100 books like Descartes' Error

By Antonio Damasio,

Here are 100 books that Descartes' Error fans have personally recommended if you like Descartes' Error. 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 Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Emily Guy Birken Author Of Making Social Security Work for You: Advice, Strategies, and Timelines That Can Maximize Your Benefits

From my list on changing the way you look at money.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was about 8, I remember taking all the money out of my piggy bank, counting it, and carefully putting it back in again. My sister called me Ms. Moneybags. But I wasn’t worried about accumulating money. I was fascinated by money’s pure potential. I could do anything with it! From that early interest in the potential of money, I grew to be an avid reader of financial books–and that led to a surprise career as a money writer. I still love to think about money’s potential and the best ways to allocate that potential, and I love to bring my readers with me on the fascinating journey.

Emily's book list on changing the way you look at money

Emily Guy Birken Why did Emily love this book?

As of 2023, behavioral economics is no longer a surprising new look at old economics principles–but that doesn’t change just how entertaining, surprising, and challenging you will find the experiments detailed in Predictably Irrational. 

In one notable experiment, Dr. Ariely placed six-packs of soft drinks next to plates of cash inside of communal dorm fridges–to prove we tend to be honest about cash but feel no compunction about swiping someone else’s Coke. In another memorable experiment, male volunteers were asked moral questions when they were in a state of arousal–which helped prove that morals are flexible depending on the circumstances. 

Reading this book will make you realize just how often you make decisions–especially financial decisions–that are weird, illogical, and irrational.

By Dan Ariely,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Predictably Irrational as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions.

Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can't? If an item is "free" it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for…


Book cover of The Hidden Power of Advertising

Daryl Weber Author Of Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands

From my list on to help you understand the mind of your customer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was young, I was fascinated with how the mind works; how all of our thoughts, feelings, memories, decisions, and actions come out of this lump of flesh in our heads. I studied consciousness, psychology, and neuroscience both at university, and on my own for decades. Once I started working in marketing, for many of the biggest and best brands in the world, I realized that marketers tend to have deep misconceptions and misunderstandings for how the mind actually works. My goal is to bridge the gap between all of the knowledge we have about the brain, and how that could be helpful to brands and marketers. 

Daryl's book list on to help you understand the mind of your customer

Daryl Weber Why did Daryl love this book?

The Hidden Power of Advertising opened my eyes to a whole new way of understanding brands and marketing. He makes a compelling case for how advertising works at an unconscious level, and how marketers mostly ignore this powerful and hidden side of brands. He shares powerful, eye-opening studies done directly on advertising campaigns, and uses real-world examples to give practical advice that’s far from the usual marketing advice. 

By Robert Heath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden Power of Advertising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The way advertising works is not so transparent after all. Advertising does have some sort of hidden power which enables it to influence us without our realising it.

The Hidden Power of Advertising presents a radical new challenge to traditional thinking about the way consumers interact with and process brand communication. For over 70 years the universal assumption has been that advertising is only effective if it consciously persuades consumers to choose a particular brand. In such circumstances attention is critical, which is why most of the advertising industry's creative resource is focused on achieving the highest possible levels of…


Book cover of The Mental World of Brands

Daryl Weber Author Of Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands

From my list on to help you understand the mind of your customer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was young, I was fascinated with how the mind works; how all of our thoughts, feelings, memories, decisions, and actions come out of this lump of flesh in our heads. I studied consciousness, psychology, and neuroscience both at university, and on my own for decades. Once I started working in marketing, for many of the biggest and best brands in the world, I realized that marketers tend to have deep misconceptions and misunderstandings for how the mind actually works. My goal is to bridge the gap between all of the knowledge we have about the brain, and how that could be helpful to brands and marketers. 

Daryl's book list on to help you understand the mind of your customer

Daryl Weber Why did Daryl love this book?

This book goes even deeper into the neuroscience of brands, and how consumers make their decisions using mental models. This is a bit more academic, but can give a deeper and richer understanding of the processes at play in the unconscious mind when it comes to consumer decision making. 

By Giep Franzen, Margot Bouwman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mental World of Brands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Mental World of Brands provides a compelling new startpoint for developing new and better relationships between brand and consumer. It asks: how does the brain work? How does it form memories and associations, and how can we make best use of this knowledge to leverage brands and protect and expand market share?

The book shows how awareness is generated, how people put meanings to brands, and the importance of memory, emotion and language. It also discusses the use of brand research, not just as a separate academic area, but as an important part of the brand representation process.

*…


Book cover of All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works--And Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All

Daryl Weber Author Of Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands

From my list on to help you understand the mind of your customer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was young, I was fascinated with how the mind works; how all of our thoughts, feelings, memories, decisions, and actions come out of this lump of flesh in our heads. I studied consciousness, psychology, and neuroscience both at university, and on my own for decades. Once I started working in marketing, for many of the biggest and best brands in the world, I realized that marketers tend to have deep misconceptions and misunderstandings for how the mind actually works. My goal is to bridge the gap between all of the knowledge we have about the brain, and how that could be helpful to brands and marketers. 

Daryl's book list on to help you understand the mind of your customer

Daryl Weber Why did Daryl love this book?

Seth Godin has become a leading voice and best-selling author, especially in the world of marketing. While others of his books are more widely known, this book is very underappreciated. It is wonderfully written and helps you truly understand the role of marketing in today’s world to truly connect with how consumers see the world, and your brand within it. 

By Seth Godin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Marketers Are Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The indispensable classic on marketing by the bestselling author of Tribes and Purple Cow.

Legendary business writer Seth Godin has three essential questions for every marketer:

“What’s your story?”

“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”

“Is it true?”

All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that’s virtually the same car. We believe that $225 sneakers make our feet feel better—and look cooler—than…


Book cover of Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

Dan Hill Author Of Two Cheers for Democracy: How Emotions Drive Leadership Style

From my list on the heart of leaders when democracy is at risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family moved to Italy when I was six, and I attended Italian first grade in a fishing village where I had to rely on reading body language as I didn’t grasp the language for a bit. Fortunately for me, Italians have lots of body language to read so I could navigate the inevitable cliques and power dynamics evident even at the elementary school level. From that experience to being taken to view the Dachau concentration camp a year later, I’ve always been sensitive to how “the other” gets treated—often unfairly—and the role leaders can play for good or evil.

Dan's book list on the heart of leaders when democracy is at risk

Dan Hill Why did Dan love this book?

Armed with the latest findings in neurobiology, the author explores how profoundly emotions drive our behavior and “thinking.” Why the air quotes around the word, thinking? The answer is that fMRI brain scan data reveals that most decision-making is basically emotionally driven, intuitive, and super quick, i.e. under a second.

By Leonard Mlodinow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to eat for breakfast to how to influence people, and not one of them could be made without the essential component of emotion. It has long been held that thinking and feeling are separate and opposing forces in our behaviour. But as best-selling author Leonard Mlodinow tells us, extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well being as thinking.

How can you connect better with others? How can you improve your relationship to frustration, fear, and anxiety? What can you do to live…


Book cover of Reasons as Defaults

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Horty uses tools that were originally developed in the fields of artificial intelligence and non-monotonic logic in order to develop an explanatory theory of how reasons compete with one another. The main thing that has led contemporary moral philosophers to be so interested in reasons is that they seem to be able to compete. For example, if on the one hand, you promised your friend to keep a secret, that is a reason that counts against telling anyone else, but if the secret is that they are having an affair with the spouse of another of your friends, that is a reason that counts in favor of telling, and to figure out what you should do, it seems like we have to weigh these reasons together to see which one is more important. But very few ethicists have gotten very far in thinking about the distinctive challenges…

By John F. Horty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although the study of reasons plays an important role in both epistemology and moral philosophy, little attention has been devoted to the question of how, exactly, reasons interact to support the actions or conclusions they do. In this book, John F. Horty attempts to answer this question by providing a precise, concrete account of reasons and their interaction, based on the logic of default reasoning. The book begins with an intuitive, accessible introduction to
default logic itself, and then argues that this logic can be adapted to serve as a foundation for a concrete theory of reasons. Horty then shows…


Book cover of Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide Our Politics

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Author Of Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

From my list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of communication and political science who’s been researching and publishing on the effects of political media on democratic health for 25 years. More recently, I’ve been trying to understand the roots of inter-party hostility, the drop in trust in institutions, and the rise in Americans’ belief in breathtakingly false information. My hope is that through this selection of books, you’ll start to understand the synergistic dynamics between America’s complicated history with race, changes in America’s parties, media, and culture, and various social psychological processes, and maybe even start to see a way out of this mess.

Dannagal's book list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Why did Dannagal love this book?

I always tell my students that one thing that I love about being a social scientist is that it’s as much art as it is science. Oliver and Wood exemplify the creative side of social psychology as they study how people are intuitionists or rationalists.

My favorite part is the questions that they designed to measure whether people are “magical thinkers,” that is, are they more concerned about symbolic harm than actual harm: “Would you rather stick your hands in a bowl of cockroaches or stab a photo of your family six times?”

I like to think of myself as rational, but there’s no way you could make me stab a photo of my family! I’ll take the cockroaches, thank you…

By J. Eric Oliver, Thomas J. Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

America is in civic chaos, its politics rife with conspiracy theories and false information. Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the rise, while scientists, universities, and news organizations are viewed with increasing mistrust. Its citizens reject scientific evidence on climate change and vaccinations while embracing myths of impending apocalypse. And then there is Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who won the support of millions of conservative Christians despite having no moral or political convictions. What is going on?

The answer, according to J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, can be found in the most important force shaping American politics today:…


Book cover of The Age of American Unreason

Joel Stein Author Of In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book

From my list on saving democracy from populism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started worrying about populism in 2008, when vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin chastised the elitists, whom she defined as “people who think they’re better than anyone else.” Meanwhile, she thought she was so much better than anyone else that she could serve as backup leader of the world despite the fact that she believed that the political leader of the United Kingdom is the queen. After she lost she vowed, “I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist.” She was unaware that there is a third option: to study so that you know more than the next person. 

Joel's book list on saving democracy from populism

Joel Stein Why did Joel love this book?

If you’ve ever wondered if people today are dumber than people in the past, you should watch Idiocracy. And then read this book. It shows how we’ve devolved into people who look at lists of the best five books and never actually read those books. In 2008, for a column for the L.A. Times, I had her take a quiz from the author of the book How Dumb Are You?: The Great American Stupidity Quiz and she got two wrong. I got 11 wrong. The point is: Read her book instead of mine.

By Susan Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of American Unreason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreasonfocuses on the convergence of social forces—usually treated as separate entities—that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.


Book cover of Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry

David M. Skover Author Of The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon

From my list on freedom of speech history and purposes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired federal constitutional law professor, the former Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Constitutional Law at Seattle University Law School. Moreover, I am the coauthor of more than ten books, most of them focusing on First Amendment free speech topics. Often, I wrote at the intersection of popular culture and free speech rights. My booklist reflects my passion for books about the history, purposes, and practices of freedom of speech, particularly as it is exercised in the United States.

David's book list on freedom of speech history and purposes

David M. Skover Why did David love this book?

Freedom of speech means many things to many people, but often the advocates of free speech have not thought very clearly or deeply about the purposes for protecting speech and the reasons for the American free speech system.

Of all of the books on free speech theory that I have read, I appreciate Fred Schauer’s book the most. It is truly a classic about the philosophical foundations of freedom of speech. Do not be intimidated by the idea of free speech theory:  Schauer’s book can be understood by any serious nonfiction reader, and I highly recommend it for its powerful reasoning and beautiful prose.  

By Frederick Schauer,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt

Graeme Gill Author Of Revolution and Terror

From my list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became passionate about this subject when I was at university and I realised that so many revolutions that were conducted in the name of high ideals ended up involving considerable suffering and death on the part of the ordinary people. And not just the ordinary people, but the revolutionaries as well. Why, I wondered, was this the case, and did it mean, as many in the 1960s and 1970s argued, that revolution was ultimately self-defeating? The quest to answer these questions remains on-going, but the books I have suggested have helped me to make some headway towards a resolution.

Graeme's book list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”

Graeme Gill Why did Graeme love this book?

I love this book because it is a passionate statement about revolution in the middle of the twentieth century by one of the foremost philosophers of our time.

The book is stimulating because of the depth of reasoning and clarity of argument, but also because it continually stimulates me to argue with it. Without doubt, a classic of its genre and one that, while not always easy to read, I found hard to put down.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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