30+ Must Read Engineering Books

Whether for business or pleasure, we have compiled our recommendations for more than 30 of the greatest engineering books available.

So, you want some recommendations for great engineering books? Then you've come to the right place. Following publications are recognized as some of the most remarkable engineering books of all time and many of them are enduring classics.

The list is not exhaustive, but in our opinion, these are the greatest engineering books to buy (or borrow).

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

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Henry Petroski/Amazon

Written by Henry Petroski, this book emphasizes the importance of the study of design failures. It explores well-known engineering failures such as the Hyatt Skywalk, The Mianus River Bridge collapse, and the problematic DC-10 engine servicing.

2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Robert M Pirsig/Amazon

Written by Robert Pirsig, this book is probably one of the most influential engineering books of the 20th century. It was first published over forty years ago and it's still relevant today for any mechanical engineer. Pirsig explores the question: "What is quality?" It is said that the quest ultimately drove the author insane. Anthony J Marchese from Colorado State University describes this book as representing a journey upon which all mechanical engineers should embark.


3. The Design of Everyday Things

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Don Norman/Amazon

This is a classic engineering book and has been through several editions. Written by Donald Norman, this book isn't just about the design process but also about people and the way they use things. The Design of Everyday Things can change the way we think about the products we use, and about the part, we play in creating new products.

4. Engineering Fundamentals - An Introduction To Engineering

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Saeed Moaveni/Amazon

Specifically designed for people who are interested in studying engineering, this is an excellent introduction written by Saeed Moaveni. It explains the fundamental principles of engineering. A worthy entry on the list of great engineering books.

5. Engineering - A Very Short Introduction

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: David Blockley/Amazon

Written by David Blockley, this engineering book is aimed at those who want to learn more about engineering but have limited time. It explores the history and the nature of engineering.

6. Basic Machines And How They Work

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Naval Education And Training Program/Amazon

This book is perfect for anyone interested in mechanical engineering. It covers a range of primary theories beginning with basic machines.

7. Studying Engineering - A Road Map to A Rewarding Career

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Raymond B. Landis/Amazon

First released in 1995, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in a career in engineering. It has become the best-selling introduction book to the engineering of all time. We highly recommend it.

8. Engineering and the Mind’s Eye

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Eugene S. Ferguson/Amazon

Written by Eugene S. Ferguson, this engineering book is actually an extension of Ferguson's essay on engineering in relation to intuition and nonverbal thinking.

9. Engineering the ABC’s: How Engineers Shape Our World

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Patty O'Brien Novak/Amazon

This one is for children. In this book, Patty O'Brien Novak is simply explaining why engineering is important and how engineers shape our world.

10. Basics of Mechanical Engineering

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: R. K. Singal/Amazon

Here is another great book for anyone who wishes to know more about mechanical engineering. It intends to teach basic concepts and principles.

11. 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: John Kuprenas/Amazon

This doozy contains real-life examples of fundamental physics and engineering principles.

12. The Existential Pleasures of Engineering (Thomas Dunne Book)

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Samuel C. Florman/Amazon

This interesting engineering book explores how engineers think and feel about their chosen profession.

13. Unwritten Laws of Engineering: Revised and Updated Edition

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: W. J. King/Amazon

This book is practically the canon of engineers. Since it was first published in 1944, it has become a key study book for engineers.

14. The Mythical Man-Month (and Other Essays on Software Engineering)

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Frederick P Brooks/Amazon

First published in 1995, The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. is a well written and witty engineering book. It describes the difficulties of engineering complex systems, as well as explores a perspective on the operation of organizations. This book should not only be read by engineers, but by every manager of a technology organization.

15. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Victor Papanek/Amazon

This is a seminal book on appropriate technology that incorporates a wider philosophy of the social role of design. Written by Victor Papanek, this book is very much a manifesto imparted with urgency and feeling.

16. The Soul of a New Machine

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Tracy Kidder/Amazon

This book is about Data General during the 1970s. The writer Tracy Kidder successfully captures the excitement and obsession provoked by the act of creation. It focuses on the team as they design a new computer. So, expect lots of sideburns and beards. This is an excellent book that deserves to be discovered.

17. Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Charles Perrow/Amazon

As the title suggests, this engineering book is about how a range of accidents happen. It is an exploration of systemic failure and its implications. Written by Charles Perrow, this book is extraordinarily readable and full of compelling examples.

18. Brunelleschi's Dome

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Ross King/Amazon

Brunelleschi's Dome is about one of the most impressive projects of the Renaissance, the Dome of Florence Cathedral. In this book, writer Ross King tells both the biography of a genius and the history of an incredible piece of engineering.

19. Homo Faber

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Max Frisch/Amazon

This is actually a novel but still a worthy entry. The title Homo Faber refers to both 'man the maker' and the voice of the narrative Walter Faber. The book tears apart the world-view of engineering.

20. Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture from the Pyramids to the Skyscraper

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Mario Salvadori/Amazon

Written by Mario Salvadori, this overview of building methods provides essential awareness of problem-solving in structural engineering.

21. Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail

In this well-known book, the authors examine buildings of all kinds and time periods. Their subjects range from Parthenon's man-caused destruction to damages of the earthquake of 1989 in Armenia and San Francisco.

22. The Making of an Expert Engineer

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: James Trevelyan/Amazon

This book sets out the principles of engineering practice. It explores knowledge that has come to light through the research run on engineers at work by the author James Trevelyan and his students for more than a decade.

23. Fundamentals of Thermodynamics 8th Edition

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Michael J. Moran/Amazon

This book continues to offer a comprehensive and rigorous analysis of classical thermodynamics. Written by Claus Borgnakke, Richard E. Sonntag, it's now on its eighth edition.

24. Engineering in the Ancient World, Revised Edition

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: J. G. Landels/Amazon

In his classic book, J. G. Landels describes the technological advances of the Greeks and Romans with erudition and enthusiasm.

25. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Andrew Hunt/Amazon

Written by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, this engineering book cuts through the increasing specialization and technicalities of modern software development. It examines the core process, taking a requirement and producing maintainable code that delights its users.

26. Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Henry Petroski/Amazon

Another classic from Henry Petrovski. This book takes you on a tour of various structures from classical temples to twentieth-century towers. It explains how engineers have learned about design more from failure than from success.

27. The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: David McCullough/Amazon

Written by David McCullough, this book takes a look at the dramatic and enthralling story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time.

28. Machinery's Handbook, Pocket Companion

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Christopher McCauley/Amazon

This book is designed for anyone in the machine trades for whom convenient access to just the most basic data is at a premium.

29. Engineering Legends: Great American Civil Engineers

This book by Richard Weingardt features a list of 32 engineering legends from the 1700s to the present

30. Theory of Machines

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Uicker Jr., John J./Amazon

Serving as a textbook for students of B Tech, this book by R.S. Khurmi includes color plates. It covers topics such as Kinematics of Motion, Simple Harmonic Motion, Steam engine valves and much more.

So there you go, our choice of some of the 30 best engineering books out there. Have we missed any other great titles? Why not let us know your favorites.

31. Designing Engineers

30+ Must Read Engineering Books
Source: Uicker Jr., John J./Amazon

Designing Engineers, written by Louis L. Bucciarelli, "describes the evolution of three disparate projects: an x-ray inspection system for airports, a photo print machine, and a residential photovoltaic energy system".

The book takes the reader through the design process of these projects. It explores the negotiation (and often conflict) between engineers, marketing staff, research scientists, accountants, and customers, that go into bringing a new product to market.

This book will help any budding engineer, or a veteran, understand that engineering projects are more than just designing and making 'things.'


Interesting Engineering is a participant of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and various other affiliate programs, and as such there might be affiliate links to the products in this article. By clicking the links and shopping at partner sites, you do not only get the materials you need but also are supporting our website.

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