The best brain books

Who picked these books? Meet our 133 experts.

133 authors created a book list connected to the brain, and here are their favorite brain books.
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What type of brain book?


The Winner's Bible

By Kerry Spackman,

Book cover of The Winner's Bible: Rewire Your Brain for Permanent Change

Marlies Hobbs Author Of FLY: Financially Literate Youth

From the list on a financially savvy future.

Who am I?

Jai and Marlies are a husband and wife team, originally from Cairns and now based in Noosa. Jai is a mortgage broker with over 18 years’ experience, and Marlies is a former property development lawyer with a passion for education and creative projects. They have two sons, Troy and Zac, a cavoodle, Ruby, and horses, Zoe and Twisty. Together they have built more than 10 properties, started, owned and operated several businesses, including a mortgage brokerage, retail shop and cafes, a franchise company, online shop, ready-made meal business, and property developments.

Marlies' book list on a financially savvy future

Discover why each book is one of Marlies' favorite books.

Why did Marlies love this book?

When you understand that success is heavily dependent upon your mindset, you will unleash your true potential.

This powerful neuroscience-based book helps explain the inner workings of the human brain, what makes us tick, what holds us back, and proven strategies to permanently rewire your brain and transform your life.

Combining this knowledge of the brain with financial literacy is a true recipe for success in my opinion!  

By Kerry Spackman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

World-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Kerry Spackman shows you how to use and customize the groundbreaking tools he pioneered for elite athletes, Olympic champions, and upper-echelon businesspeople to permanently rewire your brain and transform your life.

THE WINNER'S BIBLE gives you mental and emotional tools that can change your natural desires and rid you of habits that limit your happiness or potential. Dr. Spackman provides practical, proven techniques for acquiring the strengths necessary to grow into a better, happier, and more powerful person. He's used these techniques to genuinely revolutionize the lives of normal people, sports stars, business people and even drug…

Phantoms in the Brain

By V.S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee,

Book cover of Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Richard Passingham Author Of Cognitive Neuroscience: A Very Short Introduction

From the list on the human brain.

Who am I?

I have worked on the brain in Oxford since 1970, and my job also required me to teach students, not just in lectures but also in tutorials. This taught me how to communicate clearly. In my own scientific work, I was amongst the first to use functional brain imaging to visualize the human brain at work. I have written seven books and edited an eighth. My particular specialisation is decision making and the brain areas (such as the prefrontal cortex) that support it. I have just published a monograph of nearly 500 pages on the prefrontal cortex, aimed at other scientists in the field. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society. 

Richard's book list on the human brain

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

Ramachandran is famous for studying some of the disorders that can be produced for the brain. One such is phantom limb pain. Some people who have had an arm amputated continue to feel that arm, and even to have pain in it. Ramachandran devised an ingenious experiment to try to abolish that feeling. This and other clever ideas are described in this book. Readers will quickly appreciate that science is like the humanities in requiring creativity.

By V.S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Phantoms in the Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran is internationally renowned for uncovering answers to the deep and quirky questions of human nature that few scientists have dared to address. His bold insights about the brain are matched only by the stunning simplicity of his experiments -- using such low-tech tools as cotton swabs, glasses of water and dime-store mirrors. In Phantoms in the Brain, Dr. Ramachandran recounts how his work with patients who have bizarre neurological disorders has shed new light on the deep architecture of the brain, and what these findings tell us about who we are, how we construct our body image,…

The Psychopath Inside

By James Fallon,

Book cover of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain

Jeri Fink Author Of Broken by Evil

From the list on psychopaths.

Who am I?

I’m a family therapist and author with a lot of experience in psychopathic behavior. Psychopathy falls on a spectrum – from a few traits to the extreme (serial killer) and everything in-between. Studies have shown that strong psychopathic behavior is common in our leaders – political, religious, business, and cultural. There’s also the psychopath “next door” – people we work, play, and live with. As an author, therapist, and researcher, I’m passionate about the subject – constantly examining psychopathic behaviors. I hope you enjoy my Broken Books Series which features different types of psychopaths in both the present and past, and my booklist that explores this fascinating subject.

Jeri's book list on psychopaths

Discover why each book is one of Jeri's favorite books.

Why did Jeri love this book?

Can you imagine being a neuroscientist who specializes in identifying psychiatric disorders from brain scans, finds a scan of a psychopath, and it’s his? That’s what happened to Dr. James Fallon, leading to this book that discusses the inner workings – psychological and physiological – of a psychopath. Merging genetic, structural, and environmental factors, Fallon brings you “into the dark side of the brain,” explaining the science and his personal experience as a non-violent psychopath. He examines psychopathy at all levels, helping you understand the true nature from “functional” to criminal. I could not put this down – it’s a story not to be missed!

By James Fallon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Compelling, essential reading for understanding the underpinnings of psychopathy.” — M. E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath

For his first fifty-eight years, James Fallon was by all appearances a normal guy. A successful neuroscientist and professor, he’d been raised in a loving family, married his high school sweetheart, and had three kids and lots of friends. Then he learned a shocking truth that would not only disrupt his personal and professional life, but would lead him to question the very nature of his own identity.

While researching serial killers, he uncovered a pattern in their brain scans that…


By Gordon M. Shepherd,

Book cover of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

Stan Hieronymus Author Of For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops

From the list on about aroma and flavor.

Who am I?

When I began research on For the Love of Hops about 70 percent of the hops grown worldwide were valued simply for the bitterness they added to beer, but that was about to flip completely. Today, new varieties like Citra and Mosaic are powerful brands, with aromas and flavors that hops never exhibited in the past. That’s why the book begins with a deep dive into how and why we smell and taste what we do, something these books helped me better understand.

Stan's book list on about aroma and flavor

Discover why each book is one of Stan's favorite books.

Why did Stan love this book?

Gordon Shepherd gave the developing science of neurogastronomy – which studies how the human brain perceives food from the information processed through smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing – its name. A leading expert on olfaction, he is perfectly qualified to draw the link between aroma and flavor, and why Luca Turin would claim that smell provides 90 percent of what we taste. His description of the importance of retronasal smell, and the mechanics involved, turned a term that was fun to toss around tasting beer with friends into a revelation.

By Gordon M. Shepherd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed. Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, particularly the way it stimulates the nose from the back of the mouth. As we eat, the brain conceptualizes smells as spatial patterns, and from these and the other senses it constructs the perception…


By Kevin J. Mitchell,

Book cover of Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are

Mark Humphries Author Of The Spike: An Epic Journey Through the Brain in 2.1 Seconds

From the list on how brains actually work.

Who am I?

I’m a British neuroscientist and writer who’s been using computers to study the brain since 1998, and writing about it since 2016. How I ended up a neuroscientist is hard to explain, for my formative years were spent devouring science books that were not about the brain. That’s partly because finding worthwhile books about the brain is so hard – few delve into how the brain actually works, into the kinds of meaty details that, for example, Hawking offered us on physics and Dawkins on evolution. So I wrote one to solve that problem; and the books on my list are just that too: deep, insightful works on how the brain does what it does.

Mark's book list on how brains actually work

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

We neuroscientists know a lot about how brains are, but not how they come to be. This book fills that huge hole: it explains how genetics and development shape the growing brain, and the consequences this has for our personalities and our mental disorders. Mitchell’s thesis is that the stochastic nature of development is key to understanding much of the variation between brains, and it has changed the way I think about the wiring of brains.

By Kevin J. Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A leading neuroscientist explains why your personal traits are more innate than you think

What makes you the way you are-and what makes each of us different from everyone else? In Innate, leading neuroscientist and popular science blogger Kevin Mitchell traces human diversity and individual differences to their deepest level: in the wiring of our brains. Deftly guiding us through important new research, including his own groundbreaking work, he explains how variations in the way our brains develop before birth strongly influence our psychology and behavior throughout our lives, shaping our personality, intelligence, sexuality, and even the way we perceive…

Holding Up the Universe

By Jennifer Niven,

Book cover of Holding Up the Universe

Kris Dinnison Author Of You And Me And Him

From the list on YA with fabulous plus-size heroines.

Who am I?

I have always felt like a bit of a misfit. I was taller, bigger, and clumsier than the other kids. I listened to the wrong music, wore the wrong clothes, and read the wrong books. I wasn’t cool. And when I became a high school teacher, I saw many kids, especially young women, who I could see felt the same. When Young Adult literature came into its own, I really loved all the wonderful ways YA stories were telling the stories of the kids who didn’t fit in, and it made me want to read them, and eventually write one of my own.

Kris' book list on YA with fabulous plus-size heroines

Discover why each book is one of Kris' favorite books.

Why did Kris love this book?

I picked up this book because I loved Niven’s beautiful novel All The Bright Places, and she did not disappoint. The way Libby, once known as “America’s Fattest Teen,” deals with her unwelcome notoriety, as well as the death of her mother and her grieving father, is genuine and honest. As is her desire to make a new life and identify for herself as she enters high school. Her relationship with the handsome and popular Jack, and her ability to see through his façade, happens because she takes the time to be curious about what’s beyond the surface.

By Jennifer Niven,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gorgeously written and oh-so-deeply felt - Nicola Yoon, author of Everything Everything and The Sun is Also a Star

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see (and love) someone for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout.
I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Once dubed 'America's Fattest Teen', she is only seen for her weight. Not the girl underneath.

Since her mum's death she's been…


By Jim Kwik,

Book cover of Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life

Jennice Vilhauer Author Of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind's Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life

From the list on improving your life.

Who am I?

I’m a psychologist in Los Angeles specializing in helping people identify their blind spots and break the cycles of their past by retraining their mindset about the future. I developed a new treatment called Future Directed Therapy and I’ve been helping people build better lives for over 15 years. I’m very passionate about empowering my clients to find practical skills and tools for taking charge of their emotional health and achieving the things they want in life. I recommend these books to my clients on a regular basis and find inspiration in them for my own blog Living Forward which I write as a featured expert for Psychology Today

Jennice's book list on improving your life

Discover why each book is one of Jennice's favorite books.

Why did Jennice love this book?

I’m always saying to my clients, “Everything in life comes with a user manual these days except your brain.” That is, until Jim Kwik wrote his book Limitless. People often feel distressed when they aren’t able to make their brain do what they want it to do, such as focusing, remembering old things, or learning new things. This book translates into a useable form, what neuroscience has shown us is how our brains work. With this book it is now possible to make your brain work for you. If you have a brain, you should not be without this book.

By Jim Kwik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the last 25 years, Jim Kwik has helped everyone from celebrities to CEOs to students improve their memory, increase their decision-making skills, learn to speed-read and unleash their superbrains.

In Limitless, readers will learn Jim's revolutionary strategies and shortcuts to break free from their perceived limitations. They'll learn how to supercharge their brains with simple, actionable tools to sharpen the mind, enhance focus and fast-track their fullest potential.

The book is organized into four sections: Mindset, Motivation, Meta-Learning and Mission. Readers will discover the myths they've been told about their IQ, abilities and skillset; understand why learning matters; learn…

Success Through Manipulation

By Colin Christopher, Chris Simon (illustrator),

Book cover of Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make Or Break You

Sandy Graham Author Of You Speak For Me Now

From the list on to influence human society.

Who am I?

Over the past decade, I’ve become very concerned with the direction authoritarianism is taking human society. It’s a global problem that now infects America, leaving us with a partisan divide we may not be able to bridge. My recommended books helped me understand the situation and how one might speak out against this negative force effectively. Convinced that bombarding readers with facts alone is useless, I chose to provide a novel that is interesting and captivates readers. My goal is to entice readers to press on to the end regardless of their political persuasion, in hopes that along the way some thought will be devoted to the issues raised.

Sandy's book list on to influence human society

Discover why each book is one of Sandy's favorite books.

Why did Sandy love this book?

Our future is determined by us, and our actions are determined by our thought processes. In other words, the future of human society can be influenced by manipulating group thought. Colin applies years of training and experience as a hypnotist to give us a view of how the human brain functions and how it can be manipulated.

He views it as two computing systems. A subconscious mind performing 40 million tasks/second deals only in the present, ignoring abstract things like “yesterday,” “don’t,” etc. The second conscious mind uses 40 tasks/second to control and program the first. It doesn’t exist in babies and develops during childhood. How that growth is managed determines its adult thought process and ultimately group thought. Colin provides insights on how it can be manipulated for good or bad results.

By Colin Christopher, Chris Simon (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

MANIPULATIONGet it, before it gets you! Do you realize you are being manipulated, or are you oblivious? Do you know who or what is manipulating you? Can you identify the manipulation? If you can identify it, can you do anything about it? How is manipulation affecting you? Can you change these effects? Can you use them to your advantage?Success through Manipulation delves deeply into how you think and how your mind reacts to your environment, friends, family, work, and much more.Learn how to stop reacting, become consciously aware and take control of your mind. Manipulate your thinking and become more…

Book cover of Fear Of Mum-Death and The Shadow Men

Danny Noble Author Of Shame Pudding: A Graphic Memoir

From the list on comics that let you sneak into someone else’s brain.

Who am I?

I was a funny little anxious kid, and still remember the relief of coming across friends who opened up and told their darkest thoughts and silliest moments. This is what I seek out in books and try to show in my own stories. To say...Look! We’re all deeply weird! You are not alone! Comics and graphic novels have such a unique and immediate way of whispering into your heart and it amazes me that so many people haven’t yet discovered what a wonderful art form they are. 

Danny's book list on comics that let you sneak into someone else’s brain

Discover why each book is one of Danny's favorite books.

Why did Danny love this book?

Wallis Eates is the master of picking scabs and upturning stones to see what scuttles beneath. And often among all the dirt and bugs, she finds such amazing treasure. In this book, she has such vivid and detailed memories I found myself staring into her wonderful pencil marks and time travelling back into the mind of my own little self and feeling all the fear and awe of those years. I was going to write, it's like happening upon someone’s secret diary, but it's so visceral, it's more like being Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap and suddenly, wonderfully finding yourself in someone else’s body for a minute.

By Wallis Eates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fear Of Mum-Death and The Shadow Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

The Developing Mind

By Daniel J. Siegel,

Book cover of The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are

Thomas R. Verny Author Of The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

From the list on neuroscience and the mind.

Who am I?

As a thirteen-year-old boy, I read Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and I became totally fascinated by Freud’s slow, methodical questioning that eventually revealed deeply hidden unconscious conflicts in the lives of his patients. Then and there I resolved to become a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, I explored my patients’ early memories. Over the years, I authored seven books, including The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, published in 28 countries now. I have previously taught at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, York University (Toronto), and St. Mary’s University. This book takes my studies of memory a step further and drills right down to the intelligence of cells.

Thomas' book list on neuroscience and the mind

Discover why each book is one of Thomas' favorite books.

Why did Thomas love this book?

I am a great admirer of Dr. Siegel who is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. This is a terrific book in which Siegel explores the role of interpersonal relationships in forging key connections in the brain. As he says, “Human connections shape neural connections, and each contributes to mind. Relationships and your personal linkages together shape the mind. It is more than the sum of its parts; this is the essence of emergence.” His description of brain architecture is excellent

Siegel’s emphasis on relationships is important and I fully agree with it. His take on the mind is interesting. He says, “The mind is a process that emerges from the distributed nervous system extended throughout the entire body and also from the communication patterns that occur within relationships.” I echo those sentiments in The Embodied Mind when I say that the mind is more…

By Daniel J. Siegel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This highly influential work--now in a revised and expanded third edition incorporating major advances in the field--gives clinicians, educators, and students a new understanding of what the mind is, how it grows, and how to promote healthy development and resilience. Daniel J. Siegel synthesizes cutting-edge research from multiple disciplines, revealing the ways in which neural processes are fundamentally shaped by interpersonal relationships throughout life. And even when early experiences are not optimal, building deeper connections to other people and to one's own internal experience remains a powerful resource for growth. Professors praise the book's utility in courses from developmental psychology…

The Master and His Emissary

By Iain McGilchrist,

Book cover of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Fernanda Pirie Author Of The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World

From the list on making us rethink global history.

Who am I?

I'm an anthropologist on a mission to discover how people have used, and abused, law over the past 4,000 years. After a decade in a wig and gown at the London Bar, I headed back to university to pursue a long-standing interest in Tibetan culture. I spent two years living with remote villagers and nomads, freezing over dung fires, herding yaks, and learning about traditional legal practices. Now, based at the University of Oxford, I’ve turned to legal history, comparing ancient Tibetan texts with examples from all over the world. The Rule of Laws brings a long sweep of legal history and its fascinating diversity to a wide audience.

Fernanda's book list on making us rethink global history

Discover why each book is one of Fernanda's favorite books.

Why did Fernanda love this book?

Philosopher and psychiatrist McGilchrist presented a bold thesis about the working of the human mind. It has profound implications for the way we understand human societies. We’ve long known that the two halves of the brain perform different functions but, using approachable case studies and clearly presenting the science, the first half of the book argues that the left, more rational, part of the brain is dangerously dominant. Controlling and grasping, it needs to remain subordinate to the more inclusive, humane, and intuitive functions of the right brain. McGilchrist goes on to trace the consequences for the development of human societies and their problems. The ideas linger, relevant to practically all aspects of our lives.

By Iain McGilchrist,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Master and His Emissary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A pioneering exploration of the differences between the brain's right and left hemispheres and their effects on society, history, and culture-"one of the few contemporary works deserving classic status" (Nicholas Shakespeare, The Times, London)

"Persuasively argues that our society is suffering from the consequences of an over-dominant left hemisphere losing touch with its natural regulative 'master' the right. Brilliant and disturbing."-Salley Vickers, a Guardian Best Book of the Year

"I know of no better exposition of the current state of functional brain neuroscience."-W. F. Bynum, TLS

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right and left hemispheres has been…

Before the Ever After

By Jacqueline Woodson,

Book cover of Before the Ever After

Darlene Beck Jacobson Author Of Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully

From the list on in verse with emotional themes.

Who am I?

I love the way verse novels eliminate unnecessary background and scene-setting. They cut straight to the heart of conflict and emotions. We instantly feel what the characters feel. The lyrical flow of words, figurative language, and freedom to arrange the poems in different ways on the pages taps into a different creativity for an author. Each poem stands alone, telling its own story. While writing Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully, eleven-year-old Jack insisted I tell the story his way. Raw, unflinching, unfiltered. I am in love with this form and plan to write more novels in this format. The book is a 2021 NCTE notable verse novel.

Darlene's book list on in verse with emotional themes

Discover why each book is one of Darlene's favorite books.

Why did Darlene love this book?

This book lets young readers know that not every ending is neatly tied up in a bow. It helps readers understand that pro sports can cause serious injury to players and affect the lives of their families. Even if you aren’t a football fan, you can relate to the conflicting emotions of the main character ZJ as he comes to terms with the changes he sees in his football-hero father after numerous concussions. A thought-provoking subject that is sure to spark conversations.

By Jacqueline Woodson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies.

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things…

Book cover of Who Switched Off My Brain?: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions

Roxane Lapa Author Of How I Overcame Panic Disorder Without Drugs

From the list on overcoming anxiety.

Who am I?

I’ve experienced crippling anxiety personally, to the point of nervous breakdown. I’ve researched this topic extensively and have been panic-free for over a decade due to the knowledge and coping skills accrued.

Roxane's book list on overcoming anxiety

Discover why each book is one of Roxane's favorite books.

Why did Roxane love this book?

Caroline Leaf is a brain scientist who has specialized in the science of thoughts for decades. She is also a Christian. In this book, she explains scientifically (though in layman's terms) how our thoughts affect our bodies, and even our genes (epigenetics). She shows how to utilize this knowledge to better our mental and physical health. I really believe this is an important book that should be read by almost everyone at some point in their lives. I see that she has a new book called 101 Ways to Be Less Stressed: Simple Self-Care Strategies to Boost Your Mind, Mood, and Mental Health which may be even more pertinent to the subject, though I haven’t yet read it.

By Caroline Leaf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Switched Off My Brain? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We're living in an epidemic of toxic emotions.

Research shows that as much as 87% to 95% of mental and physical illnesses are a direct result of toxic thinking-proof that our thoughts affect us physically and emotionally.

In this best-selling book, Dr. Caroline Leaf clearly communicates 13 ways to detox your thought life and live a life of physical, mental, and emotional wholeness.

Book cover of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

S.R. Algernon Author Of Cooling Season

From the list on science fiction that will change your perspective.

Who am I?

I am an American author and have been an avid reader of science fiction for nearly forty years. I studied science fiction in college, along with biology and other subjects. My undergraduate honors thesis was a discussion of postwar Japanese science fiction that included a translation from the original. I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and have published papers on learning in machines, humans, and humpback whales. I have taught and studied in Japan and Singapore, and critiqued fiction for several years with I have published many science fiction stories from various perspectives. The Hugo finalist, "Asymmetrical Warfare" tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth from the invader’s perspective.

S.R.'s book list on science fiction that will change your perspective

Discover why each book is one of S.R.'s favorite books.

Why did S.R. love this book?

This Japanese novel is actually two interleaved and interconnected stories, one set in the bustling, alienating landscape of contemporary Japan and the other taking place… well, as the title suggests, at the End of the World. It makes for a gripping page-turner with a unique perspective on the human mind.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami's international following.

Tracking one man's descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.

The Music of Erich Zann

By H. P. Lovecraft,

Book cover of The Music of Erich Zann

Harrison Demchick Author Of Reptiles: A Short Story

From the list on short horror stories on why my brain works this way.

Who am I?

I'm perhaps the inevitable result of a lifetime spent on a steady diet of magical realism, literary fiction, science-fiction, and Spider-Man comics. Fortunately I’ve been able to channel my simultaneous loves of storytelling and structure into a life as a developmental editor. And where my own work is concerned, I’ve been able to do a lot of those things my childhood self might have hoped for: a novel in The Listeners, a feature film in Ape Canyon, and a litany of strange and usually distressing short stories. These days I do those things from my Washington, D.C. apartment with my wife and our two cats with a combined seven legs.

Harrison's book list on short horror stories on why my brain works this way

Discover why each book is one of Harrison's favorite books.

Why did Harrison love this book?

I don’t think most Lovecraft fans casual or devoted would single out The Music of Erich Zann, given the staying power of the Cthulhu mythos and everything associated with it. But what causes Lovecraft’s work to resonate so many decades later is his mastery over the disquieting, and this story about music channeled from a horrific place played on a street that doesn’t seem to exist by a violinist terrified and compelled to keep playing has stayed with me more than any of Lovecraft’s other stories in the years since I read it. Maybe it’s the musician in me, or maybe it’s the distortions of reality that tend to crop up in my own writing. Either way it’s striking, and a good introduction to the strangeness of H. P. Lovecraft.

By H. P. Lovecraft,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An old mute man plays viol but his music has a terrible secret.
The Music of Erich Zann is a short horror story by H.P. Lovecraft.

See What I'm Saying

By Lawrence D. Rosenblum,

Book cover of See What I'm Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of Our Five Senses

M. Leona Godin Author Of There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness

From the list on blindness and the brain.

Who am I?

Thanks to a degenerative retinal eye disease, I’ve lived on pretty much every notch of the sight-blindness continuum. While going blind super slowly I’ve engaged with the science of seeing and not-seeing as an  academic and artist for about 25 years. I like to say that there are as many ways of being blind as there are of being sighted, there are just fewer of us. Besides teaching literature and humanities courses at NYU, I’ve lectured on art, accessibility, technology, and disability at universities and institutions around the country. I love sharing stories about the brain on blindness, and hope you find my recommendations as fascinating as I do.

M.'s book list on blindness and the brain

Discover why each book is one of M.'s favorite books.

Why did M. love this book?

Perceptual psychologist Lawrence Rosenblum’s book changed the way I thought about my brain on blindness and gave me hope about its ability to adapt. I was astonished by blind painters and mountain bikers, but more importantly, I learned that what often strike us as superpowers, are actually the result of practice and the cross-modal plasticity of the brain. The sighted brains that change after only five days of blindfold and intensive braille training, the experiments that demonstrate how humans can follow a scent trail, and the ways blind people (and sighted people) use echolocation to learn about their micro and macro environments (even if they are not always conscious of it), are just some of Rosenblum’s many examples that are as fun as they are fascinating.

By Lawrence D. Rosenblum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked See What I'm Saying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this revealing romp through the mysteries of human perception, University of California psychologist Lawrence D. Rosenblum explores the astonishing abilities of the five senses-skills of which most of us are unaware. Drawing on groundbreaking insights into the brain's plasticity and integrative powers, Rosenblum examines how our brains use the subtlest information to perceive the world. A blind person, for example, can "see" through bat-like echolocation, wine connoisseurs can actually taste the vintage of an obscure wine, and pheromones can signal a lover's compatibility. Bringing us into the world of a blind detective, a sound engineer, a former supermodel, and…

How Dogs Love Us

By Gregory Berns,

Book cover of How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain

Jacki Skole Author Of Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America's Dog Problem

From the list on dogs and their people.

Who am I?

Do you ever wonder what your dog’s life was like before he became part of your family? Or what your dog is thinking when she stares at you? I’m a journalist, and when I get curious about something, I start asking questions, and I read. A lot. When I started researching the book that would become Dogland, I began collecting dog books of all kinds: novels, memoirs, nonfiction. Now I review dog books for EcoLit Books, an online journal featuring works with animal welfare and environmental themes. The books listed below—a mix of fiction and nonfiction—are some of my favorites. 

Jacki's book list on dogs and their people

Discover why each book is one of Jacki's favorite books.

Why did Jacki love this book?

I am forever wondering what goes on in the deep recesses of my dogs’ brains. (Except if it’s 5:00 p.m. and my Labrador-mix locks eyes on me. Then, I know it’s dinner time.) It’s this desire to peer into my dogs’ heads that attracted me to Gregory Berns’ pioneering research. In 2011, Berns came up with the radical notion that dogs could be trained to enter an MRI machine and remain still long enough to have their brains scanned and thus, studied. Many doubted him, but Berns and his Terrier-mix Callie proved them wrong. This is their incredible story.

By Gregory Berns,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Dogs Love Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal bestseller.

The powerful bond between humans and dogs is one that's uniquely cherished. Loyal, obedient, and affectionate, they are truly "man's best friend." But do dogs love us the way we love them? Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns had spent decades using MRI imaging technology to study how the human brain works, but a different question still nagged at him: What is my dog thinking?

After his family adopted Callie, a shy, skinny terrier mix, Berns decided that there was only one way to answer that question-use an MRI machine to scan the dog's brain. His…

Book cover of Finding the Magic in Middle School: Tapping Into the Power and Potential of the Middle School Years

Ryan Rydzewski and Gregg Behr Author Of When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids

From the list on teaching creative, curious, caring kids.

Who are we?

For more than five years, we’ve been asking ourselves a question: How? How did Mister Rogers help millions of kids feel accepted, special, and safe? Was there a method to what he did? Was there a blueprint he left behind—one that we might continue to learn from today? The answer, of course, is yes. In fact, we’re only scratching the surface of what we can learn from Fred Rogers and the incredible educators, researchers, and authors who are following in his footsteps. We hope you’ll find echoes of the Neighborhood—and the feelings that Fred inspired—in each of the books we’ve listed here.

Ryan's book list on teaching creative, curious, caring kids

Discover why each book is one of Ryan's favorite books.

Why did Ryan love this book?

Middle school gets a bad rap.

It’s synonymous with petty gossip and nervous insecurity—a time that many adults would rather forget. But as author Chris Balme shows, middle school can also be magical. By taking us into the adolescent brain, Finding the Magic in Middle School helps parents and teachers understand the challenges—and the potential—unique to these oft-maligned years.

By Chris Balme,

Why should I read it?

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

Mud Vein

By Tarryn Fisher,

Book cover of Mud Vein

Emma Scott Author Of Full Tilt

From the list on romance whose authors go outside the box.

Who am I?

I’m a writer who values telling difficult stories that don’t always cohere to the idea of the “light, fluffy” romance. I write about social issues, grief, trauma, and do my utmost to research whatever topics my characters endure in order to do justice to readers who share these experiences. Having suffered a major trauma myself (my eldest daughter passed away at the age of ten), I’m very interested in stories that deal with characters overcoming tremendous obstacles in order to reach their happily ever afters. I love writing (and reading) stories that go outside the box, that give the reader something more than what they were expecting, couched in solid writing, and possessing all the feels.

Emma's book list on romance whose authors go outside the box

Discover why each book is one of Emma's favorite books.

Why did Emma love this book?

I could actually list all of Fisher’s romances or her newer psychological thrillers under this banner of writing that is outside the box. She has taken the idea of “writing fearlessly” and run with it. Lives by it. There is nothing typical about Mud Vein, with prose that feels like mild electric shocks to the brain one minute and brings you to tears the next. It reads as though Fisher doesn’t waste time questioning herself or second-guessing her words—they’re alive and vibrant, and that’s highly aspirational. I have "write fearlessly" literally tattooed on my body, so I take it seriously. ;) 

By Tarryn Fisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat…and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.


By Mark Bear, Barry Connors, Michael A. Paradiso

Book cover of Neuroscience: Exploring The Brain

Jo Owen Author Of The Mindset of Success: Accelerate Your Career from Good Manager to Great Leader

From the list on helping to think, live, and lead better.

Who am I?

I am an accidental guru on leadership, as a result of starting Teach First which is now the UK’s largest graduate recruiter. I discovered that the best leaders are not always the most skilled. That set me on a 20 year quest to discover their secret X-Factor: their mindset. I have conducted thousands of original interviews plus studying neuroscience with Harvard and Positive Psychology with the University of Pennsylvania. I also practice what I preach: I have set up 7 NGOs with turnover of £100m, started a bank, and built a business in Japan. It has been a life-enhancing journey of discovery: I hope you enjoy it too.

Jo's book list on helping to think, live, and lead better

Discover why each book is one of Jo's favorite books.

Why did Jo love this book?

Let’s face it, this book is heavy. It is a university textbook, so it requires hard work. But it is worth it.

This is a magical mystery tour into the bizarre wonders of our own brains: why spend a fortune exploring the world when you can explore your own brain sitting in a chair, for free?

By the end of it, I was left ruminating over how we really see and think and over reality itself. The book is your entry ticket to a world of wonder: your own brain.

The book is a massive antidote to all the pop psychology books out there, and will enable you to be a far more critical and insightful reader of such books.

By Mark Bear, Barry Connors, Michael A. Paradiso

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Acclaimed for its clear, friendly style, excellent illustrations, leading author team, and compelling theme of exploration, Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain, 4e takes a fresh, contemporary approach to the study of neuroscience, emphasizing the biological basis of behavior. The authors' passion for the dynamic field of neuroscience is evident on every page, engaging students and helping them master the material.

In just a few years, the field of neuroscience has been transformed by exciting new technologies and an explosion of knowledge about the brain. The human genome has been sequenced, sophisticated new methods have been developed for genetic engineering, and new…