How to Take Over the World: Practical Schemes and Scientific Solutions for the Aspiring Supervillain, Ryan North, Riverhead Books, 2022, $28.00

Have you ever watched a James Bond movie and thought, “Wow, I’d love to have a secret base like the ones those supervillains romp around in!” If so, How to Take Over the World by Ryan North, a comic-book writer, is the book for you. By outlining how one could theoretically carry out various schemes like cloning dinosaurs, controlling weather, destroying the internet, and becoming immortal (Spoiler alert: It’s not possible!), North cleverly presents readers with an introduction to subjects as varied as the chemical makeup of Earth’s core and the international treaties governing the use of Antarctica (the ideal location for a secret base). Fun, snarky illustrations by Carly Monardo round out the compelling package. —rd

Ever Green: Saving Big Forests to Save the Planet, John W. Reid and Thomas E. Lovejoy, W. W. Norton, 2022, $30.00

Just five megaforests—“stunningly large, wooded territories”—remain on Earth, write John W. Reid and Thomas E. Lovejoy, a conservationist and a biologist, respectively. Yet those vast expanses continue to be threatened by human deforestation. In Ever Green, Reid and Lovejoy describe their extensive expeditions to all five megaforests, the forests’ vast biodiversity and geography, and the many researchers and Indigenous people who work and live in them. They focus on megaforests’ importance not just as Earth’s wildest, most biologically diverse lands but also as vital carbon sinks. Thus, Ever Green serves as a call to arms to modern society to better appreciate this natural resource, which is key to curtailing climate change and averting the social crises and ecological disasters that it will cause. —cc

A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Stonehenge to Atomic Clocks, Chad Orzel, BenBella Books, 2022, $16.95 (paper)

How do we keep track of time? Why have societies invested so much effort into doing so? Those questions are the subject of A Brief History of Timekeeping by Chad Orzel, a professor of physics at Union College. Much of the focus is on the science of keeping time—from solar and lunar calendars to modern-day atomic clocks—but Orzel also considers the social context of keeping time. As he points out, politics, philosophy, and theology have been part of timekeeping since its beginnings. One cannot help but be amazed by some of the historical anecdotes Orzel relates, such as the remarkable reliability of the Gregorian calendar system, used by most of the world today. Developed in the late 1500s, the Gregorian year differs from the tropical year by only 26 seconds. Ultimately, Orzel notes, measuring time is a “signature preoccupation” of human society. —rd