The Theory of Almost Everything: The Standard Model, the Unsung Triumph of Modern Physics - Robert Oerter (2006)
Many of the topics only touched on in this book are worthy of their own book. Here are some suggestions for where the interested reader can learn more about particular subjects. The following books are all written at a general, non-specialist level.
Crease, Robert P. and Charles C. Mann. The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics. Revised ed. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996. A beautifully written and very thorough history of the Standard Model. If you’re only going to read one more book about the Standard Model, make it this one.
Ferris, Timothy. Coming of Age in the Milky Way. New York: Anchor, 1988. An excellent account of how we came to our current understanding of stars, galaxies, and the cosmos, from Aristotle to the Big Bang theory.
Feynman, Richard P. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. Feynman’s description, in his inimitable style, of the ideas of relativistic quantum field theory as applied to electrons and photons.
Feynman, Richard P., as told to Ralph Leighton. “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”: Adventures of a Curious Character, ed. Edward Hutchings. New York: Norton, 1985. Feynman’s irreverent stories about his life and his work.
Gamow, George. Mr. Tompkins in Paperback. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Combining the famous physicist’s Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland and Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom, this book tells about special relativity and quantum mechanics through the dream-adventures of the hero.
Gleick, James. Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. New York: Pantheon, 1992. A good biography of the man, including the less funny parts of his life that Feynman left out of Surely You’re Joking.
Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. New York: Norton, 1999. Greene is amazingly successful at introducing the general reader to the extremely mathematical and complex theory of superstrings.
Guth, Alan H. The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997. A very readable explanation of the big bang theory and cosmic inflation, by the inflation’s inventor.
Herbert, Nick. Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics. New York: Anchor Books, 1985. An introduction to quantum mechanics and the difficulties in its interpretation. Herbert includes a good discussion of the varied philosophical approaches physicists use to deal with the theory, and a very thorough treatment of Bell’s theorem and its consequences.
Johnson, George. Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics. New York: Knopf, 1999. Another terrific biography, of one of the leading figures in the story of elementary particle physics.
Lederman, Leon, with Dick Teresi. The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? New York: Delta, 1993. The funniest book ever written on elementary particle physics, by one of the Standard Model’s leading experimentalists and 1988 Nobel Prize winner.
Ne’eman, Yuval, and Yoram Kirsh. The Particle Hunters. Second ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Read this for many more details on the particles of the Standard Model and the experiments that discovered them.
Schwartz, Joseph and Michael McGuinness. Einstein for Beginners. New York: Pantheon, 1979. This little book lays out the basic ideas of special relativity. Written in comic book format for the general reader, this book nevertheless introduces some of the mathematics of the theory in a very understandable way.