I love reading books about physics. Somehow, I survived my formal education, pre-school through a master’s degree, without a physics class. Fortunately, there are some amazing scientists with a gift for writing and explaining that have provided me the opportunity to bolster my formal education. I love that these books make me feel very smart as a concept snaps into place and I actually understand why E=mc2. Of course, I cannot explain what I’ve learned to anyone and within a few days I’ve lost that light of understanding. But, at least while reading, the world makes sense.Here is a list of my favorites:
A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING
By Bill Bryson
This hefty tome was my first introduction to Bill Bryson and I’ve loved him ever since. While the entire book is not dedicated to physics exactly, the author begins with the Big Bang and then meanders his way through the history of the universe and our world. Completely entertaining and enlightening.
E=mc2: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS EQUATION
By David Bodanis
A biography about an equation sounds a little odd but the history E=mc2 is so full of drama it is actually a perfect fit. Though I do love many other books on the topic, this one created for me the most memorable “ah ha” moment. Bodanis set out to explain something everyone can recite, but few actually understand. He totally succeeded in my case!
PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE: HOW SCIENCE WILL SHAPE HUMAN DESTINY AND OUR DAILY LIVES BY THE YEAR 2100
By Michio Kaku
With a slightly different goal than other authors on this list, Kaku explain where things are headed and more of the application of physics instead of focusing on the actual science. He adds imagination to the mix and helps readers see how physics affects us now and in the increasingly near future.
SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS
By Carlo Rovelli
General relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, and black holes are a few of the topics discussed in this collection’s 86 pages. If you only have a few hours, this is the physics book for you. I did have to stop and reread several portions to follow the science, but I loved the playful tone and lyrical writing.
ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY
By Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s celebrity status drew me to this book but his ability to explain very complicated concepts kept me reading. His writing is approachable and entertaining and here he provides a basic understanding of the past, present, and future of the cosmos.