10 books like Metaphor and Thought

By Andrew Ortony (editor),

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Metaphor and Thought. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Spider's Thread

By Keith J. Holyoak,

Book cover of The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

In the 1980s and 1990s, Keith Holyoak and I collaborated on a series of articles and books about analogy, which is the underpinning of complex metaphors. His new book is a delightfully insightful discussion of metaphors in poetry, drawing not only on his deep knowledge of cognitive psychology but also on his experience as a highly published poet. Through analysis of great poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and many others, he illuminates how metaphors contribute to beautiful poems and to creativity in general.  

The Spider's Thread

By Keith J. Holyoak,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An examination of metaphor in poetry as a microcosm of the human imagination—a way to understand the mechanisms of creativity.

In The Spider's Thread, Keith Holyoak looks at metaphor as a microcosm of the creative imagination. Holyoak, a psychologist and poet, draws on the perspectives of thinkers from the humanities—poets, philosophers, and critics—and from the sciences—psychologists, neuroscientists, linguists, and computer scientists. He begins each chapter with a poem—by poets including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, Du Fu, William Butler Yeats, and Pablo Neruda—and then widens the discussion to broader notions of metaphor…


Metaphors We Live By

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Book cover of Metaphors We Live By

This book is about how we understand our language and our experiences, and how we make meaning. It sets out some of the theories that structure analysis of metaphor and language, and while it’s based on the authors’ research, it is an accessible introduction. This book will change the way you think about the language you use every day, often without a second thought.

Metaphors We Live By

By George Lakoff, Mark Johnson,

Why should I read it?

2 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…


Metaphor Wars

By Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr,

Book cover of Metaphor Wars: Conceptual Metaphors in Human Life

Raymond Gibbs is a leading psycholinguist with deep familiarity with theories of conceptual metaphor and their critics. Drawing on evidence from cognitive linguistics and other fields, this book provides a valuable account of the contributions of metaphor to language, thought, action, and culture. Metaphors operate in multimodal experience s well as language. 

Metaphor Wars

By Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The study of metaphor is now firmly established as a central topic within cognitive science and the humanities. We marvel at the creative dexterity of gifted speakers and writers for their special talents in both thinking about certain ideas in new ways, and communicating these thoughts in vivid, poetic forms. Yet metaphors may not only be special communicative devices, but a fundamental part of everyday cognition in the form of 'conceptual metaphors'. An enormous body of empirical evidence from cognitive linguistics and related disciplines has emerged detailing how conceptual metaphors underlie significant aspects of language, thought, cultural and expressive action.…


The Linguistics Wars

By Randy Allen Harris,

Book cover of The Linguistics Wars: Chomsky, Lakoff, and the Battle over Deep Structure

Randy Harris is a colleague of mine at the University of Waterloo, and his book is a marvelous history and analysis of the decades-long intellectual battle between Noam Chomsky and George Lakoff. It provides the context and background for how Lakoff’s theory of metaphor was part of the development of alternatives to Chomsky-style linguistics, along with some trenchant criticisms of the very idea of conceptual metaphor. 

The Linguistics Wars

By Randy Allen Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An updated and expanded history of the field of linguistics from the 1950s to the current day

The Linguistics Wars tells the tumultuous history of language and cognition studies from the rise of Noam Chomsky's Transformational Grammar to the current day. Focusing on the rupture that split the field between Chomsky's structuralist vision and George Lakoff's meaning-driven theories, Randy Allen Harris portrays the extraordinary personalities that were central to the dispute and its aftermath, alongside the data, technical developments, and social currents that fueled the
unfolding and expanding schism. This new edition, updated to cover the more than twenty-five years…


Don't Think of an Elephant!

By George Lakoff,

Book cover of Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

Have you noticed shifts in the vocabularies and grammars that we use over the last few decades? Why are we now talking about “tax relief” rather than “reduced investment in public goods and services”, for example? Who decided that this should be the standard phrase, and what do these shifts in our language mean for the way we understand and respond to political arguments?

George Lakoff is a master storyteller, but this book is grounded in decades of scholarship and research into how language frames our experiences and shapes our responses to the world. This book will change the way you consume current affairs and politics, and is an excellent introduction to how our language has been captured by certain political interests. It also sets out a manifesto for those interested in fighting back.

Don't Think of an Elephant!

By George Lakoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Think of an Elephant! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Donit Think of an Elephant! is the definitive handbook for understanding what happened in the 2004 US election and communicating effectively about key issues facing America today. Author George Lakoff has become a key advisor to the Democratic party, helping them develop their message and frame the political debate.
In this book Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. His years of research and work with environmental and political leaders have been distilled into this essential guide, which shows progressives how to think in terms of values instead of programmes, and why people vote for their…


Don't Believe a Word

By David Shariatmadari,

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

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.

Don't Believe a Word

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…


I Is an Other

By James Geary,

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

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.

I Is an Other

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…


Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future

By John Brockman,

Book cover of Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future

John Brockman has composed 150 short essays on the dominant question of our time, how is the Internet changing the way you think? This sparked the basis of my book. 

From pessimistic to optimistic views, the experts bring together different perspectives in different fields.

Too early to tell? Is our thinking becoming more shallow? Some say the web is a work of genius and the greatest achievement of the human race.

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future

By John Brockman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Chris Anderson, Nassim Taleb, and nearly 150 other intellectual rock stars reveal how the internet is changing our minds, culture, and future, in John Brockman’s latest compendium from Harper Perennial and Edge.org.


Small Teaching

By James M. Lang,

Book cover of Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning

Perhaps an unusual pick for product managers but this book breaks down how to teach successfully in a world of constant distractions. Think of it as “lean startup for classes.” Product managers are teachers, evangelists, and most of all communicators. Knowing how to break down ideas into pieces your teams and colleagues can digest is critical to your success.

Small Teaching

By James M. Lang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Employ cognitive theory in the classroom every day Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. But that's easier said than done. Many books about cognitive theory introduce radical but impractical theories, failing to make the connection to the classroom. In Small Teaching, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and…


Rationality for Mortals

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Book cover of Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty

Gigerenzer is in some ways the un-Tversky-and-Kahneman, emphasizing the ways in which humans are more rational than they seem, and the ways that difficult problems can be made intuitive. This lively collection explains the surprisingly deep and perplexing question of what “probability” even means, and presents many puzzles form everyday reckoning of risk, including: What does the weathercaster mean when she says “There’s a 30 percent chance of rain”?

Rationality for Mortals

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gerd Gigerenzer's influential work examines the rationality of individuals not from the perspective of logic or probability, but from the point of view of adaptation to the real world of human behavior and interaction with the environment. Seen from this perspective, human behavior is more rational than it might otherwise appear. This work is extremely influential and has spawned an entire research program. This volume collects recent articles, looking at how
people use "fast and frugal heuristics" to calculate probability and risk and make decisions. It includes the revised articles and newly written introduction that were first published in the…


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