100 books like The 4 Percent Universe

By Richard Panek,

Here are 100 books that The 4 Percent Universe fans have personally recommended if you like The 4 Percent Universe. 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 Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

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?

In the past, I have read lots of science fiction, but few books challenged my imagination as much as this wonderful book about parallel universes. The reason? It’s not fiction, it’s science!

Yes, I knew that some physicists had been playing with the idea of extra dimensions and parallel worlds. But it took the profound knowledge of a professional physicist and the eloquent writing style of an experienced communicator like Brian Greene to make me truly understand the weird concept of the Multiverse and the many different ways in which it might manifest itself.

Probably there’s a parallel world in which I find the whole topic too tough or too abstract, but in this one, I simply couldn’t put this book away.

By Brian Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos tackles perhaps the most mind-bending question in modern physics and cosmology: Is our universe the only universe?

There was a time when "universe" meant all there is. Everything. Yet, a number of theories are converging on the possibility that our universe may be but one among many parallel universes populating a vast multiverse. Here, Briane Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a breathtaking journey to a multiverse comprising an endless series of big bangs, a multiverse with duplicates of every one…


Book cover of In Search of the Big Bang: The Life and Death of the Universe

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 1986 book (revised in 1999) helped me to understand the Big Bang theory. I read it during a holiday in Italy when I was just starting my career as an astronomy writer. What I had read about the Big Bang so far was either extremely elementary (not really explaining anything at all) or full of jargon and dense with equations.

But John Gribbin knew exactly how to strike the perfect balance between the two. While my wife and one-year-old son were enjoying the swimming pool, I delved into quantum physics, expanding space, and the cosmic background radiation, all presented at a level an interested high-school student could understand.

Obviously, some parts of this book are obsolete by now, but it’s still one of my all-time favorites.

Book cover of Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time

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?

I love it when I first read about new mind-boggling concepts in cosmology. That’s what happened with this elegant book about gravitational wavesminute undulations of spacetime produced by colliding black holes.

Einstein theorized about them long before I was born, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists first started to really hunt for them. I never paid much interest until Marcia Bartusiak described the quest in much detail in her very accessible book back in 2000. Since then, I have become hooked on the subject.

It’s great to see that Bartusiak published an updated edition in 2017, shortly after gravitational waves were first detected. 

By Marcia Bartusiak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Einstein's Unfinished Symphony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new generation of observatories, now being completed worldwide, will give astronomers not just a new window on the cosmos but a whole new sense with which to explore and experience the heavens above us. Instead of collecting light waves or radio waves, these novel instruments will allow astronomers to at last place their hands upon the fabric of space-time and feel the very rhythms of the universe.

These vibrations in space-time-or gravity waves-are the last prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity yet to be observed directly. They are his unfinished symphony, waiting nearly a century to be heard.…


Book cover of On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking's Final Theory

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 book may well be the next best thing to spending an afternoon with Stephen Hawking.

After all, Belgian theoretical physicist Thomas Hertog has been one of Hawking’s closest collaborators in the years before the wheelchair-bound genius died in 2018. I liked how Hertog alternates difficult theoretical concepts with his personal accounts and experiences of working with an iconic figure like Hawking.

I especially love this book because it is about one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of science: the true nature of time. In what Hertog calls "Hawking’s final theory," the laws of nature do not precede the Big Bang but co-evolve with the early universe itself.

I have to admit that parts of the book were really hard for me to understand, but I was flabbergasted by the suggestion that our observations may have a tangible influence on the evolution and the properties of the universe itself.

By Thomas Hertog,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A wonderful book about Stephen Hawking's biggest legacy' Spectator
'Truly mind-stretching... Immensely rewarding' The Times

'This superbly written book offers insight into an extraordinary individual, the creative process, and the scope and limits of our current understanding of the cosmos' Sir Martin Rees

Stephen Hawking's closest collaborator offers the intellectual superstar's final thoughts on the universe.

Perhaps the biggest question Stephen Hawking tried to answer in his extraordinary life was how the universe could have created conditions so perfectly hospitable to life. In order to solve this mystery, Hawking studied the big bang origin of the universe, but his early…


Book cover of The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred

Joan Slonczewski Author Of The Highest Frontier

From my list on trees, stars, and the scientists who love them.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child in New England, I used to look up to the trees around my home and the stars beyond. The trees caught my gaze by day, their branches twisting into the blue sky. I imagined myself turning upside-down, so the branches actually plunged into blue water, like the tree-islands of my novel A Door into Ocean. By night I imagined falling off the Earth into the dark well of stars. My vision of stars ultimately morphed into the multicolored microbes of Brain Plague. The books on my list expanded my view of trees and stars into many dimensions. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Joan's book list on trees, stars, and the scientists who love them

Joan Slonczewski Why did Joan love this book?

This Harvard-trained cosmologist takes us on a journey into the universe, from colliding black holes to neutrons and protons “faking it” as elementary particles. If you ever wondered why the universe has more matter than antimatter, and what is dark matter made of, this book is for you. And physics is about more than theories; it’s about people doing physics. Black lives matter, and Black lives are the stuff of stars. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her exploration of a universe that is “bigger than the bad things that are happening to us.” Along the way, we gain new clues to the fate of our galaxies full of stars.

By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos -- and a call for a more just practice of science.

In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter -- all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.

One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred…


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…


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 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 Strange Matters: Undiscovered Ideas at the Frontiers of Space and Time

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 often startling book provides a tour d'horizon of unsettled questions in modern physical science and, most importantly, of the intriguing directions the answers could take. It should inspire many in the rising generations of students to take the baton from their elders and seek a career in science at the edges of human understanding. A book I so wish had already been around when I began studying physics.

Tom Siegfried is a distinguished science journalist. 

By Tom Siegfried,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scientists studying the universe find strange things in two places?out in space and in their heads. This is the story of how the most imaginative physicists of our time perceive strange features of the universe in advance of the actual discoveries.

It is almost a given that physics and cosmology present us with some of the grandest mysteries of all. What weightier questions to ponder than, "How does the universe work?" or "What is the universe made of?" There are any number of bizarre phenomena that could provide clues or even answers to these queries. The strangeness ranges from unusual…


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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in cosmology, astrophysics, and physics?

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

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