The best books for lifelong learning

Who am I?

Warren Berger considers himself to be a “questionologist.” He has written three books on the power of asking questions, starting with the best-selling A More Beautiful Question and his follow-up, The Book Of Beautiful Questions. His expertise on questioning has been sought out by companies like Pfizer and Starbucks, as well as by the US Army and the NASA space program. He has written for The New York Times and Wired magazine, and he writes the “Questionologist” column for Psychology Today. Warren believes that lifelong learning is fueled by curiosity and questions.


I wrote...

The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead

By Warren Berger,

Book cover of The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead

What is my book about?

When confronted with almost any demanding situation, the act of questioning can help guide us to smart decisions. By asking questions, we can analyze, learn, and move forward in the face of uncertainty. But "questionologist" Warren Berger says that the questions must be the right ones; the ones that cut to the heart of complexity or enable us to see an old problem in a fresh way.

In The Book of Beautiful Questions, Berger shares illuminating stories and compelling research on the power of inquiry. Drawn from the insights and expertise of psychologists, innovators, effective leaders, and some of the world's foremost creative thinkers, he presents the essential questions readers need to make the best choices when it truly counts, with a particular focus in four key areas: decision-makingcreativityleadership, and relationships.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

Warren Berger Why did I love this book?

Best-selling author and Wharton School psychologist Adam Grant posits that in today’s turbulent world, it’s increasingly important that we be able not only to think and learn, but to rethink and unlearn. To do this, we must develop new cognitive skills, a more open and curious mindset, and a humble attitude about what we actually know and don’t know. I particularly love the way Grant’s book gently guides us toward what he calls “confident humility”--a state wherein you’re comfortable admitting “I don’t know” but you also feel confident that “I can find out.” Grant also offers tips on how to encourage others to rethink and reconsider their views (the book even has a section in which Grant shows how to get Yankees fans to root for the hated Red Sox!)

By Adam Grant,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Think Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

"THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more-it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I've never felt so hopeful about what I don't know."
-Brene Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead

The bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking:…


Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Warren Berger Why did I love this book?

The author of Eat Pray Love shares her secrets to unlocking creativity. I happen to think learning and creativity go hand-in-hand; each inspires the other. And as Gilbert points out, perhaps the single most important ingredient for both creativity and lifelong learning is curiosity. Gilbert’s book celebrates the power of curiosity--and the ways it can lead you in fresh, unexpected directions. In one of my favorite parts of the book, the author explains why you should ignore all those people urging you to follow your passions (because after all, you may not even know what your “passion” is). Instead, Gilbert advises, just follow your curiosity.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…


Book cover of Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning

Warren Berger Why did I love this book?

A big part of lifelong learning involves experimenting, trying new things, and picking up new skills. I must confess this can be challenging for me; I’m one of those people who sometimes gets frustrated or embarrassed when I try something new and find it doesn’t come easily to me. Maybe you’re the same way--if so, all the more reason to take inspiration from Vanderbilt’s book, which chronicles his efforts to learn how to play chess, surf, sing, juggle, and more. Woven in with those entertaining experiences are larger lessons about how we learn, and why it’s so beneficial to keep doing so. In the hands of a less skilled writer, a book like this--in which a journalist tries on a series of new hats--might seem gimmicky. But Vanderbilt is an insightful observer and storyteller who can even make traffic fascinating (that was the subject of a previous book of his, which I also recommend).

By Tom Vanderbilt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Beginners belongs on the list of books that have changed the way I understand my own limitations.'
Malcolm Gladwell

For many of us, the last time we learned a new skill was during childhood. We live in an age which reveres expertise but looks down on the beginner. Upon entering adulthood and middle age, we begin to shy away from trying new things, instead preferring to stay nestled firmly in our comfort zones.

Beginners asks the question: why are children the only ones allowed to experience the inherent fun of facing daily challenges? And could we benefit from embracing new…


Book cover of The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

Warren Berger Why did I love this book?

I’m a fan of Dorie Clark, whose previous books--including Stand Out and Reinventing You--are lively, highly-practical guides to building your career and establishing your own distinct niche as a thought leader (and today, anyone who wants to pursue their own successful career path should start by thinking of themselves as a thought leader). Dorie’s newest book, which doesn’t hit shelves until September of 2021, is particularly focused on long-term thinking--a lost art in today’s “do it now” world. This book balances nicely with Gilbert’s Big Magic - whereas that book encourages learning by pursuing your curiosities in the here and now, Clark’s The Long Game argues that we also need to think about how we want to learn and develop, over time. Yes, it’s great to be a lifelong learner, but how are you going to bring some focus to that--and make it all work for you, in terms of long-term success and satisfaction? Clark lays out principles and frameworks designed to help you escape the trap of short-term thinking and start seeing the bigger picture. The book gets at a theme that I have talked about in my own work: That in the midst of our busy lives, it’s important to slow down, step back, and ask ourselves challenging questions about the path we’re on and where we want to end up.

By Dorie Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller

Your personal goals need a long-term strategy.

It's no secret that we're pushed to the limit. Today's professionals feel rushed, overwhelmed, and perennially behind. So we keep our heads down, focused on the next thing, and the next, without a moment to breathe.

How can we break out of this endless cycle and create the kind of interesting, meaningful lives we all seek?

Just as CEOs who optimize for quarterly profits often fail to make the strategic investments necessary for long-term growth, the same is true in our own personal and professional lives. We need…


Book cover of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Warren Berger Why did I love this book?

I’ll end with a book that should be seen as a starting point in the journey of lifelong learning. Written more than a half-century ago by a Japanese priest of the Soto lineage who was one of the founding fathers of Zen in America, this slim but potent book helped popularize the concept of “beginner’s mind”--which is simply about trying to see the world around us with a fresh eye and an open mind. As Suzuki writes in his book, “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert.” Such a mind, he added, “is open to all possibilities.” The book can help inspire you to bring a more naïve, childlike innocence and curiosity to all of the everyday wonders you encounter. As we all know, children are “beginners” who tend to be excellent learners. And so the challenge for us older folks is to find ways to keep doing what kids do so well--and do it for the rest of our lives.

By Shunryu Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century (Spirituality & Practice)

A 50th Anniversary edition of the bestselling Zen classic on meditation, maintaining a curious and open mind, and living with simplicity.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen…


You might also like...

Betting on Bernie: A Memoir of A Marriage

By Martha Marks,

Book cover of Betting on Bernie: A Memoir of A Marriage

Martha Marks Author Of Rubies of the Viper

New book alert!

Who am I?

I made my first visit to Pompeii at age seven. That day, I told my parents that I had been there before. It was all very familiar. And that sense of déjà vu has never left me. I feel it whenever I go back to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Roman Forum. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but... As an adult, I’ve returned many times to those places and visited others featured in my books: the Etruscan necropolis at Caere, which was already 1,000 years old at the time of my novels; Athens; and the ancient ports of Piraeus in Greece and Itanos in Crete. I earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University, taught for many years, and enjoyed a million marvelous experiences, but my lifelong love of ancient Rome is the direct result of that long-ago visit to Pompeii with my parents.

Martha's book list on the Roman Empire in 1st Century AD

What is my book about?

Bernard Marks and Martha Alford met by chance. The odds were long that they would hit it off. That wasn’t in the cards they’d been dealt at birth. But, as gamblers in love, they rolled the dice. And then they worked hard, took risks, caught lucky breaks, built satisfying careers, enjoyed terrific travels, and won their own version of the lottery of life. Over four decades, Lady Luck smiled on them, until one day, she didn’t. Out of the blue, Fortune spun her wheel and taught them that no one is immune to tragedy and heartbreak.

Betting on Bernie is Martha Marks’s memoir of their improbable courtship, happy and prosperous marriage, and not-so-golden “golden years.” It will make you think, wonder, laugh, and cry.

Betting on Bernie: A Memoir of A Marriage

By Martha Marks,

What is this book about?

Bernard Marks and Martha Alford met by chance. No real reason for it, just a series of fluky coincidences. The odds were long that they would hit it off. That wasn’t in the cards they’d been dealt at birth. “It’ll never last,” people whispered after they got engaged. “Poor probability of success” was the general consensus when they married. But Bernie and Martha ignored the naysayers. Gamblers in love, they rolled the dice.

And then they worked hard, took even more risks, caught a few lucky breaks, built satisfying careers, enjoyed terrific travels, and won their own version of the…


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