Reality is Not What it Seems by Carlo Rovelli – Book Review

Title: Reality is Not What it Seems

Author: Carlo Rovelli

Genre/Themes: Non Fiction, Science, Physics

Blurb from Goodreads

From the best-selling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics comes a new book about the mind-bending nature of the universe

What are time and space made of?

Where does matter come from?

And what exactly is reality?

Scientist Carlo Rovelli has spent his whole life exploring these questions and pushing the boundaries of what we know. Here he explains how our image of the world has changed throughout centuries.

From Aristotle to Albert Einstein, Michael Faraday to the Higgs boson, he takes us on a wondrous journey to show us that beyond our ever-changing idea of reality is a whole new world that has yet to be discovered.

My Review

“We are exploring at the borders of our knowledge.

Awareness of the limits of our knowledge is also awareness of the fact that what we know may turn out to be wrong, or inexact.

Only by keeping in mind that our beliefs may turn out to be wrong is it possible to free ourselves from wrong ideas, and to learn.

To learn something, it is necessary to have the courage to accept that what we think we know, including our most recent rooted convictions, may be wrong, or at least naive…

Science is born from this act of humility.”

I’ve always loved physics.

But I don’t have the aptitude for it. I’ve always struggled with its concepts and have not studied it since the earliest years of my undergrad.

This book, though not perfect in its execution and explanations, was still somehow perfect for me. I found it to be written in this most beautiful manner that deeply moved me.

“Science is about reading the world from a gradually widening point of view.”

In fact it moved me to tears…

Part science, part philosophy…

This is quantum physics made poetic. Made accessible. Made tangible. Made real.

I just wish there had been a few more diagrams along the way…


“A scientist is someone who lives immersed in the awareness of our deep ignorance, in direct contact with our own innumerable limits, with the limits of our understanding.
But if we are certain of nothing, how can we possibly rely on what science tells us?

The answer is simple.

Science is not reliable because it provides certainty.

It is reliable because it provides us with the best answers we have at present. Science is the most we know so far about the problems confronting us. It is precisely its openness, the fact that it constantly calls current knowledge into question, which guarantees that the answers it offers are the best so far available: if you find better answers, these new answers become science. When Einstein found better answers than Newton, he didn’t question the capacity of science to give the best possible answers – on the contrary, he confirmed it.

The answers given by science, then, are not reliable because they are definitive. They are reliable because they are not definitive. They are reliable because they are the best available today. And they are the best we have because we don’t consider them to be definitive, but see them as open to improvement.

It’s the awareness of our ignorance that gives science its reliability.”

Other Works by Carlo Rovelli I’ve Reviewed

My Socials

10 thoughts on “Reality is Not What it Seems by Carlo Rovelli – Book Review

  1. I’ve always enjoyed physics too, despite not having a natural aptitude for understanding it. Chem always seemed so much easier to follow 😂 I love that this isn’t just physics theory but also links to history and is relatable. Fab review!! Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like you really enjoyed this one, Emer! I admit that these books about science intimidate me greatly because my mental capacity for physics and chemistry is … pretty limited 😅(although it’s also not where my interests really lie)! But this does sound interesting and well-written. Great review 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved this book Dini!!! I’m such a sap when it comes to physics. I get all emotional when I think about it. It’s not my strong suit (I’m more of a traditionally organic science kind of girl) but that has never stopped me grappling with it over the years. I took physics modules as electives at uni when everyone else was taking modules with significantly lighter workloads and a whole lot less theory lol!!! But I really do love Rovelli as a writer. He makes physics beautiful. I mean it’s like reading a traditional literary novel rather than something academic. Definitely an author I recommend :))))


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