Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman

Richard Feynman

The Book in 3 Sentences

Richard Feynman was a famous twentieth-century scientist who—among other accomplishments—won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in quantum electrodynamics. More than just a genius, Feynman was equally a prankster and an altogether whimsical character. This book is a transcript of many of his stories.


A hilarious book that completely dismisses the notion that all scientists are pompous British people. More than a comedy, Feynman’s way of seeing the world is unique, and many of the lessons he shares throughout the book are powerful. Everyone, especially aspiring scientists, should read this book and learn from one of the most intelligent men of the 20th century.

How the Book Changed Me

Feynman taught me that it’s perfectly fine to not take science as seriously as others and to play with the most mundane of ideas. Like all of us, he once found himself burnt-out from his work and seemingly unable to continue. However, instead of throwing in the towel, he resolved to simply play with whatever physics intrigued him, which at that moment happened to be the motion of a spinning plate. The study of that plate eventually led to his Nobel prize.

Top 3 Highlights

I had a scheme, which I still use today when somebody is explaining something that I’m trying to understand: I keep making up examples.

I can’t understand anything in general unless I’m carrying along in my mind a specific example and watching it go.

Richard Feynman

So I got this new attitude. Now that I am burned out and I’ll never accomplish anything, I’ve got this nice position at the university teaching classes which I rather enjoy, and just like I read the Arabian Nights for pleasure, I’m going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever. —

I was always dumb in that way. I never knew who I was talking to. I was always worried about the physics. If the idea looked lousy, I said it looked lousy. If it looked good, I said it looked good. Simple proposition.