53 books like A Secret History of Consciousness

By Gary Lachman,

Here are 53 books that A Secret History of Consciousness fans have personally recommended if you like A Secret History of Consciousness. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Jeff Hopp Author Of Legend of the Mind

From my list on science fiction written by Philip K. Dick.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professional artist and musician, and I owe a huge debt to Philip K. Dick. I started to read his works at a very young age (I believe I’ve read most everything he’s written at least twice), and my love of his work has continued throughout my life and he has been the greatest inspiration to my music, writing, and art. I felt so influenced and indebted that a created a comic book to honor him and to tell my stories and ideas that have populated my imagination as a result of his books.

Jeff's book list on science fiction written by Philip K. Dick

Jeff Hopp Why did Jeff love this book?

I am a huge fan of dreampunk books and this book helped create the genre. Reading it took me into a dreamworld that lead into another dreamworld and then yet another.

As with all Philip K. Dick books I was left wondering if I ever did return to the reality I believe I live in. I also found the character of Palmer Eldritch himself to be one of my all-time favorites.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the overcrowded world and cramped space colonies of the late twenty-first century, tedium can be endured through the use of the drug Can-D, which enables the user to inhabit a shared illusory world.

But when industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from an interstellar trip, he brings with him a new drug, Chew-Z, which is far more potent than Can-D. But could the permanent state of drugged illusion it induces be part of something much more sinister?


Book cover of Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Luke Coulter Author Of City of Mann

From my list on seeing the world how it’s never been seen before.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Ireland with a lot of Pink Floyd records, an active imagination, and no TV, I was almost destined to have a seemingly endless number of questions about the universe, our existence, and the purpose of it all. Finding that much could be learned from the tip of a pen (including that blue flavor is the best one) I began to read and make shapes and draw words of my own. Then, questioning the reasons I had questions, and seeking what could not be found, I found the answer to a single one—that there is far more to this world than we can ever see, and we indeed, are not alone.

Luke's book list on seeing the world how it’s never been seen before

Luke Coulter Why did Luke love this book?

Leaving me equally tickled as it did in awe, Flatland is easily one of my favorite books of all time.

Delving into concepts quite difficult to think about, let alone explain in such a delightful way, it expanded my mind into not only a better understanding of ‘dimensions’ but also the possibility, and even, the probability, that there is much more in existence than our rather limited little human brains can comprehend.

As weird as it is wonderful, I found myself stopping at various points to either laugh or to try to explain to someone else (to their annoyance I’m sure!) the profound details it explained to me. And when it was all over I was left humbled, and pondered what greater beings there may be all around me, that I simply cannot see.

By Edwin A. Abbott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This masterpiece of science (and mathematical) fiction is a delightfully unique and highly entertaining satire that has charmed readers for more than 100 years. The work of English clergyman, educator and Shakespearean scholar Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926), it describes the journeys of A. Square, a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women-thin, straight lines-are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status.
Through strange occurrences that bring him into contact with a host of geometric forms, Square has adventures in Spaceland (three dimensions), Lineland (one dimension) and Pointland…


Book cover of Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy

Mike Russell Author Of Magic: a novel

From my list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

From an early age, art seemed magical to me. Through books, paintings, music, etc. I found I could delve beneath the surface of my existence and grow closer to real life. Art can be more than entertainment, more than inspiration, it can be a magical act that can help us all. I know this to be true from my own experience and I write books and make art with this intention. Jodorowsky believes this too and prescribes artistic acts as therapy in a way that is totally audacious, moving, and often hilarious.

By Alexandro Jodorowsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

While living in Mexico, Alejandro Jodorowsky became familiar with the colorful and effective cures provided by folk healers. He realized that it is easier for the unconscious to understand the language of dreams than that of rationality. Illness can even be seen as a physical dream that reveals unresolved emotional and psychological problems. Psychomagicpresents the shamanic and genealogical principles Jodorowsky discovered to create a healing therapy that could use the powers of dreams, art, and theater to empower individuals to heal wounds that in some cases had traveled through generations. The concrete and often surreal poetic actions Jodorowsky employs are…


Book cover of Magritte

Mike Russell Author Of Magic: a novel

From my list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hello. My name is Mike Russell. I write books (novels, short story collections, and novellas) and make visual art (mostly paintings, occasionally sculptures). I love art and books that are surreal and magical because that is the way life seems to me, and I love art and books that are mind-expanding because we need to expand our minds to perceive just how surreal and magical life is. My books have been described as strange fiction, weird fiction, surrealism, magic realism, fantasy fiction… but I just like to call them Strange Books.

Mike's book list on questioning the nature of reality and fun to read

Mike Russell Why did Mike love this book?

My first introduction to the surreal in art was Monty Python’s Flying Circus. My first introduction to the art movement of surrealism was seeing Max Ernst’s "Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale". I was astounded that you were allowed to do that. Then I discovered Magritte (and later Escher) and saw that the anarchy of surrealism could be put to the most profound use, that of exploring life beyond the material. Magritte uses conventional representation to undermine that very convention and puncture so-called reality in a way that is a joy to look at. This is a decent book on his life and work. Magritte reminds us things are not what they seem… and that’s a good thing.

By Suzi Gablik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A study of Rene Magritte's basic philosophy and art, and particularly the development of his Surrealist style.


Book cover of Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness

Yael Lin Author Of The Intersubjectivity of Time: Levinas and Infinite Responsibility

From my list on time and its impact on human existence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have time, save time, spend time, waste time, write, and teach time. I am fascinated with the question of time both as a cosmological phenomenon and as an aspect that is inseparable from our existence. I channeled this fascination into a PhD dissertation, books, and articles examining the relationship between time and human existence. But like Saint Augustine, I am still baffled by the question of time and like him: "If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it …, I do not know."

Yael's book list on time and its impact on human existence

Yael Lin Why did Yael love this book?

It is in Bergson's Time and Free Will that I first encountered an inspiring way to think of time. A way of thinking about time that does not focus on the time of clocks and calendars; that does not emphasize the physical homogeneous aspect of time, but rather reveals the relation between time and human existence. This book opened up not only an entirely new way of thinking about time, but a new way of approaching life: instead of focusing on the spatial, static, exterior, homogeneous milestones of life, I rather focus on the temporal, fleeting, inner, heterogeneous qualities of my life. Bergson writes in a relatively clear style, and his texts are accessible also for the interested layperson.

By Henri Bergson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Internationally known and one of the most influential philosophers of his day (and for a time almost a cult figure in France, where his lectures drew huge crowds), Henri Bergson (1859-41) led a revolution in philosophical thought by rejecting traditional conceptual and abstract methods, and arguing that the intuition is deeper than the intellect. His speculations, especially about the nature of time, had a profound influence on many other philosophers, as well as on poets and novelists; they are said to have been the seed for À la recherce de temps perdu by Marcel Proust (whose cousin was Bergson's wife).…


Book cover of The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness

Tom Stafford Author Of Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain

From my list on understanding the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am now a Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sheffield, UK. I co-wrote Mind Hacks with technologist Matt Webb; we had great fun doing it. My research has always been in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, using experiments to understand the mind and brain and how they fit together. 

Tom's book list on understanding the human mind

Tom Stafford Why did Tom love this book?

This book captures what is so exciting about psychology - that our own minds are at once so familiar yet so deeply weird. There’s so much to be explored!

Warren is a perfect guide, sharing his learning but not getting bogged down with it, as he visits different states of consciousness, some of which we visit every day, like the daydream or the feeling of falling asleep, others, like the lucid dream, might be less familiar.

It’s profound but never loses its sense of fun.

By Jeff Warren,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Head Trip as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book will change the way you think, sleep, and dream for good. It is a book of psychology and neuroscience, and also of adventure wherein the author explores the extremes to which consciousness can be stretched, from the lucid dream to the quasi-mystical substratum of awareness known as the Pure Conscious Event. Replete with stylish graphics and brightened by comic panels conceived and drawn by the author, The Head Trip is an instant classic, a brilliant and original description of the shifting experience of consciousness that's also a practical guide to enhancing creativity and mental health. This book does…


Book cover of Conscious Mind in Search of a Fundamental Theory

Rita Carter Author Of Consciousness

From my list on how to start exploring consciousness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was hooked on brain science from the moment in the 1980s when I saw the first blurry images that revealed the physical markers of thought. I set out to find out all I could about this astonishing new area of discovery, but there was practically nothing to be found – neuroscience as we know it barely existed. I pounced on every new finding that emerged and eventually wrote what was one of the first books, Mapping the Mind, that made brain science accessible to non-scientists. There are hundreds of them now, and these are some of the best.

Rita's book list on how to start exploring consciousness

Rita Carter Why did Rita love this book?

Chalmers is the philosopher who first called Consciousness the “Hard Problem” and this is his attempt to solve it. It’s a hugely ambitious work that puts up an entirely new theory then tests it so hard that he leaves nothing for his critics to do. You may not swallow the theory, but it’s worth reading just to follow the meticulous thinking and imaginative leaps of a terrific brain.

By David J. Chalmers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conscious Mind in Search of a Fundamental Theory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is consciousness? How do physical processes in the brain give rise to the self-aware mind and to feelings as profoundly varied as love or hate, aesthetic pleasure or spiritual yearning?

David J. Chalmers unveils a major new theory of consciousness, one that rejects the prevailing reductionist trend of science, while offering provocative insights into the relationship between mind and brain. Writing in a thought-provoking style, Chalmers proposes that conscious experience must be understood as an irreducible entity similar to such physical properties as time, mass, and space that exists at a fundamental level and cannot be understood as the…


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

James Blachowicz Author Of The Bilateral Mind as the Mirror of Nature: A Metaphilosophy

From my list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had equally balanced interests in the arts/humanities and the natural sciences. I like to think that I inherited much of this from my analytical “algebraic” mother, who was a nurse and tended to our family finances, and my holistic “geometrical” father, who was a carpenter. It’s probably no accident that my double major in college was in physics and philosophy...and, down the line, that I should develop a focused interest in human brain laterality, where the division between analysis and holism is so prominent.

James' book list on the nature and capacities of our bilateral minds

James Blachowicz Why did James love this book?

This book, more than any other on the subject, surprised and fascinated me.

Its thesis is deceptively simple. It suggests that the two hemispheres of the human brain were “strangers” to each other early in our evolutionary history (three millennia ago). The left hemisphere received the information from the right as a message from an unfamiliar source (an unseen “voice”).

Jaynes proposed that this was the basis for all religious experience. It was our intuitive right hemisphere that supplied the “voices” of the gods. True human consciousness only arose when this bicameral mind “broke down” and the “voice of God” was replaced with what had been speaking to us all along, the other more intuitive half of ourselves.

By Julian Jaynes,

Why should I read it?

4 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 Consciousness Explained

Matthew Hutson Author Of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

From my list on consciousness and how our brain works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a freelance science reporter and Contributing Writer at The New Yorker, with degrees in cognitive neuroscience and science writing. Growing up, I wanted to understand the fundamental nature of the universe—who doesn’t?!—and grew interested in physics, before realizing our only contact with outside reality (if it exists) is through consciousness. Today I cover psychology and artificial intelligence, among other topics. Can machines be conscious? I don’t know. Why does consciousness exist at all? I don’t know that either. But if there’s anything at all that’s magic in the universe, it’s consciousness.

Matthew's book list on consciousness and how our brain works

Matthew Hutson Why did Matthew love this book?

We tend to picture an observer inside our heads experiencing consciousness as if watching a movie. But that just pushes explanation back a level: What’s inside that observer? The prolific philosopher Daniel Dennett dismantles many common intuitions about awareness, showing them to be illusions hiding the intricate and deceptive mechanics of the mind and brain. This was one of the first books on consciousness I read. I don’t agree with everything Dennett has to say on the matter, but he’s a great guide to think with.

By Daniel C. Dennett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Consciousness Explained as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett reveals the secrets of one of the last remaining mysteries of the universe: the human brain.

Daniel C. Dennett's now-classic book blends philosophy, psychology and neuroscience - with the aid of numerous examples and thought-experiments - to explore how consciousness has evolved, and how a modern understanding of the human mind is radically different from conventional explanations of consciousness.

What people think of as the stream of consciousness is not a single, unified sequence, the author argues, but 'multiple drafts' of reality composed by a computer-like 'virtual machine'.

Dennett explains how science has exploded…


Book cover of The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Why am I passionate about this?

Fascinated with consciousness, spirituality, and the power of mind, I started reading books by Thich Nhat Hahn, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Alan Watts as early as 5th grade. But I was also infatuated with math and logic, which led to a degree in mathematics at UC Berkeley. Knowing there was more to understanding truth beyond logic, I balanced out my worldview with an M.A. in transpersonal psychology. For more than twenty years, I have passionately devoted myself to the study and practice of transformation. As a certified coach using expertise in interpersonal neurobiology, design thinking, and Conversational Intelligence®, I have provided thousands of transformative experiences for individuals, executives, teams, and organizations. 

Amy's book list on personal growth books that use more logic and science than New Age thinking to overcome self-imposed limitations and flourish

Amy Eliza Wong Why did Amy love this book?

Singer made distinct all the imperceptible knowings I’ve felt throughout my existence about the power of the mind, beliefs, and all the habits we have that hold us back. He made the invisible visible and with that came more choices and possibilities. I felt invigorated, at peace and also empowered while I read this book. I honestly couldn’t put it down!

I reveled in not just the content but the style with which he presents truths about our existence. (And it was just so enjoyable to read!) The last part about death changed me in a profound way and offered me the gift of presence in a way I’ve never been able to achieve through other means. 

By Michael A. Singer,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Untethered Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who are you? When you start to explore this question, you find out how elusive it really is. Are you a physical body? A collection of experiences and memories? A partner to relationships? Each time you consider aspects of yourself, you realize that there is much more to you than any of these can define. In this book, spiritual teacher Michael Singer explores the question of who we are and arrives at the conclusion that our identity is to be found in our consciousness, the fact of our ability to observe ourselves and the world around us. By tapping into…


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