100 books like Galileo's Daughter

By Dava Sobel,

Here are 100 books that Galileo's Daughter fans have personally recommended if you like Galileo's Daughter. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Decameron

Dianne Hales Author Of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

From my list on italy and italian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Decades ago, I fell madly, gladly, and giddily in love with Italian. This passion inspired La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language, which became a New York Times best-seller and won an Italian knighthood for my contributions to promoting Italy’s language. Intrigued by the world’s most famous portrait, I wrote Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, translated into seven languages. My most recent journeys through Italian culture are La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World and  ‘A’ Is for Amore, an e-book written during the pandemic and available free on my website.

Dianne's book list on italy and italian

Dianne Hales Why did Dianne love this book?

During a plague that killed a quarter of Florence’s citizens, Boccaccio crafted an exuberant, entertaining, death-defying work of literature. In this book, seven young women and three young men taking refuge in a country villa swap 100 tales of love, lust, mischief, and treachery. 

I read a translation of The Decameron during a sabbatical in Italy and was swept back in time. In every village, I’d look around a piazza and see characters straight from its pages: wily merchants, corrupt politicians, clever wives, henpecked husbands, bumbling fools. This book still resonates in the 21st century—a tribute to Boccaccio’s skill as a spell-weaver. Some of his stories are shamelessly, laughably bawdy. But all remind us that, even as everything changes, our shared humanity remains the same.

By Giovanni Boccaccio,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Decameron as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1348, as the Black Death ravages their city, ten young Florentines take refuge in the countryside...

Taken from the Greek, meaning 'ten-day event', Boccaccio's Decameron sees his characters amuse themselves by each telling a story a day, for the ten days of their confinement - a hundred stories of love and adventure, life and death, and surprising twists of fate. Less preoccupied with abstract concepts of morality or religion than earthly values, the tales range from the bawdy Peronella, hiding her lover in a tub, to Ser Cepperallo, who, despite his unholy effrontery, becomes a Saint.…


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

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

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!

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 held nuclear secrets-and much more of an eyebrow-raising nature. In his stories, Feynman's life shines through in all its eccentric glory-a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Included for this edition is a new introduction by Bill Gates.


Book cover of The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking)

Sarah Scoles Author Of Astronomical Mindfulness: Your Cosmic Guide to Reconnecting with the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets

From my list on making night sky your new BFF.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up intending to become an astronaut. The cosmos always felt within reach of my backyard, from where I could watch the Space Shuttle launch. As I grew up, I began to realize that the space our rockets reached was exceedingly close compared to the rest of the universe. And I became obsessed with what else was out there. I went on to study radio astronomy, fascinated by the parts of the cosmos that our senses can’t detect. After that, I became a science journalist, writing about how space influences Earth and vice versa.

Sarah's book list on making night sky your new BFF

Sarah Scoles Why did Sarah love this book?

Who doesn’t love to think about how the universe—so big, so old already—will ultimately end? Reading the book encouraged me to look at the universe as its own thing, of which I and all of Earth, were tiny parts, and tiny parts that would end long before the cosmos itself would. Katie Mack explores what five such conclusions might look like, getting everybody a little more comfortable with the idea that every story has an ending, even if we don’t know what this one looks like.

By Katie Mack,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The End of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE ECONOMIST, OBSERVER, NEW SCIENTIST, BBC FOCUS, INDEPENDENT AND WASHINGTON POST

'Weird science, explained beautifully' - John Scalzi

'A rollicking tour of the wildest physics. . . Like an animated discussion with your favourite quirky and brilliant professor' Leah Crane, New Scientist

From one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics, an eye-opening look at five ways the universe could end, and the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important ideas in cosmology

We know the universe had a beginning. But what happens at the end of the story?…


Book cover of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe

Edward P.J. van den Heuvel Author Of The Amazing Unity of the Universe: And Its Origin in the Big Bang

From my list on the history of the universe and the life in it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved astronomy since high school when I built my first telescope. I subsequently have been lucky enough to become a professional astronomer. I studied physics and astronomy at Utrecht University. After obtaining my PhD, I was postdoc at Lick Observatory in California, and after that became professor of astronomy, first in Brussels and later in Amsterdam. I have always loved teaching as well as my research on the physics and formation and evolution of neutron stars and black holes in binary systems, on which I, together with my Danish colleague Thomas Tauris, published the first textbook, which came out in 2023 in the USA.  

Edward's book list on the history of the universe and the life in it

Edward P.J. van den Heuvel Why did Edward love this book?

While in the 1960s Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, based on a simple equation (“Drake’s equation”) concluded that intelligent life is abundant in the Galaxy, with as many as a million such civilizations with which we might be able to communicate, the thesis of this book is that intelligent life is exceedingly rare in the Universe.

The authors do not argue that life itself is rare. Their thesis is that simple life, such as single-celled organisms like bacteria, may have developed on billions of planets in the Galaxy. But that, on the other hand, animal life on land (multicellular creatures, able to move around) is exceedingly rare. And that these animals developing intelligence is still very much rarer.

The arguments which the authors put forward are based on what we know from the history of life on Earth in connection with the very special position of Earth in our planetary…

By Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rare Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to…


Book cover of Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe

Eugene Terry Tatum Author Of Flat Space Cosmology: A New Model of the Universe Incorporating Astronomical Observations of Black Holes, Dark Energy and Dark Matter

From my list on science of universe (cosmology).

Why am I passionate about this?

My passionate scientific interest in cosmology began several decades ago as a Stanford student while moon-lighting as a cloud chamber photo scanner at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). An initial interest in particle physics merged with an interest in cosmology because the Big Bang theory is about both. Developing a unique cosmology model and collaborating with other cosmologists around the world was a natural extension. Following numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications, our book summarizing them was one, as well. Taking a passionate interest in anything and sharing it with others is an important first step!

Eugene's book list on science of universe (cosmology)

Eugene Terry Tatum Why did Eugene love this book?

This is the logical next step after reading Stephen Hawking’s book. Simon Singh has a PhD in particle physics, but his greatest talent, in my opinion, is as a science journalist who takes us on a fascinating tour of the universe and what our scientific discoveries tell us about it.

His book is comprehensive yet understandable for the interested layperson or budding scientist, which was reassuring to me at the time. What I loved the most about his book is that it is a stage filled with fascinating characters with a common and binding joy of discovery. I wanted to be one of them! 

By Simon Singh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Big Bang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Fermat's Last Theorem and The Code Book tells the story of the brilliant minds that deciphered the mysteries of the Big Bang. A fascinating exploration of the ultimate question: how was our universe created?

Albert Einstein once said: 'The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.' Simon Singh believes geniuses like Einstein are not the only people able to grasp the physics that govern the universe. We all can.

As well as explaining what the Big Bang theory actually is and why cosmologists believe it is an accurate description of the origins…


Book cover of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

Tyler Nordgren Author Of Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets

From my list on astronomy books that will rock your world and alter your cosmos.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was of that generation of children turned on to science by reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos - plus watching the Voyager spacecraft at Jupiter on TV, seeing the 1979 total solar eclipse over my house, and having Mt St Helens erupt outside my childhood window. So, one guess what I wanted to be when I grew up? Since then, I’ve earned a PhD, used the largest telescopes on Earth, designed something driving around on Mars, written popular books, and had my science art collected by the Smithsonian. But all of that started with a single book I read as a kid. Thanks Carl.

Tyler's book list on astronomy books that will rock your world and alter your cosmos

Tyler Nordgren Why did Tyler love this book?

Have you ever wondered where all the stars went? When was the last time you saw the Milky Way? We have national parks to preserve beautiful places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone geysers. But somehow, the Milky Way, a billion glowing stars all blended together in a band everyone could see every moonless night everywhere on Earth, has just faded away to invisibility for 80% of Americans. How did that happen and why we should care is what Bogard writes about in this lovely book written not for scientists or amateur astronomers, but for everyone who’s ever thought about simply “sleeping under the stars.”

By Paul Bogard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The End of Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Streetlamps, neon signs - an ever-present glow that has changed the natural world and adversely affected our health; Paul Bogard illuminates the problems caused by a lack of darkness. We live awash in artificial light. But night's natural darkness has always been invaluable for our spiritual health and the health of the natural world, and every living creature suffers from its loss. Paul Bogard investigates what we mean when we talk about darkness. He travels between the intensely lit cities - from glittering Las Vegas to the gas-lit streets of Westminster - and the sites where real darkness still remains,…


Book cover of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Ted Schick Author Of How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age

From my list on evaluating claims of the paranormal.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in philosophy ever since I heard the album Poitier Meets Plato, a product of the 60’s coffee house culture, in which Sidney Poitier reads Plato to jazz music. As a professional philosopher, I investigate the nature of knowledge and reality, and if paranormal claims turn out to be true, many of our beliefs about knowledge and reality may turn out to be false. In an attempt to distinguish the justified from the unjustified—the believable from the unbelievable—I’ve tried to identify the principles of good thinking and sound reasoning that can be used to help us make those distinctions.

Ted's book list on evaluating claims of the paranormal

Ted Schick Why did Ted love this book?

The Dark Ages were a time of superstition and magic, of true causes those living then knew little. The science of the Enlightenment pushed back that darkness and gave us a more clear-headed view of the world.

Sagan showed me how that view was under attack and how to make the candle of truth burn a little brighter.

By Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Demon-Haunted World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A prescient warning of a future we now inhabit, where fake news stories and Internet conspiracy theories play to a disaffected American populace

“A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought.”—Los Angeles Times

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don’t understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the…


Book cover of Vera Rubin: A Life

Steven Gimbel Author Of Einstein's Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion

From my list on biographies of mathematicians and scientists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor, I see students fascinated by science, but petrified to take a science class. This is in part because we have dehumanized science, removed the story, edited out the human, deleted the parts that allow people to connect with it. Science does not get delivered by gods, but is created by people: smart, quirky, sometimes immoral people. As a writer, my hope is to be able to reinsert life into readers’ understanding of our greatest advances. As a reader myself, I am deeply appreciative when other authors do it too.

Steven's book list on biographies of mathematicians and scientists

Steven Gimbel Why did Steven love this book?

The engagingly told story of a modern hero who not only illuminated some of the darkest secrets of the universe, but who had to do it while fighting sexism all along the way. This is not a romanticized picture of a great scientist, but an inspiring and enraging telling of a real person living a recognizable life whose genius contributed to humanity and her unwavering moral compass and determination did the same for the culture.

By Jacqueline Mitton, Simon Mitton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Vera Rubin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Physics Today Best Book of the Year

The first biography of a pioneering scientist who made significant contributions to our understanding of dark matter and championed the advancement of women in science.

One of the great lingering mysteries of the universe is dark matter. Scientists are not sure what it is, but most believe it's out there, and in abundance. The astronomer who finally convinced many of them was Vera Rubin. When Rubin died in 2016, she was regarded as one of the most influential astronomers of her era. Her research on the rotation of spiral galaxies was groundbreaking,…


Book cover of Building Blocks of the Universe

David A. Aguilar Author Of Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond

From my list on understanding the first science: astronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a naturalist, astronomer, space artist, and a Harvard world lecturer living in the Rocky Mountains outside of Aspen. So far, I’ve written and illustrated twelve kid’s astronomy books for National Geographic and Penguin Random House. I directed the Science Information Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge Massachusetts for fourteen years then left in 2015 to join NASA’s New Horizons Mission Team becoming one of the first humans to see the planet Pluto up close and personal. I am also a Grammy nominated songwriter/musician, astrophotographer, telescope maker who enjoys scuba diving at night and occasionally has been known to parachute out of perfectly operating aircraft.

David's book list on understanding the first science: astronomy

David A. Aguilar Why did David love this book?

A recognized genius in his own right, Isaac Asimov takes us on an easy-to-read tour-de-force through the most basic elements that make up everything. Spoiler Alert: It’s not just sugar and spice. Anyone who has the slightest curiosity regarding astronomy, diet, health, cooking, physics, or chemistry should read this fabulous, easy-to-understand guide. It reveals what you and I are really made of. All that “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” stuff becomes crystal clear.

It is full of interesting anecdotes ranging from why the Hindenburg was never a great idea, the water that quenches fire is composed of two elements that explode when separately exposed to flame, and how life uses oxygen to function and survive. The Building Blocks of the Universe are just what Isaac Asimov says they are….the foundations of everything that exists.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building Blocks of the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Edison Foundation Award for the best science book for youth published in 1957.

In this book, which is periodically revised and updated, Isaac Asimov has chosen to call all the chemical elements so far discovered “building blocks of the universe,” and shows why they are just that.

He discusses some of the elements separately, some of them in groups, according to their importance, tells us how they were discovered, who discovered them, how they got their names, what their uses are, and, in some cases, what their dangers are.

The book is full of interesting anecdotes and…


Book cover of The Brightest Stars: Discovering the Universe Through the Sky's Most Brilliant Stars

David A. Aguilar Author Of Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond

From my list on understanding the first science: astronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a naturalist, astronomer, space artist, and a Harvard world lecturer living in the Rocky Mountains outside of Aspen. So far, I’ve written and illustrated twelve kid’s astronomy books for National Geographic and Penguin Random House. I directed the Science Information Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge Massachusetts for fourteen years then left in 2015 to join NASA’s New Horizons Mission Team becoming one of the first humans to see the planet Pluto up close and personal. I am also a Grammy nominated songwriter/musician, astrophotographer, telescope maker who enjoys scuba diving at night and occasionally has been known to parachute out of perfectly operating aircraft.

David's book list on understanding the first science: astronomy

David A. Aguilar Why did David love this book?

The stars have captivated hunter-gatherers, artists and astrologers, sages and scientists, romantics, and civilizations since the beginning of human time. 

In this book we encounter the twenty-one brightest stars visible from earth and dig into their remarkable secrets. Did you know some giant stars spin so fast they flatten out like eggs? There are stars that pulse back and forth like beating hearts? And some stars are cosmic interlopers passing through our Milky Way galaxy on their way back into the void of forever space. This is my go-to book when I want to refresh my imagination with wondrous facts about the stars blazing overhead. It should be within handy reach of every star-struck observer, camper, or poet.

By Fred Schaaf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brightest Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fred Schaaf is one of the most experienced astronomical observers of our time. For more than two decades, his view of the sky-what will be visible, when it will be visible, and what it will look like-has encouraged tens of thousands of people to turn their eyes skyward.
—David H. Levy, Science Editor, Parade magazine, discoverer of twenty-one comets, and author of Starry Night and Cosmic Discoveries

""Fred Schaaf is a poet of the stars. He brings the sky into people's lives in a way that is compelling and his descriptions have all the impact of witnessing the stars on…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in astronomers, Nuns, and Italy?

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