Reading list recommendations from your favorite scientists

Over at IFLS they have posted a list of books that Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks everyone should read.

The Bible“: “To learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”

The System of the World” by Isaac Newton: “To learn that the universe is a knowable place.”

On the Origins of Species” by Charles Darwin: “To learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”

Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift: “To learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”

The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine: “To learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”

The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith: “To learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”

The Art of War” by Sun Tzu: “To learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”

The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli: “To learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”

All based off a reddit post from 2011.


Followed by interesting titles by other scientist you may know and love:

Jane Goodall: “Animal Liberation” by Peter Singer

Michio Kaku: “The Foundation Trilogy” by Isaac Asimov

Oliver Sacks: “The Mind of a Mnemonist” by Aleksandr R. Luria

Steven Pinker: “1984” by George Orwell , “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins

Sean Carroll: “One, Two, Three…Infinity” by George Gamow

Steve Jones: “Farthest North” by Fridjtof Nansen

Jared Diamond: “Child of the Jungle” by Sabine Kuegler

Max Tegmark: “Permutation City” by Greg Egan

Adam Riess: “Contact” by Carl Sagan ,  “The Fountains of Paradise” by Arthur C. Clarke

Steven Strogatz: “The Andromeda Strain” by Michael Crichton

Ainissa Ramirez: “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy: “The Beak of the Finch” by Jonathan Weiner , “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters” by Matt Ridley

Melvin Konner: “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Robert M. Sapolsky  ,  “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain” by Anthony Damasio

Keith Thomson: “The Fly in the Cathedral” by Brian Cathcart



2 comments on “Reading list recommendations from your favorite scientists

  1. Cathy Newman says:

    This is great! Since finishing “The Martian,” I’ve been looking for something else to pick up.

    (Also, side note, going back and re-reading my former favorite parts of the Bible as a now-former evangelical is a very strange feeling and quite eye-opening, especially reading my old personal copy with all of my markups. For most of my science social circle, folks who didn’t grow up in this culture, I still think the first step to understanding the religious anti-science sentiment in the US is to give certain parts of the Bible a read-through, while keeping in mind that many people do actually 1000% whole-heartedly believe these words are literal.)

    • cej9f says:

      1) The Martian was AMAZING
      2) Glad you liked the list! I agree whole heartedly I find reading the bible interesting, if only to understand where others are coming from.

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