100 books like The Disordered Cosmos

By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein,

Here are 100 books that The Disordered Cosmos fans have personally recommended if you like The Disordered Cosmos. 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 Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Shohini Ghose Author Of Her Space, Her Time: How Trailblazing Women Scientists Decoded the Hidden Universe

From my list on amazing women scientists who will inspire you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a curious optimist, which means I want to know how the universe works and use that knowledge to imagine and build a better future. That’s why I chose a career as a physicist. Along the way, I learned about the marvelous laws that govern our universe, but I also discovered the many unsung women who played a huge role in uncovering those laws. I love to share the inspiring stories of women scientists who persisted in the face of many challenges in fields dominated by men. I think they too were curious optimists.

Shohini's book list on amazing women scientists who will inspire you

Shohini Ghose Why did Shohini love this book?

As a physicist and a woman of color, Hidden Figures was absolutely unforgettable for me because it was the first book I read that celebrated women scientists of color.

This wonderful account of the remarkable African-American women who broke through societal and racial barriers and played critical roles at NASA during the space race, transformed the way I thought about the history of science. Interlacing history with personal narratives, Shetterly powerfully brings these women to life.

Not only does the book draw these long-forgotten women out of the shadows, but it also shines a light on the biases and challenges they faced which still persist today. This is a must-read for anyone interested in science, history, and achievement in the face of adversity.

By Margot Lee Shetterly,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Hidden Figures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Golden Globe-winner Taraji P. Henson and Academy Award-winners Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA's African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America's space program-and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now. Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as "Human Computers," calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American…

Book cover of The Hidden Life of Trees

Tina Muir Author Of Becoming a Sustainable Runner: A Guide to Running for Life, Community, and Planet

From my list on helping you process emotions around climate.

Why am I passionate about this?

FernGully was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and it made me really think about the natural world and how humans interact with it. Now, aged 35 with kids of my own (who also love FernGully), I consider myself a climate activist for the work I do in helping everyday people to believe they can be a part of the solution to climate change. As an author, podcast host, and community builder, I've connected with other humans with fascinating passions, perspectives, and values. I want to show my audience that we can all view the world differently, but there is one important thing we need to all believe, that we matter.

Tina's book list on helping you process emotions around climate

Tina Muir Why did Tina love this book?

As humans, we sometimes find ourselves thinking that we are at the top of the intelligence chain, that we have it all figured out and everything else in the world is lesser.

The Hidden Life of Trees made me totally rethink that, and not simply for trees, but the interconnectedness of our world and how everything works together perfectly in harmony…until humans came along and began to hack the system, of course.

This book gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for trees and made me think about how much we could be learning from our distant relatives, rather than thinking everything else needs to learn from us. 

By Peter Wohlleben, Jane Billinghurst (translator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Hidden Life of Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A paradigm-smashing chronicle of joyous entanglement that will make you acknowledge your own entanglement in the ancient and ever-new web of being."--Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast Are trees social beings? In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben…

Book cover of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Caro Feely Author Of Cultivating Change: Regenerating Land and Love in the Age of Climate Crisis

From my list on biodiversity, plants and natural magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a published author specializing in nature, travel, and wine writing, and I have been an organic farmer for nearly two decades on an award-winning estate in France. I’ve written four books about the transformation of our organic farm. In my latest, Cultivating Change, I explore how biodiversity helps us address climate change and how important it is to the health of the land. It is also a human story; like the books below, stories are key to bringing these subjects to life. My list is women authors, not because I set out to do that, but because these books are beautiful, intuitive, and deep, like the women who wrote them.

Caro's book list on biodiversity, plants and natural magic

Caro Feely Why did Caro love this book?

Dr. Suzanne Simard is also a professor of Forest Ecology, but like Robin Wall Kimmerer (above), she has created a readable and personal book about her subject. Her research, undertaken over decades, set out to prove that trees communicate and cooperate and that they help each other, both within a species and between different species.

Her gripping story includes how she overcame a Male Chauvinist work environment and proved that a weed-killed monoculture was far from the most optimal way to manage forests. Her book is a reminder of how little we know of the incredibly complex biosphere we are privileged to be part of.

By Suzanne Simard,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Finding the Mother Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

“Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. [The book] carries the stories of trees, fungi, soil and bears--and of a human being listening in on the conversation. The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story.”—Robin Wall…

Book cover of Lab Girl

John Tregoning Author Of Infectious: Pathogens and How We Fight Them

From my list on novels and nonfiction books about infections and pandemics.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was at school in 1991, the terrible news came out that Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, had died of HIV/AIDS. At the time, this virus was fatal in nearly everyone it infected. And yet, only 30 years later, we now have drugs that completely prevent the disease. This amazing breakthrough is just one of the many success stories that inspired my passion for infectious diseases, the way our immune system can fight them off, and how science can help us fight infections. The list of books goes from fiction about when infections go wrong and to popular science about how scientists ensure the nightmare scenario never happens.

John's book list on novels and nonfiction books about infections and pandemics

John Tregoning Why did John love this book?

This book inspired me to write. I love the way Jahren puts herself in the centre of the narrative linking the science and the scientist.

Whilst there are differences between how plants and humans respond to infections–pathogens are important for both. Thinking about cross-cutting principles across different disciplines often opens up new ideas.

By Hope Jahren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER •NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Lab Girl is her revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist.

"Does for botany what Oliver Sacks’s essays did for neurology, what Stephen Jay Gould’s writings did for paleontology.” —The New York Times

In these pages, Hope takes us back to her Minnesota childhood, where she spent hours in unfettered play in her father’s college laboratory. She tells us how she found a sanctuary…

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 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 Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars

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?

This book helped me understand the history of humans’ relationship to the sky, and how our connection to it has in a lot of ways decreased, while civilizational knowledge of what’s actually going on up there has increased. It provides both the means and the motivation for the people of the modern world to act a bit more like the people of the past.

By Jo Marchant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Best Book of 2020 (NPR)
A Best Book of 2020 (The Economist)
A Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020 (Smithsonian)
A Best Science and Technology Book of 2020 (Library Journal)
A Must-Read Book to Escape the Chaos of 2020 (Newsweek)
Starred review (Booklist)
Starred review (Publishers Weekly)

A historically unprecedented disconnect between humanity and the heavens has opened. Jo Marchant's book can begin to heal it.

For at least 20,000 years, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars…

Book cover of Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond

Diana Mayo Author Of Molly on the Moon

From my list on for children who love space and science fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I usually enjoy painting pictures for storybooks about nature I know, so it was a treat to depict an imaginary place that I’ve never actually seen! I was so inspired to illustrate Mary’s story about the moon, as I could focus on creating an other-worldly atmosphere, adding to the drama that could have happened anywhere. The story focuses on Molly and her family moving to the moon and includes scientific facts about how gravity would impact their everyday life. I used Mary’s knowledge as reference to underpin the imaginative side of my process. Painting the inside of a moon module enabled me to use textures, colours, and lighting in such a fun, expressive way!

Diana's book list on for children who love space and science fiction

Diana Mayo Why did Diana love this book?

Of all the non-fiction books about space for older children, this was the one I chose to share with my son. It felt special enough to give him as a birthday gift.

I think it’s beautifully illustrated in a highly believable but dramatic way, as well as including some amazing photographic images. It’s broken down into short, manageable chapters, perfect for one planet or theme to either read alone or to share at bedtime.

By David A. Aguilar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Space Encyclopedia 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?

Presenting the latest exciting findings on space exploration and research and cutting-edge, spectacular views of the universe that technology is bringing back to Earth, all in one ultimate reference book. Authored by David A. Aguilar of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the National Geographic Space Encyclopedia is ideal for the family bookshelf, providing both accessible information for school reports and compelling reading on the mysteries beyond our world.

Book cover of The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality

Yael Lin Author Of The Intersubjectivity of Time: Levinas and Infinite Responsibility

From my list on time and its impact on human existence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have time, save time, spend time, waste time, write, and teach time. I am fascinated with the question of time both as a cosmological phenomenon and as an aspect that is inseparable from our existence. I channeled this fascination into a PhD dissertation, books, and articles examining the relationship between time and human existence. But like Saint Augustine, I am still baffled by the question of time and like him: "If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it …, I do not know."

Yael's book list on time and its impact on human existence

Yael Lin Why did Yael love this book?

The question "what is time" troubles not only physicists and philosophers, but also captivates every human. The Fabric of the Cosmos offers a lucid examination of time (and space) that is accessible to the layperson. The book focuses on the notion of time from a cosmological perspective and explores questions from the realm of physics and philosophy. This book offered me ways to address questions that perplex me, such as: relative time and absolute time; whether time flows; whether time has a direction; the relation between quantum mechanics and time.

By Brian Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading physicists and author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Elegant Universe, comes a grand tour of the universe that makes us look at reality in a completely different way.

Space and time form the very fabric of the cosmos. Yet they remain among the most mysterious of concepts. Is space an entity? Why does time have a direction? Could the universe exist without space and time? Can we travel to the past? Greene has set himself a daunting task: to explain non-intuitive, mathematical concepts like String Theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, 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…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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