Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Top Eight Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Neil deGrasse Tyson

During his Reddit AMA, a user posted a question to Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [sic]”

deGrasse Tyson gave a list and provided a brief explanation as to why he suggested the books, clarifying later, “The one-line comment after each book is not a review but a statement about how the book’s content influenced the behavior of people who shaped the western world. So, for example, it does no good to say what the Bible “really” meant, if its actual influence on human behavior is something else.”

Here is the list, with links to each book (free if possible):

  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.”

deGrasse Tyson’s AMA was great, but if you want to check out some that didn’t go so well, read this list of the worst Reddit AMAs of all-time.

(via Open Culture)

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