The best non-fiction books about happiness and the choices we try to make in order to get it

Who am I?

As I was writing The Coincidence Makers I found out I am not writing about coincidences, at all. I found out I was writing about fate and free will, about the way we make choices, and how these choices affect us, define us and change us. Choices and the way they build our happiness is the theme of this list, which is made out of books that I read before or during the writing process of my own (fiction) book, and probably influenced it, one way or another.

I wrote...

The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

By Yoav Blum,

Book cover of The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

What is my book about?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

But a secret mission, a killer who can't hurt a fly, and memories from previous lives are going to change all that and teach them about the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Why did I love this book?

More is not always better. More choices, more options—although they are what we crave to have and even see them as part of our definition of "freedom" sometimescan be devastating and paralyzing. As I was writing my own book, which deals a lot with choices and the way we make them, Barry Schwartz's clear and smart book was a reminder about how narrowing down our options can be a good thing.

By Barry Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Paradox of Choice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether we're buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions-both big and small-have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented. As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all…

Book cover of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Why did I love this book?

Don't worry, this is not a conspiracy book. This is an optimistic book about the ways we can help people make better choices by designing the system around them betterpreventing car crashes, promoting better nutrition, and even increasing the pool of organ donors. It is a fascinating read about small changes around us that can create big differences.

By Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nudge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available: Nudge: The Final Edition

The original edition of the multimillion-copy New York Times bestseller by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein: a revelatory look at how we make decisions—for fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

Named a Best Book of the Year by TheEconomist and the Financial Times

Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion…

Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Why did I love this book?

People consider themselves as rational beings, but we are notin more than one surprising way. Ariely is giving us examples and sharing stories that show us how irrational we can sometimes really be. Reading this book cannot just allow us to see things more clearly when we make our choices in life. It can also allow us to understand others, and in a weird and funny way maybe even help us be more compassionate when facing other people's mistakes.

By Dan Ariely,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Predictably Irrational as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions.

Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can't? If an item is "free" it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for…

Stumbling on Happiness

By Daniel Gilbert,

Book cover of Stumbling on Happiness

Why did I love this book?

Knowing what we want can be tricky. In order to do that, we need to imagine our future selves and guess what they will be satisfied with. Surprisingly, knowing what you want might be much trickier than you think. Gilbert's book is full of insights and scientific discoveries about human nature that are fascinating, witty, and many times insightful. Happiness is a state of mind, and the mind is full of surprises.

By Daniel Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Stumbling on Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bringing to life scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, this bestselling book reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. 

• Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?

• Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight?

• Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they…

Book cover of Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment

Why did I love this book?

As we all want to be happy, there are different ways we can get there. Ironically, chasing happiness, trying to perfect our lives, and making sure everything is "good" and "positive" might be the worse way to do it. The chase after happiness is not the way to get it. Ben Shachar—an expert when it comes to positive thinking and happiness—teaches us how to stop the race, in order to get the peace of mind and happiness that we seek.

By Tal Ben-Shahar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Happier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There are few self-help books more resolutley down to earth than Happier...Ben Shahar provides straightforward guidelines for integrating habits of gratitude and accepting negative emotions into daily life" Observer, Jan 2012

5 book lists we think you will like!

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