Best Books for Engineers

Library of Books

With summer in the air, it means it’s time to pick up a new hobby or dust off an old one! One of which could be reading, which never fails to become a favorite pastime activity for many. It’s been a couple of years since the original version of this blog post, so we thought it was time for an upgrade. We’ve added favored books chosen from Azumo’s engineers and popular recommendations amongst the engineering community.

Some books expand on the everyday manuals that solve common issues, others piece apart the psychological processes of engineering, and especially some that go into great depth about the alchemy that occurs when you combine product developers and engineers and apply insane amounts of commercial and corporate pressure to innovate the next big thing

If there was one single commonality throughout the research process of discovering these books, it was the desire to bring ideas to life and the curiosity to find the best way to transport ideas into physical forms.

Below are 15 of the best books for engineers – some recommended by Azumo’s engineers and from scouring the internet. Click the following link to uncover the full list of books for an even larger variety! 

The Martian

by Andy Weir

Description: Author Andy Weir is a former computer programmer. In this novel, Weir makes sure not to leave out those technical geeky details. One reader says, “Sharp, funny and thrilling, with just the right amount of geekery…Weir displays a virtuosic ability to write about highly technical situations without leaving readers far behind. The result is a story that is as plausible as it is compelling.”

Tune to Win: The Art and Science of Race Car Development and Tuning

by Carroll Smith

Description: Carroll Smith was a professional race car driver, engineer and author of this book and several others centered around race cars. Smith focuses on covering the basic principles when it comes to vehicle dynamics and the relationship to the functions where the driver is in control.

Engineer to Win

by Carroll Smith

Description (from Amazon): “Current state of the art in racing technology by a foremorel expert in the field. Covers all forms of racing cars and includes a thorough analysis of metallurgy, metal fatigue and general materials technology. Details specific components and specific activities such as heat treatments, stress relieving, etc. Plus aerodynamics, ground effects, brakes, tools, and more.”

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World

by Mark Miodownik

Description (from Amazon): “Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that renowned materials scientist New York Times bestselling author Mark Miodownik constantly asks himself. Studying objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as a concrete cloth, he uncovers the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world.”

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

by Randall Munroe

Description: Randall Munroe is heavily known for his iconic webcomic page Munroe has been asked several strange questions over time and in this book he compiles new and never-before-answered questions. The responses given by Munroe are hilarious and informative answers to these important questions you would’ve probably never even have thought to ask.

The Design of Everyday Things

by Don Norman

Description: Taking engineering back to the absolute most basic technology, is something all engineers should consider since we’re surrounded by it in our everyday lives. At times, we find ourselves easily frustrated when attempting to figure out the most simple products. Whether it’s trying to figure out which light switch to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door. Norman’s book goes to great lengths to explain how these faults are not our own, but in the design of the product that failed to meet to the principles of cognitive psychology.

Eight Amazing Engineering Stories: Using the Elements to Create Extraordinary Technologies

by Bill Hammack, Patrick Ryan & Nick Ziech

Description: Read into the stories that reveal the behind the scenes of how engineers use specific elements to create our material world. The team of authors expose the spectacular innovations by engineers through in depth sections covering the brilliant science of technology.

To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

by Henry Petroski

Description (from Amazon): “A work that looks at our deepest notions of progress and perfection, tracing the fine connection between the quantifiable realm of science and the chaotic realities of everyday life.”

Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down

by J. E. Gordon

Description (from Amazon): “For anyone who has ever wondered why suspension bridges don’t collapse under eight lanes of traffic, how dams hold back — or give way under — thousands of gallons of water, or what principles guide the design of a skyscraper, a bias-cut dress, or a kangaroo, this book will ease your anxiety and answer your questions.”

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

by Atul Gawande

Description: In Atul Gawande’s latest bestseller, he takes a deep dive into the simplistic idea of a checklist and how it reveals the complexity of our lives and how we can manage them. In the present day, we train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In riveting stories, Gawande reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all kinds.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Description: Nassim Taleb is an author, mathematical statistician, and risk analyst. Everyday Taleb concerns themself with problems of randomness and uncertainty. Taleb writes about how there are major benefits in life that come out of disorder and stress. This book challenges you to think about uncertainty in a different way, to embrace it!

The Way Things Work Now

by David Macaulay

Description: Author David Macaulay takes a new point of view from his previous book, “The New Way Things Work”, and captures the latest developments in the technology that impacts our lives nearly every day. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, now touchscreens to 3D printers, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines. Showing how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. Macaulay makes humorous connections to things that one many not think are in fact connected, such as dentist drills and windmills.

The Existential Pleasures of Engineering

by Samuel C. Florman

Description (from Amazon): “A deeply insightful and refreshingly unique text, this book corrects the myth that engineering is cold and passionless. Indeed, Florman celebrates engineering not only crucial and fundamental but also vital and alive; he views it as a response to some of our deepest impulses, an endeavor rich in spiritual and sensual rewards. Opposing the “anti-technology” stance, Florman gives readers a practical, creative, and even amusing philosophy of engineering that boasts of pride in his craft.”

Solve for Happy

by Mo Gawdat

Description (from Google Books): Solve for Happy is a startlingly original book about creating and maintaining happiness, written by a top Google executive with an engineer’s training and fondness for thoroughly analyzing a problem. One of Solve for Happy’s key premises is that happiness is a default state. If we shape expectations to acknowledge the full range of possible events, unhappiness is on its way to being defeated.”

The Soul of a New Machine

by Tracy Kidder

the soul of a new machine book cover

Description: The Soul of a New Machine is a story about being on the bleeding edge of an industry in terms of technology and management theory. This nonfiction book won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 1982. It takes place in the early days of the personal computing industry and features artisanal triumph despite corporate politics. Kidder’s tale of the personal costs and philosophical thrills in advancing the state of the art resonates with any scientist or engineer regardless of specialty.

Machinery’s Handbook

by Erik Oberg

Machinery's handbook book cover

Description: The standard reference guide for all mechanical design, engineering, and manufacturing. I use it multiple times per week.

If I Only Changed the Software, Why is the Phone on Fire?: Embedded Debugging Methods Revealed: Technical Mysteries for Engineers

by Lisa K. Simone

If I only changed the software, why is the phone on fire book cover

Description (from Amazon): This book manages the unthinkable- it conveys crucial technical information to engineers without boring them to tears! In this unique reference, expert embedded designer Lisa Simone provides the solutions to typical embedded software debugging problems from a fresh new perspective. She introduces a team of engineers who readers will recognize from their own workplaces, and then confronts them with real-world debugging scenarios of progressive complexity, drawing the reader into the “mysteries” with their new fictional colleagues, and guiding them step-by-step toward successful solutions.

We hope you appreciate your engineers today (and every day). It takes a lot of patience to get things to work right, especially as the demands for being faster and cheaper only get louder.

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