Eight Books Everyone Should Read, According To Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson's 8 books everyone should read

Fact: I once walked past astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the street and wanted really badly to talk to him but I was too nervous. I react to astrophysicists like 13-year-old girls react to Justin Bieber. If you ever need proof that I am a huge nerd, there it is. 

Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and a Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He's also a Reddit user, and recently someone asked him, "Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet?"

He listed the following books with this note: "If you read all of the works above, you will have profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world."

The books are: 

  • The Bible
  • The System of the World by Sir Isaac Newton
  • On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  • Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift
  • The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
  • The Art of War by Sun Tsu
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

So, LitReactors, what do you think of Tyson's list? And what would you add to this? 

Image of The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition
Author: Charles Darwin
Price: $6.25
Publisher: Signet (2003)
Binding: Mass Market Paperback, 576 pages
Image of Gulliver's Travels (Dover Thrift Editions)
Author: Jonathan Swift
Price: $6.00
Publisher: Dover Publications (1996)
Binding: Paperback, 240 pages
Image of The Art of War
Author: Sun Tzu
Price: $9.95
Publisher: Oxford University Press (1971)
Binding: Paperback, 197 pages
Image of The Prince
Author: Niccolo Machiavelli
Price: $6.19
Publisher: Simon & Brown (2011)
Binding: Paperback, 164 pages

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Comments

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life December 20, 2011 - 10:46am

Love this guy. See him on Discovery and the Science Channel all the time.

I too have had a brush with scientific fame. Michio Kaku lives in my neighborhood. I drove past him once. Next time I see him I'm getting out of my car.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this December 20, 2011 - 11:00am

Michio Kaku is great too! I read one of his books!

I love science!

Hetch Litman's picture
Hetch Litman from Ojai, Ca. is reading Wise Blood by Flannery OConnor December 20, 2011 - 11:26am

I've read 5 + much of the bibe so I think I'm off to a great start. Now on to tackle Darwin and Newton...

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun December 20, 2011 - 11:30am

Neil Tyson rules. If you don't follow him on Twitter, do so immediately. 

Waterhouse's picture
Waterhouse from Columbus is reading Bullet Park, John Cheever December 20, 2011 - 3:31pm

Fuck Tyson. He demoted Pluto. Love Kaku or Gribbin, though. Man, if I lived by Kaku I would follow him home and have him autograph all his books that I have.

 

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz December 20, 2011 - 5:37pm

Tyson might be brilliant. But his reading list leaves a lot to be desired.

Where's the Nietzsche?

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun December 20, 2011 - 8:16pm

Fuck Tyson. He demoted Pluto. Love Kaku or Gribbin, though. Man, if I lived by Kaku I would follow him home and have him autograph all his books that I have.

Read The Pluto Files, man! Pluto isn't a fucking planet at all! HAHA

 

Limbless K9's picture
Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu December 20, 2011 - 8:50pm

I laughed out loud when I saw that the Bible was followed by Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species. 

Fabio Deotto's picture
Fabio Deotto from Italy is reading "Sunset Park" by Paul Auster December 21, 2011 - 1:20am

He should have replaced Darwin, with Dawkins, that would have been even.

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 21, 2011 - 2:31am

I have no idea waht you're all talking about, but seems like too much the worth... You're all talkin' about Darwin, and Pluto and Gribbon?... Man, seriously, who the fuck cares? Does it really matter now? I don't don't even know know who Gribbon is... What the fuck do I care? 

 

Sorrry... Don't mean to stir the pot up... Okay, yeah I do... But, really, I'm curious... Learns me... I make fun, because I'm simple like that. 

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest December 21, 2011 - 2:33am

Jesus.. I just jumped into a pile of shit i I should have have stayed out of. 

razorsharp's picture
razorsharp from Ohio is reading Atlas Shrugged December 21, 2011 - 6:55am

What each of these books have in common is a vast influence on humanity that continues to this day. I would add two more to make it an even ten: The Communist Manifesto and Candide.

Tyson is a brilliant man. I've seen him in several interviews, some pertaining to astrophysics and some completely irrelevant to the field. Regardless of the subject, he's always extremely knowledgeable and is very good at articulating his opinions. He's a great man of reason in an era of sensationalism.

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun December 21, 2011 - 7:19am

I'm going to plug it for him, if you don't listen to his podcast, StarTalk Radio, you should. It's damn entertaining.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words December 23, 2011 - 1:46pm

I would add Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti. Although it may not have the same influence on the West as the books listed above, it certainly does a lot to explain why we tend to get very silly when we get together.

DWoods's picture
DWoods from Melbourne is reading Rabbit Redux April 11, 2012 - 7:22am

These certainly aren't the greatest books ever written--but probably the most influential; so it's a decent list. All that it *really* needs is some Homer: Iliad or Odyssey. And probably some Dickens.