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

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  183,974 ratings  ·  6,963 reviews
Richard Feynman (1918-1988), 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 Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; painting a naked female toreador—and much ...more
Paperback, 391 pages
Published April 12th 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1985)
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Alex Shrugged While these stories are fun, I would not use them as a guide for parenting. There isn't enough information. However, I agree that his father was instr…moreWhile these stories are fun, I would not use them as a guide for parenting. There isn't enough information. However, I agree that his father was instrumental in nourishing his curiosity. A better book to understand what his parents were doing, try reading "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman" by James Gleick.

Warning: Richard Feynman was quite a womanizer, so biographies about his life will include this fact to various degrees. A parent should use caution and read the book before recommending it to their child.first.(less)

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 ·  183,974 ratings  ·  6,963 reviews


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Emily
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was amazing
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
da AL
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hadn't thought a Nobel pprize-winning physicist could be so fun loving & down-to-earth. He was a man ahead of his time when it came to many things -- & of his time when it came to his ideas about 'pretty girls' (as he calls women). The audiobook reader did a great job, but what a shame Feynman didn't read it himself before he passed on... ...more
B 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
...more
Dr. Appu Sasidharan

Richard P. Feynman was a winner of the Nobel prize in physics. This book tells us about various escapades he had in his life. I have read a few books written by Nobel Prize winners in Physics. Most of them were written formally about the academy stuff related to Physics.

I knew what I had to expect from this book. I was in for a big surprise when I started reading it. This book will give you a totally different experience. You are in for a joyride with Mr. Feynman, who discusses almost ever
...more
Darwin8u
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Nick
Nov 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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 di
...more
William
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"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
Steve
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jonathan O'Neill
5 ⭐

’Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton’, aka. ‘What a Quark of Shit, Professor Feynman!’, aka. ‘Feynman Finesses the Frigideira’, is a collection of anecdotes that takes us through some of the more extraordinary, often hilarious and, at times, unbelievable events in the life of the Nobel Prize winning Theoretical Physicist, Richard P. Feynman.

I’ll be honest, I have a habit of grabbing a vice-like grip on hobbies that I have no right picki
...more
Rosh
Apr 22, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2-stars, audiobook
Want to read a book that is full of bragging and humblebragging? Here’s the book for you. Reading this was like sitting across a table with an interesting person, only to realise that he finds just one topic interesting: himself. Pompous prig alert! 😬

What Richard Feynman wanted me to learn from this book:
1. Richard Feynman is fabulous at physics.
2. Richard Feynman is fabulous at mathematics.
3. Richard Feynman is fabulous at biology.
4. Richard Feynman is fabulous at picking up girls. (He “loves
...more
Ensiform
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Penny
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
J.L.   Sutton
May 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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.”

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! | by Sandra Monteiro | booksnstars

Richard P. Feynman's "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character is a roughly chronological sketch of what seem like discrete incidents, but incidents that really show Feynman's character, sense of humor and more significantly, his curiosity. They were very interesting; however, what st
...more
Tess J
Jul 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Carl Audric Guia
The best part of this book was Feynman’s insights and stances on what constitutes learning: it’s being able to question concepts that others simply take as true. He touched upon issues like the flaws in our education system or the loss of scientific integrity. I loved the parts where he offered me new ways to catch things that are easy to overlook.

What didn’t sit right with me was how some of his anecdotes came across as misogynistic. Feynman was a brilliant man, but he was kind of creepy around
...more
Elizabeth K.
Oct 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007-new-reads
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
Inder
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Andrej Karpathy
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love this book so much. I really want to give it 6/5. I read and re-read it often, and Feynman is one of my personal top heroes.
Peter Frazier
May 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Bernardo
“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 was a showman. He loved to act, was often making jokes on other people and didn’t care about what others thought of him. His contagious character has gained a legendary figure, adding to his also legendary status as a scientist and physicist. Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman is a pretty interestin
...more
Aditi Jaiswal
What’s the mark of a truly genius mind?

If I try to conjure up the memories of my experience with the Indian education system, then now I can starkly discern the relatively perduring differences between the two types of students, the one who is teacher’s favourite (the exemplar learner with no social life), whose prime focus is to secure the top position in the class by adopting the surface approach to learning by rote memorization and the other who is mischief (abstraction learner) who find inno
...more
Julie
Oct 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nope, not wasting any more time on this clown. I read up through his chapter on how to neg a woman in order to trick her into sleeping with you and thought "Yep, I am done. Gave this the good ol' college try but the bad outweighs the good here." Who knew Feynman, as well as being a brilliant Nobel Prize winning physicist was also the patron saint of the PUA(Pick up artist) community?

I am honestly shocked at the number of rave reviews this collection of personal anecdotes has. I assume people are
...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
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
Grumpus
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Annie (Sad Water Bottle)
“The whole problem of discovering what was the matter, and figuring out what you have to do to fix it–that was interesting to me, like a puzzle.”
4 Stars // 81%
"Surely You're Joking" is the autobiography of Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist with a flair for the eccentric. Featuring many amusing anecdotes, essays, and lectures, it encompasses everything Feynman is in just a couple hundred pages, from his inner childish curiosity to his brilliant scientific pursuits. Not only is
...more
RoWo
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the manual of curiosity and intelligence by the great physicist -- Richard Feynman. An incredible life of one of the prodigious thinkers is summarized in less than 400 pages. I would not have put it down even if the book was 4000 pages long, so interesting is the story, a real page-turner.

Apparently, by not taking life so seriously Dr. Feynman achieved some remarkably serious things which led to Nobel prize, and other remarkable accomplishments. How many other Nobel prize laureates have
...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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