INFO: The links to these products contain Amazon Associates links.  This means if you buy something after clicking through these links, we will get a small amount of money, which we promise to spend on lab parties :)

Lab books we have bought:

Python for Biologists: A complete programming course for beginners

This is our go-to starter book for programming in python. The lab is about 80% python and we like its readability and re-useability. Also, with the availability of thousands of python libraries for handling phylogenies, networks, mathematics and other kinds of data, we all need to be proficient in Python. That is not to say we dont like other languages, but Python is our workhorse right now.

Advanced Python for Biologists

This is the more advanced book in the series. Again, this is an important book for us and one that is well-used in the lab.

Python Programming for Biology: Bioinformatics and Beyond

This is also an excellent book on python programming for biology. It is written in a very nice, didactic style and has been instrumental for some of us (ahem).


This is a collection of books on networks and network mathematics that we think are very good/excellent.

Molecular Phylogenetics:

Inferring Phylogenies

This is Joe Felsenstein's book on inferring phylogenies. It is a weighty volume and when it was published in 2003 it instantly became a sort-of bible for phylogenetics. It is a gathering-together of his lecture notes on the subject and it is indeed a detailed treatment of phylogenetics.

Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics

This book written by Sudhir Kumar and Masatoshi Nei is also a bit of a classic text.
It is very thorough in its scope and has a nice balance between detailed mathematical treatment of phylogenetics and textual understanding, suitable for post-grad students.

Reconstructing the Tree of Life

A slightly out-of-date book at this stage, but we contributed a chapter and it is still an interesting read.

Introduction to Game Theory

Small very interesting book on Game Theory. Taking the reader from some simple examples to more complex examples. In evolutionary biology, game theory has been central. Understanding what are called "evolutionary Stable Strategies (ESSs) has helped us to understand animal behaviours, in particular. This book is not focussed on animals, but it is a very well-written and precise book on the subject as a whole.

The Origins of Genome Architecture

Though perhaps somewhat dated at this stage, this book has been fundamental to people's appreciation of the role of drift in evolution. In particular, the interplay between drift and selection - selection is not the only explanation for the traits we see today and some traits - even essential ones - might not have arisen and become fixed in populations by selection. Very much a book that all evolutionary biologists should read.

Homology, Genes and Evolutionary Innovations

If you want to be absolutely blown away by the sheer breadth of a book on evolution, this is probably the book for you. This book covers a very difficult topic - that of homology. The problem with homology is that we know we need a pluralistic definition for homology - the rule we might apply to molecular data might not suit morphological data and so forth. This book concentrates on homologies during development, but even if that is not really what interests you, this book still has many, many sublime passages and explanations and is well worth a read.

Popular Science Books:

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

The actor, Alan Alda (M*A*S*H*, The West Wing, etc.) has become an ambassador for science and science outreach.  In this book we get his amusing take on science (lack of, at times) communication.  It opens with an amusing anecdote about a visit to the dentist....

The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World

Though not many people would believe that a book about a 200-year old scientific rivalry could be described as "gripping", it is indeed gripping.  A super read, featuring some of the greatest scientists in palaeontology and evolutionary biology.
The story is focussed on Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen. Owen is best known to us today as the person who wrote a very thorough book on the subject of Homology.  He also claimed to have coined the word "Dinosaur", though there is some controversy. From what can be gleaned from letters, etc., Owen was known to be quite an unlikeable person. Nonetheless, he was a "rockstar" of his generation, travelling the length and breadth of Britain to give lectures at sold-out large venues. Mantell was much less famous. And so the rivalry started.

The Complete World of Human Evolution (Complete Series)

Chris Stringer is an evolutionary biologist at The Natural History Museum in London.  It's always worth reading his books on our own evolution and our relationships with our closest relatives.

Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story

When did the first humans arrive in Britain? Where did they come from? And what did they look like? This is a book about archaeology, palaeontology, human genetics and human culture. The book, was released in conjunction with a major exhibit that was held at The Natural History Museum and it was a huge success. We are still learning more and more about human origins and historical population movements and about sone-age, bronze-age and iron-age culture. This is a must-have book for anybody with an interest in these things.

Linked: How everything is connected to everything else

This is a slimline paperback that explains in clear prose how much the world is connected.
Underlying almost all of the systems we see is a network and this network has some interesting characteristics. Some of the most popular or famous,
explicit, networks are Twitter, the internet, the worldwide web (they are different) and FaceBook. However, there are remarkable similarities in how they have organised themselves. This book is completely free of mathematics or difficult concepts and makes a very nice holiday companion.

Gadgets we like:

Alexa: The Amazon Dot

"Alexa, what time is it?", "Alexa, play some ambient music".  What's not to like about this?  Having a little Artificial Intelligence in the room can sometimes be amusing.  This is a very small piece of kit, capable of maintaining lists, playing music (if you hook up to an online service) and capable of performing mathematical tasks, doing the shopping and more.  Best little gadget to come along in a long time.