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2012 was slow book reading year for me; I blame the exponentially exploding world of digital media and a mid-year obsession with audio books. I almost certainly missed some awesome pieces of geek literature which is kind of sad. The print industry is a juggernaut and if you missed this year, you’ll probably not hear about it again.

Lucky for me, Discover went ahead and created a list of the best of the year! Here are a few that touch on distant times, far-off places, and exotic modes of life:

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Dinosaur Art edited by Steve White
Ten paleoartists revive the prehistoric past in these lushly imaginative—and, as far as paleontologists can verify, scientifically accurate—illustrations. Dinosaurs butt heads, thrash their tails, and spread their stunning plumage, while ancient mammals and marine organisms make colorful cameos.

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Planetfall by Michael Benson
Spacecraft, rovers, and astronauts have sent back amazing raw images of our solar system. Here those snapshots are lovingly processed into intimately ?detailed views of the swirling atmosphere of Jupiter, billowing dunes on Mars, and craggy lunar craters.

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A World in One Cubic Foot by David Liittschwager
You don’t have to travel to outer space or back in time to find exotic worlds. These photographs feature the varied denizens of one cubic foot of soil, water, or air from six different locations on Earth. One good look at a pincushion sea star or a longhorn beetle grub and you will wonder if you aren’t on another planet after all.

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