100 books like Strange Matters

By Tom Siegfried,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain

H Chris Ransford Author Of In Search of Ultimate Reality: Inside the Cosmologist's Abyss

From my list on weird thrilling science universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I felt profoundly dissatisfied by the pat and cardboard cutout explanations that some teachers offered for life and the universe: there had to be more! I decided to go into science. The explanatory power of science is 'next level,' to use a contemporary phrase, and unless and until we explore it, we'll miss the beauty and sheer wonder of the universe. Neither should we overly specialize: science is not compartmentalized, but vastly different fields of science feed into and reinforce one another. Popular science has an essential role to play: irrespective of how arcane hard science may appear to be, its story can always be told in everyday words.

H Chris' book list on weird thrilling science universe

H Chris Ransford Why did H Chris love this book?

I loved this book because it offers a refreshing view of what neuroscience can and should be. Unlike different, highly credentialed neuroscientists who routinely offer vastly incompatible views of consciousness and who we ultimately are, this book instead focuses on the extraordinary theme of how the brain organizes the engineering of consciousness rather than on the more elusive and controversial deeper questions. 

As an illustration of the many mind-broadening themes broached in this superb book, instinct is often used as the be-all and end-all explanation of certain animal and human behaviors. Of the two hundred or so books I have read on the subject of consciousness and the brain, I have never before come across a more cogent explanation of how instinct arises and sets over many generations. 

By David Eagleman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What does drug withdrawal have in common with a broken heart? Why is the enemy of memory not time, but other memories? How can a blind person learn to see with her tongue or a deaf person learn to hear with his skin? Why did many people in the 1980s mistakenly perceive book pages to be slightly red in colour? Why is the world's best archer armless? Might we someday control a robot with our thoughts, just as we do our fingers and toes? Why do we dream at night, and what does that have to do with the rotation…


Book cover of Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe is Just Right for Life

H Chris Ransford Author Of In Search of Ultimate Reality: Inside the Cosmologist's Abyss

From my list on weird thrilling science universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I felt profoundly dissatisfied by the pat and cardboard cutout explanations that some teachers offered for life and the universe: there had to be more! I decided to go into science. The explanatory power of science is 'next level,' to use a contemporary phrase, and unless and until we explore it, we'll miss the beauty and sheer wonder of the universe. Neither should we overly specialize: science is not compartmentalized, but vastly different fields of science feed into and reinforce one another. Popular science has an essential role to play: irrespective of how arcane hard science may appear to be, its story can always be told in everyday words.

H Chris' book list on weird thrilling science universe

H Chris Ransford Why did H Chris love this book?

This book is the first pop science book I would ever recommend to anyone, and certainly to anyone who could only ever read one science book in their lives. It tackles the issue of why our universe is so extremely fine-tuned for life but ends up being much more than that, as the search for answers leads the author to a thrilling exploration of many deep questions at the forefront of physics and of life itself.  

Mind-blowing. 

By Paul Davies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cosmic Jackpot is Paul Davies’s eagerly awaited return to cosmology, the successor to his critically acclaimed bestseller The Mind of God. Here he tackles all the "big questions," including the biggest of them all: Why does the universe seem so well adapted for life?

In his characteristically clear and elegant style, Davies shows how recent scientific discoveries point to a perplexing fact: many different aspects of the cosmos, from the properties of the humble carbon atom to the speed of light, seem tailor-made to produce life. A radical new theory says it’s because our universe is just one of an…


Book cover of The Biggest Number in the World: A Journey to the Edge of Mathematics

H Chris Ransford Author Of In Search of Ultimate Reality: Inside the Cosmologist's Abyss

From my list on weird thrilling science universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I felt profoundly dissatisfied by the pat and cardboard cutout explanations that some teachers offered for life and the universe: there had to be more! I decided to go into science. The explanatory power of science is 'next level,' to use a contemporary phrase, and unless and until we explore it, we'll miss the beauty and sheer wonder of the universe. Neither should we overly specialize: science is not compartmentalized, but vastly different fields of science feed into and reinforce one another. Popular science has an essential role to play: irrespective of how arcane hard science may appear to be, its story can always be told in everyday words.

H Chris' book list on weird thrilling science universe

H Chris Ransford Why did H Chris love this book?

The first time I came across this wonderful book, I did the inevitable double take: I had happened to study infinity in its many possible renditions, and the title of this superb book seems to be a mistake: an obvious, silly contradiction in terms, because we can always add one to any purported 'biggest number in the world' and thereby immediately produce an even bigger number. Yet...This book describes the weird, weird world of huge numbers, the race amongst a rarefied coterie of aficionados to find ever bigger specific, provable numbers, and much else besides. 

Mind-blowing.

By David Darling, Agnijo Banerjee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biggest Number in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From cells in our bodies to measuring the universe, big numbers are everywhere

We all know that numbers go on forever, that you could spend your life counting and never reach the end of the line, so there can't be such a thing as a 'biggest number'. Or can there?

To find out, David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee embark on an epic quest, revealing the answers to questions like: are there more grains of sand on Earth or stars in the universe? Is there enough paper on Earth to write out the digits of a googolplex? And what is a…


Book cover of The Irrationals: A Story of the Numbers You Can't Count On

H Chris Ransford Author Of In Search of Ultimate Reality: Inside the Cosmologist's Abyss

From my list on weird thrilling science universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I felt profoundly dissatisfied by the pat and cardboard cutout explanations that some teachers offered for life and the universe: there had to be more! I decided to go into science. The explanatory power of science is 'next level,' to use a contemporary phrase, and unless and until we explore it, we'll miss the beauty and sheer wonder of the universe. Neither should we overly specialize: science is not compartmentalized, but vastly different fields of science feed into and reinforce one another. Popular science has an essential role to play: irrespective of how arcane hard science may appear to be, its story can always be told in everyday words.

H Chris' book list on weird thrilling science universe

H Chris Ransford Why did H Chris love this book?

I loved this book because it so effectively punctures the myth that mathematics might be dull or boring while teaching much about numbers, the founding stones of all the other branches of mathematics, and ultimately of all of science itself.

At first sight, numbers can seem deceptively bland–what else could be as plain vanilla as 1, 2, and 3? Yet simple numbers inevitably give rise to a whole menagerie of other, increasingly exotic numbers–most of which are soon shown to collectively behave in unforeseeable, puzzling ways (such as prime numbers do). Irrational numbers are starkly counterintuitive, and Julian Harvil does an extraordinary job of showing how and why.

By Julian Havil,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An entertaining and enlightening history of irrational numbers, from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century

The ancient Greeks discovered them, but it wasn't until the nineteenth century that irrational numbers were properly understood and rigorously defined, and even today not all their mysteries have been revealed. In The Irrationals, the first popular and comprehensive book on the subject, Julian Havil tells the story of irrational numbers and the mathematicians who have tackled their challenges, from antiquity to the twenty-first century. Along the way, he explains why irrational numbers are surprisingly difficult to define-and why so many questions still surround them.…


Book cover of A Brief History of Time

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?

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.

By Stephen Hawking,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Brief History of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and strong theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and…


Book cover of Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe

Dan Falk Author Of In Search of Time: The History, Physics, and Philosophy of Time

From my list on the universe for people who want the big picture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the universe since childhood – ever since my parents took me to the countryside in rural Nova Scotia, where the stars shone with wondrous intensity. At first, I borrowed books about space and the universe from our local library for fun; now, as a full-time science writer, I read these books to stay informed about the latest ideas shaping our understanding of the cosmos. (I also read them in order to review them on BookLab, a podcast I host together with science writer Amanda Gefter.) I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Dan's book list on the universe for people who want the big picture

Dan Falk Why did Dan love this book?

This book covers a dizzying array of human thought: Greene’s trademark is physics, of course – but in this wildly ambitious work, the Columbia University physicist also dives into evolution, the origins of human culture, the origins of art and music and religion – even the puzzle of consciousness and the paradox of free will. He tackles the deepest of questions – including the problem of finding “meaning” in a universe governed only by the laws of physics. Be prepared to go slow. Your brain will get a workout – but it will be worth every minute of your time.

By Brian Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the world-renowned physicist and bestselling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, a captivating exploration of deep time and humanity's search for purpose

In both time and space, the cosmos is astoundingly vast, and yet is governed by simple, elegant, universal mathematical laws.

On this cosmic timeline, our human era is spectacular but fleeting. Someday, we know, we will all die. And, we know, so too will the universe itself.

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene's breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to understand it. Greene takes us on a…


Book cover of The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

Govert Schilling Author Of The Elephant in the Universe: Our Hundred-Year Search for Dark Matter

From my list on the mind-boggling mysteries of cosmology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was caught by the astronomy virus when I was 15 years old and had my first view of Saturn through a telescope. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed writing about everything cosmic for a wide variety of audiences. Cosmology is one of my favorite topics, it’s really the most enigmatic scientific discipline. Who knows, someday, a young, brilliant 21st-century genius will find the solution to all those riddles by formulating a whole new view of the birth and evolution of the universe. That’s my secret hope.

Govert's book list on the mind-boggling mysteries of cosmology

Govert Schilling Why did Govert love this book?

This is my favorite book about the discovery of dark energythe mysterious stuff that is currently speeding up the expansion of the universe.

It all started in 1998 when cosmologists presented their evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. I was completely stunned and puzzled. I already knew that most of the mass in the universe is in the form of mysterious dark matter, but now I had to acknowledge that the cosmos also contains a large amount of equally puzzling dark energy.

Richard Panek’s book helped me to get to grips with this new reality: the people, planets, stars, and galaxies that we know of constitute just a few percent of everything there is. Panek is a skilled writer; I thoroughly enjoyed how his book not only describes the science but also portrays the scientists.

By Richard Panek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 4 Percent Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Fascinating . . . One of the most important stories in the history of science.”— Washington Post

In recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown.
Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96 percent of the…


Book cover of The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity

Geraint F. Lewis Author Of A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos

From my list on the mysteries of the cosmos.

Why am I passionate about this?

With a PhD in astrophysics, cosmology is my day job. My research focuses upon the dark-side, the dark matter and energy that have shaped the evolution of the universe. My scientific journey began long ago with “How and Why Wonder Books”, from dinosaurs and evolution to astronomy and space exploration. I have always devoured tales about the fundamental universe, not only the immensity of the cosmos around us, but also the lives of the tiny bits-and-pieces from which matter is made. I still read a lot of popular science, especially on the history of life on Earth, and the future impact of Artificial Intelligence. 


Geraint's book list on the mysteries of the cosmos

Geraint F. Lewis Why did Geraint love this book?

What does tomorrow hold for the universe? Through this book, the authors step into the far future of the cosmos, starting from our universe today, lit with stars and galaxies, to a hundred trillion years hence when the last star has died. But at this point, the story has only just begun, and the authors continue to the distant time when matter will eventually melt, and black holes will evaporate into the background. Whilst some of the physics is speculative this is an exciting ride which reminds us, like everything, the universe is slowly and steadily winding down.

By Greg Laughlin, Fred Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE FIVE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE is a riveting biography of the universe which describes for the first time five distinct eras that Adams and Laughlin themselves defined as a result of their own research. From the first gasp of inflation that caused the Big Bang, through the birth of stars, to the fading of all light, THE FIVE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE describes the death of our own sun, tremendous fiery supernovae explosions, dramatic collisions of galaxies, proton decay, the evaporation of black holes and the possibility of communications when there are no planets or stars or even black…


Book cover of Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality

J. Baird Callicott Author Of Greek Natural Philosophy: The Presocratics and Their Importance for Environmental Philosophy

From my list on how and why science began.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied Greek philosophy in college and graduate school and wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on Plato. In response to the environmental crisis, first widely recognized in the 1960s, I turned my philosophical attention to that contemporary challenge, which, with the advent of climate change, has by now proved to be humanity’s greatest. I taught the world’s first course in environmental ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1971 and, with a handful of other philosophers, helped build a literature in this new field over the course of the next decade—a literature that has subsequently grown exponentially. With Greek Natural Philosophy, I rekindled the romance with my first love. 

J.'s book list on how and why science began

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

MIT scientist Tegmark directly connects contemporary physics and cosmology with our story of the Presocratic natural philosophers.

In his view the universe is not only described in the language of mathematics, it is a huge purely mathematical object. This was precisely the view of the Pythagoreans. In the course of expounding his theory of a mathematical universe, Tegmark brings the lay reader up to date on the latest developments in natural philosophy (aka theoretical physics and cosmology) and demonstrates their continuity with those of their ancient predecessors.   

By Max Tegmark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nature, said Galileo, is 'a book written in the language of mathematics'. But why should this be? How can mathematics be at the heart of our universe?

The great Hungarian physicist and Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner stressed that this 'unreasonable effectiveness' of mathematics at describing the world was a mystery demanding explanation. Here, Max Tegmark, one of the most original cosmologists at work today, takes us on an astonishing journey to solve that mystery.

Part-history of the cosmos, part-intellectual adventure, Our Mathematical Universe travels from the Big Bang to the distant future via parallel worlds, across every possible scale -…


Book cover of The Little Book of Cosmology

Marcus Chown Author Of The Ascent of Gravity

From my list on physics and physicists.

Why am I passionate about this?

Formerly a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Marcus Chown is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster. His popular books include 'The Ascent of Gravity' – The Sunday Times Science Book of the Year; Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand; Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You; and Solar System for iPad, winner of The Bookseller Digital Innovation of the Year.

Marcus' book list on physics and physicists

Marcus Chown Why did Marcus love this book?

The most striking thing about the night sky is that it is mostly black. But if your eyes, instead of seeing visible light, could see a type of invisible light known as microwaves, it would be white. The entire Universe is glowing with the “afterglow” of the big bang fireball. Greatly cooled by the expansion of the universe in the past 13.82 billion years, the “cosmic background radiation” now consists of low-energy radio waves, principally microwaves.

Imprinted on this radiation is a “baby photo” of the universe when it was a mere 400,000 years old and matter was beginning the long process of clumping under gravity that would culminate in galaxies such as our own Milky Way. From that photo can be extracted the numbers that define our Universe, from its age of 13.82 billion years to the fact that 70 percent of cosmic mass-energy is in the form of…

By Lyman Page,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The cutting-edge science that is taking the measure of the universe

The Little Book of Cosmology provides a breathtaking look at our universe on the grandest scales imaginable. Written by one of the world's leading experimental cosmologists, this short but deeply insightful book describes what scientists are revealing through precise measurements of the faint thermal afterglow of the Big Bang-known as the cosmic microwave background, or CMB-and how their findings are transforming our view of the cosmos.

Blending the latest findings in cosmology with essential concepts from physics, Lyman Page first helps readers to grasp the sheer enormity of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cosmology, physics, and popular science?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about cosmology, physics, and popular science.

Cosmology Explore 64 books about cosmology
Physics Explore 136 books about physics
Popular Science Explore 18 books about popular science