Below, you will find the book list offered up by the astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, and popularizer of science. Where possible, we have included links to free versions of the books, all taken from our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks collections. Or you can always download a professionally-narrated book for free from Audible.com.
If you’re looking for a more extensive list of essential works, don’t miss The Harvard Classics, a 51 volume series that you can now download online.
1.) The Bible (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 by Isaac Newton (eBook) – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”
3.) On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”
4.) Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”
5.) The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”
6.) The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”
7.) The Art of War by Sun Tsu (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”
8.) The Prince by Machiavelli (eBook – Audio Book) – “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.”
Tyson concludes by saying: “If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”