The Best Books For Becoming A More Effective Learner

The Books I Picked & Why

How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less

By Cal Newport

How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less

Why this book?

The best book for college students, Newport wrote the book by looking at top-scoring, relaxed students and observing what they used to study. His findings mostly back up my own book, Ultralearning, which points to the importance of active recall over review, solving problem sets in technical classes and Quiz and Recall for essay-based classes.


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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

By David Allen

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Why this book?

Being able to organize all the things you need to do is essential if you want to learn better. One of the challenges many students face is that they have many exams, essays and homework assignments that they do on deadline. This results in lots of late nights (and subsequently poor performance).


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A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

By Barbara Oakley

A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

Why this book?

Oakley is best known for her co-instruction of Learning How to Learn, one of the most popular Coursera courses that has had millions of students. This book offers a science-driven perspective for how to get good at math. Oakley walks her talk too, specializing in linguistics she only became a professor of engineering later, despite some difficulties with math.


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Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

By Daniel Willingham

Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

Why this book?

Harvard-educated cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham is one of the foremost experts in educational psychology. While the title of this book may not sound so appealing, it’s really a tight summary of some of the most important principles of psychology to learning more effectively. Willingham’s blog and other books are also excellent resources for someone who wants to understand how to learn well.


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“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character

By Richard P. Feynman

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character

Why this book?

Although not a how-to, Nobel-laureate Richard Feynman’s biography is perhaps the best inspirational book about the joys of learning, discovery and problem solving. On display is not only Feynman’s genius, but his tenacity for solving problems, quest for developing a deep understanding and unconventional approach to things. For those interested in learning science, Feynman’s lectures are also amazing and available online.


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