10 books like Genius

By James Gleick,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Genius. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Strangest Man

By Graham Farmelo,

Book cover of The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

Dirac was one of the creators of modern quantum physics. His theoretical contributions are astonishing in their insights and their power. He was, as the title says, a very strange man: painfully shy, laconic in the extreme, and socially awkward. He spoke so rarely that his colleagues at Cambridge used to joke that “a dirac” was a unit of measurement equal to one word an hour. Farmelo is a fine writer and gives a lay reader a deep understanding of why Dirac is considered such a giant in the field.

The Strangest Man

By Graham Farmelo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Strangest Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Dirac was among the greatest scientific geniuses of the modern age. One of Einstein's most admired colleagues, he helped discover quantum mechanics, and his prediction of antimatter was one of the greatest triumphs in the history of physics. In 1933 he became the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Dirac's personality, like his achievements, is legendary. The Strangest Man uses previously undiscovered archives to reveal the many facets of Dirac's brilliantly original mind.


American Prometheus

By Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin,

Book cover of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

A Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the scientist who led the effort to create the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer was a complicated character, a fine physicist but an even better leader with the perfect temperament to lead a group of scientists with giant egos and even more giant intellects to create the world’s first atomic bombs. Bird and Sherwin tell that story extremely well, and also the subsequent tragic story of his fall from grace during the McCarthy era. 

American Prometheus

By Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Physicist and polymath, 'father of the atom bomb' J. Robert Oppenheimer was the most famous scientist of his generation. Already a notable young physicist before WWII, during the race to split the atom, 'Oppie' galvanized an extraordinary team of international scientists while keeping the FBI at bay. As the man who more than any other inaugurated the atomic age, he became one of the iconic figures of the last century, the embodiment of his own observation that 'physicists have known sin'.

Years later, haunted by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Oppenheimer became a staunch opponent of plans to develop the hydrogen bomb.…


Genius in the Shadows

By William Lanouette, Bela Silard,

Book cover of Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb

Leo Szilard was one of the most interesting people of the 20th century. His first love was physics, and he is given credit for being the first to think about what would happen if someone could create a nuclear chain reaction. He worked closely with Fermi to make that chain reaction actually happen in Chicago in 1942, and was one of those who was able to see the great tragedy of the discovery, leading efforts in 1945 to try and prevent the use of the weapon against Japan. He was a colorful man, a bon vivant who loved to spend money on good clothes and fine food, and had the kind of mind that flitted from one idea to the next with the brilliance of a Monarch butterfly. His later years were devoted to the biological sciences. Lanouette/Silard have written the classic work on him. 

Genius in the Shadows

By William Lanouette, Bela Silard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Genius in the Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leo Szilard has long been overshadowed by such luminaries as Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Enrico Fermi—with whom he codesigned the first nuclear reactor in 1942. A shy, witty eccentric, the Hungarian born Szilard lived both sides of the arms race, working first to prevent, then to hasten, and finally to outlaw nuclear weapons.

"Lanouette's book is eminently readable. . . . An excellent book spiced with telling anecdotes about a strange man who influenced world history."—Max F. Perutz, New York Review of Books

"Lanouette's exhaustively researched and artfully written account of one of the most underrated figures of the atomic age…


Subtle Is the Lord

By Abraham Pais,

Book cover of Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein

Anyone studying Einstein (even cursorily) will quickly encounter Abraham Pais's classic. Published in 1982, it has stood like a monument, influencing every study of Einstein since. Pais knew Einstein well and sprinkles his book with invaluable personal anecdotes and first-hand information. Because it focuses on Einstein's science, it can be a little intimidating, but it is organized well and readers can bounce around the book easily, focusing on what they find most appealing

Subtle Is the Lord

By Abraham Pais,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Subtle Is the Lord as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Subtle is the Lord is widely recognized as the definitive scientific biography of Albert Einstein. The late Abraham Pais was a distinguished physicist turned historian who knew Einstein both professionally and personally in the last years of his life. His biography combines a profound understanding of Einstein's work with personal recollections from their years of acquaintance, illuminating the man through the development of his scientific thought.

Pais examines the formulation of Einstein's theories of relativity, his work on Brownian motion, and his response to quantum theory with authority and precision. The profound transformation Einstein's ideas effected on the physics of…


An Einstein Encyclopedia

By Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, Robert Schulmann

Book cover of An Einstein Encyclopedia

This is probably the book I study the most when researching Einstein. Although comprehensive in scope, it is still easy to navigate, with clear chapter headings that allow the reader to find information quickly. While many people hear the word "encyclopedia" and expect dry and dull prose, that is not the case here, for it is a book designed to be read, not merely consulted. Near the end of the book, there is a chronological list of Einstein's papers with concise descriptions. This is a gift to anyone interested in Einstein's scientific life, since the authors make even the most difficult of Einstein's papers seem approachable.

An Einstein Encyclopedia

By Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, Robert Schulmann

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Einstein Encyclopedia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the single most complete guide to Albert Einstein's life and work for students, researchers, and browsers alike. Written by three leading Einstein scholars who draw on their combined wealth of expertise gained during their work on the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, this authoritative and accessible reference features more than one hundred entries and is divided into three parts covering the personal, scientific, and public spheres of Einstein's life. An Einstein Encyclopedia contains entries on Einstein's birth and death, family and romantic relationships, honors and awards, educational institutions where he studied and worked, citizenships and immigration to America,…


The World According to Physics

By Jim Al-Khalili,

Book cover of The World According to Physics

In this compact hardback, physicist Jim Al-Khalili outlines in a straightforward way what he describes as the “three pillars of physics”. These don’t overlap much with the physics many of us will have done at school: they are relativity, quantum theory, and thermodynamics. Yet Al-Khalili shows how these three topics help us understand how everything works. In an approachable way, without a single equation, we get a feel for the power of physics. Al-Khalili’s personality and enthusiasm shine through.

The World According to Physics

By Jim Al-Khalili,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World According to Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili offers a fascinating and illuminating look at what physics reveals about the world

Shining a light on the most profound insights revealed by modern physics, Jim Al-Khalili invites us all to understand what this crucially important science tells us about the universe and the nature of reality itself.

Al-Khalili begins by introducing the fundamental concepts of space, time, energy, and matter, and then describes the three pillars of modern physics-quantum theory, relativity, and thermodynamics-showing how all three must come together if we are ever to have a full…


On a Beam of Light

By Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky (illustrator),

Book cover of On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein

You can’t talk physics without talking Einstein! This beautiful book explores Einstein’s curiosity and drive to know more, which began when he was young. His journey from nonverbal child to brilliant scientist is fascinating and inspiring for all kinds of readers.

On a Beam of Light

By Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked On a Beam of Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.


Queen of Physics

By Teresa Robeson, Rebecca Huang (illustrator),

Book cover of Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

A book that encompasses both the study of science and the role of women in the world, this beautiful picture book explores the life of Wu Chien Shiung, a Chinese American scientist who worked in particle and nuclear physics during a time when women weren’t encouraged to have scientific careers.

Queen of Physics

By Teresa Robeson, Rebecca Huang (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Queen of Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Naming their daughter "Courageous Hero," they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism at home and racism in the United States to become what Newsweek magazine called the "Queen of Physics" for her work on how atoms split. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired…


“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

By Richard P. Feynman,

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

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.

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

4 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.


Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman's Last Journey

By Ralph Leighton,

Book cover of Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman's Last Journey

Legendary physicist Richard Feynman’s intrigue with the remote Siberian country of Tanaa Tuva was inspired by the country’s triangular postage stamps he collected as a child. As an adult, he asked his friend, Ralph Leighton if he knew anything about the country and when the two men discovered the capital was the “legitimate vowel-less” Kyzyl, they become obsessed with visiting it. Feynman and Leighton spent over ten years trying to reach Tuva, foiled by ridiculous Soviet bureaucracy and ultimately, Feynman’s death from cancer. While the ending is bittersweet, this story of friendship and obsession is a fitting tribute to Feynman’s passion, playfulness, and curiosity. 

Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman's Last Journey

By Ralph Leighton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman's Last Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1977, Feynman and his sidekick- fellow drummer and geography enthusiast Ralph Leighton-set out to make arrangements to visit Tuva, doing noble and hilarious battle with Soviet red tape, befriending quite a few Tuvans, and discovering the wonders of Tuvan throat-singing. Their Byzantine attempts to reach Tannu Tuva would span a decade, interrupted by Feynman's appointment to the committee investigating the Challenger disaster, and his tragic struggle with the cancer that finally killed him. Tuva or Bust! chronicles the deepening friendship of two zany, brilliant strategists whose love of the absurd will delight and instruct. It is Richard Feynman's last,…


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