The best 42 Physics books

On the Origin of Time

On the Origin of Time

Thomas Hertog
Stephen Hawking's Final Theory
4.7 (293 ratings)

What's On the Origin of Time about?

On the Origin of Time (2023) guides you through the humbling, stranger-than-fiction theories that the late physicist Stephen Hawking developed in the last two decades of his life. With quantum physics, holograms, and inspiration from Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory, it reveals what the great scientist came to believe about the origins of the universe.

Who should read On the Origin of Time?

  • Those curious about the origins of space and time
  • People fascinated by the multiverse

Anyone familiar with A Brief History of Time

Why the Universe Is the Way It Is

Why the Universe Is the Way It Is

Hugh Ross
Using Science and Scripture to Answer Humanity’s Big Questions
3.8 (65 ratings)

What's Why the Universe Is the Way It Is about?

Why The Universe Is the Way It Is (2008) takes you on a cosmic journey from the Big Bang to the mysteries of time, all while exploring the universe's beauty and complexity. With a perfect balance of science and theology, it's a must-read for the curious and contemplative.

Who should read Why the Universe Is the Way It Is?

  • Curious cosmic explorers
  • Theological scientists
  • “Big picture” modern philosophers

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking
From the Big Bang to Black Holes
4.5 (423 ratings)

What's A Brief History of Time about?

A Brief History of Time (1988) takes a look at both the history of scientific theory and the ideas that form our understanding of the universe today. From big bangs and black holes to the smallest particles in the universe, Hawking offers a clear overview of both the history of the universe and the complex science behind it, all presented in a way that even readers who are being introduced to these ideas for the first time will understand.

Who should read A Brief History of Time?

  • Anyone who wonders how the universe began
  • Anyone who wonders what quantum mechanics is
  • Anyone interested how black holes work

The Big Picture

The Big Picture

Sean M. Carroll
On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself
4.1 (329 ratings)

What's The Big Picture about?

The Big Picture (2016) is an ambitious look at the world as we know it and how scientific thinking can be used to make sense of most of it. An insightful examination of the origins of life, consciousness and the universe itself, this book gives readers a deductive way of considering the most challenging questions that philosophy, physics and biology have to offer.

Who should read The Big Picture?

  • Philosophical buffs
  • Students and fans of physics
  • Anyone interested in biology and evolutionary theory

Welcome to the Universe

Welcome to the Universe

Neil deGrasse Tyson
An Astrophysical Tour
4.8 (335 ratings)

What's Welcome to the Universe about?

Welcome to the Universe (2016) is a mind-blowing and breathtaking introduction to astrophysics, based on the popular course the three authors cotaught at Princeton University. It takes everyone –⁠ even the nonscience-minded –⁠ on a trip through the known universe, stopping to examine stars, galaxies, black holes, and more, all while presenting fascinating theories regarding time travel, the big bang, and the prospect of life in other galaxies.

Who should read Welcome to the Universe?

  • Star-gazers who want to explore the far reaches of the universe
  • Budding astrophysicists and astronomers
  • Anyone curious about space, physics, and time

Life at the Speed of Light

Life at the Speed of Light

J. Craig Venter
From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life
4.5 (27 ratings)

What's Life at the Speed of Light about?

Life at the Speed of Light (2013) chronicles the pioneering work of the author and his team in creating the world’s first synthetic life form. You’ll experience the thrill of discovery as you follow the team’s groundbreaking work in synthesizing the world’s first genome and exploring the teleportation of living organisms.

Who should read Life at the Speed of Light?

  • People interested in cutting-edge science and technology
  • Scientists from any field

The Grand Design

The Grand Design

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
How science unlocked the secrets of the universe
4.4 (241 ratings)

What's The Grand Design about?

The Grand Design (2010) tells the fascinating story of how humans came into being and how we began to use the scientific method to explain both our remarkable growth as a species and the world around us. From the foundational laws of Newton and Einstein to the mind-bending science of quantum physics, find out how far we’ve come and how close we are to answering life’s big questions.

Who should read The Grand Design?

  • Armchair philosophers
  • Science geeks who are into astronomy and physics
  • Anyone who’s ever wondered about the mysteries of life



Walter Isaacson
His Life and Universe
4.4 (157 ratings)

What's Einstein about?

In an attempt to understand what motivated this peerless scientist, Walter Isaacson’s insightful biography (2008) delves into Einstein’s personal life. And, as it turns out, there are many factors that shaped Einstein – his rebellious nature, his fervent curiosity and his commitment to individual freedom.

Who should read Einstein?

  • Anyone who’s interested in Einstein
  • Anyone who’s interested in physics and the history of science
  • Anyone seeking to summon the courage to follow their dreams

The Beginning of Infinity

The Beginning of Infinity

David Deutsch
Explanations That Transform the World
4.2 (145 ratings)

What's The Beginning of Infinity about?

Everyday, we benefit from huge advances in both scientific theory and practice. What triggered this progress? In The Beginning of Infinity (2011) – a journey through the fundamental fields of science and philosophy – physicist David Deutsch argues that all progress results from one single human activity: the quest for explanations. Human creativity opens up limitless opportunities for progress, making knowledge the “beginning of infinity.”

Who should read The Beginning of Infinity?

  • Fans of science and philosophy
  • Anyone fascinated by the power of knowledge and creativity
  • Readers interested in the future of our species

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Carlo Rovelli
A mind-bending introduction to modern physics
4.4 (274 ratings)

What's Seven Brief Lessons on Physics about?

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2014) is an informative guide to how we arrived at the two pillars of modern physics: Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Author Carlo Rovelli describes the wondrous world opened up by these two theories, including the secrets they’ve revealed and the mysteries and paradoxes they’ve exposed.

Who should read Seven Brief Lessons on Physics?

  • Curious people who want to know more about how the universe works
  • Students who want an introduction to quantum physics
  • Scientists, physicists and mathematicians

The Upright Thinkers

The Upright Thinkers

Leonard Mlodinow
The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos
4.4 (71 ratings)

What's The Upright Thinkers about?

The Upright Thinkers (2015) takes you through the fascinating evolution of science, tracing the footsteps and influence of major figures along the way – from Galileo to Einstein to Heisenberg. These blinks will start with a trip back in time to the first moments humans learned to control fire, and will leave you with a brief summary of quantum mechanics.

Who should read The Upright Thinkers?

  • Science geeks
  • Anyone who enjoyed science class but wants to refresh their memory
  • Students interested in the history of the natural sciences

Future Stories

Future Stories

David Christian
What's Next?
4.2 (325 ratings)

What's Future Stories about?

Future Stories: What’s Next? (2022) explains the roots of how we make decisions about the future and illuminates the urgent responsibility on humanity’s shoulders today, with a multidisciplinary approach to time informed by biology, philosophy, and cosmology.

Who should read Future Stories?

  • Historians – both amateur and professional
  • Anyone concerned about climate change
  • Those interested in being a better human

The God Equation

The God Equation

Michio Kaku
The Quest for a Theory of Everything
4.6 (301 ratings)

What's The God Equation about?

The God Equation (2021) is an approachable look at the history and present of theoretical physics. This primer untangles the science behind relativity, string theory, and the search for the elusive “theory of everything.”

Who should read The God Equation?

  • Science enthusiasts interested in the tiniest scales of physics
  • Freethinkers asking the big question about the universe
  • Anyone curious about the structure of reality

Reality Is Not What It Seems

Reality Is Not What It Seems

Carlo Rovelli
The Journey to Quantum Gravity
4.5 (196 ratings)

What's Reality Is Not What It Seems about?

Reality Is Not What It Seems (2014) offers a quick overview of the long journey modern science has taken from the cosmic observations of ancient Greece to the heady theories of quantum mechanics. These blinks offer an easily digestible take on the many twists and turns that have occurred in the history of modern physics, as well as an overview of the tricky questions physicists continue to grapple with today.

Who should read Reality Is Not What It Seems?

  • Science geeks and curious minds
  • Students and practitioners in the field of physics
  • Anyone who wants to know the secrets of the universe

The Janus Point

The Janus Point

Julian Barbour
A New Theory of Time
4.0 (122 ratings)

What's The Janus Point about?

The Janus Point (2020) is a provocative, new take on the origins of time and the fate of the universe. Today, most physicists believe that the universe as we know it began with the big bang. But there may be a different possibility – that the big bang wasn’t the beginning of time, but merely a very special point in the history of our cosmos.

Who should read The Janus Point?

  • Big-picture thinkers who love exploring fundamental questions about the universe
  • People who are fascinated – but may sometimes feel intimidated – by physics
  • Anyone who enjoys delving into complex and abstract theories

The Tao of Physics

The Tao of Physics

Fritjof Capra
An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism
4.2 (172 ratings)

What's The Tao of Physics about?

The Tao of Physics (1975) explores the relationship between the hard science of modern physics and the spiritual enlightenment of Eastern mysticism. These blinks lay out striking parallels between relativity theory and quantum theory on the one hand and Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism on the other.

Who should read The Tao of Physics?

  • Those with an inclination toward rational thought
  • Practitioners of Eastern mysticism and anyone with a spiritual side
  • Students of philosophy, science and religion



James Gleick
The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
4.6 (128 ratings)

What's Genius about?

Genius (2011) charts the life and career of brilliant physicist Richard Feynman, from his formative upbringing to his remarkable and lasting contributions to science. Though he’s not as renowned as Albert Einstein, and has no groundbreaking theories to his name, Feynman did change the way scientists look at the world.

Who should read Genius?

  • Students and lovers of science
  • Curious problem solvers
  • History buffs

The Future of Humanity

The Future of Humanity

Michio Kaku
Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth
4.4 (86 ratings)

What's The Future of Humanity about?

The Future of Humanity (2018) explores the challenges we face finding new homes on other, potentially hostile, planets. As physicist Michio Kaku shows us, this scenario is no longer science fiction, but rather a very pressing concern for scientists and future-minded entrepreneurs. Kaku presents the options currently being explored as well as the many problems that are on the verge of being solved.

Who should read The Future of Humanity?

  • Fans of speculative science
  • Students of physics and planetary science
  • Astronomy enthusiasts

The Order of Time

The Order of Time

Carlo Rovelli
A trip through time with a leading theoretical physicist
4.6 (165 ratings)

What's The Order of Time about?

The Order of Time (2017) unpacks the latest research in physics to turn our everyday concept of time on its head. What we perceive and experience as a linear movement, from past to present and into the future, is little more than a trick of the mind. The reality, Carlo Rovelli shows, is a whole lot more interesting and bizarre.

Who should read The Order of Time?

  • Science lovers, physicists and philosophers
  • Anyone curious about the world
  • Those seeking to understand what time is and what it isn’t

The Emperor's New Mind

The Emperor's New Mind

Roger Penrose
Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics
4.6 (214 ratings)

What's The Emperor's New Mind about?

The Emperor’s New Mind (1989) is a timeless argument against the computability of the human mind. Taking you on a fascinating journey through math, computer science, philosophy, and physics, famous mathematician Roger Penrose explains what makes the human mind so special – and what quantum mechanics has to do with consciousness.

Who should read The Emperor's New Mind?

  • Math freaks and science geeks 
  • Hobby psychologists and armchair philosophers
  • Anyone concerned about a robot uprising

Strange Glow

Strange Glow

Timothy J. Jorgensen
"The Story of Radiation – How the New Science of the Human Body Is Changing the Way We Live"
4.7 (206 ratings)

What's Strange Glow about?

Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation Is a sweeping account of the rise of nuclear science, tackling some of the biggest myths and realities surrounding radiation. Debunking some safety myths while carefully documenting real risks, it is also an urgent call for society to confront their fears and in doing so, make better choices in everything from medical procedures to nuclear power.

Who should read Strange Glow?

  • Those looking for a deeper understanding of the universe
  • Anyone nervous about the radiation surrounding them
  • Anyone wanting to make more informed decisions about medical treatment or health

The Great Mental Models Volume 2

The Great Mental Models Volume 2

Shane Parrish and Rhiannon Beaubien
Physics, Chemistry and Biology
4.1 (118 ratings)

What's The Great Mental Models Volume 2 about?

The Great Mental Models Volume 2 (2019) is all about the art of making unexpected connections. Rooted in the “hard” sciences, it unpacks core concepts from physics, chemistry, and biology. But it’s not only about electrons, elements, and evolution. The ideas covered in this fascinating intellectual history can also be applied to everyday life.

Who should read The Great Mental Models Volume 2?

  • Lateral thinkers
  • Scientists interested in a new angle on familiar concepts
  • Anyone looking for a good mental workout

When Einstein Walked with Gödel

When Einstein Walked with Gödel

Jim Holt
Excursions to the Edge of Thought
4.4 (228 ratings)

What's When Einstein Walked with Gödel about?

When Einstein Walked with Gödel (2018) is an excursion through both the fabric of our reality and the limits of scientific imagination. Combining math and physics with history and philosophy, it sheds light on some of the most important scientific theories of the last three centuries – and examines the turbulent lives of the geniuses who conceived them. 

Who should read When Einstein Walked with Gödel?

  • Laypeople who’d like to understand more about math and physics
  • Critical thinkers interested in the history and philosophy of science
  • Anyone who’d like to leave a big impression at their next cocktail party



Carlo Rovelli
Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution
4.4 (142 ratings)

What's Helgoland about?

Helgoland (2021) is a dreamy and poetic exploration of quantum mechanics. This slim volume describes the strange subatomic world where nothing is ever completely certain.

Who should read Helgoland?

  • Amateur physicists interested in the history of science
  • Psychonauts curious to explore the strange world of atoms
  • Anyone interested in a mind-bending look at reality

Time Travel

Time Travel

James Gleick
A History
4.0 (76 ratings)

What's Time Travel about?

Time Travel (2016) details the history of a captivating concept. These blinks explain how the idea of time travel came into the popular consciousness, what problems the theory presents and how you might already be time traveling without even knowing it.

Who should read Time Travel?

  • Anyone who has ever wanted to travel through time
  • Students of physics
  • Lovers of science fiction



James Gleick
Making a New Science
4.6 (251 ratings)

What's Chaos about?

Chaos (1987) delves into the most recent theoretical revolution in physics: chaos theory. In the 1970s, scientists began discovering that the world doesn’t behave as neatly as classical physics suggests. From the weather to animal populations to our heartbeats – irregularities, disorder, and chaos pervade our universe. And yet, there seems to be a strange order to the chaos of life. Chaos explores the history of this new science, revealing its startling findings, and pondering its implications.

Who should read Chaos?

  • Curious minds interested in unraveling the mysteries of the universe
  • People interested in the history of modern science
  • Anyone looking to understand and appreciate the chaos of life



Charles Seife
The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
4.4 (318 ratings)

What's Zero about?

Zero (2000) is the fascinating story of a number banned by the ancient Greeks and worshipped by ancient Indians. Zero – as well as its twin, infinity – is a number that’s been at the heart of both mathematics and philosophy over the centuries.

Who should read Zero?

  • Popular science enthusiasts
  • History buffs curious about how concepts have evolved over time
  • Philosophers interested in everything . . . and nothing

The Particle at the End of the Universe

The Particle at the End of the Universe

Sean Carroll
How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World
4.7 (68 ratings)

What's The Particle at the End of the Universe about?

The Particle at the End of the Universe gives you a crash course in particle physics by explaining the basics of what has become known as the “standard model.” The book also details the fascinating and exciting journey that eventually led to the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson.

Who should read The Particle at the End of the Universe?

  • Anyone interested in physics
  • Anyone who wants to learn about the origin and the characteristics of our universe
  • Anyone curious about the Large Hadron Collider and how it works



Frank Close
A must-read classic of modern science
4.5 (243 ratings)

What's Antimatter about?

Antimatter (2010) is a detailed look at one of the most mysterious and misunderstood topics in physics: antimatter. This accessible guide explains what antimatter is, how it works, and what it can teach us about the universe.

Who should read Antimatter?

  • Stargazers curious about the makeup of the universe
  • Sci-fi fans interested in the facts behind their favorite fiction
  • Anyone who has ever felt flummoxed by advanced physics

What If? 2

What If? 2

Randall Munroe
Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
4.1 (197 ratings)

What's What If? 2 about?

What If? 2 (2022) is Randall Munroe’s follow-up to the New York Times best-selling What If? Like its predecessor, it comprises Munroe’s serious scientific answers to the absurd, funny, and whimsical questions submitted to him by readers, ranging from “How big would a snowball be if rolled from the top of Mt. Everest to the bottom?” to “Could a person eat a cloud?”

Who should read What If? 2?

  • Fans of xkcd’s nerd-culture humor
  • People who love science but don’t take it too seriously
  • Anyone who’s ever wondered what would happen if Jupiter were shrunk to the size of a suburban house

The End of Everything

The End of Everything

Katie Mack
(Astrophysically Speaking)
4.5 (70 ratings)

What's The End of Everything about?

How will the universe end? Will it cool down, tear apart, or even collide with a parallel universe? The Blink to The End of Everything (2020) peers into the furthest reaches of time and space, shedding light on the ultimate end of the universe and everything in it. Drawing on the latest cutting-edge research in cosmology and particle physics, the book introduces us to five of the most likely cosmic doomsday scenarios proposed and describes what it would actually be like to experience them.

Who should read The End of Everything?

  • Casual science readers who love to probe the nature of the world we live in
  • Doomsday fanatics
  • Space enthusiasts who have a taste for cosmic weirdness

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Thomas S. Kuhn
A groundbreaking study in how science progresses
4.3 (76 ratings)

What's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions about?

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) is a groundbreaking study in the history of science and philosophy. It explains how scientists conduct research and provides an interesting (if controversial) explanation of scientific progress.

Who should read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions?

  • Students of the sciences, philosophy and history
  • Participants in Mark Zuckerberg’s Year of Books
  • Anyone who’s interested in the history of thought

What If?

What If?

Randall Munroe
Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
3.5 (73 ratings)

What's What If? about?

In What If? (2014), Randall Munroe presents earnest, thoroughly researched answers to absurd, hypothetical questions in a highly entertaining and digestible format. Munroe serves up the most popular answers from queries he received through his What If? blog, along with a host of new, delightful, mind-bending questions and answers.    

Who should read What If??

  • Anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical
  • Anyone interested the oddities of math, science, and technology
  • Any fan of Randall Munroe’s webcomic, xkcd



Guido Tonelli
The Ultimate Origin Story
4.4 (85 ratings)

What's Genesis about?

Genesis (2019) lays out a gripping, blow-by-blow account of the first 13.8 billion years of our universe. From the mysterious initial void to the birth of the very first stars, it conjures up vistas no less dizzying than the grand creation myths of old.

Who should read Genesis?

  • Star-gazers and armchair cosmologists
  • Sci-fi fans interested in the reality of the great expanse
  • Those who wonder how everything began

In Pursuit of the Unknown

In Pursuit of the Unknown

Ian Stewart
17 Equations That Changed the World
4.4 (64 ratings)

What's In Pursuit of the Unknown about?

In this book, Ian Stewart focuses on 17 famous equations in mathematics and physics history, highlighting their impact on society. Stewart gives a brief history of the wonders of scientific discovery, and peppers it with vivid examples and anecdotes.

Who should read In Pursuit of the Unknown?

  • Anyone interested in how mathematical ideas affect science and society
  • Anyone who’s always been scared of complicated-looking formulas
  • Anyone fascinated by the beauty and hidden power of formulas

What is Life?

What is Life?

Erwin Schrödinger
With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches
4.4 (279 ratings)

What's What is Life? about?

What is Life? (1944) is a classic scientific text based on a series of lectures given at Trinity College, Dublin, by famous physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Though Schrödinger was a physicist, these lectures addressed issues in biology and genetics –⁠ primarily the fundamental question of how physics and chemistry can account for the processes that occur within living organisms. The concepts he explored went on to spark a revolution in genetics, inspiring, among others, the biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick, who together proposed the double helix structure of DNA.

Who should read What is Life??

  • Science geeks
  • Big-picture thinkers, ponderers, and questioners
  • Anyone who loves getting to the bottom of how the universe works

Atomic Accidents

Atomic Accidents

James Mahaffey
A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters from the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
4.1 (39 ratings)

What's Atomic Accidents about?

Atomic Accidents (2014) explores the evolution of one of the most fascinating and yet controversial technologies of our times, nuclear energy. These blinks explore the development of nuclear technology and reveal the details behind the tragic accidents that occurred along the way.

Who should read Atomic Accidents?

  • People curious about the pros and cons of nuclear energy
  • Historians or students of engineering and technology
  • People wanting to better understand the debate over nuclear power

The Laws of Thermodynamics

The Laws of Thermodynamics

Peter Atkins
A Very Short Introduction
4.3 (61 ratings)

What's The Laws of Thermodynamics about?

The Laws of Thermodynamics (2010) is a short and accessible introduction to thermodynamics, the field of physics concerned with the relationships between different forms of energy. Authored by one of the world’s preeminent authorities on the subject, Peter Atkins, it explains the four laws that govern the universe – the zeroth, first, second, and third laws. Along the way, The Laws of Thermodynamics unravels the workings of familiar-sounding concepts like temperature as well as more exotic ideas like entropy and energy states.

Who should read The Laws of Thermodynamics?

  • Quizzical types who’ve always wondered how the universe works
  • Humanities graduates looking for a gentle introduction to physics
  • Folks who love a good mental workout



Andrew Blum
A Journey to the Center of the Internet
3.7 (24 ratings)

What's Tubes about?

Tubes (2012) traces the origins of the internet, from its humble origins at a few US universities to its current superstructure status. You’ll find out about the physical components of the internet, including fiber cables, hubs and massive internet exchange points.

Who should read Tubes?

  • Internet geeks
  • People who want to understand how networks function
  • Those curious about the relationship between geography and the internet



James Edward Gordon
Or Why Things Don't Fall Down
4.6 (18 ratings)

What's Structures about?

Structures (1978) examines the fundamental, physical laws that keep the physical structures of our world intact, from man-made structures like airplanes, to biological structures like the body of a horse. These blinks outline the ways in which our structures are prone to collapse, and the critical value of scientists who perform complex calculations to keep our structures sturdy – and keep us safe.

Who should read Structures?

  • Students of engineering and architecture
  • Biologists, ecologists, physicists and historians of science
  • Anyone interested in how buildings stay upright

Why Information Grows

Why Information Grows

César Hidalgo
The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies
4.1 (16 ratings)

What's Why Information Grows about?

Why Information Grows (2015) takes you straight to the heart of the battle between entropy and order, examining the way that information is propagated and its impact on life, civilization and the universe. In doing so, the book offers a thought-provoking explanation for the success of human beings on earth.

Who should read Why Information Grows?

  • Anybody interested in economics
  • Anybody wanting to know the truth about order and chaos
  • Anybody interested in what makes our planet special



Stuart Firestein
How It Drives Science
3.8 (10 ratings)

What's Ignorance about?

Ignorance investigates the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific method and reveals the importance of asking the right questions over the discovery of simple facts. Using real-life examples from history, Ignorance shows that it is our awareness of what we don’t know that drives scientific discovery.

Who should read Ignorance?

  • Anyone considering working in a laboratory or research facility
  • Anyone who wants to know how a scientist’s mind works
  • Anyone interested in the history of knowledge

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