100 books like The Whisperings Within

By David P. Barash,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love this book?

The brain is a confusing mess, with all the Latin names of its parts and the machine-gun scatter of research. Jeff Hawkins helps you see what the brain does in a whole new way. A big-picture way. A way in which it all makes sense. Profound and science-changing sense.

By Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the inventor of the PalmPilot comes a new and compelling theory of intelligence, brain function, and the future of intelligent machines

Jeff Hawkins, the man who created the PalmPilot, Treo smart phone, and other handheld devices, has reshaped our relationship to computers. Now he stands ready to revolutionize both neuroscience and computing in one stroke, with a new understanding of intelligence itself.

Hawkins develops a powerful theory of how the human brain works, explaining why computers are not intelligent and how, based on this new theory, we can finally build intelligent machines.

The brain is not a computer, but…


Book cover of The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Lloyd Sederer Author Of Caught in the Crosshairs of American Healthcare

From my list on books to read if you want to write the best of non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist and public health doctor, non-fiction writer, and lay and medical editor. For over 12 years, I have taught non-fiction writing for a general audience at Columbia medical and public health schools to physicians, neuroscientists, epidemiologists, psychologists, and other professionals. I have published 14 books and over 500 written articles and videos. I love to write and help others write...well.

Lloyd's book list on books to read if you want to write the best of non-fiction

Lloyd Sederer Why did Lloyd love this book?

I loved this book because it demonstrates we can write about any subject we have a passion for: bowling, the bassoon, the Canary Islands, UFOs, opium, truffles, cats and dogs, evil and good, or cells!

Thomas starts his book by marveling about cells. Vivid imagination, not labor, carries him to subjects like insects, music, language, computers, and medicine. After all, they are interconnected, like we are. 

Which means I need only start with one subject* that stirs my wonder or worry and holds meaning for me. I don’t need to hunt for something to write about, it is right in front of my eyes. 

*BTW, the author of my book choice #1, Bill Zinsser, covered war, theatre, baseball, music, nonfiction writing, and memoirs. Note to self: One subject will do.

By Lewis Thomas,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Lives of a Cell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elegant, suggestive, and clarifying, Lewis Thomas's profoundly humane vision explores the world around us and examines the complex interdependence of all things.  Extending beyond the usual limitations of biological science and into a vast and wondrous world of hidden relationships, this provocative book explores in personal, poetic essays to topics such as computers, germs, language, music, death, insects, and medicine.  Lewis Thomas writes, "Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by and large, good…


Book cover of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love this book?

This is the book with which Wilson introduced sociobiology in 1975. It is encyclopedic and sometimes academic. But the big picture Wilson presents and the stories he turns to pixels in that panorama are astonishing. Wilson helps you see the connections between the social bonds that join you with the people you love and the way all of life works. And it’s not the tired old view of animals and humans in isolation.

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

View a collection of videos on Professor Wilson entitled "On the Relation of Science and the Humanities"

Harvard University Press is proud to announce the re-release of the complete original version of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis--now available in paperback for the first time. When this classic work was first published in 1975, it created a new discipline and started a tumultuous round in the age-old nature versus nurture debate. Although voted by officers and fellows of the international Animal Behavior Society the most important book on animal behavior of all time, Sociobiology is probably more widely known as the object…


Book cover of The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love this book?

Melvin Konner is an anthropologist who joined the sociobiology revolution of the 1970s.  Like Barash, his style is sheer pleasure. He ranges from biology and psychology to research on hormones.  And his tales, his evidence, are fascinating beyond belief. They are derived from research on primitive tribes like the !Kung San In southern Africa, whose way of life sheds new light on the things you and I do every day.

By Melvin Konner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published 20 years ago to great acclaim, "The Tangled Wing" soon became useful for anyone interested in the biological roots of human behaviour and emotions. Since then however, revolutions have taken place in the biological sciences not only in genetics but molecular biology and neuroscience as well. All of these innovations have been taken into account in this vastly expanded edition. In this synthesis of biology, psychology, anthropology and philosophy, Konner explores the seat of human emotions. He shows what is "natural" and what is merely construct. His discussion and analysis are both sensitive and straightforward, ranging from such…


Book cover of Metazoa: Animal Minds and the Birth of Consciousness

Paul Pettitt Author Of Homo Sapiens Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution Rewriting Our Origins

From my list on understanding the evolution of the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went to university wanting to become a Roman specialist, but ended up going backwards in time until I landed with a bump on the hard flints of the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age). I research aspects of the behaviour of the Pleistocene (Ice Age) indigenous Europeans – the Neanderthals – and the origins and evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens. I undertake fieldwork across Europe, and I’m particularly interested in the origins and early development of art – both on portable objects and cave walls – and the long-term evolution of our treatment of the dead. My scientific love is how we can try to get inside the mind of our most remote ancestors.

Paul's book list on understanding the evolution of the human mind

Paul Pettitt Why did Paul love this book?

If you’re interested in the workings of the human imagination you have to start in our deep evolutionary past, and Metazoa does just this.

Godfrey Smith is an eminent philosopher of science, and brings his considerable experience under the ocean to understanding how the minds of shrimps, octopi, and fish probably conceive of the world.

With stunning evocations of the undersea world and his intimate encounters with these fascinating creatures, the author of Other Minds brings a battery of modern zoological and biological expertise to bear on revealing just how cognitively complex these supposedly simple creatures are. You’ll never look at them the same again.

By Peter Godfrey-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The follow-up to the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week Other Minds A Times and Sunday Times Book of the Year A Waterstones Best Book of 2020

The scuba-diving philosopher explores the origins of animal consciousness.

Dip below the ocean's surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals and flower-like worms, whose rooted bodies and intricate geometry are more reminiscent of plant life than anything recognisably animal. Yet these creatures are our cousins. As fellow members of the animal kingdom - the Metazoa -…


Book cover of Macachiavellian Intelligence: How Rhesus Macaques and Humans Have Conquered the World

Loretta Graziano Breuning Author Of Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels

From my list on the animal mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and author of many books on the mammalian neurochemistry we’ve inherited. I started this research because the psychology I’d been taught wasn’t working for my students or my children. It wasn’t even working for the children of psychology professors! I knew we were missing something big. I started studying animals, and suddenly everything made sense. We have the same neurochemicals controlled by the same limbic system as other mammals, which is why the social behavior of animals is eerily familiar.  Here are five books that shaped my insight into the mammal brain in all of us. But I must mention the wildlife videos of David Attenborough as well. They made a huge contribution to my understanding of animal impulses, which is why my first book is dedicated to him. Attenborough was not just a talking head; he was the prime mover in the drive to record animal behavior in the wild.

Loretta's book list on the animal mind

Loretta Graziano Breuning Why did Loretta love this book?

Macaque monkeys are machiavellian, get it? This is a proper academic survery of macaque social behavior in the wild. I was amazed to learn that social climbing behaviors is not just a chimp thing, and not just a male thing. Female monkeys are shameless social climbers, and this promotes the survival of their genes just like biologists tell us. Monkeys cooperate as well as compete, but they calculate when to cooperate and with whom. In short, they cooperate when it promotes their genes. When the calculating behavior of humans gets you down, it’s helpful to know how monkeys do the same thing. A similar book on a different species is Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind, by Cheney and Seyfarth. Yet another is The Lemurs' Legacy: The Evolution of Power, Sex, and Love. I studied one primate after another and kept seeing the same basic patterns,…

By Dario Maestripieri,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Judged by population size and distribution, Homo sapiens are clearly the most successful primates. A close second, however, would be rhesus macaques, who have adapted to - and thrived in - such diverse environments as mountain forests, dry grasslands, and urban sprawl. Scientists have spent countless hours studying these opportunistic monkeys, but rhesus macaques have long been overshadowed in the public eye by the great apes, who, because of their greater intelligence, are naturally assumed to have more to teach us about other primates and about humans as well. Dario Maestripieri thinks it is high time we shelve that misperception,…


Book cover of The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals

Larry Cahoone Author Of The Emergence of Value: Human Norms in a Natural World

From my list on history and science books that tell us who we are now.

Why am I passionate about this?

A philosophy professor, my central interest has always been something historical: what is going on in this strange modern world we live in? Addressing this required forty years of background work in the natural sciences, history, social sciences, and the variety of contemporary philosophical theories that try to put them all together. In the process, I taught philosophy courses on philosophical topics, social theory, and the sciences, wrote books, and produced video courses, mostly focused on that central interest. The books listed are some of my favorites to read and to teach. They are crucial steps on the journey to understand who we are in this unprecedented modern world.

Larry's book list on history and science books that tell us who we are now

Larry Cahoone Why did Larry love this book?

This is the best single book summarizing contemporary scientific knowledge on what makes humans different from other animals. It strikes a middle path between “romantics” who want to believe dolphins and primates can do everything we can and “killjoys” who try to maintain more traditional notions of human superiority.

But if there is a “gap” between us and other animals, exactly what is it? Suddendorf tracks the question from one field of possible answers to the next, from linguistics to anthropology to archaeology to primatology to cognitive science.

The book reads like a detective story – I couldn’t put it down.

By Thomas Suddendorf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There exists an undeniable chasm between the capacities of humans and those of animals. Our minds have spawned civilizations and technologies that have changed the face of the Earth, whereas even our closest animal relatives sit unobtrusively in their dwindling habitats. Yet despite longstanding debates, the nature of this apparent gap has remained unclear. What exactly is the difference between our minds and theirs?In The Gap , psychologist Thomas Suddendorf provides a definitive account of the mental qualities that separate humans from other animals, as well as how these differences arose. Drawing on two decades of research on apes, children,…


Book cover of A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: with A Theory of Meaning

Cary Wolfe Author Of What Is Posthumanism?

From my list on philosophy, ethics, animals, and us.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before there was an interdisciplinary academic field called “Animal Studies,” I was involved in these issues as an animal rights activist. Back then, the question of the animal was not taken seriously in academia as a free-standing problem (like gender or sexuality or race). It was important to me to build that—not just to take seriously the lives of animals, but also to show how the animal issue opens onto a much broader set of fundamental questions about the human and its place in relation to ecology, technology, and the non-human world. That’s why the book series I founded is devoted not to Animal Studies, but to Posthumanism.

Cary's book list on philosophy, ethics, animals, and us

Cary Wolfe Why did Cary love this book?

Reading this book completely changed how I think about the world around me.

Actually, I should say “worlds,” because Uexküll explores, both lyrically and scientifically, how the umwelt (often translated as “lifeworld”) of each animal is unique, likening each one to a separate “soap bubble,” each with its own particular character, but nonetheless all connected, as if in a giant symphony.

I admire those rare books of historical importance that manage to remain contemporary, and this book has lost none of its relevance since its original publication in 1934. A touchstone for major contemporary philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, and Peter Sloterdijk, Uexküll’s famous foray is widely viewed as one of the founding texts of contemporary theoretical biology, biosemiotics, and posthumanist thought.

By Jakob von Uexkull, Joseph D. O'Neil (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is the tick a machine or a machine operator? Is it a mere object or a subject? With these questions, the pioneering biophilosopher Jakob von Uexkull embarks on a remarkable exploration of the unique social and physical environments that individual animal species, as well as individuals within species, build and inhabit. This concept of the umwelt has become enormously important within posthumanist philosophy, influencing such figures as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Guattari, and, most recently, Giorgio Agamben, who has called Uexkull "a high point of modern antihumanism."
A key document in the genealogy of posthumanist thought, A Foray into the…


Book cover of Bitch: On the Female of the Species

Lisa McClain Author Of Divided Loyalties? Pushing the Boundaries of Gender and Lay Roles in the Catholic Church, 1534-1829

From my list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I do what I do for completely self-interested reasons. I am a woman, wife, and mother; a history professor specializing in the Catholic Church and gender; and a Christian (Episcopalian). I used to compartmentalize those roles. I was a Christian at church, a secular scholar at work, etc. It was exhausting. I was frustrated by conflicting messages about gender and faith from my family, profession, and religion. I wanted to be true to all aspects of my identity in all situations, but how? History is full of people who’ve questioned and adapted at the intersections of gender and religion. I learn from their journeys and add another piece of the puzzle.

Lisa's book list on how we got so confused about women, gender, and Christianity

Lisa McClain Why did Lisa love this book?

Cooke’s hilarious, spot-on exploration of how we humans create our understandings of female nature and capabilities may seem an odd starting point, but bear with me.

Cooke exposes how scientists and scholars for centuries have mis-reported and normalized views about males and females that have little to do with actual science and much to do with the gendered attitudes of the scientists. We all have presumptions about gender roles we don’t question.

But to explore the intersections of gender and faith we need to become aware of our pre-conceptions and how we got them. From Dick the sage grouse to elder female leadership within orca pods, you’ll be laughing while gob-smacked at the shaky biological foundation of many of our gender presumptions about what is “natural” for males and females.

By Lucy Cooke,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

Maddalena Bearzi Author Of Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times

From my list on what animals feel and think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been passionate about nature since childhood. In my youth, I spent many summers on a pristine shore in Sardinia, snorkeling in a sea full of life. Later on, I became a scientist, conservationist, and author. My research on dolphins in California represents one of the longest studies worldwide. I co-wrote Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins, authored Dolphin Confidential, and Stranded, and written for many media, including National Geographic. My goal is to share my love for nature and what I have learned from it, with the hope to instill a deeper appreciation for wildlife and involve others in the protection of our planet.

Maddalena's book list on what animals feel and think

Maddalena Bearzi Why did Maddalena love this book?

This is another amazing nonfiction book by ecologist and New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina.

With his usual exquisite prose, the author delves deep into the lives and feelings of other beings, from elephants to dolphins. And once again, Safina does an outstanding job in uncovering the secrets of the natural world that surrounds us using many of his personal experiences in the wild and his wonderful ability to tell stories to the general public.

By Carl Safina,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beyond Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?

Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina's landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and animals. Travelling to the threatened landscape of Kenya to witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then on to Yellowstone…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in social evolution, nature versus nurture, and Charles Darwin?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about social evolution, nature versus nurture, and Charles Darwin.

Social Evolution Explore 15 books about social evolution
Nature Versus Nurture Explore 30 books about nature versus nurture
Charles Darwin Explore 54 books about Charles Darwin