“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

By Richard P. Feynman,

Book cover of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

Book description

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. In this lively work that "can shatter the stereotype of the stuffy scientist" (Detroit Free Press), Feynman recounts his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Richard Feynman was unique. A brilliant theoretical physicist, humorous, eccentric, and independent.

Feynman’s genius gave him a certain freedom, which he exploited to the full. The book is autobiographical and shows his often irresponsible behavior but also a relentless curiosity, and willingness to try anything, the essence of a successful scientist.

One cannot hope to imitate Feynman (and perhaps we should not: he was often mischievous, even mildly malicious); but any scientist should envy the way he approached problems in engineering as well as science—and the book is fun!

Richard Feynman was a complete original, a brilliant scientist who lived life on his own terms. His curiosity is contagious, and he uses humor in his memoir to talk about all the people he encountered throughout his life, both in the US and overseas. He makes even the most highly-educated scientists sound fun and approachable! Curiosity is a key element in talking to strangers, and sometimes I think he had more than anyone else who ever lived.

From Margaret's list on getting you talking to strangers.

Nobel prize-winner Richard Feynman was renowned not only as a physicist but for his antics away from science (not all of them good). This memoir is a collection of stories throughout his life and proves his incredible skills as a raconteur. You might pick up a little science along the way – he was famous for making incredibly complex ideas easy to understand – but you’ll ache with laughter at some of his adventures. They include breaking into other peoples’ safes while making the atomic bomb, going around Las Vegas with ‘Mr. Big’ (probably Frank Sinatra), and absconding to Brazil…

An autobiography that is sure to make you fall in love with one of the mid-20th century’s most important thinkers who not only explored physics, but music, consciousness, and anything else that stoked his intellectual passion. Glorifying in his irreverence, Feynman captivates readers as he tells funny, smart, and intriguing stories from academia to the Manhattan Project to Carnival parades.

Although not a how-to, Nobel-laureate Richard Feynman’s biography is perhaps the best inspirational book about the joys of learning, discovery and problem solving. On display is not only Feynman’s genius, but his tenacity for solving problems, quest for developing a deep understanding and unconventional approach to things. For those interested in learning science, Feynman’s lectures are also amazing and available online.

From Scott's list on becoming a more effective learner.

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