The most recommended books about Richard Feynman

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to Richard Feynman, and here are their favorite Richard Feynman books.
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Book cover of A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down

Efe Yazgan Author Of Neutron Stars, Supernovae & Supernova Remnants

From my list on non-technical books to get interested in knowing the Universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the Universe led me to become a high-energy physics and astrophysics researcher. I work at CERN (Geneva) working on elementary particles. Over many years, I have written and reviewed numerous scientific articles and served as the editor for two books. I have also reviewed books and co-written a few short popular science pieces. My reading interests encompass not only academic and literary works but also popular science, philosophy, and sociology. Understanding the Universe is difficult. With this collection, I hope to provide you with an authentic introduction to the study of the Universe and its evolution from various perspectives. 

Efe's book list on non-technical books to get interested in knowing the Universe

Efe Yazgan Why did Efe love this book?

I like the main idea promoted in the book that even laws of nature (including general relativity) result from "collective effects," i.e., many-body interactions. This is supported by examples from the material nature of the vacuum of elementary particles to proteins and daily life.

The discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN (after the book was written) already greatly increased our confidence that the vacuum is not empty but a type of matter from which elementary particle properties emerge.

I also like his thoughts on the philosophy of physics from the collective-effects (or non-reductionist) perspective. He claims that for a scientific measurement or even a law to be possible, nature should allow precisely measurable quantities via collective effects.

By Robert M. Laughlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why everything we think about fundamental physical laws needs to change, and why the greatest mysteries of physics are not at the ends of the universe but as close as the nearest ice cube or grain of salt Not since Richard Feynman has a Nobel Prize-winning physicist written with as much panache as Robert Laughlin does in this revelatory and essential book. Laughlin proposes nothing less than a new way of understanding fundamental laws of science. In this age of superstring theories and Big-Bang cosmology, we're used to thinking of the unknown as being impossibly distant from our everyday lives.…


Book cover of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Sam Kean Author Of The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

From my list on the wonders of biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including The Bastard Brigade, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Disappearing Spoon. He edited The Best American Nature and Science Writing in 2018, and his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air,” and his podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, debuted at #1 on the iTunes charts for science podcasts.

Sam's book list on the wonders of biology

Sam Kean Why did Sam love this book?

The ultimate big-picture book. Wilson outlines how fields like history and the humanities can incorporate insights from biology and the study of human nature—to the benefit of both science and the arts. A bracing look at the future of human knowledge.

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking new book, one of the world's greatest living scientists argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for what he calls consilience, the composition of the principles governing every branch of learning. Edward O Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos. It is a vision that found its apogee in the…


Book cover of Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Davis Baird Author Of Thing Knowledge: A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments

From my list on how the things in our world get made and work.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am not very good at making things. I am good enough to appreciate the craftsmanship of those much better than me. I am more of an ideas person, perhaps why I ended up with a PhD in Philosophy of Science. But I have always held a secret admiration—with a tinge of envy—for people who are makers. As I went deeper into my career as a philosopher of science, I became aware that the material/making aspect of science—and technology—was largely ignored by ideas-obsessed philosophers. So, this is where I focused my attention, and I’ve loved vicariously being able to be part of making the world.

Davis' book list on how the things in our world get made and work

Davis Baird Why did Davis love this book?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Way Things Work, not the more recent David Macaulay book—which is also good—but the earlier 1967 book by T. Lodewijk. With great diagrams, it showed how complicated machines work.

Randall Munroe's Thing Explainer, while less comprehensive, similarly captures this magic for me. It has great diagrams and simple clarifying text—self-consciously limited to the 1,000 words people use the most. I could stare at the diagrams for hours, learning about everything from cameras (“picture takers”) to submarines (“boats that go under the sea”).

By Randall Munroe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the No. 1 bestselling author of What If? - the man who created xkcd and explained the laws of science with cartoons - comes a series of brilliantly simple diagrams ('blueprints' if you want to be complicated about it) that show how important things work: from the nuclear bomb to the biro.

It's good to know what the parts of a thing are called, but it's much more interesting to know what they do. Richard Feynman once said that if you can't explain something to a first-year student, you don't really get it. In Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe takes…


Book cover of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

Richard Feynman was unique. A brilliant theoretical physicist, humorous, eccentric, and independent.

Feynman’s genius gave him a certain freedom, which he exploited to the full. The book is autobiographical and shows his often irresponsible behavior but also a relentless curiosity, and willingness to try anything, the essence of a successful scientist.

One cannot hope to imitate Feynman (and perhaps we should not: he was often mischievous, even mildly malicious); but any scientist should envy the way he approached problems in engineering as well as science—and the book is fun!

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. In this lively work that "can shatter the stereotype of the stuffy scientist" (Detroit Free Press), Feynman recounts his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets-and much more of an eyebrow-raising nature. In his stories, Feynman's life shines through in all its eccentric glory-a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Included for this edition is a new introduction by Bill Gates.


Book cover of You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe

Geoff Waring Author Of Oscar and the Bat: A Book about Sound

From my list on science for kids and adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Science is truth and always evolving as we discover new things. Like a child, scientists are always asking "Why this? Why that?" Great scientists like great artists are childlike or at least manage to harness the wonder of their childhood self. If a child is interested in the world around them they will never be bored. It will set them up for life and that's a truly precious thing.

Geoff's book list on science for kids and adults

Geoff Waring Why did Geoff love this book?

For everyone who bought A Brief History of Time and was even more confused by the end, this is for you. There are no pictures, just lovely words, lots of incredible facts, and some lovely connections between seemingly unconnected things.

It's a great dipping book, too, as each chapter deals with different aspects of why and how we got to where we are.

By Christopher Potter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“You Are Here is not just physics for poets, but as close to poetry or music as science is ever likely to get. Christopher Potter’s narrative is as imaginative, ingenious, and elegantly concise as it is user-friendly.” — Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

“A personal, brilliant, and often amusing account . . . . An idiosyncratic, encyclopedic blitzkrieg of a book.” —The Boston Globe

“The Verdict: Read.” — Time

Christopher Potter’s You Are Here is a lively and accessible biography of the universe—how it fits together and how we fit into it—in the style of science writers like…


Book cover of Through Two Doors at Once: The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality

Chris Ferrie Author Of Where Did the Universe Come From? and Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos

From my list on quantum physics that are also the most accessible.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of quantum physics—the most notoriously complicated science humans have ever invented. While the likes of Albert Einstein commented on how difficult quantum physics is to understand, I disagree! Ever since my mum asked me—back while I was a university student—to explain to her what I was studying, I’ve been on a mission to make quantum physics as widely accessible as possible. Science belongs to us all and we should all have an opportunity to appreciate it!

Chris' book list on quantum physics that are also the most accessible

Chris Ferrie Why did Chris love this book?

Through Two Doors at Once is the most complete and lucid description of the archetypal quantum experiment, the so-called “double-slit experiment.” Anil Ananthaswamy interviews quantum scientists and weaves modern understanding into the history of one of the most famous science experiments ever.

By Anil Ananthaswamy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through Two Doors at Once as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can matter behave both like a particle and a wave? Does a particle exist before we look at it or does the very act of looking bring it into reality? Is there a place where the quantum world ends and our perceivable world begins?

Many of science's greatest minds including Thomas Young, Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman have grappled with the questions embodied in the simple yet elusive 'double-slit' experiment in order to understand the fabric of our universe. With his extraordinary gift for making the complicated comprehensible, Anil Ananthaswamy travels around the world and through history, down to…


Book cover of Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction

Craig Callender Author Of What Makes Time Special?

From my list on time for people who love physics and deep thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosopher of science who has an obsession with time. People think this interest is a case of patronymic destiny, that it’s due to my last name being Callender. But the origins of “Callender” have nothing to do with time. Instead, I’m fascinated by time because it is one of the last fundamental mysteries, right up there with consciousness. Like consciousness, time is connected to our place in the universe (our sense of freedom, identity, meaning). Yet we don’t really understand it because there remains a gulf between our experience of time and the science of time. Saint Augustine really put his finger on the problem in the fifth century when he pointed out that it is both the most familiar and unfamiliar thing.

Craig's book list on time for people who love physics and deep thinking

Craig Callender Why did Craig love this book?

I’ve never met Nahin but I recognize in him a kindred spirit of someone similarly obsessed with time. If you want to know about time travel, here it is in all its glory. The “tech notes” at the end show that this is a labor of love. Not only will you encounter some of the most fascinating physics (in the works of Godel, Novikov, Thorne, Tipler, and dozens more), but you’ll also learn about early science fiction, the threat of fatalism, the history of the idea that time is the fourth dimension, and more.

By Paul J. Nahin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book explores the idea of time travel from the first account in English literature to the latest theories of physicists such as Kip Thorne and Igor Novikov. This very readable work covers a variety of topics including: the history of time travel in fiction; the fundamental scientific concepts of time, spacetime, and the fourth dimension; the speculations of Einstein, Richard Feynman, Kurt Goedel, and others; time travel paradoxes, and much more.


Book cover of Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career

Stephen M. Kosslyn Author Of Active Learning Online: Five Principles that Make Online Courses Come Alive

From my list on the science of learning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stephen M. Kosslyn has been immersed in the world of learning for decades. He is the founder of Active Learning Sciences, Inc., and is Chief Academic Officer of Foundry College. Kosslyn's research has focused on the nature of visual cognition, visual communication, and the science of learning; he has published 14 books and over 350 papers on these topics. He has received numerous honors, including the National Academy of Sciences Initiatives in Research Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three honorary Doctorates, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Stephen's book list on the science of learning

Stephen M. Kosslyn Why did Stephen love this book?

This book is a creative and accurate description of how to use scientifically developed principles to help yourself learn effectively. The author vividly shows that he "eats his own dogfood" and reports his compelling personal experiences that buttress the science. Moreover, the book is well written and tightly organized. If you want to help yourself to learn more effectively, this is the first book I would consult.

By Scott Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

En un mundo en constante evolución, es imprescindible adquirir sin cesar nuevos conocimientos y habilidades en el trabajo y en cualquier aspecto de nuestra vida.

Ultralearning te descubrirá cómo aprender de una forma rápida y efectiva.

¿Quieres cambiar de trabajo o impulsar tu carrera? Ultralearning te ofrece la estrategia para dominar las habilidades que te permitirán ampliar tus horizontes profesionales.

¿Qué cosas siempre has querido hacer pero el miedo te lo ha impedido? ¿Te imaginas que finalmente pudieras hablar inglés, tocar la guitarra, dibujar, hablar en público o programar?

Con la estrategia correcta, puedes aprender rápidamente cualquier cosa y adquirir…


Book cover of Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

David N. Schwartz Author Of The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age

From my list on the lives of 20th century physicists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad was a Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist who co-discovered the muon neutrino, a particle whose existence was first explained by Fermi. I am not a physicist myself but grew up around physicists and have always been fascinated by them and was lucky to have met many of the great 20th century physicists myself – through my father. My family background enabled me to know these great scientists not only as scientists but as people.  

David's book list on the lives of 20th century physicists

David N. Schwartz Why did David love this book?

James Gleick is one of the best popular science writers we have, and this classic biography of everyone’s favorite physicist was the first to peel back the curtain and give readers a deeper look into the man, his work, and his life. Behind the clowning and the joking was a deep sadness that Feynman carried with him throughout his life. But his contributions to physics, particularly quantum electrodynamics, put him in the legendary category. 

By James Gleick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To his colleagues, Richard Feynman was not so much a genius as he was a full-blown magician: someone who “does things that nobody else could do and that seem completely unexpected.” The path he cleared for twentieth-century physics led from the making of the atomic bomb to a Nobel Prize-winning theory of quantam electrodynamics to his devastating exposé of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. At the same time, the ebullient Feynman established a reputation as an eccentric showman, a master safe cracker and bongo player, and a wizard of seduction.

Now James Gleick, author of the bestselling Chaos, unravels teh…


Book cover of Disturbing the Universe

Brian Hall Author Of The Stone Loves the World

From my list on exploring the galaxy.

Why am I passionate about this?

A child of scientists, I grew up planning to be a physicist, but became a novelist instead. Since I straddle the worlds of science and literature, I’ve always valued good science writing. It’s a rare talent to be able to inform and excite the general reader while not oversimplifying the science. I particularly thrill to books about exploring other planets and star systems, because when I was a teenager I read a lot of science fiction, and wished more than anything that someday, when I was much older, I would find myself on a rocket headed for, say, a colony on Mars.

Brian's book list on exploring the galaxy

Brian Hall Why did Brian love this book?

Freeman Dyson, who died last year at the age of 96, was one of the world's leading physicists. He was also one of the worlds leading mathematicians. Later in life, he became one of the world’s leading astronomers. He was passionately concerned with the ethics of science and the perils of human politics. He also read a lot of literature and had interesting things to say about it, and could write better than many novelists. In 1979, at the age of 56, he published Disturbing the Universe: part autobiography, part window into the mind of a scientist, part essayistic rumination. There’s no other book like it. Listing the titles of the chapters covering his life until age 23 hints at the book’s richness and unpredictability: “The Magic City,” “The Redemption of Faust,” “The Children’s Crudade,” “The Blood of a Poet.” In the book’s final third, Dyson addresses issues related…

By Freeman Dyson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Spanning the years from World War II, when he was a civilian statistician in the operations research section of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, through his studies with Hans Bethe at Cornell University, his early friendship with Richard Feynman, and his postgraduate work with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson has composed an autobiography unlike any other. Dyson evocatively conveys the thrill of a deep engagement with the world-be it as scientist, citizen, student, or parent. Detailing a unique career not limited to his ground-breaking work in physics, Dyson discusses his interest in minimizing loss of life in war, in…