55 books like Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

By Frans de Waal,

Here are 55 books that Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? fans have personally recommended if you like Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. 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 Solaris

Eric Kay Author Of Above Dark Waters

From my list on Sci-Fi mindbenders that will have you questioning everything.

Who am I?

For twenty years, I have worked with the data dungeons of large corporations. A synergy of people, systems, and IT. An organism that no one designed but grew haphazardly over the years. A cybernetic system. I have been a database admin, analyst, and data visualizer, and most recently, I was employed as a data scientist for a large Fortune 500 corporation. There, I am currently researching how to use large language models and which business questions can tolerate the fuzzy answers and hallucinations they bring. Despite loving these mindbenders, most of my writing features strong themes of Exploration, Technology, and Optimism (ETO).

Eric's book list on Sci-Fi mindbenders that will have you questioning everything

Eric Kay Why did Eric love this book?

For a novel on the list, I have only read once, and a long time ago, I still keep thinking about this. It asks: Can we learn about the universe without first learning about ourselves?

It also goes into the limits of science. There are simply things science cannot tell us. The planet’s colloid sea is nonlinear, the math unsolvable, and the alien is potentially hostile. I choose to believe the planet is attempting to heal some deep-forgotten hurt of the narrator. What is the purpose of bringing up a disastrous relationship? To heal or learn? Or perhaps the alien is simply toying with them?

I read it soon after changing my life's trajectory and attempting to be more peaceful, creative, contemplative, and less frantic or consumptive. I need to read this again.

By Stanislaw Lem, Steve Cox (translator), Joanna Kilmartin (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others suffer from the same affliction and speculation rises among scientists that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates incarnate memories, but its purpose in doing so remains a mystery . . .

Solaris raises a question that has been at the heart of human experience and literature for centuries: can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what…


Book cover of The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

Catherine Ryan Hyde Author Of Seven Perfect Things

From my list on animals by people who actually understand them.

Who am I?

In addition to being the author of lots of books, I am a wrangler of lots of pets. I live with a dog, two cats, a Belgian warmblood horse who I rode in dressage for many years, and his pasture pal who is a miniature horse. I’m known for writing books with animals in which the animal is a character, not a caricature. So many authors don’t seem to know animals deeply, and so just insert them in a scene like a placeholder. But every animal is an individual, and I try to reflect that in my work.

Catherine Ryan's book list on animals by people who actually understand them

Catherine Ryan Hyde Why did Catherine Ryan love this book?

I’m breaking the rules by recommending two books by the same author, but I just had to. These are the two ultimate nonfiction books for horse lovers, though you really don’t need to be a horse person to love this book. Guy buys an old plow horse off the kill wagon and the horse goes on the win the national championship in jumping two years in a row. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Plus his whole family really loves the horse. There are pictures of his many children all lined up on the horse’s back. This is one of those feel-good books that you will remember. Even if you don’t remember specific details, you will remember the way it made you feel. 

By Elizabeth Letts,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Eighty-Dollar Champion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The dramatic and inspiring story of a man and his horse, an unlikely duo whose rise to stardom in the sport of show jumping captivated the nation  

Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. One show…


Book cover of Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count

Paul Thagard Author Of Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart?

From my list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines.

Who am I?

I became fascinated by the highest achievements of human intelligence while a graduate student in philosophy working on the discovery and justification of scientific theories. Shortly after I got my PhD, I started working with cognitive psychologists who gave me an appreciation for empirical studies of intelligent thinking. Psychology led me to computational modeling of intelligence and I learned to build my own models. Much later a graduate student got me interested in questions about intelligence in non-human animals. After teaching a course on intelligence in machines, humans, and other animals, I decided to write a book that provides a systematic comparison: Bots and Beasts.  

Paul's book list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

Richard Nisbett is one of the most influential social psychologists in the world, and we collaborated on the 1987 book Induction. His book on intelligence gives a good introduction to the psychology of intelligence and an incisive critique of attempts to use dubious research on a genetic basis for intelligence to explain racial inequality.

By Richard E. Nisbett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Intelligence and How to Get It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who are smarter, Asians or Westerners? Are there genetic explanations for group differences in test scores? From the damning research of The Bell Curve to the more recent controversy surrounding geneticist James Watson's statements, one factor has been consistently left out of the equation: culture. In the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man, world-class social psychologist Richard E. Nisbett takes on the idea of intelligence as biologically determined and impervious to culture with vast implications for the role of education as it relates to social and economic development. Intelligence and How to Get It asserts that intellect…


Book cover of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Maddalena Bearzi Author Of Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times

From my list on what animals feel and think.

Who am I?

I have been passionate about nature since childhood. In my youth, I spent many summers on a pristine shore in Sardinia, snorkeling in a sea full of life. Later on, I became a scientist, conservationist, and author. My research on dolphins in California represents one of the longest studies worldwide. I co-wrote Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins, authored Dolphin Confidential, and Stranded, and written for many media, including National Geographic. My goal is to share my love for nature and what I have learned from it, with the hope to instill a deeper appreciation for wildlife and involve others in the protection of our planet.

Maddalena's book list on what animals feel and think

Maddalena Bearzi Why did Maddalena love this book?

This is another amazing nonfiction book by ecologist and New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina.

With his usual exquisite prose, the author delves deep into the lives and feelings of other beings, from elephants to dolphins. And once again, Safina does an outstanding job in uncovering the secrets of the natural world that surrounds us using many of his personal experiences in the wild and his wonderful ability to tell stories to the general public.

By Carl Safina,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beyond Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?

Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and animals. Travelling to the threatened landscape of Kenya to witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then on to Yellowstone…


Book cover of The Nature of Human Intelligence

Paul Thagard Author Of Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart?

From my list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines.

Who am I?

I became fascinated by the highest achievements of human intelligence while a graduate student in philosophy working on the discovery and justification of scientific theories. Shortly after I got my PhD, I started working with cognitive psychologists who gave me an appreciation for empirical studies of intelligent thinking. Psychology led me to computational modeling of intelligence and I learned to build my own models. Much later a graduate student got me interested in questions about intelligence in non-human animals. After teaching a course on intelligence in machines, humans, and other animals, I decided to write a book that provides a systematic comparison: Bots and Beasts.  

Paul's book list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

This collection of essays gives a good overview of current psychological research on human intelligence, ranging from traditional IQ research to criticisms of it by Robert Sternberg and Howard Gardner. It also includes overviews of research on cultural and brain aspects of intelligence. One startling observation is how little psychologists agree on a definition of intelligence.

By Robert J. Sternberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The study of human intelligence features many points of consensus, but there are also many different perspectives. In this unique book Robert J. Sternberg invites the nineteen most highly cited psychological scientists in the leading textbooks on human intelligence to share their research programs and findings. Each chapter answers a standardized set of questions on the measurement, investigation, and development of intelligence - and the outcome represents a wide range of substantive and methodological emphases including psychometric, cognitive, expertise-based, developmental, neuropsychological, genetic, cultural, systems, and group-difference approaches. This is an exciting and valuable course book for upper-level students to learn…


Book cover of Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it

Paul Thagard Author Of Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart?

From my list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines.

Who am I?

I became fascinated by the highest achievements of human intelligence while a graduate student in philosophy working on the discovery and justification of scientific theories. Shortly after I got my PhD, I started working with cognitive psychologists who gave me an appreciation for empirical studies of intelligent thinking. Psychology led me to computational modeling of intelligence and I learned to build my own models. Much later a graduate student got me interested in questions about intelligence in non-human animals. After teaching a course on intelligence in machines, humans, and other animals, I decided to write a book that provides a systematic comparison: Bots and Beasts.  

Paul's book list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

This book provides a good introduction to the current state of machine intelligence through interviews with many leading practitioners including Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun, Stuart Russell, and Demis Hassabis (DeepMind). You will get a sense of both of AI’s recent accomplishments and how far it falls short of full human intelligence.

By Martin Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Financial Times Best Books of the Year 2018

TechRepublic Top Books Every Techie Should Read

Book Description

How will AI evolve and what major innovations are on the horizon? What will its impact be on the job market, economy, and society? What is the path toward human-level machine intelligence? What should we be concerned about as artificial intelligence advances?

Architects of Intelligence contains a series of in-depth, one-to-one interviews where New York Times bestselling author, Martin Ford, uncovers the truth behind these questions from some of the brightest minds in the Artificial Intelligence community.

Martin has wide-ranging conversations with twenty-three…


Book cover of How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now

Paul Thagard Author Of Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart?

From my list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines.

Who am I?

I became fascinated by the highest achievements of human intelligence while a graduate student in philosophy working on the discovery and justification of scientific theories. Shortly after I got my PhD, I started working with cognitive psychologists who gave me an appreciation for empirical studies of intelligent thinking. Psychology led me to computational modeling of intelligence and I learned to build my own models. Much later a graduate student got me interested in questions about intelligence in non-human animals. After teaching a course on intelligence in machines, humans, and other animals, I decided to write a book that provides a systematic comparison: Bots and Beasts.  

Paul's book list on intelligence in humans, animals, and machines

Paul Thagard Why did Paul love this book?

Stanislas Dehaene is one of the leading European cognitive scientists and this book provides a deep discussion of the neuroscience of learning, a key component of intelligence. He makes a strong case that current machine learning techniques are inferior to the processes that operate in human brains even in the womb. He draws out important implications for education concerning how people learn best.

By Stanislas Dehaene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"There are words that are so familiar they obscure rather than illuminate the thing they mean, and 'learning' is such a word. It seems so ordinary, everyone does it. Actually it's more of a black box, which Dehaene cracks open to reveal the awesome secrets within."--The New York Times Book Review

An illuminating dive into the latest science on our brain's remarkable learning abilities and the potential of the machines we program to imitate them

The human brain is an extraordinary learning machine. Its ability to reprogram itself is unparalleled, and it remains the best source of inspiration for recent…


Book cover of Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

Lars Chittka Author Of The Mind of a Bee

From my list on animal intelligence – from aliens to octopuses.

Who am I?

I'm a Professor of Sensory and Behavioural Ecology at Queen Mary College of the University of London and also the founder of the Research Centre for Psychology at Queen Mary. I've been fascinated by the strange world of insects since childhood and after taking the first glance into a beehive, I was hooked – I instantly knew that I was looking into a form of alien civilization. Since becoming a scientist, I have explored their strange perceptual worlds as well as their intelligence, and most recently the question of their consciousness. I hope you find wonderful insights in the books that I have suggested and a new respect for the animal minds that surround us. 

Lars' book list on animal intelligence – from aliens to octopuses

Lars Chittka Why did Lars love this book?

Cephalopods, which encompass creatures like squids, cuttlefish, and octopuses, stand as some of nature's most peculiar inhabitants.

Without bones or outer shells, they possess the remarkable ability to alter their shape, almost resembling characters from Gary Larson's extraterrestrial sketches. What sets them apart further is their exceptional intelligence, a trait not commonly associated with their mollusk cousins like snails and oysters.

Godfrey-Smith puts forth a compelling argument suggesting that intelligent life may have independently evolved multiple times right here on our home planet. He contemplates whether consciousness, once believed to be a solely human attribute, emerged early in the animal kingdom's evolutionary journey, serving as a vital mechanism for interpreting sensory information, evading predators, and sourcing sustenance.

By Peter Godfrey-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Brilliant' Guardian 'Fascinating and often delightful' The Times

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2017 ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE

What if intelligent life on Earth evolved not once, but twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter?

In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself - a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared.

Tracking the mind's fitful development from unruly clumps of seaborne cells to…


Book cover of Endangered

Catherine Ryan Hyde Author Of Seven Perfect Things

From my list on animals by people who actually understand them.

Who am I?

In addition to being the author of lots of books, I am a wrangler of lots of pets. I live with a dog, two cats, a Belgian warmblood horse who I rode in dressage for many years, and his pasture pal who is a miniature horse. I’m known for writing books with animals in which the animal is a character, not a caricature. So many authors don’t seem to know animals deeply, and so just insert them in a scene like a placeholder. But every animal is an individual, and I try to reflect that in my work.

Catherine Ryan's book list on animals by people who actually understand them

Catherine Ryan Hyde Why did Catherine Ryan love this book?

This is my only other fiction pick. I read this many years ago, when it was new, but it stayed with me. We see a lot of relationships between people and dogs or people and horses, but this is a novel about a girl and a group of bonobos. That’s an interesting twist on the human/animal relationship, because other primates are so similar to us in their intelligence and approach to the world. They are mostly helpless against human forces, but then again so are young girls. The bonds formed in this book are worth the price of admission, and the suspense is high throughout.

By Eliot Schrefer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Endangered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

From National Book Award Finalist Eliot Schrefer comes the compelling tale of a girl who must save a group of bonobos -- and herself -- from a violent coup.

Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. Then Otto, an infant bonobo, comes into her life, and for the first time she feels responsible for another creature.But peace does not last long for Sophie and Otto. When an armed revolution breaks out in the country, the sanctuary…


Book cover of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

Carl F. Nathan Author Of An Arrow's ARC: Journey of a Physician-Scientist

From my list on a life in science or medicine.

Who am I?

Growing up, I experienced “otherness.” My family was hard up amidst affluence. Typecast as Jewish, where that was a rarity, we were met with suspicion and unease. Being a woman held my mother back from her preferred profession. Racism was rampant; my growing appreciation of it and efforts to intervene added to “otherness.”  My childhood was shadowed by illness, including my mother’s cancer. These influences drew me to medicine and science. Both are a way to overcome “otherness” and to protect one’s family, even as my sense of family expanded. Medicine forges extraordinary bonds between doctor and patient. Science brings people together from diverse backgrounds to share goals. These connections make meaningful stories. 

Carl's book list on a life in science or medicine

Carl F. Nathan Why did Carl love this book?

Yong is not a scientist himself, but he is an extraordinary writer who steps into the world view of one scientist after another to capture their passion for discovery and their amazement at what they learn and to share that with us, simply and clearly. He does all this with an ear for prose that delights with its ring as well as its content.

One of the messages running through this hard-to-put-down book is how differently and precisely various species adapt to their niche to sense what matters to them most. A key subtext is how much we lose by changing environments faster than species adapt.

By Ed Yong,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked An Immense World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Wonderful, mind-broadening... a journey to alternative realities as extraordinary as any you'll find in science fiction' The Times, Book of the Week

'Magnificent' Guardian

Enter a new dimension - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every animal is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving only a tiny sliver of an immense world. This book welcomes us into previously unfathomable dimensions - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

We encounter beetles that are…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in octopus, chimpanzees, and behavior?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about octopus, chimpanzees, and behavior.

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