The best books for learning how to think logically and critically

Peg Tittle Author Of Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason
By Peg Tittle

Who am I?

Of all my university courses, the one that had the greatest impact on me was called "Informal Logic." Accurate, but misleadingly dry and academic. One of the assignments in that course—and the one I remember most, of all my university assignments—was to prepare a "Crapbook": a collection of ten bits of crap—ads, arguments, whatever—that were full of crap (essentially, incorrect reasoning/logical fallacies). I loved it. So when, twenty years later, I was hired by a small university to teach Critical Thinking …  

I wrote...

Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason

By Peg Tittle,

Book cover of Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason

What is my book about?

Content-wise, this is a pretty standard textbook for use in university critical thinking courses: it covers the nature and structure of argument, the many ways you can 'get it wrong,' and so on.  Simply put, it will help you make, understand, and evaluate arguments.  

What sets it apart is that the difficult bits are presented in baby steps (so you can use this text on your own); there are lots of opportunities for practice (critical thinking is, after all, a skill—you learn by doing); these opportunities are, for the most part, real-world ads, editorials, claims, conversations, speeches, etc.; and there is a 300-page appendix providing answers, explanations, and analyses for the forementioned practice bits (which means, instructors, I've done much of your work for you!).

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking

Why did I love this book?

Most people are led through life by their feelings. Feelings are fine, they enrich our lives, but as the sole guide for making decisions, they fall short. Ruggiero, a huge name in critical thinking, starts from this point, the point of being led by our feelings. And that alone makes this a very good guide to critical thinking.

By Vincent Ruggiero,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond Feelings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This succinct, interdisciplinary introduction to critical thinking successfully dares students to question their own assumptions and to enlarge their thinking through the analysis of the most common problems associated with everyday reasoning. The text offers a unique and effective organization: Part I explains the fundamental concepts; Part II describes the most common barriers to critical thinking; Part III offers strategies for overcoming those barriers.

Book cover of With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies

Why did I love this book?

There are many critical thinking/informal logic books that focus exclusively (or mainly) on fallacies, and although that's not all there is to critical thinking, and although it encourages an adversarial approach ("Let me tell you what mistakes you're making"), it is good to have at least one such book on hand. I like Engel's book because of its classification system (fallacies of ambiguity, fallacies of presumption, fallacies of relevance), because of its clarity, and because of its many illustrations and exercises.

By Morris S. Engel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked With Good Reason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Providing a concise introduction to informal logic, With Good Reason offers comprehensive coverage of informal fallacies along with an abundance of engaging examples of both well-conceived and faulty arguments, helping you gain proficiency in identifing, correcting, and avoiding common errors in argumentation.

Book cover of Logic and Mr. Limbaugh: A Dittohead's Guide To Fallacious Reading

Why did I love this book?

What can I say? Logic and Mr. Limbaugh is a crapbook (see my introduction) dedicated exclusively to Rush Limbaugh. Although dated (1995), this little book is extremely engaging, entertaining, and enlightening. And applicable to all the other Rush Limbaughs out there, past, present, and future. (Might there be a Logic and Mr. Trump manuscript-in-progress?)

By Ray Perkins Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Logic and Mr. Limbaugh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Logic and Mr. Limbaugh is both an entertaining introduction to the elements of logic and a serious critique of the practical logic of a major conservative propagandist. Professor Perkins takes 50 examples of logical reasoning from Rush's statements, identifies the logical arguments, and points out fallacies.

Book cover of Critical Thinking and Popular Culture: Reading and Writing the American Experience

Why did I love this book?

Although many critical thinking texts include some analysis of bits from popular culture, I wanted to include this book on my list because, as its title indicates, it focuses on popular culture­—which is good because most of us immerse ourselves in popular culture and so it influences our thinking in a huge way. There's a whole chapter. There's a whole chapter dedicated to "Analyzing American Television," another dedicated to "American Advertising and the Subtle Art of Manipulation," and one dedicated to "Popular Culture in Speeches."  

By Peter Elias Sotiriou,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Critical Thinking and Popular Culture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Sotiriou, Peter Elias

Book cover of The Reasonable Woman: A Guide to Intellectual Survival

Why did I love this book?

I initially thought McElroy's title referred to the counterargument to 'the reasonable man' standard in legal reasoning—the view that, given the sexism in our society, what is reasonable for a man to think is not the same as what is reasonable for a woman to think (classic example: it's reasonable for a woman to think that a man who is following her may have assault in mind; a man who is similarly followed might reasonably think the man wants to ask for directions). However, re-reading the preface, I see that she is responding to, and rejecting, the view that women are unreasonable. Excellent! Not only is this book a good guide to critical thinking, it has the added value of being "framed for women" (Joan Kennedy Taylor).    

By Wendy McElroy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reasonable Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have you, as a woman, ever felt frustrated while engaged in a discussion on some important topic? Do you feel constrained when attempting to express your ideas and views to others? Do you find yourself at a loss for words? Have you been labeled "unreasonable" by the men in your life? Have you been told you are too emotional or that women just tend to be that way? Well, help is on the way!

Wendy McElroy has broken through the wall of sexual stereotyping to offer the perfect guide to help women recognize their mental power, learn to reason effectively,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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