100 books like Social Chemistry

By Marissa King,

Here are 100 books that Social Chemistry fans have personally recommended if you like Social Chemistry. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

Jeffrey Engle Author Of All the War They Want: Special Operations Techniques for Winning in Cyber Warfare, Business, and Life

From my list on introducing military tactics into your leadership.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a veteran of the United States Army Special Operations Command, my time in the army will always guide my actions. When I began my career in cybersecurity and later took on the role of President and Chair of Conquest Cyber, I looked to my military experience for guidance. The lessons I learned from leaders were much like those I’ve learned through these books, and they are lessons that will benefit any leader, business owner, or founder. 

Jeffrey's book list on introducing military tactics into your leadership

Jeffrey Engle Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I’m a proud fighter against the conventional. Bigger is not necessarily better; Compliance is not enough. General McChrystal spends much of his book sharing in this mindset. His experience leading the Joint Special Operation Task Force in their efforts to take down Al Qaeda is inspiring, but for those less military-minded leaders, he shares other examples of where small and agile teams have found success in a hospital ER to NASA. It’s bold, fun to read, and fast-paced. Team of Teams is worth the read for leaders at any stage of their career. 

By David Silverman, Tantum Collins, Stanley McChrystal

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), General Stanley McChrystal discarded a century of management wisdom and pivoted from a pursuit of mechanical efficiency to organic adaptability.

In this book, he shows how any organization can make the same transition to act like a team of teams - where small groups combine the freedom to experiment with a relentless drive to share their experience.

Drawing on a wealth of evidence from his military career and sources as diverse as hospital emergency rooms and NASA's space program, McChrystal frames the existential challenge facing today's organizations, and presents a compelling, effective…


Book cover of Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Author Of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

From my list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations.

Why are we passionate about this?

Jim Tamm was a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California with jurisdiction over workplace disputes. In that role, he mediated more school district labor strikes than any other person in the United States. Ron Luyet is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with group dynamics pioneers such as Carl Rogers and Will Schutz.  He has advised Fortune 500 companies for over forty years specializing in building high-performance teams. Together they wrote Radical Collaboration and are excited to share this list with you today.

James' book list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Why did James love this book?

The author provides evidence that treating one another with dignity, encourages people to become more connected and more capable of creating meaningful and collaborative relationships. Drawing on her extensive experience in international conflict resolution along with insights from evolutionary biology, psychology, and neuroscience, she explains what the elements of dignity are and how violating them triggers defensiveness. Defensiveness makes cooperation and collaboration unlikely in any situation often leading to resistance, aggression, sabotage and even violence.

By Donna Hicks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first comprehensive exploration of dignity, its role in human conflict, and its power to improve relationships of all kinds

"This book is a must read for those who want to experience peace in their everyday lives and peace in the world around them. Without an understanding of dignity, there is no hope for such change. If you want to find the weak links in a democracy, look for where people are suffering. You will most likely see a variety of violations. If you want peace, be sure everyone's dignity is intact."-Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The desire for dignity is universal…


Book cover of Under the Hood: Fire Up and Fine-Tune Your Employee Culture

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Author Of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

From my list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations.

Why are we passionate about this?

Jim Tamm was a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California with jurisdiction over workplace disputes. In that role, he mediated more school district labor strikes than any other person in the United States. Ron Luyet is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with group dynamics pioneers such as Carl Rogers and Will Schutz.  He has advised Fortune 500 companies for over forty years specializing in building high-performance teams. Together they wrote Radical Collaboration and are excited to share this list with you today.

James' book list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Why did James love this book?

Stan captures the essence of the mindset needed to Collaborate. To quote Slap: “When an employee culture is repositioned as a newly precious, workable asset, a company will naturally protect it, same as with any asset. An employee culture can’t be protected without protecting their humanity. If we lose humanity in business, we’re all doomed. If we save it we will have saved ourselves. In case you fear this icy hand of altruism will grip your own company by the throat and choke the life out of revenue, not to worry: We’re talking here about making the business case for humanity. In any environment where meaning is determined by metrics, the point of view and processes in this book are going to cause measurable, sustainable results." We agree.

By Stan Slap,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You can't sell it outside if you can't sell it inside.

You want maximum business performance? Look under the hood and you’ll find your employee culture: it is the power that drives the enterprise engine. To harness that rumbling power you’ve got to solve the mystery of what an employee culture actually is, how it operates and how to move it forward. These are the keys that this book will put right in your hands.

Renowned business culture expert Stan Slap knows the difference between understanding your employees and understanding your employee culture. The distinction isn’t semantics; it’s the key…


Book cover of Leading Through Collaboration: Guiding Groups to Productive Solutions

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Author Of Radical Collaboration: Five Essential Skills to Overcome Defensiveness and Build Successful Relationships

From my list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations.

Why are we passionate about this?

Jim Tamm was a Senior Administrative Law Judge for the State of California with jurisdiction over workplace disputes. In that role, he mediated more school district labor strikes than any other person in the United States. Ron Luyet is a licensed psychotherapist who has worked with group dynamics pioneers such as Carl Rogers and Will Schutz.  He has advised Fortune 500 companies for over forty years specializing in building high-performance teams. Together they wrote Radical Collaboration and are excited to share this list with you today.

James' book list on creating collaborative relationships and organizations

James Tamm and Ronald Luyet Why did James love this book?

A very personal look at strategies, mindsets and tools to create collaborative leaders and more collaborative organizations. John Glaser balances both theory and practical advice gained from his extensive experience as both an outside consultant and an internal leader, as school superintendent of one of California’s most prominent and successful school districts, Napa Valley Unified School District. John Glaser knows what he’s writing about.

By John P. Glaser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

`Written by a very successful leader, problem solver and negotiator, the book combines a strong rationale for its practices, well delineated practical strategies, and vignettes from John Glaser's extensive background that provides the reader with a clear understanding of how to become a truly collaborative leader' - Pat Wolfe, Education Consultant Mind Matters, Inc

'What a marvelous blend of theory and practice! Glaser's writing is so engaging, so personal, and so informative that you will want to read every word. This book should be a requirement for every person who is serious about learning how to lead.' - Leonard O.…


Book cover of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Russell K. Schutt Author Of Social Neuroscience: Brain, Mind, and Society

From my list on social evolution, social neuroscience, and social connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young sociologist, I shunned explanations of human behavior informed by psychology and biology, but over the years my research showed me that individual predispositions and capacities influence social structure, as well as the other way around.  Books like those I recommend helped me recognize how evolutionary dynamics gave rise to our intensely social nature and so explain many social processes.  And as I began this intellectual journey, events in my own life ripped off the psychological seal I had constructed over my childhood experiences of maternal abandonment and paternal suicide and finally enabled me to make sense of them. We can improve our individual and societal health by increasing our understanding of our fundamental social needs.   

Russell's book list on social evolution, social neuroscience, and social connection

Russell K. Schutt Why did Russell love this book?

“The bad news is that as a society we’re blowing it.” Not because the GDP isn’t high enough, distinguished psychologist Matthew Lieberman argues, but because we don’t understand basic facts about our social brains: (1) Physical and social pain share the same neurocognitive processes, as do responses to physical and social rewards; (2) Our ability (and proclivity) to mentalize—to understand others’ actions as driven by their thoughts—relies on and competes with a different neural system than nonsocial thinking; (3) Our sense of self is a Trojan horse transmitting social influence and so harmonizing behavior in groups.  As a result, improving our social relations—not increasing our financial wealth—makes us happier; maximizing social capital increases our productivity at work; and engaging our social brains improves our learning. If that gets your attention, you’re ready to read Social

By Matthew D. Lieberman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why are we influenced by the behaviour of complete strangers? Why does the brain register similar pleasure when I perceive something as 'fair' or when I eat chocolate? Why can we be so profoundly hurt by bereavement? What are the evolutionary benefits of these traits? The young discipline of 'social cognitive neuroscience' has been exploring this fascinating interface between brain science and human behaviour since the late 1990s.

Now one of its founding pioneers, Matthew D. Lieberman, presents the discoveries that he and fellow researchers have made. Using fMRI scanning and a range of other techniques, they have been able…


Book cover of Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling

John V. Petrocelli Author Of The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit

From my list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an experimental social psychologist, who has conducted years of empirical research on bullshitting behavior and bullshit detection, I’ve found compelling evidence that the worst outcomes of bullshit communications are false beliefs and bad decisions. I’m convinced that all of our problems, whether they be personal, interpersonal, professional, or societal are either directly or indirectly linked to mindless bullshit reasoning and communication. I’m just sick and tired of incompetent, bullshit artists who capitalize by repackaging and selling what I and other experimental psychologists do for free. It’s time the masses learn that some of us who actually do the research on the things we write about can actually do it better.    

John's book list on detecting bullshit, misinformation, and fake news

John V. Petrocelli Why did John love this book?

James Alcock is the only social psychologist I know who could write a clear, accessible, and comprehensive volume on the psychology of belief—particularly how our thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions, respond not to the world as it actually is but to the world as we believe it to be. No matter how much you think you know about beliefs, and no matter what you actually believe, any reader will find surprises in Alcock’s treatise, such as why so many people cling to beliefs that are foolish, self-destructive, and wrong, believing them to be wise, self-protective, and right. Belief convinced me that faulty beliefs, arising from misapprehension about the cause of a disease, misperceptions of an enemy’s actions, misreading a lover’s motive, misconceptions about which, if any, gods are real, can lead to irrational, maladaptive, and sometimes deadly actions.

By James E. Alcock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An expert on the psychology of belief examines how our thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions, respond not to the world as it actually is but to the world as we believe it to be.

This book explores the psychology of belief - how beliefs are formed, how they are influenced both by internal factors, such as perception, memory, reason, emotion, and prior beliefs, as well as external factors, such as experience, identification with a group, social pressure, and manipulation. It also reveals how vulnerable beliefs are to error, and how they can be held with great confidence even when…


Book cover of Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession

Lior B. Sternfeld Author Of Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth-Century Iran

From my list on Jewish histories of the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I always felt that Middle Eastern studies is different from other fields of history. Its ever-presence in our life, the news cycle, religious life, political life, yet, because of language barriers and other filters, there’s a gap in knowledge that is highly conspicuous when forming one’s opinion. When I started my academic training, I felt like I was swimming in this ocean of histories that were completely unknown to me. I studied the Jewish histories of the region only later in my training and found that this gap is even more visible when talking about the history of Jews in the Middle East, because of misconceptions of antisemitism, the Israel-Palestine conflict, political tilt of media outlet, and more. For me, entering this field was a way to understand long-term processes in my own society, and expand the body of scholarship to enrich the public conversation on top of the academic one.

Lior's book list on Jewish histories of the Middle East

Lior B. Sternfeld Why did Lior love this book?

Haggai Ram was one of my Master’s thesis advisors. In this book, he shows how the idea of the Iranian threat was developed, partly as a process of Israeli self-reflection. Iranophobia is indispensable for the reader who would like to know about the roots of animosity between Iran and Israel, the history of the imagination of Iran and Israel vis-à-vis The West, and critical gaze on Zionism and Jewish Statehood in the Middle East. This book exemplifies the importance of looking beyond filters of mythmaking and the political tendencies of history writing and being on the lookout when reading contemporary history for political persuasions and connections between politics and academia.

By Haggai Ram,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Israel and Iran invariably are portrayed as sworn enemies, engaged in an unending conflict with potentially apocalyptic implications.Iranophobia offers an innovative and provocative new reading of this conflict. Concerned foremost with how Israelis perceive Iran, the author steps back from all-too-common geopolitical analyses to show that this conflict is as much a product of shared cultural trajectories and entangled histories as it is one of strategic concerns and political differences.

Haggai Ram, an Israeli scholar, explores prevalent Israeli assumptions about Iran to look at how these assumptions have, in turn, reflected and shaped Jewish Israeli identity. Drawing on diverse political,…


Book cover of Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

Michael S. Bryant Author Of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953

From my list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long interest in genocide dating back to my teenage years, when I read Simon Wiesenthal’s book The Murderers Among Us. Wiesenthal introduced me to the idea that governments sometimes murdered innocent people and could elude justice for their crimes. The question of human evil interacted with my theological interest in the problem of evil generally. Both genocide scholars and theologians were posing similar questions: how could people or God permit the occurrence of wanton evil when it was in their power to avoid it? And what should we do about genocide after it has happened? These questions launched my research into genocide and continue to fuel my study of this topic.

Michael's book list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes

Michael S. Bryant Why did Michael love this book?

James Waller’s scintillating book is for readers seeking answers to big questions. When studying the Holocaust and similar events, students invariably ask: how could human beings do such things to other people? Waller addresses this question in a tour-de-force that may be the best single book yet written on the “why” of genocide. His study is particularly compelling because he focuses not on race fanatics (Hitler, Himmler) nor ideological zealots (Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung) but on the rank-and-file, without whom the architects of genocide could never build their charnel empires in the first place. 

The second edition of his book is especially useful because he reviews both iconic and newer psychological theories of genocide perpetration. For Waller, the dynamics underlying genocide are complex. His key finding is that the potential for extreme violence resides within each person. Eschewing aberrationist theories that portray such violence as deviant, Waller invites us…

By James E. Waller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Social psychologist James Waller uncovers the internal and external factors that can lead ordinary people to commit extraordinary acts of evil. Waller offers a sophisticated and comprehensive psychological view of how anyone can potentially participate in heinous crimes against humanity. He outlines the evolutionary forces that shape human nature, the individual dispositions that are more likely to engage in acts of evil, and the context of cruelty in which these
extraordinary acts can emerge. Eyewitness accounts are presented at the end of each chapter. In this second edition, Waller has revised and updated eyewitness accounts and substantially reworked Part II…


Book cover of Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud

Eugene W. Holland Author Of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus: Introduction to Schizoanalysis

From my list on psychoanalysis therapy shifts social critique.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started out as an economics major in college but soon realized that the discipline was based on totally unrealistic assumptions, so I switched to philosophy and literature. I started reading Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche with some of my roommates and then chose UC San Diego for graduate work because of its focus on what became known as “theory”—which was taught there by luminaries including Jameson, Lyotard, and Marin.

I have been researching the psycho-dynamics of markets and capitalism ever since, and have become convinced that rescuing markets from capital is the only way to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.

Eugene's book list on psychoanalysis therapy shifts social critique

Eugene W. Holland Why did Eugene love this book?

This is a powerful rewriting of Freudian theory from one of the giants of the Frankfurt School, whom I was fortunate enough to study with at UC San Diego. Rather than accept “reality” as a given, Marcuse transforms Freud’s “reality-principle” into the “performance principle”–we perform far more work than reality itself requires because the capitalist system is profiting from our labor. We are thus subjected not just to repression but to surplus repression–which corresponds to the surplus value capitalists extract from our labor power and our purchasing power.

I was always intrigued but also perplexed by psychoanalysis, and this amazing book completely transformed my understanding of how the human psyche operates under capitalism.

Book cover of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Fergus Craik Author Of Memory

From my list on how your memory works – and why it often doesn't.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a cognitive psychologist, originally from Scotland, but I have lived and worked in Canada for the last 50 years, first at the University of Toronto, and then at a research institute in Toronto. My passion has always been to understand the human mind – especially memory – through experimental research. Memory is fundamental to our mental life as humans; to a large extent it defines who we are. It is a complex and fascinating topic, and my career has been devoted to devising experiments and theories to understand it better. In our recent book, Larry Jacoby and I attempt to pass on the excitement of unravelling these fascinating mysteries of memory.

Fergus' book list on how your memory works – and why it often doesn't

Fergus Craik Why did Fergus love this book?

This bestselling book is not so much about your memory as how to implant lasting memories in others.

How is it that some events and pieces of information are amazingly memorable, whereas others are lost as soon as our mental backs are turned? In a series of entertaining real-life examples, the authors propose and illustrate ways in which information can be “made to stick.” These include some obvious ones like getting people’s attention and building on their existing knowledge – stuff they are interested in.

Other factors are less obvious; set up an intriguing puzzle, provide some really unexpected information, especially of an emotional kind, embed the new information in an attention-grabbing story. Of course knowing how to teach effectively also reveals much about how memory works!

By Chip Heath, Dan Heath,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Made to Stick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why does fake news stick while the truth goes missing?

Why do disproved urban legends persist? How do you keep letting newspapers and clickbait sites lure you in with their headlines? And why do you remember complicated stories but not complicated facts?

Over ten years of study, Chip and Dan Heath have discovered how we latch on to information hooks. Packed full of case histories and incredible anecdotes, it shows:

- how an Australian scientist convinced the world he'd discovered the cause of stomach ulcers by drinking a glass filled with bacteria

- how a gifted sports reporter got people…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in social psychology, social networks, and school?

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