The best books on cognition 📚

Browse the best books on cognition as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Social Cognition: From Brains to Culture

Social Cognition: From Brains to Culture

By Susan T. Fiske, Shelley E. Taylor

Why this book?

The new fourth edition of the classic text on cognitive social psychology with many important implications for understanding consumer psychology. The authors are leading researchers and the text is organized using an information processing perspective. The text covers classic social psychological topics, such as person perception, person memory, stereotyping, attitudes and persuasion, causal inference, and decision making. The text is science-based, high level, but also very readable and appropriate for a general audience.

From the list:

The best books on consumer psychology

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Book cover of The 'Other' Psychology of Julian Jaynes: Ancient Languages, Sacred Visions, and Forgotten Mentalities

The 'Other' Psychology of Julian Jaynes: Ancient Languages, Sacred Visions, and Forgotten Mentalities

By Brian J. McVeigh

Why this book?

In The ‘Other’ Psychology of Julian Jaynes, Brian J. McVeigh  one of the world’s foremost scholars of Julian Jaynes’s theory — both provide new empirical evidence for the theory, extends Jaynes’s theory into new areas, and explains how Jaynes's thinking actually resonates with a “second” or “other” psychological tradition that explores the cultural-historical evolution of psyche. This thought-provoking book will deepen your understanding of many aspects of Jaynes’s theory, including evidence for the transition from bicamerality to subjective consciousness in ancient history, the surprising ubiquity of hearing voices in modern times (a vestige of the bicameral mind), the…

From the list:

The best books on the bicameral mind

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Book cover of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

By Cal Newport

Why this book?

This book has such an annoyingly catchy title! I really wish I'd come up with that. The central premise is that if we eliminate distractions and really make space to do real quality thinking, that's what makes us productive. I am totally on board with that and very much share Cal's view of the importance of deep work, and he explains it so well. Also, Cal has been on my podcast, Beyond Busy, twice, and he is such a great guy.
From the list:

The best productivity books from a productivity ninja

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Book cover of Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts

Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts: A CBT-Based Guide to Getting Over Frightening, Obsessive, or Disturbing Thoughts

By Sally M. Winston, Martin N. Seif

Why this book?

I frequently recommend this book to people who suffer from intrusive thoughts. Most people who suffer from intrusive thoughts try to “not think” them, which ultimately makes them stronger and more frequent. This book helps people understand the nature of intrusive thoughts and offers very practical and empirically demonstrated effective strategies for dealing with them. 

From the list:

The best books to read if you or a family member suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder

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Book cover of The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

By Annie Murphy Paul

Why this book?

I can’t stop thinking about this book. The premise: Our brain is a biological, evolved organ that’s very different from a computer. People who can tune into their bodies can more effectively use their brains. Annie cites studies of Wall Street traders who seem to make more money when they’re more “interoceptively” attuned — meaning, when they’re better at reading their own body signals. In other words, when I use my body, my surroundings, and my relationships to “think outside the brain,” I can make better decisions than people who don’t know how to do the same.
From the list:

The best books to help you manage stress, anxiety, and overthinking

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Book cover of Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

By Peter Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel

Why this book?

If you want a review of the most fundamental scientific discoveries on how people learn, this is a great place to start. It not only provides clear summaries of the science, but also provides a host of detailed real-world illustrations of how the science can be rooted in a wide-range of applications.

From the list:

The best books on the science of learning

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