10 Best Engineering Books for 2023

June 29, 2023 - Revolutionized Team

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

Reading the best engineering books, including fiction, non-fiction and volumes on related fields, can expand knowledge and teach valuable career skills. STEM fields are rapidly gaining popularity and importance today, leading to more books being published on these topics. Where should engineering enthusiasts and professionals get started reading, though?

Whether you’re an aspiring engineer getting ready for your undergrad, an industry veteran, or someone in between, consider adding these top 10 engineering books to your reading list.

1. To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design by Henry Petroski

Henry Petroski is an American engineer, prolific author and a professor of civil engineering and history at Duke University. His research interests include structural engineering, design, the nature of inventions and success and failure in design. 

In his book, Petroski discusses multiple design cases that, unfortunately, failed. Examples include the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, among other lesser-known instances. Many believe this is one of the best engineering books out there.

2. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Cognitive scientist and usability engineer Don Norman describes the importance of human-centered design in this book. Norman questions why some products satisfy customers and others frustrate them. Norman suggests that design is the communication between the object and the user and how to optimize that communication for the user’s benefit.

More often than not, people blame themselves when a product malfunctions. However, Norman believes that it’s not the user’s fault but rather the lack of intuitive guidance that designs should offer. Readers will learn about case studies that describe the psychology behind a good and bad design and some of Norman’s design principles.

3. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon

J.E. Gordon was a professor at the University of Reading and known for his research in crystals, plastics and new materials. His book uses an informal approach to explain how basic forces hold together essential things in our world. 

Gordon uses humor in his chapter titles, such as “How to Design a Worm” and “The Advantage of Being a Beam.” The book uses common language to describe the concepts of stress, torsion, fracture, shear and compression without oversimplifying them. It’s definitely one of the best engineering books for professionals and readers new to the field.

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

Arguably the single best fiction book for engineers is Andy Weir’s The Martian. This short read follows astronaut Mark Watney as he fights to survive on Mars after accidentally being left behind in an emergency evacuation. Watney uses real-world engineering skills to solve a slew of life-threatening challenges. It’s a hilarious book, too — Watney’s humor balances out the high stakes that will keep you turning pages.

The Martian was also adapted into a movie starring Matt Damon in 2015, directed by Ridley Scott. The film stays true to the book. It’s great for a movie night with other engineers and sci-fi fans.

It’s also worth noting that this book has a lot of swearing in it. There’s an education edition of The Martian edited to remove that language, which may be a good option if you are gifting the book, giving it to a student, or simply don’t like swearing.

5. Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures by Roma Agrawal

Roma Agrawal, a structural engineer who worked on The Shard in London, explores the evolution of engineering. She describes how we’ve transitioned from mud huts to steel skyscrapers. She celebrates engineers who have accomplished major feats like bridging the deepest, widest rivers and tunneling through solid mountains. 

Agrawal also discusses the secrets behind some of the most famous structures in the world, like the Eiffel Tower and Pantheon. Additionally, she examines engineering failures that led to tragedy, such as the collapse of the Quebec Bridge. The book also highlights the importance of safety at every step of the engineering and construction processes. 

6. Engineering and the Mind’s Eye by Eugene S. Ferguson

Eugene S. Ferguson was an American engineer, historian of technology and a history professor at the University of Delaware. He’s well known for this book, where he suggests that intuition and nonverbal thinking are just as important in engineering as solving equations and computations. 

Ferguson argues that engineering education systems that fail to address nonverbal thinking are problematic. These systems could produce ignorant engineers that lack knowledge of how the real world differs from mathematics and science topics. Art and practical design are important factors in engineering but are sometimes ignored. Ferguson suggests that practical experience and the ability to sketch are two essential skills engineers should not forget.

7. Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku is one of today’s leading theoretical physicists. His book Physics of the Future is a great read for all STEM enthusiasts, but especially engineers. It explores numerous types of technology and how they will evolve over the next several decades. Kaku discusses everything from nanotechnology to space travel in technical detail without getting dry or dull.

Physics of the Future can serve as a source of inspiration for engineers. As engineers develop the tech of tomorrow, they can look to Kaku’s book for other scientists’ perspectives on emerging technologies. It’s also simply exciting reading about the incredible inventions that are on the horizon!

8. New Thinking: From Einstein to Artificial Intelligence, The Technology and Science That Built Our World

Dagogo Altraide, the founder of YouTube channel ColdFusion, wrote New Thinking to explore history’s greatest technological breakthroughs and how they will shape the future. Altraide’s book is about human innovation and uncovers some hidden secrets about famous inventions that we still use today.

Based on reviews from readers, Altraide’s book is easy to read, concise and fascinating, just like the content on his YouTube channel. It’s a good read for anyone interested in technological development, engineering and invention and how they connect to current trends. 

9. 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School by John Kuprenas and Matthew Frederick

Engineering students should consider reading 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School, written by John Kuprenas in collaboration with Matthew Frederick. According to the book’s official website, it serves as a “life raft” for those learning engineering. It presents clear, concise lessons on how engineering thinking explains — and sometimes cannot explain — aspects of the real world.

There are both simple and complex engineering lessons in this book. This makes it one of the best engineering books for students at any level can benefit from Kuprenas and Frederick’s work. It’s more of an informative book than anything else, but one that provides fresh perspectives on some of the industry’s most fundamental principles.

10. An Engineer’s Guide to Solving Problems by Bob Schmidt

This book is excellent for engineering students beginning their working careers. Entering the real world of engineering can be strenuous for some engineering students. According to Schmidt, there could be infinite solutions to the complex problems engineers face daily.

An Engineer’s Guide to Solving Problems outlined five methods to help students set themselves up for success:

  • Questions everyone must answer to become a problem solver
  • The most and least valuable ways to communicate ideas
  • Six warnings to heed when potentially having the right solution
  • Innovative ways to see what others miss
  • Learning the right tools

Fresh graduates or entry-level engineers should consider reading Schmidt’s work.

Fill Your Bookshelf With the Best Engineering Books

If engineers want to grow their knowledge in their field or technological development, these books are worth the time. Anyone with an engineering background or an inventive spirit will enjoy reading these titles. Consider filling a bookshelf with some of the best engineering books this year.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 30, 2022 and updated on June 29, 2023 to give readers more updated information.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Revolutionized Team

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Articles

Share This Story

Join our newsletter!

More Like This