100 books like The Ascent of Affect

By Ruth Leys,

Here are 100 books that The Ascent of Affect fans have personally recommended if you like The Ascent of Affect. 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 How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

Lynne Malcolm Author Of All In The Mind: Fascinating, inspiring and transformative stories from the forefront of brain science

From my list on psychology of the human experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a science journalist and broadcaster with a degree in Psychology and a deep passion and fascination for people, their behavior, and the workings of the human mind.  For nine years, I produced and presented the popular Australian ABC radio program and podcast, All in the Mind, in which I explored a range of topics, including neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, cognitive science, mental health, and human behavior. I’ve received numerous media awards and contributed to media award judging panels. All in the Mind - fascinating, inspiring, and transformative stories from the forefront of brain science is my first book. I continue to write and communicate about the topics I am inspired by. 

Lynne's book list on psychology of the human experience

Lynne Malcolm Why did Lynne love this book?

I love this book because it explores a new way of understanding human emotions. When you laugh, cry, or scowl with anger, you often assume that the emotions you're feeling are the same as everyone else’s. Lisa Feldman Barrett explains that this is not necessarily the case, according to the new science of emotion.

She clearly describes the research, including her own, that shows that emotions are not hard-wired at birth but are constructed by our brains and our bodies as we go through life. It means that we can be the architects of our emotional lives, and the implications for society are profound. Reading this book has excited me and given me a great deal of hope and optimism about how we can have more agency over our emotional lives. 

By Lisa Feldman Barrett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Preeminent psychologist Lisa Barrett lays out how the brain constructs emotions in a way that could revolutionize psychology, health care, the legal system, and our understanding of the human mind.
“Fascinating . . . A thought-provoking journey into emotion science.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A singular book, remarkable for the freshness of its ideas and the boldness and clarity with which they are presented.”—Scientific American
“A brilliant and original book on the science of emotion, by the deepest thinker about this topic since Darwin.”—Daniel Gilbert, best-selling author of Stumbling on Happiness
The science of emotion is in the midst of a…


Book cover of The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions

Rob Boddice Author Of The History of Emotions

From my list on what your emotions are and where they come from.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of emotions, science, and medicine, with more than a decade of experience in meddling in other scientific affairs, especially in the worlds of psychology and neuroscience. I’m fascinated by human emotions in part, at least, because I feel we’re living in a crude emotional age. I’ve worked in five different countries since gaining my PhD in 2005. In that time I’ve written or edited 14 books of historical non-fiction, as well as dozens of articles and reviews. You can freely read my work in Aeon or History Today. I live between Canada (my adopted country) and Finland, where I frequently lament the loss of my European citizenship.

Rob's book list on what your emotions are and where they come from

Rob Boddice Why did Rob love this book?

This was my entry point to emotion research, as it is for many others. Reddy’s work is of seismic importance to me and for most of the people I know. It is largely responsible for making the field in which I now work, or at least for making other people take it seriously.

Up until this book came out, there was nothing that could compare in terms of its theoretical sophistication and its careful application. I go back to this book again and again, for support, clarity, and direction. It is, probably, the most thumbed thing I own.

By William M. Reddy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Navigation of Feeling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions, William M. Reddy offers a theory of emotions which both critiques and expands upon recent research in the fields of anthropology and psychology. Exploring the links between emotion and cognition, between culture and emotional expression, Reddy applies this theory of emotions to the processes of history. He demonstrates how emotions change over time, how emotions have a very important impact on the course of events, and how different social orders either facilitate or constrain emotional life. In an investigation of Revolutionary France, where sentimentalism in literature and philosophy…


Book cover of Empathy: A History

Rob Boddice Author Of The History of Emotions

From my list on what your emotions are and where they come from.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of emotions, science, and medicine, with more than a decade of experience in meddling in other scientific affairs, especially in the worlds of psychology and neuroscience. I’m fascinated by human emotions in part, at least, because I feel we’re living in a crude emotional age. I’ve worked in five different countries since gaining my PhD in 2005. In that time I’ve written or edited 14 books of historical non-fiction, as well as dozens of articles and reviews. You can freely read my work in Aeon or History Today. I live between Canada (my adopted country) and Finland, where I frequently lament the loss of my European citizenship.

Rob's book list on what your emotions are and where they come from

Rob Boddice Why did Rob love this book?

I was desperately waiting for Lanzoni’s book to come out, being certain that it would be the key to displacing an all-too-easy tendency, among scientists, scholars and the general public alike, to make empathy the hardwired mechanism that defines humanity.

It frankly amazes me how quickly the fortunes of empathy rose in the second of half of the twentieth century when, fundamentally, nobody has been able to say precisely what it is, where it is, how it works or what its limits might be.

I loved Lanzoni’s book for laying it all out. Down with empathy!

By Susan Lanzoni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A surprising, sweeping, and deeply researched history of empathy-from late-nineteenth-century German aesthetics to mirror neurons

Empathy: A History tells the fascinating and largely unknown story of the first appearance of empathy in 1908 and tracks its shifting meanings over the following century. Despite the word's ubiquity today, few realize that it began as a translation of Einfuhlung ("in-feeling"), a term in German psychological aesthetics that described how spectators projected their own feelings and movements into objects of art and nature.

Remarkably, this early conception of empathy transformed into its opposite over the ensuing decades. Social scientists and clinical psychologists refashioned…


Book cover of Pity Transformed

Rob Boddice Author Of The History of Emotions

From my list on what your emotions are and where they come from.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of emotions, science, and medicine, with more than a decade of experience in meddling in other scientific affairs, especially in the worlds of psychology and neuroscience. I’m fascinated by human emotions in part, at least, because I feel we’re living in a crude emotional age. I’ve worked in five different countries since gaining my PhD in 2005. In that time I’ve written or edited 14 books of historical non-fiction, as well as dozens of articles and reviews. You can freely read my work in Aeon or History Today. I live between Canada (my adopted country) and Finland, where I frequently lament the loss of my European citizenship.

Rob's book list on what your emotions are and where they come from

Rob Boddice Why did Rob love this book?

This book unlocked secrets for me. I was searching for a way of making sense of my own historical work on sympathy in the nineteenth century when I turned to Konstan’s masterpiece on pity in the ancient world, in all its varieties and political forms.

The book could not have been further in time from my own focus, but Konstan’s methods, combined with his narrative sharpness, showed me the way. I read this book, and suddenly, I knew what to do.

By David Konstan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Pity Transformed" is an examination of how pity was imagined and expressed in classical antiquity. It pays particular attention to the ways in which the pity of the Greeks and Romans differed from modern ideas. Among the topics investigated in this study are the appeal to pity in courts of law and the connection between pity and desert; the relation between pity and love or intimacy; self-pity; the role of pity in war and its relation to human rights and human dignity; divine pity from paganism to Christianity; and why pity was considered an emotion. This book will lead readers…


Book cover of Undue Hate: A Behavioral Economic Analysis of Hostile Polarization in US Politics and Beyond

Zachary Elwood Author Of Defusing American Anger: A Guide to Understanding Our Fellow Citizens and Reducing Us-vs-Them Polarization

From my list on healing the political divides in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

For my psychology podcast, I’ve interviewed many political and psychology experts on the subject of political polarization and conflict resolution. That led to me writing my book Defusing American Anger. I believe extreme us-vs-them polarization is humanity’s biggest problem: I see it as an existential threat not just to specific nations, including America, but to humanity as a whole, especially as our weapons and technologies get more powerful. And I think we need more people working on reducing our seemingly natural tendency to always be fighting with each other. 

Zachary's book list on healing the political divides in America

Zachary Elwood Why did Zachary love this book?

A major factor in our extreme polarization is the distorted, overly pessimistic views people on both sides can have of their fellow citizens.

As Stone points out, we can dislike the people on the "other side" much more than we should, even based on our own standards for disliking people. If you're looking for an in-depth, academic examination of our "undue hate," this is the book to read. 

Our distorted perceptions are very important because the animosity and disrespect and insults we aim at the "other side" helps create their animosity, which in turn gives more power to highly polarized and polarizing leaders, and other influencers.

By Daniel F. Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How to understand the mistakes we make about those on the other side of the political spectrum—and how they drive the affective polarization that is tearing us apart.

It’s well known that the political divide in the United States—particularly between Democrats and Republicans—has grown to alarming levels in recent decades. Affective polarization—emotional polarization, or the hostility between the parties—has reached an unprecedented fever pitch. In Undue Hate, Daniel F. Stone tackles the biases undergirding affective polarization head-on. Stone explains why we often develop objectively false, and overly negative, beliefs about the other side—causing us to dislike them more than we…


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 Loving with the Brain in Mind: Neurobiology and Couple Therapy

Peter Fraenkel Author Of Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink

From my list on how to improve couple and family relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Ph.D. clinical psychologist and tenured associate professor at The City College of New York, where I teach couple and family therapy, multicultural issues in psychotherapy, and research methods. I've conducted research on a couple's distress prevention program. I’ve been a licensed therapist for 30+ years working primarily with “last chance couples” – those on the brink of dissolving their relationship. I attended the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston University, where I received my B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy, and obtained my doctorate at Duke University. I have also been on the faculty of Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical Center, and the Ackerman Institute for the Family. I lecture internationally.

Peter's book list on how to improve couple and family relationships

Peter Fraenkel Why did Peter love this book?

Dr. Fishbane is a clinical psychologist and couple therapist, and one of the most important clinical theorists in our field. 

She spent years amassing the emerging research on the social determinants of brain development and developed a practical approach to what she calls “neuroeducation” for couples – helping partners understand the neurophysiological underpinnings and effects of marital conflict, how partners regulate each other’s emotions, and how to manage one’s negative arousal to engage in loving, compassionate relationships. 

Although written for therapists, it is highly engaging and accessible for the general reader who seeks to understand why they become so distressed during conflict with their partners and how to manage their arousal for better communication.

By Mona DeKoven Fishbane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loving with the Brain in Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Human brains and behavior are shaped by genetic predispositions and early experience. But we are not doomed by our genes or our past. Neuroscientific discoveries of the last decade have provided an optimistic and revolutionary view of adult brain function: People can change. This revelation about neuroplasticity offers hope to therapists and to couples seeking to improve their relationship. Loving With the Brain in Mind explores ways to help couples become proactive in revitalizing their relationship. It offers an in-depth understanding of the heartbreaking dynamics in unhappy couples and the healthy dynamics of couples who are flourishing.

Sharing her extensive…


Book cover of Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day

Gail Reichlin Author Of The Pocket Parent

From my list on motivate kids to manage their own behaviors and feelings.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an internationally respected discipline expert, I guide parents in how to get more compliance than defiance from their little ones. I coined the phrase “The Dance of Non-Compliance” between parent and child. In order to change the dance, the parent will usually have to change his/her dance step first. It is often impossible during the heat of the moment, to teach ‘the lesson’ to the child due to the agitated emotional state of both parent and child. A well-executed picture book, appropriately written and illustrated for young children's developmental thinking ability, can open the door for a meaningful discussion regarding their misbehavior and feelings.

Gail's book list on motivate kids to manage their own behaviors and feelings

Gail Reichlin Why did Gail love this book?

This book shows that everyone has moods that can change each day, or within the same day...from silly to angry to sad, etc. The zany, touching verse and the fun mood-wheel that lets the children change a character’s facial expressions will help a parent and child identify and discuss both good and bad feelings and how to manage them. A wonderful book to start a discussion of revisiting misbehavior and deciding what s/he could do next time in a similar situation.

By Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Cornell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling team of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, authors of I’m Gonna Like Me and Where Do Balloons Go?, Today I Feel Silly helps children understand and appreciate their shifting moods.

Jamie Lee Curtis's zany and touching verse, paired with Laura Cornell's whimsical and original illustrations, helps kids explore, identify, and, even have fun with their ever-changing moods.

Silly, cranky, excited, or sad—everyone has moods that can change each day. And that’s okay! Follow the boisterous, bouncing protagonist as she explores her moods and how they change from day to day.

 


Book cover of My Husband's Daughter

Lisa Timoney Author Of His Secret Wife

From my list on family drama with a central dilemma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was drawn to writing family drama because complex family dynamics are endlessly fascinating to me. I’m an adopted person whose parents went on to divorce and remarry. I have two teenagers of my own and I’ve found that there are a multitude of choices we have to make as parents, and sometimes dilemmas don’t have a clear answer. If we get it wrong, the effects on the people we love can be devastating. Love within families can be tricky. The gap between what we want and what we need can be vast. There’s so much to explore in family dramas!

Lisa's book list on family drama with a central dilemma

Lisa Timoney Why did Lisa love this book?

Robinson is Queen of the emotional family drama.

Her prose is so fluid that it’s easy to lose yourself in her stories, which explore dilemmas that seem like impossible choices for her relatable characters, until a tear-jerking reveal.

The decision Rebecca eventually comes to in My Husband’s Daughter made me wail like a wounded mouse. This book is beautifully written and packed with emotion.

By Emma Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Husband's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking and emotional story about love, friendship, and what it truly means to be a parent.

On a cold Friday evening, Rebecca and her husband Jack’s doorbell rings. Outside is a woman who introduces herself as Jack’s ex-girlfriend Cara. And she’s holding the hand of a shivering, blue-eyed, four-year-old girl. Who she claims is Jack’s daughter.

Rebecca is shocked to discover he has a child from his last relationship—one he hadn’t known about. Especially since becoming parents isn’t part of their life plan. But Cara needs them. Because she has a devastating secret that she can’t tell anyone yet.…


Book cover of A Little SPOT of Anger: A Story About Managing BIG Emotions

Kim T.S. Author Of Feeling All My Feelings Book

From my list on kids with big feelings.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m just a normal parent who has gone through the ups and downs of helping her little boy with his exceptionally big feelings. Anger is the main emotion we continue to struggle with, but we’ve come such a long way! The smallest things used to set him off, and he could go from annoyance to rage in minutes. Sometimes it would take us up to an hour to completely calm down. I tried my best to stay patient, help him work through his feelings, and redirect his anger towards non-harmful modes of expression. When he was calm, then we would talk about what happened, and think of ways we can both do better next time.

Kim's book list on kids with big feelings

Kim T.S. Why did Kim love this book?

“Count the spots from one to four. TAP, TAP, TAP, and TAP once more. Now fill your lungs with peaceful air, and coat your spots with love and care.”

I love the simple concept of how to calm down the anger spot. We tried the tapping technique and it helped us be more mindful of our body and breathing. It only worked for a short while for my son, but that’s how it goes! We just need to keep finding new techniques, because every child is different. Try to check if it will suit your child, because the Little Spot is a teacher who explains a lot of important concepts, and it may be hard to hold some kids’ attention if they are looking for a story.

By Diane Alber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Little SPOT of Anger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It can be really hard to handle BIG Emotions, especially when your ANGRY SPOT shows up!  Whether it's when someone takes your toy or you feel like you can't do something, you have the power to turn your BIG ANGRY SPOT into a calm PEACEFUL SPOT!

By associating emotions with something a child can visual (bright red spot), they are able to see when a small feeling of frustration can easily turn into into a big ANGRY emotion. They will realize they can manage their spots of emotions with fun counting and breathing techniques by watching a fun illustrated ANGRY…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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