100 books like White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts

By Daniel M. Wegner,

Here are 100 books that White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts fans have personally recommended if you like White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The God Delusion

Bruce M. Hood Author Of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable

From my list on magical thinking and superstition.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the supernatural and wanted to believe in the paranormal. On reaching university, I discovered there was no reliable evidence for such phenomena but rather there was a much more satisfying explanation based on the weaknesses and wishes of human psychology. Development is critical to human psychology and as I specialized in children’s thinking, I found more reasons to understand the natural origins of the peculiarities of our reasoning. SuperSense was my first popular science book to expound my ideas, but all of my subsequent books apply similar novel ways of explaining human behaviour from surprising perspectives. 

Bruce's book list on magical thinking and superstition

Bruce M. Hood Why did Bruce love this book?

This was the book that impelled me to write my own account of superstition. I could have also recommended his masterpiece, The Selfish Gene, which I read as a teenager and got me into science in the first place but this unforgiving attack on religion spurred me to write a more balanced view that considered religion as a naturally emerging consequence of cognitive development. In fairness, The God Delusion does briefly mention evidence in support of a natural inclination, but this is outweighed by an agenda (that I do not share) to eradicate religion as pernicious indoctrination. Whatever your opinion of Dawkins, he is undeniably one of the most gifted science writers with a clarity of argument combined with a poetic beauty of prose.

By Richard Dawkins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The God Delusion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types.

His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries…


Book cover of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Bryan Farha Author Of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims

From my list on critically analyzing paranormal claims.

Who am I?

As a licensed mental health professional, I once had a client claiming to be demonically possessed, and requested that I get an exorcist to drive the evil spirits out of her body. Instead, I utilized a therapeutic approach to challenge “irrational” beliefs. The problem was gone. I realized that people were prone to strange beliefs and started to read and listen to “experts” who were skeptical in nature. To my surprise, I saw Carl Sagan distinguishing astrology (pseudoscience) from astronomy (science). His talk was clear, convincing, and logical. I was hooked.

Bryan's book list on critically analyzing paranormal claims

Bryan Farha Why did Bryan love this book?

Michael Shermer systematically addresses why humans believe weird and extraordinary things. He even makes a case that we are hard-wired for it. Further—and this should make most of us feel better about our strange thinking—he shows how even highly intelligent people sometimes believe in pseudoscience and other extraordinary claims. 

By Michael Shermer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why People Believe Weird Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work presents a down-to-earth and sometimes funny survey of a range of contemporary irrationalisms, and explains their empirical and logical flaws. It tackles a variety of topics including creationism, Holocaust denial, race and IQ, cults and alien abductions, and the author looks at the research behind the claims and discredits the pseudoscience involved.


Book cover of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition

Bruce M. Hood Author Of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable

From my list on magical thinking and superstition.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the supernatural and wanted to believe in the paranormal. On reaching university, I discovered there was no reliable evidence for such phenomena but rather there was a much more satisfying explanation based on the weaknesses and wishes of human psychology. Development is critical to human psychology and as I specialized in children’s thinking, I found more reasons to understand the natural origins of the peculiarities of our reasoning. SuperSense was my first popular science book to expound my ideas, but all of my subsequent books apply similar novel ways of explaining human behaviour from surprising perspectives. 

Bruce's book list on magical thinking and superstition

Bruce M. Hood Why did Bruce love this book?

This book examines the psychology of superstition from the perspective of cognitive science and fallibility of human reasoning. Rather than dismissing superstitious behaviour, Vyse provides a comprehensive explanation of why we continue to hold such beliefs as a function of the way our minds work. This was the book that really inspired me to examine the developmental origins of magical thinking.

By Stuart A. Vyse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

While we live in a technologically and scientifically advanced age, superstition is as widespread as ever. Not limited to just athletes and actors, superstitious beliefs are common among people of all occupations, educational backgrounds, and income levels.

In this fully updated edition of Believing in Magic, renowned superstition expert Stuart Vyse investigates our tendency towards these irrational beliefs. Superstitions, he writes, are the natural result of several psychological processes, including our human sensitivity to coincidence, a penchant for developing rituals to fill time (to battle nerves, impatience, or both), our efforts to cope with uncertainty, the need for control, and…


Book cover of How We Know What Isn't So

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Who am I?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

One of Gilovich’s most famous papers is a (co-authored) 1985 study arguing that the widespread belief by athletes and fans that athletes get a “hot hand” is in fact a statistical illusion. This book is a compilation of similar examples of how everyone—even, or perhaps especially, the most highly educated—believe things that are doubtful or clearly wrong.

By Thomas Gilovich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How We Know What Isn't So as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas Gilovich offers a wise and readable guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life.

When can we trust what we believe-that "teams and players have winning streaks," that "flattery works," or that "the more people who agree, the more likely they are to be right"-and when are such beliefs suspect? Thomas Gilovich offers a guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life. Illustrating his points with examples, and supporting them with the latest research findings, he documents the cognitive, social, and motivational processes that distort our thoughts, beliefs, judgments and decisions. In a rapidly changing…


Book cover of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Devora Zack Author Of Singletasking: Get More Done one Thing at a Time

From my list on to singletask what matters most.

Who am I?

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” - Goethe. As Singletasking notes, we’ve become relentlessly disrespectful of the people and experiences right in front of us. Reversing this is a mission of mine. Nothing seems more important than redirecting our lifelong attention to what matters most. As an international author and speaker about both Singletasking and personality styles, I’m convinced paying attention to and honoring each other is the key to a meaningful life and deep relationships.

Devora's book list on to singletask what matters most

Devora Zack Why did Devora love this book?

The subtitle of Focus is The Hidden Driver of Excellence, yet this driver is arguably hidden no more upon the book’s release. As a journalist, psychologist, and top-notch researcher, Goleman is uniquely qualified to delve into the ‘science of attention.’ Plus, he has accumulated plenty of street cred from the various iterations of his Emotional Intelligence canon. 

Goleman compares attention to a muscle; requiring regular use to build it up. I couldn’t agree more. This premise is supported by myriad examples, accompanied by useful techniques for application in all aspects of life.

By Daniel Goleman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For more than two decades, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman has been scouting the leading edge of the human sciences for what's new, surprising, and important. In Focus, he delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset that matters enormously for how we navigate life. Goleman boils down attention research into a three parts: inner, other, and outer focus. Goleman shows why high-achievers need all three kinds of focus, as demonstrated by rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and…


Book cover of Me and My Feelings: A Kids' Guide to Understanding and Expressing Themselves

Jessica Sinarski Author Of What's Inside Your Backpack?

From my list on children’s books for mental health.

Who am I?

My super-power is making brain science accessible and entertaining for children and adults alike. I am living this out as an author, mental health counselor, and the founder of BraveBrains. In addition to training parents and professionals, I have the joy of sharing my passion and expertise through podcast appearances, blogs, and articles. The lightbulb moments are my favorite, and I'm committed to helping people bring what they learn home in practical ways. I write picture books because the magic of reading and re-reading stories light up the brain in a powerful way. But don’t worry…I always include some goodies for the adults in the back of the book.

Jessica's book list on children’s books for mental health

Jessica Sinarski Why did Jessica love this book?

This book lays a great foundation to help children understand their feelings (and the feelings of others). The author draws on her experience as a school counselor to expertly walk the reader through some essential social-emotional learning. The bright colors and clever illustrations keep kids engaged, and the activities throughout make this a fabulous title to use at home, school, or in the counseling office.⁠

By Vanessa Green Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Me and My Feelings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

When a big feeling comes along…you can handle it! Teach kids ages 7 to 10 how to manage their feelings.

Sometimes, emotions like anger or jealousy or excitement can seem too big to keep inside. Me and My Feelings is here to teach kids that it’s okay to have big feelings! They will learn how to calm down those strong emotions so they don’t feel overwhelmed and can continue to take on the world.

This book gives kids the skills to stay in control―by breathing deeply, saying positive things to themselves, talking about their feelings instead of keeping them inside,…


Book cover of Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self

Bonnie Evans Author Of The Metamorphosis of Autism: A History of Child Development in Britain

From my list on the making of the modern self.

Who am I?

My interest in this topic began after my father died when I was a young teenager and I was left looking for answers, explanations, and meanings. My dad was an architect and had written a book on Jeremy Bentham’s panoptican and prison architecture published before the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s famous Discipline and Punish. A small collection of Foucault’s books stood prominently on my father’s bookshelves and I really wanted to understand them. At university I studied all of Foucault’s works and many authors inspired by him. These are the best books that explain how we have developed philosophical and psychological theories to understand ourselves in the contemporary world.

Bonnie's book list on the making of the modern self

Bonnie Evans Why did Bonnie love this book?

Nikolas Rose’s exceptional book Governing the Soul expanded Foucault’s arguments, focusing on how government networks were created in collaboration with psychological specialists in the 20th century to create unique webs of expertise that helped individuals to manage and govern themselves. The result is an excellent exposition of the theory of governmentality. Rose begins with a discussion of how the Second World War encouraged new forms of ‘psychological warfare,’ where strength of mind could be assessed and selected to create the most successful fighting subjects. This created a group of professionals who also advised on the organisation of labour forces and who could teach the population to be productive and contented workers.

This expertise was extended to training children as young citizens who had to adapt to government needs via schools and social services. Rose’s point is that this created a system of power and government that was not top-down…

By Nikolas Rose,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work is now widely recognised as one of the founding texts in a new approach to analyzing the links between political power, expertise and the self. This "governmentality" perspective has had important implications for a range of academic disciplines including criminology, political theory, sociology and psychology and has generated much theoretical innovation and empirical investigation. This second edition adds a new introduction setting out the methodological and conceptual bases of this approach and a new final chapter that considers some of the implications of recent developments in the government of subjectivity.


Book cover of Good Different

Heather Murphy Capps Author Of Indigo and Ida

From my list on middle grade with diverse characters and big topics.

Who am I?

I’m a mixed-race author passionate about amplifying diversity and diverse authors and committed to growing the category of “Upper Middle Grade” for readers who are ready for tough topics but not yet ready for the more socially complex YA category. As an author, I get to spend a lot of time with 5-8th graders when I visit schools, plus, I’m a mother of two (tween and teen), a parent leader in my kids’ schools, and a public education equity activist. These connections give me a close-up view into just how ready and eager this age group is to engage thoughtfully in big discussions.

Heather's book list on middle grade with diverse characters and big topics

Heather Murphy Capps Why did Heather love this book?

This stunning, absorbing novel-in-verse is about autistic Sela, who loves poetry and dragons. She’s learning to use her voice and set her own boundaries.

This big topic book really grabbed me and held on; I found myself flying through it, rooting for and connecting with how hard it was for Sela to be heard. Moreover, I appreciated the opportunity to learn about what it’s like to be neurodiverse, and how I can be a better, more understanding ally and friend—that part really mattered to me a lot.  

By Meg Eden Kuyatt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Good Different as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A debut novel-in-verse about understanding and celebrating
your own difference.
Selah knows her rules for being normal.

This means keeping her feelings locked tightly inside, despite
the way they build up inside her as each school day goes on, so
that she has to run to the bathroom and hide in the stall until she
can calm down. Selah feels like a dragon stuck in a world of humans,
but she knows how to hide it.

Until the day she explodes and hits a fellow student.

As her comfortable, familiar world crumbles around her, Selah
starts to figure out more…


Book cover of Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

Robert Pagliarini Author Of Badass Retirement: Shatter the Retirement Myth & Live with More Meaning, Money, and Adventure

From my list on retirement to help you create more meaning.

Who am I?

If my early childhood was any indication, I would be the last person you would want to take financial and retirement advice from. Why? Growing up, we never had any money! Every day was a struggle for my single mom of five. At an early age, I knew I didn’t want to be poor and struggle for everything. I knew I wanted to enjoy life and experience it to the fullest. I’d watch adventure movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and dream of going to exotic countries and on adventures like Indiana Jones. From those early years, I’ve been committed to creating and living the best life possible for myself and my clients.

Robert's book list on retirement to help you create more meaning

Robert Pagliarini Why did Robert love this book?

I’ve always been someone with big goals and driven to do more, but after listening to this book, I realized that I was setting my sights too low.

What I love about his story and message is that no matter where you start, there is always an opportunity for greatness. I think this is especially important to remember in retirement – it’s not the finish line. You’re just getting started.

If you are looking for that something more and want to be inspired, this book is an absolute must. The story is about retired Navy SEAL David Goggins, and holds no punches. He dishes about his abusive childhood, his struggles as a young adult, and his decision to want something more from life and from himself.

Listen to the audiobook if you can. The author and the narrator engage in a free-form spirited discussion at the end of each…

By David Goggins,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Can't Hurt Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Best Seller

Over 4 million copies sold

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare -- poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name…


Book cover of The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence, and Happiness

Alana Stott Author Of She Who Dares

From my list on helping you escape victimhood and keep you winning.

Who am I?

In life my motto has always been “The buck stops with me.” There is no room in life for excuses, blame, and victimhood. You need to build your own strength and resilience and not rely on others when it comes to your own successes. I have spent my life putting this mindset into practice and have surrounded myself with people, and books that keep me winning. 

Alana's book list on helping you escape victimhood and keep you winning

Alana Stott Why did Alana love this book?

Dr. Steve will blow your mind but introducing you to your chimp.

A being we all have within us that plays with our minds and is a wrecking ball! The chimp can work for you or against you! It's how you handle your chimp that counts and this book teaches you how to deal with him. Understanding your chimp will help you live a happier and healthier life!  

By Steve Peters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Do you sometimes behave irrationally or impulsively? Do you face some situations with fear and trepidation? Do feelings of self-doubt consume everyday activities?

Leading Consultant Psychiatrist, Prof Steve Peters, knows more than anyone how impulsive behaviour or nagging self-doubt can impact negatively on our professional and personal lives.

In this, his first book, Steve shares his phenomenally successful mind management programme that has been used to help elite athletes and senior managers alike to conquer their fears and operate with greater control, focus and confidence.

Seemingly complex concepts are made simple with the use of memorable analogies -- such as…


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