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

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  72,331 ratings  ·  2,502 reviews

A New York Times bestseller—the outrageous exploits of one of this century's greatest scientific minds and a legendary American original.

Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Gr
Kindle Edition, 356 pages
Published (first published December 17th 1984)
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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
Jun 01, 2008 Otis Chandler rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Curious cats
Recommended to Otis by: Adrian
Shelves: science, nonfiction
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
Actually I originally read this book when I worked at Scribners in 1989, but remembered how great it is and reread it a few months ago.

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 boa
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
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
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
Peter Frazier
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
Apr 15, 2008 Inder rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Tess J
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
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
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,
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
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 drove past Los Alamos, it was just the particle collision in my brain I needed to start on Feynman.


Often, memoirs are hard to read because you know a bunch of it is façade. A person is showing you a part of them for a purpose. They want to
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Oct 24, 2008 Leippya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: real-people
A fascinating read, and also surprisingly hilarious! I didn't expect to burst out laughing while reading the autobiography of a physicist but that's what ended up happening -- Feynman definitely was a first class prankster! Although physics are often mentioned, you don't need to really know about it to be able to enjoy the book; this is more about his life than his work. It's a joy to read about how much this man enjoys learning, not only physics but also music (bongo player!), painting and so o ...more
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
Siento por la física un gran respeto: tengo la suerte de contar con un físico en la familia, he compartido piso con otro, salido de juerga con la pandilla más inteligentemente divertida del todas las que conocí...y también eran estudiantess de Física. Teniendo en cuenta que mi vocación era la Química y que nunca conseguí evitar que los dos trenes A y B se estrellasen en algún punto del camino es extraño que siga con esa senscaión de admiración por la gente que entiende la Física. Por eso al leer ...more
Danny Tyran
Feynman is/was (is he still alive?) brilliant, but he knew it too much. I dislike people too proud of themselves.

The story line of this book is simple:
1. Feynman begins something new (new course, new job, any other activity)
2. He finds a way to improve some piece of equipment or some process (working process,...)
3. A few people tell him that he is a genius and accept to change things (equipment or process) and most of the others resist the change suggested by Feynman
4. Go to 1 and do it all agai
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
I did like some of the book. I found it to be rather rambling and disjointed. Mr. Feynman was far more intelligent than me and most other men or women. A result of that superiority was that his many little stories just went over my head. I have a background in electronics which enabled me to understand a few of the memories he put in this book. If I had more physics or mathematics in my education, like my friend Andrew, possibly I would have enjoyed the book more and rated it maybe with four sta ...more
This audiobook is both informative and very entertaining. It feels like you're listening to Mr. Feynman telling a series of anecdotes from his life to a friend. The book gives the reader/listener a marvellous insight into Mr. Feynman's scientific mind and I would recommend this book to anyone interested to learn more about his curious and playful personality.
Only a small part is about physics, told in a bit humorous conversational style. My favourite parts were the sketches from Mr. Feynman's P
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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
More about Richard Feynman...

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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.” 816 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.” 128 likes
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