100 books like Q is for Quantum

By Terry Rudolph,

Here are 100 books that Q is for Quantum fans have personally recommended if you like Q is for Quantum. 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 Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Dan Moller Author Of The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

From my list on Bach, music, and the piano.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland interested in politics, ethics, and art. Philosophers are often unpopular loners who are passionate about their ideas, and so are musicians like Bach. When I teach Socrates and the trial that led to his death I can’t help but think of Bach, who was rejected from job after job in favor of mediocrities, and whose music was considered offensive by parishioners and obsolete by musicians by the end of his life. These figures endear themselves to me not just because of the ideas themselves, but because they had to fight so hard for what they believed in.

Dan's book list on Bach, music, and the piano

Dan Moller Why did Dan love this book?

This book picks up where Evening in the Palace of Reason leaves off, with Bach composing the Musical Offering on a horrible theme from King Frederick.

It explains canons and fugues, and thus helps you understand Bach’s work better, but it then goes on a safari through the intellectual landscape of ideas related to fugues–strange loops, self-similarity, recursion, and of course the guys in the title. It’s not for everyone, but if you like any two of logic, philosophy, or music, give this a try.

By Douglas R. Hofstadter,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gödel, Escher, Bach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Douglas Hofstadter's book is concerned directly with the nature of maps" or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Goedel, Escher, Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.


Book cover of QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

Michael G. Raymer Author Of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

From my list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.

Michael's book list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners

Michael G. Raymer Why did Michael love this book?

My second pick is by the master himself. Richard Feynman’s little book explains quantum electrodynamics or QED to a lay audience. Not only did he receive a Nobel Prize for his discoveries in this area, but Feynman was at the pinnacle of using deep understanding of physics to give the simplest possible yet accurate description of the world as seen through physics. He steps the reader slowly and carefully through some incredible journeys of logic (without equations) to explain how light travels from one place to another and how light interacts with matter such as electrons. It’s basic stuff, but deep and a fun ride. 

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrated for his brilliantly quirky insights into the physical world, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman also possessed an extraordinary talent for explaining difficult concepts to the general public. Here Feynman provides a classic and definitive introduction to QED (namely, quantum electrodynamics), that part of quantum field theory describing the interactions of light with charged particles. Using everyday language, spatial concepts, visualizations, and his renowned "Feynman diagrams" instead of advanced mathematics, Feynman clearly and humorously communicates both the substance and spirit of QED to the layperson. A. Zee's introduction places Feynman's book and his seminal contribution to QED in historical context and…


Book cover of The Center Cannot Hold

Satya Doyle Byock Author Of Quarterlife: The Search for Self in Early Adulthood

From my list on quarterlife beyond the crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before becoming a psychotherapist and author focused on the stage of adulthood between adolescence and midlife, I survived those years myself. The stage of development that I now call “Quarterlife” is a complex and rich period of life. Countless fictional heroes and protagonists in novels are in Quarterlife, yet the emphasis on these years within psychology and memoir is lacking. I personally love memoirs about this period of life and think they offer so much to others who are struggling through Quarterlife themselves and the trials of “adulting.”

Satya's book list on quarterlife beyond the crisis

Satya Doyle Byock Why did Satya love this book?

I first read this book in graduate school, and it completely changed the way I think about schizophrenia and the daily experience of living with a mental illness.

This memoir chronicles Saks’ experiences attending Oxford University and then Yale Law School with ever more progressive symptoms of schizophrenia; she details her therapy sessions as she worked closely with a psychoanalyst and then the journey to study psychoanalysis herself. I was captivated by Saks’ experience and her skilled storytelling.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that most commonly emerges in the Quarterlife years and frequently after people have gone away to college. This book is a gift to understanding this experience more fully or for those who want to feel less alone in the struggle with mental and emotional anguish during this time of life. 

By Elyn R. Saks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Center Cannot Hold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Elyn Saks is Professor of Law and Psychiatry at University of Southern California Law School. She's the author of several books. Happily married. And - a schizophrenic. Saks lifts the veil on schizophrenia with her startling and honest account of how she learned to live with this debilitating disease. With a coolly clear, measured tone she talks about her condition, the stigma attached and the deadening effects of medication. Her controlled narrative is disrupted by interjections from the part of her mind she has learned to suppress. Delusions, hallucinations and threatening voices cut into her reality and Saks, in a…


Book cover of Crossing: A Transgender Memoir

John Horgan Author Of Mind-Body Problems: Science, Subjectivity & Who We Really Are

From my list on mind-body.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been baffled by everything, especially myself, for as long as I can remember. In my late 20s, after years as a wandering hippy poet, I decided that science is our best hope for answers, and I became a science journalist. The mystery at the heart of science—as well as religion, philosophy, and the arts--is the mind-body problem. In a narrow, technical sense, the mind-body problem investigates how matter generates the mind, but it really asks: What are we, what can we be, what should we be? Below are some of my favorite books touching on these questions.

John's book list on mind-body

John Horgan Why did John love this book?

Sex is an essential part of who we are. What determines our sexual preferences? Do they stem primarily from nature or nurture? Deirdre McCloskey, an eminent economist, is especially qualified to answer these questions. She began her life as Donald, who was married and in his 50s when he realized that he was really a she and became a woman. Crossing, a memoir of McCloskey’s agonizing, exhilarating transformation, is a fascinating deep dive into sexual identity.

By Deirdre N. McCloskey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

"I visited womanhood and stayed. It was not for the pleasures, though I discovered many I had not imagined, and many pains too. But calculating pleasures and pains was not the point. The point was who I am."

Once a golden boy of conservative economics and a child of 1950s privilege, Deirdre McCloskey (formerly Donald) had wanted to change genders from the age of eleven. But it was a different time, one hostile to any sort of straying from the path--against gays, socialists, women with professions, men without hats,…


Book cover of The Mind-Body Problem

John Horgan Author Of Mind-Body Problems: Science, Subjectivity & Who We Really Are

From my list on mind-body.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been baffled by everything, especially myself, for as long as I can remember. In my late 20s, after years as a wandering hippy poet, I decided that science is our best hope for answers, and I became a science journalist. The mystery at the heart of science—as well as religion, philosophy, and the arts--is the mind-body problem. In a narrow, technical sense, the mind-body problem investigates how matter generates the mind, but it really asks: What are we, what can we be, what should we be? Below are some of my favorite books touching on these questions.

John's book list on mind-body

John Horgan Why did John love this book?

Literature, because it is less rule-bound than science and philosophy, may be more suited to exploring the question of who we really are, can be, and should be. Rebecca Goldstein, who earned degrees in physics and philosophy before turning to fiction, has written several novels that touch on the mind-body problem. My favorite is her first novel, The Mind-Body Problem, the funny, sexy, poignant tale of a young philosopher’s quest to solve the mind-body problem.

By Rebecca Goldstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mind-Body Problem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10.

What is this book about?

The hilarious underground bestseller about one woman's pursuit of carnal pleasure-and the philosophy that gets in the way.

When Renee Feuer goes to college, one of the first lessons she tries to learn is how to liberate herself from the restrictions of her Orthodox Jewish background. As she discovers the pleasures of the body, Renee also learns about the excitements of the mind. She enrolls as a philosophy graduate student, then marries Noam Himmel, the world-renowned mathematician.

But Renee discovers that being married to a genius is a less elevating experience than expected, and that the allure of sex still…


Book cover of The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments

Art Hobson Author Of Tales of the Quantum: Understanding Physics' Most Fundamental Theory

From my list on quantum physics and how the universe works.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my first college course in quantum physics, I have been fascinated with this enigmatic, infinitely interesting theory. It's our most fundamental description of the universe, it's been found to be unerringly accurate, yet it's quite subtle to interpret. Even more intriguingly, "nobody really understands quantum physics" (as Richard Feynman put it). For example, the theory's central concept, the wave function, is interpreted radically differently by different physicists. I have always yearned to grasp, at least to my own satisfaction, a comprehensive understanding of this theory. Since retirement 23 years ago, I have pursued this passion nearly full-time and found some answers, leading to several technical papers and a popular book.

Art's book list on quantum physics and how the universe works

Art Hobson Why did Art love this book?

Baggott's book is a rich, readable account of quantum physics as viewed at 40 key "moments" in its history. These moments range from the trouble with classical physics in 1900, leading to the notion of discrete "quanta" of energy, to the hunt for the Higgs particle at the CERN accelerator laboratory. Other moments include the invention of Schrodinger's equation, the Uncertainty Principle, and the Standard Model of particle physics. The author is an experienced science writer and former academic scientist.

By Jim Baggott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The twentieth century was defined by physics. From the minds of the world's leading physicists there flowed a river of ideas that would transport mankind to the pinnacle of wonderment and to the very depths of human despair. This was a century that began with the certainties of absolute knowledge and ended with the knowledge of absolute uncertainty. It was a century in which physicists developed weapons with the capacity to destroy our reality, whilst at the same
time denying us the possibility that we can ever properly comprehend it.

Almost everything we think we know about the nature of…


Book cover of Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos

Michael G. Raymer Author Of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

From my list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.

Michael's book list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners

Michael G. Raymer Why did Michael love this book?

Now we are getting to the modern era, where physics meets computing in ways never dreamed of by the founders of quantum physics. Seth Lloyd is a professor at MIT and one of the first to prove that quantum theory admits the possibility of building computers on wholly quantum foundations. He is also one of the most creative and engaging writers on the subject. His main message is that information is the basis of all things physical. From quantum bits or qubits to cosmology, this book has it all, and is written in a highly accessible way. Not a single equation can be found. 

By Seth Lloyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE BIT...

The universe is made of bits of information and it has been known for more than a century that every piece of the the universe - every electron, atom and molecule - registers these bits and that information. It is only in the last years, however, with the discovery and development of quantum computers, that scientists have gained a fundamental understanding of just how that information is registered and processed.

Building on recent breakthroughs in quantum computation, Seth Lloyd shows how the universe itself is a giant computer. Every atom and elementary particle stores…


Book cover of Totally Random: Why Nobody Understands Quantum Mechanics (A Serious Comic on Entanglement)

Michael G. Raymer Author Of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know

From my list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of physics, passionate about researching physics and inspiring non-scientists to enjoy learning about physics. My research addresses how to use quantum physics to accelerate the development of quantum information science including quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum measurement. My current projects are in developing quantum satellite communications, increasing the precision of telescopes, and constructing a quantum version of the Internet—the Quantum Internet. These topics revolve around quantum optics—the study of how light interacts with matter. I originated the idea of a National Quantum Initiative and lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass it into law, resulting in large investments in the new, exciting field of quantum technology.

Michael's book list on quantum physics and quantum technology for beginners

Michael G. Raymer Why did Michael love this book?

The subtitle of this book is A Serious Comic on Entanglement. Normally I am not fond of comic-style presentations of physics (although I do love comics, as my Conan the Barbarian collection can attest). But I am happy to make an exception for this excellent book, written by a daughter-father team, the father being one of the leading philosophers of physics and the daughter being an artist and web designer. All the deep physics is there, presented in a fun, reader-friendly style. The acknowledgments section credits six ‘reviewers,’ ages 12 to 15, for reviewing and helping edit the book – now that’s inter-generational! 

By Tanya Bub, Jeffrey Bub,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Totally Random as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An eccentric comic about the central mystery of quantum mechanics

Totally Random is a comic for the serious reader who wants to really understand the central mystery of quantum mechanics--entanglement: what it is, what it means, and what you can do with it.

Measure two entangled particles separately, and the outcomes are totally random. But compare the outcomes, and the particles seem as if they are instantaneously influencing each other at a distance-even if they are light-years apart. This, in a nutshell, is entanglement, and if it seems weird, then this book is for you. Totally Random is a graphic…


Book cover of The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn

Art Hobson Author Of Tales of the Quantum: Understanding Physics' Most Fundamental Theory

From my list on quantum physics and how the universe works.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since my first college course in quantum physics, I have been fascinated with this enigmatic, infinitely interesting theory. It's our most fundamental description of the universe, it's been found to be unerringly accurate, yet it's quite subtle to interpret. Even more intriguingly, "nobody really understands quantum physics" (as Richard Feynman put it). For example, the theory's central concept, the wave function, is interpreted radically differently by different physicists. I have always yearned to grasp, at least to my own satisfaction, a comprehensive understanding of this theory. Since retirement 23 years ago, I have pursued this passion nearly full-time and found some answers, leading to several technical papers and a popular book.

Art's book list on quantum physics and how the universe works

Art Hobson Why did Art love this book?

Guilder uses historical vignettes to describe how entanglement came to be regarded as a – or perhaps thecentral pillar of quantum physics. For example, we share a streetcar ride through Copenhagen in 1923 with Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, and Arnold Sommerfeld. Although we don't know precisely what they discussed, Guilder indicates what they probably discussed based on quotations from letters and other evidence. Thus, the book reads like a historical novel. It centers on the distant correlations, dubbed (by Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger) "spooky action at a distance." Since 1964, physicists have shown this astonishing phenomenon, now called "non-locality," to be clearly predicted by quantum theory and fully confirmed by experiment. This development is the "rebirth" of quantum physics referred to in the title.  Guilder is a non-scientist who writes beautifully with a good grasp of physics.

By Louisa Gilder,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Age of Entanglement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Age of Entanglement, Louisa Gilder brings to life one of the pivotal debates in twentieth century physics. In 1935, Albert Einstein famously showed that, according to the quantum theory, separated particles could act as if intimately connected–a phenomenon which he derisively described as “spooky action at a distance.” In that same year, Erwin Schrödinger christened this correlation “entanglement.” Yet its existence was mostly ignored until 1964, when the Irish physicist John Bell demonstrated just how strange this entanglement really was. Drawing on the papers, letters, and memoirs of the twentieth century’s greatest physicists, Gilder both humanizes and dramatizes…


Book cover of My First Book of Quantum Physics

Andi Diehn Author Of Forces: Physical Science for Kids

From my list on children’s books about physics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by how the world works. What gives gravity so much power? Why is it easier to lift things with levers and pulleys? Why do we have electricity inside of our own bodies?! The world is amazing. My job editing nonfiction books for kids puts me on the front lines of some of the smartest science writing out there. While I had no hand in the making of the following five picture books about physics, they are still some of my favorites because of the way they peel back the mysterious layers of the world to show us the science hidden in our daily lives.

Andi's book list on children’s books about physics

Andi Diehn Why did Andi love this book?

Fun and super clear graphics combined with straightforward discussions of complex topics make this book a hit. The writing is more expository than narrative, which will appeal to kids who love fact books and encyclopedias. Another one that both adults and kids can learn a ton from!

By Kaid-Sala Ferrón Sheddad, Eduard Altarriba (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My First Book of Quantum Physics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Everything around us – trees, buildings, food, light, water, air and even ourselves – is composed of minute particles, smaller than a nanometer (a billionth of a meter). Quantum physics is the science of these particles and without it none of our electronic devices, from smartphones to computers and microwave ovens, would exist.

But quantum physics also pushes us to the very boundaries of what we know about science, reality and the structure of the universe. The world of quantum physics is an amazing place, where quantum particles can do weird and wonderful things, acting totally unlike the objects we…


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