100 books like Don't Think of an Elephant!

By George Lakoff,

Here are 100 books that Don't Think of an Elephant! fans have personally recommended if you like Don't Think of an Elephant!. 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 Metaphors We Live By

Marco te Brömmelstroet Author Of Movement: how to take back our streets and transform our lives

From my list on how your language shapes the way you think (and act).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor in Urban Mobility Futures and, as such, am fascinated by how we think about our mobility present and past and how this limits us in imagining different futures. The problems in our mobility system are so urgent and overwhelming that I like to actively search for alternative ways of seeing and acting and teach others to do the same. Personally, I love to experience the incredible freedom of mind that I find in doing this. Also, see the Shepherd list of recommendations by my co-author, Thalia Verkade.

Marco's book list on how your language shapes the way you think (and act)

Marco te Brömmelstroet Why did Marco love this book?

Did you ever say, "Time is Money?" And do you believe it is true?

This book offers a deep dive into the philosophy of how our language is full of useful and less useful metaphors. Human communication is built on them since it makes it easier to talk about complex topics, such as life, love, and time. But they do not create a mirror of reality, but a lens.

These metaphors make us act in accordance with them. If time is money, we can exchange one for the other. But is it really? Think about it. And that is also the overall tip from this book: think about it!

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Metaphors We Live By as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People use metaphors every time they speak. Some of those metaphors are literary - devices for making thoughts more vivid or entertaining. But most are much more basic than that - they're "metaphors we live by", metaphors we use without even realizing we're using them. In this book, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson suggest that these basic metaphors not only affect the way we communicate ideas, but actually structure our perceptions and understandings from the beginning. Bringing together the perspectives of linguistics and philosophy, Lakoff and Johnson offer an intriguing and surprising guide to some of the most common metaphors…


Book cover of Metaphor and Thought

Clare Williams Author Of An Economic Sociology of Law Reimagined: Beyond Embeddedness

From my list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by (and in love with) language for as long as I can remember; how and why it works, and how slight alterations in phrasing and framing can produce vastly different results in practice. I love looking out for metaphors and phrases that function as tools, directing how we understand and engage with the world. While my research applies these insights to both law and economics, the key takeaways are widely applicable and relevant to all areas of life. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have.

Clare's book list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us

Clare Williams Why did Clare love this book?

This is a recommendation for those who want to go into a bit more depth with metaphor. The book is an edited collection of chapters written by experts who explore how metaphor constructs our reality, looking at metaphor as forms of language, and metaphor as forms of mental representation. Admittedly, there’s a little more jargon in this one, but the chapters are an excellent starting point for reflecting on the applications and implications of the way we talk and why it matters.

By Andrew Ortony (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Metaphor and Thought, first published in 1979, reflects the surge of interest in and research into the nature and function of metaphor in language and thought. In this revised and expanded second edition, the editor has invited the contributors to update their original essays to reflect any changes in their thinking. Reorganised to accommodate the shifts in central theoretical issues, the volume also includes six new chapters that present important and influential fresh ideas about metaphor that have appeared in such fields as the philosophy of language and the philosophy of science, linguistics, cognitive and clinical psychology, education and artificial…


Book cover of Don't Believe a Word: The Surprising Truth About Language

Clare Williams Author Of An Economic Sociology of Law Reimagined: Beyond Embeddedness

From my list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by (and in love with) language for as long as I can remember; how and why it works, and how slight alterations in phrasing and framing can produce vastly different results in practice. I love looking out for metaphors and phrases that function as tools, directing how we understand and engage with the world. While my research applies these insights to both law and economics, the key takeaways are widely applicable and relevant to all areas of life. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have.

Clare's book list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us

Clare Williams Why did Clare love this book?

Shariatmadari writes beautifully, and this book will make you think differently about how we use language and how that language uses and shapes us, both as individual actors and as a society. Our language – those everyday vocabularies and grammars that we deploy without a second thought – is neither original nor value-free; instead, “to speak is ‘to swim in an inherited stream of images and words’”, crafted by generations before us. For small talk, this may not matter so much. But for the bigger, weightier things in life, for the things that really matter, the way we talk can have real consequences on what we are able to understand, and how we are able to respond.

By David Shariatmadari,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Believe a Word as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Think you know language? Think again.

There are languages that change when your mother-in-law is present. The language you speak could make you more prone to accidents. Swear words are produced in a special part of your brain.

Over the past few decades, we have reached new frontiers of linguistic knowledge. Linguists can now explain how and why language changes, describe its structures, and map its activity in the brain. But despite these advances, much of what people believe about language is based on folklore, instinct, or hearsay. We imagine a word's origin is it's "true" meaning, that foreign languages…


Book cover of I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How it Shapes the Way We See the World

Clare Williams Author Of An Economic Sociology of Law Reimagined: Beyond Embeddedness

From my list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by (and in love with) language for as long as I can remember; how and why it works, and how slight alterations in phrasing and framing can produce vastly different results in practice. I love looking out for metaphors and phrases that function as tools, directing how we understand and engage with the world. While my research applies these insights to both law and economics, the key takeaways are widely applicable and relevant to all areas of life. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have.

Clare's book list on how we use metaphor and how metaphor uses us

Clare Williams Why did Clare love this book?

Have you ever noticed that we use active metaphors for stock market gains (“the markets have climbed”) but passive metaphors for losses (“markets have tumbled”)? Have you wondered if this can legitimize the expectation that stock market gains are earned, while losses are then simply the result of forces beyond traders’ control?

Both law and economics claim to be value-neutral and prefer clear language, but both are “drenched” in metaphor and Geary unpicks some of the key metaphors here in forensic detail. Many of these metaphors are now so taken for granted that we no longer notice them. But they have a powerful role in shaping how we understand and respond to economic and legal concepts.

By James Geary,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Is an Other as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

According to "New York Times" bestselling author James Geary, Elvis Presley was more than just a rock star - he was also a master at metaphor. But as Geary posits in this lively and informative book on one of our most basic forms of language, metaphor does more than provide a good chorus for us to dance to. It also wholly forms how people look at and experience the world and drives invention and creativity. Although most people would assume that metaphor's only place of influence is in literature and song, as Geary argues, metaphors are found in all aspects…


Book cover of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

Jennifer Saul Author Of Dogwhistles and Figleaves: How Manipulative Language Spreads Racism and Falsehood

From my list on how manipulative language stokes racism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a citizen of both the US and the UK, and in 2016, I watched as both my countries were suddenly pulled in shocking political directions, with Brexit in the UK and Trump’s election in the US. In both cases, strong pre-existing norms against openly racist speech seemed to vanish overnight. As a philosopher of language who worked on both deception and racism, I wanted to know how this happened. This has led me to an enduring interest in the ways that manipulative language can change norms around racism, allowing what was once unthinkable to become normal.

Jennifer's book list on how manipulative language stokes racism

Jennifer Saul Why did Jennifer love this book?

I found this book from 2013 deeply illuminating about how we have come to be in the place we are today. It explains how words like "welfare" have become weapons serving multiple nefarious purposes: they help to stoke racism, hatred, and division. And by doing that, they keep groups that share common goals—like low-wage workers seeking a living wage—from uniting to achieve these goals.

Although it’s not out yet, I’m eager for the 2025 revision, which will be updated to reflect all that has happened since Donald Trump's rise.

By Ian Haney Lspez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Campaigning for president in 1980, Ronald Reagan told stories of Cadillac-driving "welfare queens" and "strapping young bucks" buying T-bone steaks with food stamps. In trumpeting these tales of welfare run amok, Reagan never needed to mention race, because he was blowing a dog whistle: sending a message about racial minorities inaudible on one level, but clearly heard on another. In doing so, he tapped into a long political tradition that started with George Wallace
and Richard Nixon, and is more relevant than ever in the age of the Tea Party and the first black president.

In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian…


Book cover of Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

Gabriella Rosen Kellerman Author Of Tomorrowmind: Thriving at Work with Resilience, Creativity, and Connection—Now and in an Uncertain Future

From my list on how work is changing and what it means for workers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve devoted my career to helping people achieve their potential and improve their wellbeing. One of the greatest challenges we’re all facing today is the highly unnatural world of work in which we all must perform. I’ve been fortunate both to lead large teams in this environment and to guide the Fortune 1000 on how to help their people thrive in its midst. Achieving sustainable peak performance requires that we understand what we are up against. This book list is a great place to start!

Gabriella's book list on how work is changing and what it means for workers

Gabriella Rosen Kellerman Why did Gabriella love this book?

Future Politics takes the conversation to the societal level, looking at how technology will change the fabric of our communities. Susskind brings an expert eye to a sweeping body of knowledge and resists simple narratives. This book is dense, but worth the effort for those looking to understand the dynamics that will shape society as we know it, for better and for worse.

Susskind is a scholar of history and politics and brings that love of fundamental political questions to this work. I enjoy how he anchors modern questions about the implications of technology for freedom, for example, in much older debates about freedom and the State.

By Jamie Susskind,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Politics in the Twentieth Century was dominated by a single question: how much of our collective life should be determined by the state, and what should be left to the market and civil society?

Now the debate is different: to what extent should our lives be directed and controlled by powerful digital systems - and on what terms?

Digital technologies - from artificial intelligence to blockchain, from robotics to virtual reality - are transforming the way we live together. Those who control the most powerful technologies are increasingly able to control the rest of us. As time goes on, these…


Book cover of How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our Future

Rebecca Kingston Author Of Plutarch's Prism: Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500-1800

From my list on why politics matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a student of the history of ideas, with a particular interest in political thought, for over forty years. I have read countless books, both ancient and modern, and in several languages, that explore themes related to public life. I am a dedicated citizen of a contemporary liberal democracy, but today, I live in fear of a growing backlash against liberal democracy. The risk of democratic backsliding in the contemporary US is real as citizens become more disillusioned with politics. In other liberal democracies, some party leaders are adopting populist rhetoric to enhance their electoral appeal, but in doing so, they are undermining some of the established norms of public life. 

Rebecca's book list on why politics matter

Rebecca Kingston Why did Rebecca love this book?

Maria Ressa is an inspiring figure. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for her work in trying to defend the freedom of the press in the Philippines, under threat due to the authoritarianism of Duterte. The narrative of her life and struggles offers insight into the ways in which democracy is fragile and can easily be upended.

I am particularly drawn to her discussion of the effects of contemporary social media on social psychology and how it can contribute to the weakening of democratic mores. The case of the Philippines might be considered to have the status of a ‘canary in the coal mine,’ alerting other contemporary liberal democratic countries to the dangers of unregulated social media, AI, and other new electronic technologies.

We need to be informed about the effects of these technologies and work to save our public and democratic institutions, which are being eroded by…

By Maria Ressa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Stand Up to a Dictator as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*BBC RADIO 4 START OF THE WEEK and GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR*

WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2021

What will you sacrifice for the truth?

Maria Ressa has spent decades speaking truth to power. But her work tracking disinformation networks seeded by her own government, spreading lies to its own citizens laced with anger and hate, has landed her in trouble with the most powerful man in the country: President Duterte.

Now, hounded by the state, she has multiple arrest warrants against her name, and a potential 100+ years behind bars to prepare for - while she stands…


Book cover of America Reformed: Progressives and Progressivisms, 1890s-1920s

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer

From my list on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I study the Gilded Age and Progressive Era because it has so many practical applications for the present.  As we face our own Gilded Age of enormous technological achievements paired with ongoing problems stemming from what Bob La Follette called “the encroachment of the powerful few upon the rights of the many,” why reinvent the wheel?  What worked for progressive reformers in their struggles to create a more equitable and just society?  What didn’t work, and why? To help answer those questions I wrote Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer and Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer, and co-edited A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Nancy's book list on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Nancy C. Unger Why did Nancy love this book?

There are many books on the reforms of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era—this one is the best.  Flanagan, who writes clearly and engagingly, centers this work on four themes: politics, social justice, economics, and foreign policy. Every chapter features lively stories and helpful illustrations. While Flanagan certainly includes excellent coverage of vital federal and state reforms, she is particularly effective in her coverage of how every day Americans, including women and various minority groups, responded to the problems confronting society.

By Maureen A. Flanagan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This comprehensive and accessible text is for use in classes on the Progressive Era alone, or in a combined class on the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras, which many universities teach. It could also be used as one of several titles in the general survey (1876 - present), or in a 20th century U.S. History Survey. Flanagan's text covers all aspects of the era, political (domestic and international), economic, and social/cultural. She also incoporates the perspectives
of women, immigrants, and minority groups into the history of the era.


Book cover of Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer

From my list on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I study the Gilded Age and Progressive Era because it has so many practical applications for the present.  As we face our own Gilded Age of enormous technological achievements paired with ongoing problems stemming from what Bob La Follette called “the encroachment of the powerful few upon the rights of the many,” why reinvent the wheel?  What worked for progressive reformers in their struggles to create a more equitable and just society?  What didn’t work, and why? To help answer those questions I wrote Fighting Bob La Follette: The Righteous Reformer and Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer, and co-edited A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Nancy's book list on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Nancy C. Unger Why did Nancy love this book?

If you’re tired of historians spoon-feeding you their interpretations of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, this great selection of the period’s documents provides an unfiltered look at what people were thinking and doing at the time in their own words. The documents are arranged thematically with four or five per section: The New South; The New West; Native Americans; Big Business; Gilded Age Society; Working People, Immigrants in the Industrial Age; Populism; The Coming of Jim Crow; Labor Protest Rebuilding American Institutions; The Political System; Imperialism and Anti-imperialism, and the Debate about World War I. This is a user-friendly collection that doesn’t go too deep into any one person or event, yet introduces the key issues of the period.

By William A. Link, Susannah J. Link,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gilded Age and Progressive Era as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume presents documents that illustrate the variety of experiences and themes involved in the transformation of American political, economic, and social systems during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1870-1920). * Includes nearly 70 documents which cover the period from the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the 1870s through World War I * Explores the experiences of people during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era from a variety of diverse perspectives, including important political and cultural leaders as well as everyday individuals * Charts the nationalization of American life and the establishment of the United States…


Book cover of Endless Crusade: Women Social Scientists and Progressive Reform

Frances McNamara Author Of Molasses Murder in a Nutshell: A Nutshell Murder Mystery

From my list on real women in criminology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was frustrated by stories of gilded-age women who floundered around and were pitied because of the limitations society put on them. I thought the heroine of House of Mirth was not heroine but a loser. It seemed to me there must be other women out there who weren’t just sitting around bemoaning their predicament. Since I’m a mystery writer I was especially pleased to find some women who were out there doing things, even in criminology. Finding Frances Glessner Lee was the icing on the cake when I learned that she is known as the Mother of Forensic Science. Had to be great stories there.

Frances' book list on real women in criminology

Frances McNamara Why did Frances love this book?

This book introduced me to some women who had an impact on criminology, as Frances Glessner Lee did later.

They moved between Hull House and the University of Chicago and worked hard to change laws and improve the justice system. They worked in prisons and courthouses.

I got ideas for my Emily Cabot Mysteries from this book, as one woman was amazed to find when she got to do graduate work at the university that she could work with actual police officials to do the sociological studies.

These women found that when they pushed they could make an impression and actually activate some change in society. Again, I’m grateful to those women who came before me and knocked down closed doors.

By Ellen Fitzpatrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This study examines the careers of the first four American women to be trained as social scientists in the research universities of late 19th-century USA. The efforts of these women to institutionalize their approach to social analysis and investigation resulted in the first graduate school of social work to be affiliated with a major research university - the University of Chicago. The book looks at the impact of late 19th-century social science on reform and finds that the research universities were important intellectual determinants of the welfare state.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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