnjoe Mcfadden and Jim Al-Khalili (Bantam Press)
- Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World, Mark Miodownik, (Viking - an imprint of Penguin Books)
- Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics under Hitler, Philip Ball (The Bodley Head)
- Seven Elements That Have Changed The World: Iron, Carbon, Gold, Silver, Uranium, Titanium, Silicon, John Browne (Weidenfeld & Nicolson - an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group)
- The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity, Pedro G. Ferreira (Little, Brown Book Group)
- The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery, George Johnson (The Bodley Head)
- Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Mary Roach (Oneworld)
- The Particle at the End of the Universe, Sean Carroll
- Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead
- Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life by Enrico Coen
- Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory by Charles Fernyhough
- The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson
- Ocean of Life by Callum Roberts
- The Information, James Gleick
- Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer
- My Beautiful Genome, by Lone Frank
- The Hidden Reality, by Brian Greene
- The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker
- The Viral Storm, by Nathan Wolfe
- The Wavewatcher's Companion, Gavin Pretor-Pinney
- Alex’s Adventures in Numberland, Alex Bellos
- Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World, Guy Deutscher
- The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean
- Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science, Ian Sample
- The Rough Guide to The Future, Jon Turney
- Life Ascending, Nick Lane
- A World Without Ice, Henry Pollack
- Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic, Frederick Grinnell
- God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science, James Hannam
- We Need To Talk About Kelvin, Marcus Chown
- Why Does E=mc2?, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
- The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
- Decoding the Heavens by Jo Marchant
- What the Nose Knows by Avery Gilbert
- Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
- Your Inner Fish - A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin
- The Drunkard's Walk - How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
- Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas
- Coral - A Pessimist in Paradise by Steve Jones
- Gut Feelings by Gerd Gigerenzer
- A Life Decoded - My Genome: My Life by J. Craig Venter
- The Sun Kings - The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began by Stuart Clark
- Why Beauty is Truth - A History of Symmetry by Ian Stewart
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
- Homo Britannicus by Chris Stringer
- In Search of Memory by Eric R. Kandel
- Lonesome George by Henry Nicholls
- One in Three by Adam Wishart
- The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson
This was the first year that the prizes were given by the Royal Society.
- Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched on the Modern World by David Bodanis
- Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane
- Empire of the Stars: Friendship, Obsession and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes, by Arthur I. Miller
- Parallel Worlds: The Science of Alternative Universes and our Future in the Cosmos, by Michio Kaku
- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond
- The Truth About Hormones: What's Going on when We're Tetchy, Spotty, Fearful, Tearful or Just Plain Awful, by Vivienne Parry
It was Jared Diamond's third nomination for the prize, having won twice previously. The 2006 prize was the last one to be sponsored by the Aventis Foundation.
- Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another by Philip Ball ISBN 0-374-28125-4
- The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins
- Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older by Douwe Draaisma
- Matters Of Substance: Drugs - And Why Everyone's A User by Griffith Edwards
- The Earth: An Intimate History by Richard Fortey
- The Human Mind by Robert Winston
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- In The Beginning Was the Worm by Andrew Brown
- Magic Universe by Nigel Calder
- Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body by Armand Marie Leroi
- Nature Via Nurture by Matt Ridley
- Backroom Boys by Francis Spufford
- How to Clone the Perfect Blonde by Sue Nelson and Richard Hollingham
- Right Hand, Left Hand by Chris McManus
- Small World by Mark Buchanan
- Reckoning With Risk by Gerd Gigerenzer
- The Extravagant Universe by Robert P. Kirshner
- The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
- Where Is Everybody? by Stephen Webb
- The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
- Aeons - The Search for the Beginning of Time by Martin Gorst
- The Secret Life of Dust by Hannah Holmes
- The Madness of Adam and Eve: Did Schizophrenia Shape Humanity? by David Horrobin
- A Primate's Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky
- Rivals - Conflict as the Fuel of Science by Michael White
- Mapping the Deep by Robert Kunzig
- Creation: Life and How to Make It by Steve Grand
- Strange Beauty by George Johnson
- Mendel's Demon by Mark Ridley
- Mendeleyev's Dream by Paul Strathern
- Malignant Sadness by Lewis Wolpert
- The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
- The White Death by Thomas Dormandy
- A Brief History of the Future by John Naughton
- Genome by Matt Ridley
- Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior by Jonathan Weiner
- Children of Prometheus by Christopher Wills
- (1999) The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, Paul Hoffman
- (1998) Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
- (1997) The Wisdom of Bones, Alan Walker and Pat Shipman
- (1996) Plague’s Progress, Arno Karlen
- (1995) The Consumer’s Good Chemical Guide, John Emsley
- (1994) The Language of the Genes, Steve Jones
- (1993) The Making of Memory, Steven Rose
- (1992) The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond
- (1991) Wonderful Life, Stephen Jay Gould
- (1990) The Emperor's New Mind, Roger Penrose
- (1989) Bones of Contention, Roger Lewin
- (1988) Living with Risk, British Medical Association Board of Science
- The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, Royal Society
- "Top science book prize won by woman for first time", "The Guardian", London, 24 September 2015. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Science Book Prize gets new sponsor", "The Bookseller", London, 17 June 2016. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Judging panel 2019". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
- "Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2020". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
- "'2020 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize Winner 2020". theguardian.com. 3 November 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
- "Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2019". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
- "'Brilliant exposé' of gender data gap wins Royal Society science book prize". theguardian.com. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
- "Shortlist for The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2018 revealed". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- Cain, Sian (1 October 2018). "Myth-busting study of teenage brains wins Royal Society prize". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
- "Shortlist for The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2017 explores life's big questions". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2017-09-03.
- "Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
- "Shortlist for The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2016 unveiled". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- "The Royal Society announces the winner of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2016". royalsociety.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- "Winton Prize for Science Books shortlist revealed", "The Bookseller", London, 5 August 2015. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Materials book wins Royal Society Winton Prize", "BBC", London, 10 November 2014. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Royal Society Winton Prize goes to 'rock star' science book", "The Guardian", London, 26 November 2013. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Royal Society Winton prize for science goes to James Gleick", "The Guardian", London, 27 November 2012. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Expert in idleness is surprise winner of science book prize", "The Independent", 18 November 2011. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Royal Society's science book prize will be the last", "BBC", 21 October 2010. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.
- "Prize for wonder of science past", "BBC", 15 September 2009. Retrieved on 22 June 2016.