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"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  92,829 Ratings  ·  3,312 Reviews
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965, Richard Feynman was one of the world's greatest theoretical physicists, but he was also a man who fell, often jumped, into adventure. An artist, safecracker, practical joker and storyteller, Feynman's life was a series of combustoble combinations made possible by his unique mixture of high intelligence, unquenchable curiosity ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published December 17th 1984 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Darwin Otis, I think Feyman's father is one of the best inspirations for parents. His pedagogical principles (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfqRg...) may…moreOtis, I think Feyman's father is one of the best inspirations for parents. His pedagogical principles (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfqRg...) may look strange at first, but I completely changed the way I speak to my son based on these examples. You will enjoy it, even if you are not focused on Physics.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Emily
Jun 30, 2007 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book of anecdotes is written in a very casual, fun way that makes it easy to read. The problem is that the author, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Dick Feynman, is annoying. All the anecdotes involve him discovering a hidden talent, using it, delighting others (or himself if that's his real goal) and then being applauded for it (sometimes only by himself). For example, he discovers that he's a great artist, musician, safecracker, and critic. Everything revolves around him showing off and bein ...more
Otis Chandler
Dec 17, 2006 Otis Chandler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Curious cats
Recommended to Otis by: Adrian
This book was a pure delight. The subtitle "Adventures of a Curious Character" is spot-on. Feynman gave an amazingly human and honest view into his philosophy and take on life, thought a series of stories.

One thing that struck me most deeply was his passion for learning new things. You would think a world-famous Physicist would just be passionate for Physics - but Feynman was curious about everything he saw. He dabbled in art and was successful enough to have a show, he joined a Brazilian Bongo
...more
Brendon Schrodinger
“Would you like cream or lemon in your tea, Mr. Feynman?” It’s Mrs. Eisenhart, pouring tea.

“I’ll have both, thank you,” I say, still looking for where I’m going to sit, when suddenly I hear “Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman.”


The title of this collection comes from a tale that took place early in Feynman's career where he was invited for an afternoon tea with the dean of his university. The dean's wife is serving and asks him the above question. Richard never drinks tea an
...more
William
Jun 29, 2016 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Nobody ever figures out what life is all about,and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough."(Video Review)
The story of Feynman changed fundamentally, what I think about the world around me.
The story of Richard and his father helped me to understand, that many parents could help their children to a more fulfilling life. Parents could pique the interest of the child very early and could give him real answers if he asks why aga
...more
Penny
Sep 11, 2007 Penny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Feynman is a physicist who taught at Cornell and Princeton, worked on the Manhattan Project and won the Nobel Prize. He's also a complete hoot. The book is a series of autobiographical stories -- pranks pulled as a student at MIT and at Los Alamos, teaching himself to paint, scientific discoveries he made, his three marriages, how he was rejected by the draft board for being mentally suspect (they asked him if he ever heard voices and he said yes he did and then went on to describe what he found ...more
Manny
Everyone has a collection of favorite stories that they enjoy telling; but it's unusual for the stories to be so good that a friend insists on writing them down, so that other people can appreciate them too. When I read this book, I almost feel that Feynman's telling the stories himself. Well, when that happens in real life, you always want to join in; here's my personal best effort at a Feynman-type anecdote. I hope it's now far enough in the past that the people concerned will see the funny si ...more
Darwin8u
Apr 17, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing.”
― Richard Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

description

I've been circling this book, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, and Gleck's Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman for awhile. This one seemed the most fun and easiest place to start. I was driving from Taos/Santa Fe back to Phoenix last week and as I d
...more
Roy Lotz
I'll never make that mistake again, reading the experts' opinions. Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that's the end of you.

I can usually tell when I’m going to give a book 5 stars by one sign: I can’t shut up about it. Well, I couldn’t and can’t shut up about this book; it was simply great. This greatness sort of snuck up on me. I’d recently read a collection of anecdotes by a scientist (A Primate’s Memoir) and found it rather disa
...more
Peter Frazier
May 08, 2007 Peter Frazier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This amusing little book of anecdotes had an alarmingly influential role in my life. It convinced me of the odd notion that it would be a good idea to go to Caltech and major in physics. In retrospect, this would have been a better idea had I been born around 1930 and was starting my scientific career around 1940, but nowadays it's a tough slog in physics, both money-wise and also discovery-wise. I think that people like Bohr and Planck and Einstein and Feynman discovered all the good stuff in p ...more
Tess J
Jul 04, 2012 Tess J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Listen, I read this a long time ago but here's the thing about it. I'm a big sience fan, and I've always heard how brilliant and funny Richard Feynman was, especially because of his connection to the UofC. But I loathed this book. I suppose it's a memoir, and I don't know if it's ghost written or not, but what was supposed to endear me to Mr Feynman made him revolting to me. According to this book, he treated other people like dirt and thought it was hilarious, he correlated pure intelligence wi ...more
Inder
Apr 15, 2008 Inder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Inder by: Dad
Laugh out loud funny. My dad read this outloud to us when we were kids - I'm guessing at the exact year - and the whole family literally cried with laughter many times during the performance.

Feyman's other memoirs are good too, but this is the funniest. I still think of it often. For instance, every time I use a combination lock, I think of his safe-cracking phase, and how it's every child's dream to learn how to crack safes and get at all that secret and valuable stuff. Which really sums up th
...more
Steve
Nov 30, 2011 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s presumably a rule where only smart people are awarded Nobel Prizes in Physics. Richard Feynman was no exception. This memoir is filled with anecdotes from his childhood spent fixing radios, his experiences as a young man doing bomb research at Los Alamos up through his days as a renowned professor at Cal Tech. The central theme was always that this is one smart cookie. It was interesting to pick up on his thought processes. It probably didn’t feature as much pure science as most of his o ...more
Nick
Nov 27, 2011 Nick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the problems with reading a book written by a genius is that you have to ask yourself whether any perceived deficiencies in the text are due to the author, or due to your own failure to comprehend his brilliance. That said, I wasn't thrilled by this book. On a purely technical level, it would have benefited from a stronger editor. While there's a rough chronological order to the material, there tends to be a lot of jumping around both within and between the chapters. A few times, Feynman ...more
Grumpus
Apr 02, 2014 Grumpus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If not for copyright laws, this book could easily have been entitled, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”. This is a captivating story of an amazing life that could not have been better had it been scripted at birth.

Mr. Feynman has done it all. I loved the feeling of tagging along on this brilliant, Nobel-prize winning physicist’s life. A little eccentric yes, but the narrative flows in a very conversational manner (which is a style I like very much). From his early life, to his work on the atomic bomb,
...more
Irena
Sep 13, 2012 Irena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book's been recommended to me by my boyfriend and after giving it a 5-page trial, I got sucked right into it!

I partially read it, partially listened to the audiobook (which was, imho, done really well and was so pleasant to listen to while doing puzzle or gaming or whatnot).

I loved the very beginning, his childhood, where he was so curious and so sweet about his early discoveries. The rest of his science-related work as well as hobbies (drumming, painting, lock-picking, math duels, pranks,
...more
Titas (Emperor)
Physics is like sex!
Today we will talk about a scientist who was an extraordinary man, known as a teacher, lover, master safe cracker (who stole papers of Manhattan Project), fan of Las Vegas’s strip clubs, exceptional liar, musician, artist and probably the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era.

How does one define a role model? A prodigy, hard-worker, achiever, winner in the field one is interested in, right? Well in that case the Nobel P
...more
Lance Greenfield
Brilliant, inspirational and very funny!

There can be no argument that Richard P Feynman was a genius. He has been a hero of mine since I was very young, probably because my father also greatly admires him and spoke to me about Feynman and his unique personality from time to time.

There are some great stories in this book and they will make you laugh out loud. Feynman was always so full of life and he was curious about absolutely everything from a very early age. He would always want to know, "Ho
...more
Negativni
Oct 16, 2013 Negativni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Richard Feynman u ovoj knjizi ne piše o kvantnoj elektrodinamici, polju u kojemu je dao najveći doprinos fizici. Ovo su, kako i sam podnaslov kaže Adventures of a Curious Character, avanture znatiželjnog/neobičnog lika.

Feynman ovdje piše o nekim njemu najzanimljivijim događajima iz života koji su zabavni za ispričati. O tome kako se, već kao mali, počeo interesirati kako stvari funkcioniraju. Počeo je s rastavljanjem jednog radio prijemnika, a uskoro postao majstor za njih za cijelo susjedstvo.
...more
Sabbir Ahmed
Noble laureate physicist Hans Bethe বলেছিলেন, "দুই রকমের জিনিযাস আছেন। সাধারণ জিনিযাসেরা মহান সব কাজ করে থাকেন, কিনতু সবসমযেই এটা চিনতা করার সুযোগ থেকে যায যে, যথেষট পরিমাণে খাটলে আপনিও বুঝি ওটা করতে পারতেন। আরেকরকমের জিনিযাস অনেকটা যাদুকরের মতন, আপনি কিছুতেই ভেবে উঠতে পারবেন না, তারা সেটা কিভাবে করল। ফাইনমযান ছিলেন একজন যাদুকরী জিনিযাস। "

সেই যাদুকরের সাথে পরিচয় মিলল এই বইয়ে। রিচারড ফাইনমযান একজন নোবেল বিজয়ী পদারথবিদ বললে আসলে তার সমপরকে যেন কিছুই বলা হল না।
একজন পদারথবিদ পরিচয়ের পাশাপাশি তার আরও
...more
Claudia
What a fascinating personality! To follow your dreams, make them happen, make a living out of them, ultimately all this work to be of help for others and above all to enjoy life as you wish to - this is what I call to live your life to the fullest!

Mr. Feynman stories are simply wonderful! They are not just funny - they present a man which desire to learn was his motto in life (he owes this desire to his father, a very remarkable man). According to him, anything can be learned as long as you wis
...more
Maria
Dec 21, 2016 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Преди да прочета тази книга, смятах че Файнман е физик, носител на Нобелова награда с голямо чувство за хумор. Тук нямаше изненади. Възхитих се обаче на начина по който той е гледал на света, по който го е изследвал забавлявайки се. Наистина се изненадах от творческите му изяви! Изключително много подкрепям мнението му за образованието, подобни възгледи срещах и при изключителния Сейгън, жалко е, че с годините нещата се влошават прогресивно в тази насока. Заради хора като него, любопитството ми ...more
Pooja Dhami
Jan 09, 2017 Pooja Dhami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I read this engaging memoir, I knew his as Richard Phillips Feynman, one of the greatest physicists that ever lived.
Henceforth, this name will evoke images of a prankster, a musician, a safe cracker, a biologist, a Brazilian band member, an artist who visited several brothels to sell his painting and a man who refused to grow old.
These anecdotes from his life are sure to tickle your funny bone.
Chris
May 28, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, essays, biography
A while back, I read another book by Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, and I wasn't all that thrilled with it. It was kind of disappointing at the time. I knew that Feynman's fame came not only from his scientific brilliance, but from the fact that he was a genuinely interesting, funny and mischievous person. I had hoped that I could find some of that in the book, but to no avail. And so I gave it away so that someone else could get the pleasure from it that I could not.

Still, I was n
...more
Ensiform
Dec 16, 2011 Ensiform rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Nobel prize winning physicist, acclaimed drummer, artist, expert on Mayan astronomy, safecracker, prankster, etc, etc, tells “crazy adventures” of his life. They’re really not “crazy adventures,” these anecdotes; my own father's are easily just as rich and bizarre. Feynman came off to me as a somewhat unpleasant character: he was full to the brim of himself; his false modesty (“I’m too dim to realize when to keep my mouth shut, I just say what I think”) was cloying and annoying, as were his ...more
Yasaman
May 28, 2016 Yasaman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If you think all physicists are boring and studious as hell, well then it's time you checked this book out!
Richard Feynman was a genius with a super inquiring mind that is a hallmark of all great men, but what makes him so unique is that his life didn't just have one dimension. He was curious about so many fields and activities and the way he describes them in this book are so fantastic that you end up wanting to try those things out!


Partha
Aug 09, 2015 Partha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
মাতর পড়ে শেষ করলাম “Surely You’re joking Mr. Feynman!”। বইটি ফাইনমযান তার বনধুকে বলা তার জীবনের মজার মজার সব সমৃতিকথা আর চিনতা-ভাবনা নিয়ে লেখা পরায় চললিশটি লেখার সংকলন। ফাইনমযানকে বইটি পড়ার আগে চিনতাম একজন নামকরা পদারথবিদ হিসেবে। আর আটদশটা গুরুগমভীর পদারথবিদ থেকে আলাদা করে দেখতাম না। বইটি যতই পড়তে থাকলাম, অবাক হয়ে দেখেছি, একজন মানুষের জীবন কিভাবে এত বৈচিতরময় হতে পারে। তিনি শুধু একজন নোবেলবিজয়ী পদারথবিদই ছিলেন না, শখের বসে ডরাম বাজানো, ছবি আঁকা, সিনধুক-তালা এইসব কৌশলে খোলা হেন কাজ নেই যে উনি করেন ...more
Jim
Sep 21, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a compilation of stories that Feynman tells from his own point of view. They were great. He seemed like a great guy. He was so full of life & had such an interest in it. From learning to pick locks, learn a different language, art, or music, he threw himself into the endeavor & did pretty well at it. I can appreciate that. He spent more time on these than he did on his work which is well documented elsewhere. I have Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science in my queue, but ...more
Jack
Feb 21, 2011 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found myself unable to make fair judgement about: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character. One day I gave it three stars and another five. I should think that it certainly deserves five stars in that it is one of the few books that delve into the mind of a genius and gives some idea to their thought process's. My desire to write a review of this book are threefold:

I was stationed in Orlando Florida and it was mandatory that we watch the liftoff's.

After the Challeng
...more
lavinia
May 29, 2015 lavinia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: selfies
I had soooo much fun reading this book! It's as if you're sitting in a room with Feynman and you're just randomly telling stories. Very natural, very rich, inspiring and, well, what I enjoyed the most of course, his views of life felt often times aligned with mine, so what's not to love about that? :P

This is a man who knew how to live and how to find beauty in everything he did. His strong curiosity is what makes a difference between a great person who can create whatever he sets his mind on doi
...more
Elizabeth K.
This was disappointing, because I've been wanting to read this for a while because he is so renown for being quite the hilarious character as well as a Nobel prize-winning physicist. This is a collection of essays that serves as a memoir; many are not directly related to physics, but that's definitely the theme. After reading this, my conclusion is that Feynman was mostly a world class knob. He lost me fairly early into it, when he described how you could see physics in action in the everyday wo ...more
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Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman was a joint recipient of the Nobel Pr ...more
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“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing.” 977 likes
“All the time you're saying to yourself, 'I could do that, but I won't,' — which is just another way of saying that you can't.” 171 likes
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