November 11, 2010

Reading list: 25 greatest science books of all time

The essential science reading list according to the editors of DISCOVER Magazine. Published in the December 2006 issue.

1. and 2. The Voyage of the Beagle (1845) and The Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin [tie]

3. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) by Isaac Newton (1687)

4. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo Galilei (1632)

5. De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres) by Nicolaus Copernicus (1543)

6. Physica (Physics) by Aristotle (circa 330 B.C.)

7. De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) by Andreas Vesalius (1543)

8. Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (1916)

9. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (1976)

10. One Two Three . . . Infinity by George Gamow (1947)

11. The Double Helix by James D. Watson (1968)

12. What Is Life? by Erwin Schrödinger (1944)

13. The Cosmic Connection by Carl Sagan (1973)

14. The Insect Societies by Edward O. Wilson (1971)

15. The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg (1977)

16. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

17. The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould (1981)

18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks (1985)

19. The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1814)

20. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands (1963)

21. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey et al. (1948)

22. Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey (1983)

23. Under a Lucky Star by Roy Chapman Andrews (1943)

24. Micrographia by Robert Hooke (1665)

25. Gaia by James Lovelock (1979)

Honorable Mentions

1. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (1900)

2. The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas (1974)

3. The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (1902)

4. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn (1962)

5. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)

6. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (1997)

7. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene (1999)

8. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes (1986)



  1. A really interesting list with all the big boys named! A bit biased towards the 20th century but that's to be expected. I just query whether Sagan should be included and if Freud gets an honourable mention ought not C.G.Jung who has been very influential in the past century, but otherwise fascinating. Sir T.B. approves ( a 1st edition of Galileo along with Vesalius and Hooke are listed in his Library). Quite useful for reference, so thanks for reproducing it Rise.

  2. Amusing that they produce a list covering a long time interval. #s 3-7 & 24 here appear almost like survivors. A lot of their kinds must have been destroyed in the fire. I mean, they have Aristotle! From the 330 B.C.! ... I'm not a fan of Sagan or Hawking here. They look like hacks beside Einstein and Feynman, the great theoreticians.... Why am I not surprised Sir T. B. was up to date with the progress of science of his time.