A Brief History of Time

By Stephen Hawking,

Book cover of A Brief History of Time

Book description

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world's greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked A Brief History of Time as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love Stephan Hawking’s A Brief History of Time because it was the first book that inspired me to become a cosmologist. It is a terrific overview of the science behind the modern belief in the Big Bang and what has followed.

It is told with Hawking’s wry sense of humor and unique ability to make complex concepts understandable to the layperson and budding scientist, which I was at the time. It is a fantastic start for my readers of all persuasions.

From Eugene's list on science of universe (cosmology).

For many years, I planned to read this slender book because I am interested in both Hawking and physics. Having never formally studied physics, it was a challenging read. Moreover, it was the first time I did a companion book with a friend of mine where we would read and discuss each chapter; this approach was crucial as he is more scientifically inclined than I am.

Doing it together also helped me stay motivated, and I felt like I got more out of the process.

The book is a mind-bending journey that has given me deeper insights into the fundamentals…

If there is a book that truly helped me understand the vastness of the universe — the sheer scale of things — it’s this one.

True, it did make me doubt whether we’ll ever actually shake hands with our counterparts from a distant planet (do they have hands?). But Hawking’s explanations of the physics of the cosmos are clear and thoughtful. Ultimately, the search for alien life is a scientific inquiry, and there’s not much better science writing than this classic. 

From Laura's list on the search for alien life.

A list of ‘science-by-scientists’ books would not be complete without ABHOT, the classic precursor to the innumerable popular physics books published in the thirty-five years since.

Following a recipe of personal reflection interspersed with hardcore science – a template that he pretty much invented – Hawking gives us a tour of the universe beyond our familiar earthly neighborhood. What makes this book so compelling is that he tells these stories from the vantage point of a practicing theoretical physicist, one who is still as enthralled by the subject as when he first started out. 

From Ben's list on science written by scientists.

Okay, hear me out, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this a deep dive into quantum mechanics and theoretical physics that will break my brain and take an age to read?

Well, yes. And no.

The brilliance of this beautifully written work is that it’s chock full of Mr. Hawking’s humour. Best read in short bursts rather than in one night, there’s a real joy in learning from the best. And by the end of it, you may just have a firm grasp on everything from black holes to how to avoid a grandfather paradox.

I assumed for a long, long time, that any non-fiction book by extraordinarily intelligent people must be impossible to read – I guess school textbooks got me in the habit of low expectations! But this book really opened my eyes that some experts not only have a gift to understand their subject, but also have a gift to share their knowledge in an easy, compelling way. If you ever looked up at the sky and wondered Why? What? How? Go read this book. 

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