The most recommended Benjamin Franklin books

Who picked these books? Meet our 37 experts.

37 authors created a book list connected to Benjamin Franklin, and here are their favorite Benjamin Franklin books.
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Book cover of Method 15/33

Thomas A. Burns Jr. Author Of Sister!

From my list on dark mysteries you should read with the lights on.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m not sure why the dark side of humanity has always fascinated me, as it does so many others. I’ve read mystery and horror stories ever since I was a young boy, gravitating to ever darker books as I aged. I’m a pantser—that means that I don’t totally know where a story is going when I start, so I discover it right along with the characters. I think evoking emotion is key to writing a riveting tale, so I try to imagine what my character is feeling as I chronicle their experience. Part of being able to do this well is reading other writers who can, such as the authors on this list.

Thomas' book list on dark mysteries you should read with the lights on

Thomas A. Burns Jr. Why did Thomas love this book?

Method 15/13 is a book about a pregnant teen who is kidnapped by a gang who wants her child so they can sell it on the black market.

However, what they don’t know is that she’s an autistic prodigy with sociopathic tendencies who’s planning her escape and revenge from day 1.

This is Home Alone on steroids, and the young woman’s precise planning is so positively chilling that I almost felt sorry for the bad guys. Almost.

By Shannon Kirk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Method 15/33 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

USA Today Best-Selling Author Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal Winner National Indie Excellence Award Winner Kidnapped, pregnant teen plots a calculating escape and merciless revenge Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who's just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped . . . Alone . . . Terrified. Now forget her . . . Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn child and to exact merciless revenge. She…

Book cover of Abigail Adams: A Life

Cassandra Good Author Of First Family: George Washington's Heirs and the Making of America

From my list on the fascinating families of America’s founders.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I loved reading books about time travel, and now as a historian, I do a sort of time travel for my job. I have always been especially drawn to reading women’s correspondence, particularly when the women involved were pushing against gender roles and finding ways to access political power. I approach doing history as if it’s an ethnography of a group of people with entirely different beliefs, norms, and even emotions from us today; after all, the past is a foreign country. I’m especially intrigued by uncovering how personal relationships worked in the past and how relationships with political figures allowed family and friends to access power.

Cassandra's book list on the fascinating families of America’s founders

Cassandra Good Why did Cassandra love this book?

Abigail Adams comes to life here in ways no previous books have captured: her wit, business acumen, and political power are woven together in a compelling story.

As the wife of one president and mother of another, Abigail’s power and influence are on full display, and defied gender norms. It’s hard not to come away from Holton’s book admiring the woman John Adams sometimes called “Presidante.”

By Woody Holton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new, vivid, nuanced portrait, now in paperback, prize-winning historian Woody Holton uses original sources and letters for the first time in a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams's life story and of women's roles in the creation of the republic.

In this vivid new biography of Abigail Adams, the most illustrious woman of the founding era, Bancroft Award–winning historian Woody Holton offers a sweeping reinterpretation of Adams’s life story and of women’s roles in the creation of the republic.

Using previously overlooked documents from numerous archives, Abigail Adams shows that the wife of the second president of the United States…

Book cover of The Deadline: Essays

Richard Munson Author Of Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

From Richard's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author History lover Traveler Environmentalist Storyteller

Richard's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Richard Munson Why did Richard love this book?

Jill Lapore’s essays startle, offering unexpected angles on topics I thought I understood. As an example, she enriched my insights into this country’s founding by profiling Benjamin Franklin’s sister. Lapore possesses a joyful curiosity and expansive intelligence.

The essays may seem diverse and unrelated, but I longed for each new evocation. 

By Jill Lepore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few, if any, historians have brought such insight, wisdom, and empathy to public discourse as Jill Lepore. Arriving at The New Yorker in 2005, Lepore, with her panoptical range and razor-sharp style, brought a transporting freshness and a literary vivacity to everything from profiles of long-dead writers to urgent constitutional analysis to an unsparing scrutiny of the woeful affairs of the nation itself. The astonishing essays collected in The Deadline offer a prismatic portrait of Americans' techno-utopianism, frantic fractiousness, and unprecedented-but armed-aimlessness. From lockdowns and race commissions to Bratz dolls and bicycles, to the losses that haunt Lepore's life, these…

Book cover of The Lost Concerto

Barbara Linn Probst Author Of The Sound Between the Notes

From my list on music seen through the eyes of a musician.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked: “Are you a musician? You must be, in order to write so beautifully and convincingly, through the eyes of a musician!” Actually, I’m what’s known as a “serious amateur”—which means that I study the piano “seriously” but not professionally, purely for the love of it. In fact, my understanding of the piano deepened tremendously as I worked on this book, as if my protagonist required that of me, in order to bring her to life the way she needed.  The piano has become more and more vital to me, as a writer, because it allows me to explore and express in ways that don’t depend on words. 

Barbara's book list on music seen through the eyes of a musician

Barbara Linn Probst Why did Barbara love this book?

In The Lost Concerto a woman has set aside her career as a classical pianist, for deeply personal reasons—then finds herself not only reclaiming her music, but also finding answers to a past mystery as well as new connections in the present. Both novels are about loss, love, and the power of music to lift and heal us. What makes The Lost Concerto especially appealing is its cross-genre blend of suspense, intrigue, stolen art, and the journey from vengeance to courage. You won’t be able to put it down!

By Helaine Mario,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SILVER WINNER: 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards

FINALIST: 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards

FINALIST: 2016 International Book Award  – Mystery/Suspense Category 

A woman and her young son flee to a convent on a remote island off the Breton coast of France.  Generations of seafarers have named the place Ile de la Brume, or Fog Island. In a chapel high on a cliff, a tragic death occurs and a terrified child vanishes into the mist.

The child’s godmother, Maggie O’Shea, haunted by the violent deaths of her husband and best friend, has withdrawn from her life as a classical pianist. But…

Book cover of Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity

Edward G. Gray Author Of Tom Paine's Iron Bridge: Building a United States

From my list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the American Revolution began with a college course on the French Revolution. I was enthralled by the drama of it all. Being the impressionable late adolescent that I was, I naturally explained to my professor, a famous French historian of the French Revolution, that I wanted to dedicate my life to the study of this fascinating historical period. My professor urged me to reconsider. He suggested I look at a less well-known Revolution, the one British colonists undertook a decade earlier. I started reading books about the American Revolution. Now, forty years on, I’m still enthralled by the astonishing creative energy of this period in American history. 

Edward's book list on ingenuity and innovation in the American Revolution

Edward G. Gray Why did Edward love this book?

No single American better embodies the ideals of ingenuity and innovation than the great polymath Benjamin Franklin. Practically everything a man could do in the eighteenth century Franklin did—and he did them with an aptitude matched by few and exceeded by even fewer. Franklin made a fortune in the printing trade—rare enough in the publishing and printing capitals of Europe, but all but unheard of in the colonies. His scientific discoveries were unparalleled and earned him the accolades of the greatest scientific minds of the age.

He was also responsible for countless inventions—including the lightning rod, bifocals, a smokeless stove, and the glass armonica, an instrument for which both Mozart and Beethoven composed music. He was a master of the byzantine politics of European royal courts—this despite being of ordinary birth and coming of age in a place with none of the pomp and majesty of Europe’s great imperial capitals.…

By Nick Bunker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new account of Franklin's early life, Pulitzer finalist Nick Bunker portrays him as a complex, driven young man who elbows his way to success.

From his early career as a printer and journalist to his scientific work and his role as a founder of a new republic, Benjamin Franklin has always seemed the inevitable embodiment of American ingenuity. But in his youth he had to make his way through a harsh colonial world, where he fought many battles with his rivals, but also with his wayward emotions. Taking Franklin to the age of forty-one, when he made his…

Book cover of So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Shawn Swyx Wang Author Of The Coding Career Handbook

From my list on developers who want no-bullshit career advice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have advised thousands of developers on their career journey and have always been shocked at how many people don’t have a good sherpa on their path if they didn’t luck out with a good boss or industry friends to help them find their way. I think everyone deserves a third path other than work and immediate friends to figure out their career journey and I think the right books and online mentors can accelerate your career if you feel stuck in a local minima.

Shawn's book list on developers who want no-bullshit career advice

Shawn Swyx Wang Why did Shawn love this book?

Cal Newport is arguably the leading thinker on career philosophy in the present day.

Understanding how to build career capital, develop valuable skills (rather than “just following your passion”), take control of your own career, and finally build a compelling mission, will give direction to your career that will set you apart and make you, well, so good they can’t ignore you. :)

By Cal Newport,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked So Good They Can't Ignore You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cal Newport's clearly-written manifesto flies in the face of conventional wisdom by suggesting that it should be a person's talent and skill -- and not necessarily their passion -- that determines their career path. Newport, who graduated from Dartmouth College (Phi Beta Kappa) and recently earned a PhD. from MIT, contends that trying to find what drives us, instead of focusing on areas in which we naturally excel, is ultimately harmful and frustrating to job seekers. The title is a direct quote from comedian Steve Martin who, when once asked why he was successful in his career, immediately replied: "Be…

Book cover of Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United

Daniel C. Hellinger Author Of Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in the Age of Trump

From my list on separating conspiracy fact from fiction in American politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a political scientist, a professor emeritus at Webster University, with scholarly publications about Latin American and U.S. politics. My interest in conspiracy theories was piqued by a reviewer who dismissed my book on the “democratic façade” of U.S. politics as a “conspiracy theory.” I took umbrage and denied being a “conspiracy theorist.” Years later, conversing with a colleague about Oliver Stone’s JFK, I dismissed his doubts about the lone gunman theory as a conspiracy theory. He asked whether I would similarly dismiss questions about official stories regarding assassinations in South Asia or Latin America. This all set me on the path to studying the role of conspiracies.

Daniel's book list on separating conspiracy fact from fiction in American politics

Daniel C. Hellinger Why did Daniel love this book?

Suppose conservative court justices objectively framed their decisions according to the original intent of the Founders. In that case, they would have more than adequate grounds to curb the influence of big money and well-heeled lobbyists in American politics.

Besides equating money to speech over the last half century, Courts have decided in major decisions since 1970 that large campaign contributions and lavish gifts from lobbyists to public officials are legal as long as there is no explicit quid pro quo.

The book’s title refers to the controversy over a snuff box given to Frankin by the King of France upon his leaving Paris. For Teachout, the cloud of scandal that enveloped Franklin is a good illustration of how the first- and (until recently) subsequent generations of Americans had a much broader understanding of the corrupting role of money and lavish gifts play in our politics.

By Zephyr Teachout,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of American Classics: Evolutionary Perspectives

Joseph Carroll Author Of Reading Human Nature: Literary Darwinism in Theory and Practice

From my list on literary Darwinism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent the past thirty years leading the movement to integrate the humanities, and especially literary study, with evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience. I got my PhD in comparative literature right about the time the academic literary world was being convulsed by the poststructuralist revolution (Derrida, Foucault, et co). I felt a profound antipathy to the sterile paradoxes and attenuated abstractions of that theory. I wanted a theory that could get close to the power literature had over my own imagination. The evolutionary human sciences have provided me with a basis for building a theory that answers my own need to make sense of literature.

Joseph's book list on literary Darwinism

Joseph Carroll Why did Joseph love this book?

Saunders is an unusually acute and subtle literary critic. She is deeply immersed in the great works of American literature, and she brings those works vividly to life. She penetrates deep into the evolved motives that regulate even the most seemingly idiosyncratic works. She demonstrates that literature is profoundly shaped by our evolved human motives and emotions.

By Judith P. Saunders,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of essays examines selected works in the American literary tradition from an evolutionary perspective. Using an interdisciplinary framework to pose new questions about long admired, much discussed texts, the collection as a whole provides an introduction to Darwinian literary critical methodology. Individual essays feature a variety of figures-Benjamin Franklin to Billy Collins-targeting fitness-related issues ranging from sexual strategies and parental investment to cheating and deception. Attention is paid to the physical and social environments in which fictional characters are placed, including the influence of cultural-historical conditions on resource acquisition, status-building, competition, and reciprocity. The discussion throughout the volume…

Book cover of Franklin's School Play

Mark A. Robinson Author Of The Magical Mice of Broadway

From my list on theatre written for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a longtime arts educator who has worked predominantly with kids ages 3 to 12, I initially set out to find books that could inspire them about theatre. For many years I have searched for the perfect books that achieve this and have used all of these books in my teaching.

Mark's book list on theatre written for children

Mark A. Robinson Why did Mark love this book?

Stage fright is a challenge that some performers must overcome. Some do so more easily, but when everyone’s favorite turtle Franklin is cast in the school’s production of The Nutcracker, his nerves start to get the better of him. This story is not only a great introduction to theatre, but it also features a relatable character overcoming a struggle and persevering.

By Paulette Bourgeois, Brenda Clark (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Franklin's School Play as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

In this Franklin Classic Storybook, Franklin has been chosen to play the Nutcracker Prince in his class's production. But will he be too nervous to say his lines when the big night arrives?

Book cover of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Richard Munson Author Of Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

From my list on inventors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been fascinated by innovators. In my day jobs, I’ve helped launch a clean-energy startup as well as helped write legislation to promote environmental entrepreneurs. In addition to Nikola Tesla, I’ve written biographies of Jacques Cousteau (inventor of the Aqua Lung and master of undersea filming) and George Fabyan (pioneer of modern cryptography and acoustics), as well as a history of electricity (From Edison to Enron) and profiles of food and farm modernizers (Tech to Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food). I love reading about ingenious and industrious individuals becoming inspired and achieving their dreams. 

Richard's book list on inventors

Richard Munson Why did Richard love this book?

When I think of Benjamin Franklin, I picture the chubby founding father pictured on a hundred-dollar bill or the crazy kite-flyer amid a thunderstorm. Yet this polymath’s witty and engaging memoir surprised me with the breadth of his science, including basic insights into electricity, heat, ocean currents, and molecules. How can you not like this curious and industrious innovator who also protected us from lightning and cold?

By Benjamin Franklin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Benjamin Franklin's account of his rise from poverty and obscurity to affluence and fame is a self-portrait of a quintessential American which has charmed every generation of readers since it first appeared in 1791. Begun as a collection of anecdotes for his son, the memoir grew into a history of his remarkable achievements in the literary, scientific and political realms. A printer, inventor, scientist, diplomat and statesman, Franklin was also a brilliant writer whose wit and wisdom shine on every page.
Franklin was a remarkably prolific author, well known in his lifetime for his humorous, philosophical, parodic and satirical writings,…