Dava Sobel

Dava Sobel is an American writer of popular expositions of scientific topics. Her books include 'Longitude' about John Harrison, and 'Galileo's Daughter', which is based on the life of Galileo Galilei and his daughter. Sobel's work is known for making complex scientific subjects accessible to the general public.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. Longitude

    This book delves into the historical quest for a reliable method to determine longitude at sea, a critical challenge that perplexed sailors and explorers for centuries. It focuses on the story of John Harrison, an 18th-century English clockmaker, who dedicated his life to solving this problem. Harrison invented the marine chronometer, a revolutionary timepiece that enabled navigators to accurately calculate their longitude, fundamentally changing sea travel. The narrative not only highlights Harrison's inventive genius and persistence against the skepticism of the scientific establishment of his time but also explores the broader impact of his work on navigation, maritime trade, and the expansion of the British Empire.

    The 6066th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Galileo's Daughter

    This historical book intertwines the life of a renowned Italian astronomer with the touching correspondence he shared with his devoted daughter, a cloistered nun. It offers a unique window into the personal life of a man whose work laid the foundations for modern science, while also painting a vivid picture of the 17th-century world. The narrative reveals how his discoveries clashed with the Catholic Church's doctrines, leading to his infamous trial and house arrest, and how his daughter's support and faith influenced his scientific endeavors and personal resilience amidst inquisition and controversy.

    The 6096th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Planets

    "The Planets" is a captivating exploration of the celestial bodies within our solar system, characterized by a blend of science, history, and personal reflection. The book delves into the unique physical features and mythological stories of each planet, from the scorching surface of Mercury to the icy rings of Saturn. The narrative is enriched with poetic language and anecdotes that link the planets to their cultural and symbolic significances in human history, making complex astronomical concepts accessible and engaging to readers. Through this approach, the book not only informs about the planets but also reflects on their impact on human thought and imagination.

    The 9122nd Greatest Book of All Time