The best books that will ignite your own thoughts about the development of the human mind

Simon Clark Author Of Vampyrrhic
By Simon Clark

Who am I?

My father, a history teacher, often pointed out battlefields and scenes of historical importance when I was a child: so an ordinary-looking countryside became the place where knights in armor clashed, or where Viking longboats glided along a river. I grew up habitually overlying vivid scenes from the past on modern landscapes, all of which inspired me to write novels, including The Night of the Triffids, Blood Crazy, and Darkness Demands. Much of my fiction reflects my interest in the evolution of the human mind and how our minds are molded by the world we live in, hence my choice of the five books that I do wholeheartedly recommend for the eager adventurer in thought.

I wrote...


By Simon Clark,

Book cover of Vampyrrhic

What is my book about?

David Leppington has returned to the town of his birth to investigate the possibility of a job as a GP, and also to learn more of its history. Bearing the same name as the town, the Leppington family used to be prominent members of the community. But the clan has dwindled to a sole uncle who is more loner than town leader. In this small, isolated town, people are affected by a horrendous condition. It’s Quiet. Unassuming. A forgotten backwater. Yet beneath Leppington’s streets terrifying creatures stir.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Why did I love this book?

Remarkably similar myths recur throughout the world: the ordinary person who becomes a killer of giants, or the many legends of The Flood. Many scholars in the nineteenth century believed the first versions of these myths originated in a now lost ancient civilization, perhaps Lemuria or Atlantis. Campbell’s book examines elements that are common to many legends and concludes that societies independently develop similar stories that reflect our life journeys. We are unique, yet the pattern imprinted on our life is, so often, one we share with every other human being.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell's classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey has inspired millions and opened up new areas of research and exploration. Originally published in 1949, the book hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1988 when it became the subject of The Power of Myth, a PBS television special. The first popular work to combine the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, the book creates a roadmap for navigating the frustrating path of contemporary life. Examining heroic myths in the light of modern psychology, it considers not only the patterns and stages…

Book cover of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Why did I love this book?

Jaynes controversially suggested that humans were suddenly gripped by a radical transformation of the psyche in the Mediterranean-area Bronze Age, four thousand years ago, when our ancestors spontaneously experienced a kind of software upgrade inside their heads, resulting in them acquiring a new mechanism that operated their minds. This collective mind-storm resulted, some claim, in the collapse of many Bronze Age civilizations. Before this dramatic revolution of the psyche, humans possessed (according to Jaynes) the “double brain of bicameralism” – this meant that ancient humans, in their bicameral phase, had a fundamentally different mental state to that of people today. Essentially, one half of the brain told the other half what to do. Back then, bicameral people heard their thoughts in the form of auditory hallucination. Is Jayne’s theory plausible? If he is right, what happens if humanity experiences another collective upgrade of the mind? What will be the consequences? Will we become kinder and wiser men and women? Or will our own civilization collapse?

By Julian Jaynes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future.

Book cover of Problems of the Future and Essays

Why did I love this book?

Published 1893, Laing considers all kinds of searching questions relating to astronomy, geology, spiritualism, poetry, taxation, finance, and much more. Clearly a possessor of a powerful intelligence, Laing endeavors to make sense of the universe and human life with the limited information he had at his disposal, compared to what we know today. How does the sun burn, he asks? Is it made from coal? A notion he dismisses with rational precision. Later, he considers the arms race from his nineteenth century viewpoint and uncannily predicts a “Great War” that will engulf most of Europe, with “Constantinople” being the likely catalyst of “the blood-rain deluges of the greatest war the world has ever seen”.

By Samuel Laing,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Problems of the Future and Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

Book cover of Oxford Companion to World Mythology

Why did I love this book?

Writers need to feed their minds. What better way than by reading myths from around the world, about flying serpents, the search for a golden fleece, talking turtles and much, much more. Myths and legends are rich depositories of human experience, fears and ambitions – many of the myths undoubtedly date back to the epoch when we first shaped sounds into words and began telling each other stories carved from fundamental truths. This book is a treasure house of myth from famous major ancient cities to isolated settlements where a few dozen men and women led their own lives. This book is a useful pitstop for writers of fiction to refuel their imaginations.

By David Leeming,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Oxford Companion to World Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cave paintings at Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain, fraught with expression thousands of years later; point to an early human desire to form a cultural identity. In The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, David Leeming explores the role of mythology, or myth-logic, in history and determines that the dreams of specific cultures add up to a larger collective story of humanity. Stopping short of attempting to be all-inclusive, this fascinating volume will
nonetheless be comprehensive, opening with an introduction exploring the nature and dimensions of myth and proposing a definition as a universal language. Briefly dipping into the ways our…

Book cover of The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons

Why did I love this book?

Early in the twentieth century, Marais studied a troop of baboons, studying their behavior, gaining insights into how this primate thinks, and, moreover, drawing conclusions about the development of the human psyche. Marais believed that the human unconscious mind, which he called “the subliminal soul” and which still “shapes our thoughts and actions”, is the ancient animal mentality, submerged beneath the evolution of the conscious mind. Therefore, he postulates, the hereditary mind that belonged to our pre-human ancestors is very much alive and well within us.

By Eugene Marais,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eugene Marais spent three years living in the South African wilderness in close daily contact with a troop of baboons. He later described this as the happiest, most content time of his troubled life. This period produced two works which are testament to his research and conclusions; they have very different histories.

Firstly, there was a series of articles written in Afrikaans for the newspaper Die Vaderland. They were then published in book form under the title Burgers van die Berge, and were first published in an English translation in 1939 under the title My Friends the Baboons. These pieces…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in myth, Constantinople, and psychoanalysis?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about myth, Constantinople, and psychoanalysis.

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