Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Essential Reading List for Everyone

December 29th, 2014

The world’s most popular astrophysicist was asked via Reddit: “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?”. He returned a list of eight essential books, which he said would help readers “glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”

Here’s the list, which includes deGrasse Tyson’s reasons for recommending each book. Also, check out the nice writeup about it by Maria Popova on BrainPickings.

  1. The Bible (public libraryfree ebook), to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself
  2. The System of the World (public libraryfree ebook) by Isaac Newton, to learn that the universe is a knowable place
  3. On the Origin of Species (public libraryfree ebook) by Charles Darwin, to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth
  4. Gulliver’s Travels (public libraryfree ebook) by Jonathan Swift, to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos
  5. The Age of Reason (public libraryfree ebook) by Thomas Paine, to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world
  6. The Wealth of Nations (public libraryfree ebook) by Adam Smith, to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself
  7. The Art of War (public libraryfree ebook) by Sun Tzu, to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art
  8. The Prince (public libraryfree ebook) by 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