Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! :…

"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" : adventures of a curious character (1985)

by Richard Feynman

Other authors: Edward Hutchings, Ralph Leighton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,33788619 (4.25)124
Recently added byHighCountry, private library, ThadyMiller, JCaz, wpwhite, mannafrancis, Bessoclass, NoelleGreene
  1. 20
    What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard P. Feynman (qball56k)
    qball56k: If you liked Surely You're Joking, you'll probably like the sequel as well. It's in many ways a more personal look at one of the most famous physicists of the 20th century.
  2. 10
    Absolute Zero Gravity: Science Jokes, Quotes and Anecdotes by Betsy Devine (Musecologist)
  3. 21
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (noise)
    noise: Both Tony Bourdain and Richard Feynman have (had) an incredible knack for writing highly informative and page turning memoirs. If you've read one but not the other, you're in for a treat.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 124 mentions

English (81)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (88)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
Before you read this book, do yourself a favor and watch a youtube clip of RF giving a speech. Listen for at least 5 minutes. It won't take much to absorb his rather unique style of speaking into your consciousness and this will greatly enhance this first person account of his life experiences. Besides making a significant contribution to the Manhattan Project at Los Alomos, and receiving a Nobel Prize, Feynman (pronounced fine-men) constantly developed many varied interests and pursued them passionately. If asked to give a one word description of the guy, I guess I would use that word - passionate. There are many interesting passages in the book, and one of the things I really admired about him was his broad view of education, particularly during his graduate studies. While at Princeton, he met a number of students and professors in departments other than his physics major, and sat in on many of their courses just because he found the subject interesting. And because he was a brilliant guy, he caught on quickly to basic issues and often made his unique contributions in those fields as well. And it was interesting times - he was a student in the 30's, at Los Alamos during WWll and taught for years afterwards (and played the drums, and marched at Rio's Carnival, etc.) He mentions his wives briefly but says next to nothing about his kids. And he had a fondness for women and met a number at clubs and bars. Not my expectations of a physicist, but an incredibly interesting guy. What he was not, was a great writer. When he described problems and solutions, he raced over the details much like his mind thought. It was impossible to get a clear grasp of what he was trying to communicate in many of these passages. But then he always preferred speaking to audiences with a depth of knowledge in the field and was frustrated with those that couldn't keep pace. A great guy but I wouldn't want him for a professor in one of my EE classes. Four stars is probably a generous rating, but if you only get through a portion of this book you will be glad that you got to experience and know a little bit about Feynman. ( )
  maneekuhi | May 3, 2014 |
This was an entertaining and occasionally insightful collection of anecdotes from Richard Feynman's life. On rare occasions, the need to explain some mathematical point revealed (once again) how dim I am on these subjects. However, this is Feynman's most popular book, and it's intended for a general audience, so the stories never turn on these points. Very consistently, Feynman proves to be very funny, interesting, and self-admittedly mischievous.

In skimming some reviews here on Goodreads, I saw that a few readers found Feynman a bit irritating. This is an interesting response. I can see how his irreverence and tendency toward argument could rub some the wrong way. But either through virtue of judicious editing or a truly balanced personal character, the Feynman who emerges from this book is a responsible, compassionate, and hard-working guy. And of course he is brilliant, idiosyncratic, and amusing at the same time. You'd be hard-pressed to find another Nobel Prize-winning physicist with this same combination of qualities. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
Richard Feynman was one of the most interesting and talented physicists of the twentieth century. He won the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics. He worked on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos and taught students at Cornell and Caltech. In Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! : adventures of a curious character Feynman talks about his life and work. But not what you may expect! He is irreverent and funny, a musician (the frigideira was his main instrument but he played other percussion instruments), a safecracker (see the story on file cabinets), budding artist, and generally nice person. He describes great scientists of the day like Einstein and Bohr, Jimmy the Greek, and students. There are travels to Japan and to Brazil, interactions with the new computers, and nights in bars. Feynman also covers things like how textbooks for students in elementary/secondary grades are selected (you won’t believe it), the Nobel Prize, and languages. There is also mathematics and science, Feynman’s great love.

You do not need to understand the science to appreciate Feynman’s memoirs and his insights into how science works and how it doesn’t. I heartily recommend this for all serious and not-so-serious physics students. ( )
  fdholt | Jan 22, 2014 |
Short anecdotes, three to twenty pages long, about life as a student, as a very junior member of the team that built the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, as a physicist rising through the world of the best physicists in the world during the 40's through the 70's.

The last essay, "Cargo Cult Science," ought to be read by everyone at least once a year, to keep us all honest in reaching our conclusions when we think seriously about things. At the end he says, "So I have just one wish for you -- the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, of financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom." ( )
  wrk1 | Jan 15, 2014 |
Sort of autobiogrpahy of the life of the famous physicist. Doesn't actually contain much science at all, mostly it s justa series of tales of what he was doing besides science throughout his life. It is an intersting cultural snapshot of life in the US through the mid 1900s.

Richard had a curiosu mind, honest and straightforward. He didn't really give a damm about anyone else's feelings. Understanding the world around was key, vital and people didn't need to get precious about it. He'd happily admit he was wrong if that ever happened. He frequently comments on how he didn't understand something straightaway, and how he often felt a fake when offered or promoted positions of responsability. If Feynman feels that way I'm sure us ordinary people can cope with little doubt!

There are some great scenes surrounding the Atomic bomb Manhatten project. ANd his frequent irritation with all the attention his Nobel Prize got him. I would have liked a nit more detail on the science behind that as it was barely mentioned. I could have coped with a lot more science in general. But this is the popular face of Feynmen. Living and free thinking - logically thinking through and understanding everything around him.

I'm sure modern feminists will be outraged at his attitude to women - he goes on great quests to try and understand their behavior, just looking for ways to have sex. I read it as commentary on the times as they were then. There is no explanation from Feynman, no attempt to cast historical cultures in todays lights. A lot of the set-up for formal dances, introductions etc, seems very odd now. It was the changing of cultures from the old way to the more current interactions. I don't think Feynman himself thought women were in anyway inferior, it certainly didn't come across that way. But there are few instances of him dealing with them at a professional level.

At times it is very funny. But ther eis little personal emotion in it. He describes making time to visit his terminally ill wife, briefly, amd after that there are just names he associates with rather than the depth of emotion that must have been there. I did feel that this was a censored public account of his life, and that there were far more riotious stories that could have been told!

It was interesting reading - how someone so intelligent looks at the world and is just another guy most of the time. ( )
  reading_fox | Oct 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Feynman, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hutchings, Edwardsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leighton, Ralphsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balibar, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bou, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klíma, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
When I was about eleven or twelve I set up a lab in my house.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393316041, Paperback)

A series of anecdotes shouldn't by rights add up to an autobiography, but that's just one of the many pieces of received wisdom that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918-88) cheerfully ignores in his engagingly eccentric book, a bestseller ever since its initial publication in 1985. Fiercely independent (read the chapter entitled "Judging Books by Their Covers"), intolerant of stupidity even when it comes packaged as high intellectualism (check out "Is Electricity Fire?"), unafraid to offend (see "You Just Ask Them?"), Feynman informs by entertaining. It's possible to enjoy Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman simply as a bunch of hilarious yarns with the smart-alecky author as know-it-all hero. At some point, however, attentive readers realize that underneath all the merriment simmers a running commentary on what constitutes authentic knowledge: learning by understanding, not by rote; refusal to give up on seemingly insoluble problems; and total disrespect for fancy ideas that have no grounding in the real world. Feynman himself had all these qualities in spades, and they come through with vigor and verve in his no-bull prose. No wonder his students--and readers around the world--adored him. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:40 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In this phenomenal bestseller, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman recounts his adventures trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek, painting a naked female toreador, accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums--and much else of an eyebrow-raising and hilarious nature. Photos.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
7 avail.
234 wanted
2 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.25)
1 5
1.5 4
2 31
2.5 8
3 184
3.5 70
4 555
4.5 87
5 677


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 96,247,696 books! | Top bar: Always visible