The best books to completely reverse your whole brain

Who am I?

“The truth is exactly the opposite of the words” - I just noticed on my door, I still have an old sticker that bears those words.  I guess, I’ve tended to find that common-sense assumptions about major things – politics, religion, war, love, good and evil, relationships, and so on – are simply not accurate and more the results of lazy thinking, ignorance, politics, or ideology. I did a PhD in propaganda, which led me to an eclectic freelance career investigating conspiracy theories, making documentaries, writing novels, doing stand-up comedy, and suchlike – so I have a background in engaging big and crazy ideas.


I wrote...

Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You about British Foreign Policy

By Tj Coles, Matthew Alford,

Book cover of Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You about British Foreign Policy

What is my book about?

In this controversial new book, Matt Alford (Reel Power) asks T.J. Coles (Britain’s Secret Wars) a series of penetrating questions about Britain’s global role in the age of Russia, Brexit, and Trump. How much influence does Britain really have in the world? Why do we sell arms to everyone under the sun? Why are we sponsoring genocide in Burma?

Coles drops one truth bomb after another on a range of topics, including ‘free trade’, modern slavery, the benefits system, Jeremy Corbyn, anti-Semitism, and the global reptilian conspiracy (which Coles audaciously denies!). Backed-up with over 200 scholarly footnotes, Coles applies razor-sharp logic to some of the most pressing questions of our times: how to spot propaganda, how to dissect it, and where to find truth in the era of fake news and top-down disinformation.

The books I picked & why

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Humankind: A Hopeful History

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Book cover of Humankind: A Hopeful History

Why this book?

Bregman rigorously and convincingly turns every commonplace assumption about human nature on its head. Human beings are bad, right? All those psychological experiments show it! Well, no, actually – Bregman goes through every single one of them and shows they’re full of holes. He also personally investigates an incredible case dubbed “The real Lord of the Flies”. It is easy to think that human beings are bad or, conversely (as I did), that human beings are generally vaguely alright. Well, Bregman showed me forensically that human beings are really something much more definable – pack animals, akin to dogs.

Humankind: A Hopeful History

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
A Guardian, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and Daily Express Book of the Year

'Hugely, highly and happily recommended' Stephen Fry
'You should read Humankind. You'll learn a lot (I did) and you'll have good reason to feel better about the human race' Tim Harford
'Made me see humanity from a fresh perspective' Yuval Noah Harari

It's a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Dawkins, the roots of this belief have…

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

By William Goldman,

Book cover of The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

Why this book?

It celebrates everlasting love! And love is a truly revolutionary act because it is de rigeur to disbelieve in it. Goldman is just the best because he enjoys the pain as much as the pleasure, the evil as much as the good, the clever as much as the daft… and the characters he draws – with Buttercup and Westley as leading lovers – are every bit as delicious as anything from Roald Dahl. It’s proper romantic and absolutely rightly so. I read this out loud cover-to-cover with my girlfriend and then both my kids. To be fair, she was gone five seconds later but hey, true love is still the best thing in the world – except for cough drops; everyone knows that.

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

By William Goldman,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Princess Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Goldman’s beloved story of Buttercup, Westley, and their fellow adventurers.

This tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts was unforgettably depicted in the 1987 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Fred Savage, Robin Wright, and others. But, rich in character and satire, the novel boasts even more layers of ingenious storytelling. Set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin, home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest…

We Need to Talk about Kevin

By Lionel Shriver,

Book cover of We Need to Talk about Kevin

Why this book?

The book challenges our assumptions about evil on every page. Shriver writes it so that Kevin can simultaneously be viewed as a hardwired psychopath driving his mother out of her mind, or as a poor little twerp who goes bananas because his mum is such a highly strung nightmare. It absolutely crackles with a dark foreboding energy.

We Need to Talk about Kevin

By Lionel Shriver,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked We Need to Talk about Kevin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2010

ONE MILLION COPIES SOLD

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of a boy named Kevin who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who had tried to befriend him. Now, two years after her son's horrific rampage, Eva comes to terms with her role as Kevin's mother in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband Franklyn about their son's upbringing. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to…

The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid

By Will Bardenwerper,

Book cover of The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid

Why this book?

Saddam Hussein – the dictator of Iraq – was the West’s defining turn-of-the-century uber-villain, an image which this book overturns on a deeply personal level. While Saddam is shown to be a monster (he casually laments how his sadistic sons took it a bit far), he nonetheless somehow wins the compassion of his American captors who fall to blubbering pieces as he proceeds to the gallows.

The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid

By Will Bardenwerper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prisoner in His Palace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Prisoner in His Palace is an evocative and thought-provoking account of how the lives of twelve young American soldiers deployed to Iraq are upended when they're asked to guard the most 'high-value detainee' of all, the notorious dictator Saddam Hussein.
What the self-dubbed 'Super Twelve' experience in the autumn of 2006 is cognitive dissonance at its most extreme. Expecting to engage with the enemy 'outside the wire', they're suddenly tasked with guarding and protecting a notorious dictator until he can be hanged.
Watching over Saddam in a former palace the soldiers dub 'The Rock' and regularly transporting their prisoner…

They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life

By Oliver James,

Book cover of They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life

Why this book?

It is easy especially when young to assume that families are somewhat neutral or generally nurturing. We make our own way through the world and our background is only of some relevance. Oliver James shows how the environment in which we emerge affects every aspect of how we live. But while this is both a self-help book and psychological treatise, James also provides amazing case studies from the celebrity world, including a detailed and uncompromising analysis of how the royal family ended up being so cold-hearted.

They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life

By Oliver James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They F*** You Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do your relationships tend to follow the same destructive pattern? Do you feel trapped by your family's expectations of you? Does your life seem overwhelmingly governed by jealousy or competitiveness or lack of confidence? In this ground-breaking book, clinical psychologist Oliver James shows that it is the way we were cared for in the first six years of life that has a crucial effect on who we are and how we behave. Nurture, in effect, shapes our very nature. James combines the latest scientific research with fascinating interviews to show that understanding your past is the first step to controlling…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Pirates, New York State, and international relations?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Pirates, New York State, and international relations.

Pirates Explore 55 books about Pirates
New York State Explore 450 books about New York State
International Relations Explore 159 books about international relations

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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