The best consciousness books

6 authors have picked their favorite books about consciousness and why they recommend each book.

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The Reality of Time

By Janet Iris Sussman,

Book cover of The Reality of Time

Most people think of time simply as a passive, mechanical tool for measuring reality. But in this groundbreaking book, Janet Sussman introduces the idea that time is a dynamic field responsible for creating the material universe. Readers interested in the study of consciousness will begin to understand the importance of time to the unfoldment of unity consciousness and self-realization. 

This book is a brilliant combination of the science of consciousness and human development, written in beautiful, lyrical language. It invites the reader into a world that is non-linear yet coherent. It causes the reader to quantum leap over the logical mind into an experiential event of time as one's own consciousness. The author describes her book as giving "voice to the freedom enjoyed by those who can transcend time through their own awareness and be free of imposed restrictions on the naturally holographic avenues of the mind."

The Reality of Time

By Janet Iris Sussman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This finely crafted work presents an experiential, wholly original perspective on the nature of time and human awareness. Physics readers will marvel at how quantum mechanics can be elucidated from the inside out. Readers interested in the study of consciousness will begin to understand the importance of time to the unfoldment of unity consciousness and self-realization.

Most people think of time simply as a passive, mechanical tool for measuring reality. The new idea introduced here is that time is a dynamic field responsible for creating the material universe. The Reality of Time seeks to explain that inner reality.

Janet Sussman…


Who am I?

Lilli Botchis, PhD, is a psycho-spiritual counselor, educator, and vibrational medicine developer with four decades of experience in advanced body/soul wellness and the development of higher consciousness. Her expertise includes botanicals, gems, color, flower essences, bio-energy therapies, and holographic soul readings. Lilli is an alchemist, mystic, and translator of Nature’s language as it speaks to our soul. A brilliant researcher in the field of consciousness, she understands the interconnectedness of Nature and the human being and is known as an extraordinary emissary of the natural world. Lilli has been inducted into the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller. Many seek her out for her visionary insights and compassionate wisdom.


I wrote...

Awakening the Holographic Human: Nature's Path to Healing and Higher Consciousness

By Elizabeth E. Botchis,

Book cover of Awakening the Holographic Human: Nature's Path to Healing and Higher Consciousness

What is my book about?

Awakening the Holographic Human is a comprehensive reference book on healing and higher consciousness through the use of the natural intelligence found in flowers, herbs, gems, color, the human energy system, and the astrological archetypes. It is for anyone interested in physical, psycho-spiritual, and emotional healing; personal and/or planetary transformation; the development of higher states of consciousness; and actualizing human potential.

This book takes one on a journey in learning how to live in a transpersonal state, not limited by conditions and beliefs, but invoking the Mystery, the sacred, the sublime beauty of being human. Written in a beautifully lyrical style, as one reader wrote, this book is more than a body of knowledge—it is a transmission of love and wisdom. In this book, Lilli reveals the light-encoded intelligence within each of Nature’s healing gifts. She shares her knowledge so that anyone can understand the nature of their personal reality and how to expand beyond it into something greater: the holographic human.

Is Consciousness Primary?

By Stephan A Schwartz (editor), Marjorie H Woollacott (editor), Gary E Schwartz (editor)

Book cover of Is Consciousness Primary?

This book includes essays by some of the foremost thought leaders of our time, on the topic of consciousness seen through the eyes of postmaterialist science. Each seeks a scientific understanding of consciousness that is not reducible to physical processes in the brain. Their intention is not to exclude traditional science and its reliance on neurology and the brain, but rather to reach for a broader view of reality, one that includes well documented nonphysical dimensions of conscious experience, including phenomena such as out-of-the-body and near-death experiences, as well as telepathy, precognition, and more.

Each of these authors is well known and respected in their own field and presents here the cream of a lifetime of research in these areas.

Is Consciousness Primary?

By Stephan A Schwartz (editor), Marjorie H Woollacott (editor), Gary E Schwartz (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Is Consciousness Primary? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Academy for the Advancement of Postmaterialist Sciences is publishing an Advances in Postmaterialist Sciences book series to educate scientists, students, and science-minded readers about postmate-rialist consciousness research and its applications. Our intent is that each volume combines rigor and creativity, expresses first person (inner expe-riences) as well as third person (external observations), and facilitates the betterment of humanity and the planet. Some volumes will address spe-cific topics or themes, others will be wide ranging and diverse collections of research topics. Collectively they will help define and advance the evolution of postmaterialist theory, research and applications.


Who am I?

I am a teacher and professor of psychology and consciousness studies. I have been fascinated by the enigma of consciousness my entire adult life. Over the years I have written and taught in a number of different fields including biology, psychology, history, art, and philosophy, always looking to the nature of consciousness, and always exploring its spiritual dimensions. My writings include the present selection, Consciousness Explained Better, described by Ken Wilber as “the finest book on consciousness in modern times, bar none” and The Radiance of Being, that shared a book of the year award with Nobel laureate Roger Penrose’s book, The Emperor’s New Mind. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Consciousness Explained Better: Towards an Integral Understanding of the Multifaceted Nature of Consciousness

What is my book about?

This book is about the nature of consciousness. I wrote it at the suggestion of my friend Ken Wilber. It is an effort to write a highly readable yet sophisticated book on consciousness. In it, I follow Wilber’s integral model of “all quadrants all levels.” This approach divides our perspectives of the world into inner or subjective vs. outer or objective, and into singular vs. plural. For example, my view of my own inner life is subjective and singular, whereas my perspective on my relationship with those I love most is subjective and plural.

On the other hand, if I am a scientist studying a particular example of a butterfly, I see it in a singular objective way, whereas a flock of butterflies is seen as objective and plural. Most scientific investigations are on the objective side of the fence, but much of psychology, and especially consciousness studies, is on the subjective side. In addition to the above, living things including minds and consciousness tend to grow over time through developmental stages. 

Zeno's Conscience

By Italo Svevo, William Weaver (translator),

Book cover of Zeno's Conscience

A doctor in early twentieth-century Trieste demands that an eccentric patient write his memoirs as a form of psychotherapy. These pages are those memoirs – the doctor calls them all lies – and form the fictional life story of one of my favourite misfits, the unreliable Zeno Cosini, with his horde of idiosyncrasies. Between proposing to three sisters within an hour and making a fortune on the stock market by mistake, he spends his time nurturing his hypochondria and trying to give up smoking, which means endlessly smoking ‘last cigarettes’. A seminal work of modernism, this is another novel with autobiographical ties to the author, and I left it torn between laughter and tears over just how complex, ironic and funny we humans can be.

Zeno's Conscience

By Italo Svevo, William Weaver (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A marvel of psychological insight from one of the most important Italian literary figures of the twentieth century

When vain, obsessive and guilt-ridden Zeno Cosini seeks help for his neuroses, his psychoanalyst suggests he writes his memoirs as a form of therapy. Zeno's account is an alternative reality, a series of elliptical episodes dealing with the death of his father, his career, his marriage and affairs, and, above all, his passion for smoking and his spectacular failure to resist the promise of that last cigarette. A hymn to self-delusion and procrastination, Svevo's devilishly funny portrayal of a man's attempt to…


Who am I?

Don’t ask me why I grew aware, from the earliest age, of living in more than one world. There seemed to be a strident world of what we said was happening, and a twilight world of what was really happening. I ended up liking and writing about the world of what really happens, because while all our seamless goal-driven plans are filling the air there’s this beautiful, whimsical, frail and often ridiculous world where we’re hapless and riddled with twists. The world of humanity. The backstage of laughter and tears. And for that, I present five outrageous old friends living in books from our strange human history.


I wrote...

Book cover of Vernon God Little: A 21st Century Comedy in the Presence of Death

What is my book about?

On the outskirts of a sweltering Texan town among willows, pumpjacks, and peeling wood dwellings, a fifteen-year-old under-achiever becomes the prime suspect for a high school shooting. Vernon Little’s coming-of-age suddenly meets the media, the madness of crowds, and his mother’s unfortunate psychology, as he desperately plots to run to Mexico. This extremely black comedy is an explosion of triggers from early 21st-century culture spun into an adventure that asks: what the hell is really going on?

Book cover of Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

I read this book again and again when I want to remember that death is not something to be terrified of. In fact, when I read this book, death feels more like a natural process that can be welcomed. I feel a kind of calmness towards the whole human race as we all seek to live, knowing that we will eventually die. To truly understand death, you also have to understand life.

Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

By Stephen Levine, Ondrea Levine,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book that explains how to open to the immensity of living with death—and how participating fully in life is the perfect preparation for whatever may come next.

In Who Dies?, the Levines provide calm compassion rather than the frightening melodrama of death.


Who am I?

I have been working with grieving individuals for over 30 years. Early in my career, I realized that my purpose in life was to help people who were grieving the loss of a loved one. I wrote my first book about grief over 25 years ago. It has been my mission to help people find light in the darkness. One way to do this is to have a broader perspective, to realize that there is more going on than we can see or understand. When you have a higher, broader perspective on your grief, you’re able to make meaning out of loss and find beauty in the brokenness.  


I wrote...

Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make It Meaningful

By Ashley Davis Bush,

Book cover of Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make It Meaningful

What is my book about?

Death doesn’t end a relationship, it simply forges a new type of relationship—one based not on physical presence but on memory, spirit, and love.

There are many wonderful books available that address acute grief and how to cope with it. But they often focus on crisis management and imply that there is an "end" to mourning, and fail to acknowledge grief’s ongoing impact and how it changes through the years. This book looks at grief over time and shows readers how to navigate the powerful grief journey, including ways to make meaning, to celebrate love, to stay connected to their loved ones, and to transcend to a level of healing.

Book cover of Consciousness Explained Better: Towards an Integral Understanding of the Multifaceted Nature of Consciousness

I have only recently become acquainted with Allan Combs, and consider myself very fortunate to be in correspondence with him regarding my book. As a serious student of synchronicity, I had read his book by that title (written with Mark Holland) and knew him to be a delightful writer and deep thinker on topics dear to my heart. Consciousness Explained Better, which demonstrates Allan’s depth and scope as a teacher of consciousness studies, contributed the perfect excerpt needed to support a concept at the very core of my book.

Consciousness Explained Better

By Allan Combs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Consciousness Explained Better is a unique contribution. This compact volume represents thousands of years of humanity's struggle to understand consciousness from a wide variety of perspectives. It is an up-to-date digest of the search in bite-sized chapters. Allan Combs has managed to encapsulate and synthesize vast bodies of thought and research without dilution. He has made even the most mind-twisting arguments and questions comprehensible, and he has brought forward scholarship and rigorous inquiry in language that speaks to the heart as well as the head. This book satisfies with its comprehensiveness yet intrigues with all that still remains enigmatic. It…


Who am I?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.


I wrote...

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture–drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner–and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

The Open-Focus Brain

By Les Fehmi, Jim Robbins,

Book cover of The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body

Les Fehmi (recently deceased, to my great sadness) was a mentor of mine from the early days of biofeedback training decades ago. He was truly one of the great pioneers in the study of consciousness and the brain. This book, co-authored with Jim Robbins, is a succinct presentation of his brilliant discoveries about the deep mysteries of attention as a gateway to experiencing the most subtle aspects of consciousness in general.

The Open-Focus Brain

By Les Fehmi, Jim Robbins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A breakthrough, drug-free approach to stress and stress-related illnesses—from anxiety and depression to ADHD and chronic pain—using simple attention exercises with powerful results on physical and mental health

This breakthrough book presents a disarmingly simple idea: The way we pay attention in daily life can play a critical role in our health and well-being. According to Dr. Les Fehmi, a clinical psychologist and researcher, many of us have become stuck in "narrow-focus attention": a tense, constricted, survival mode of attention that holds us in a state of chronic stress—and which lies at the root of common ailments including anxiety, depression,…


Who am I?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.


I wrote...

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture–drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner–and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Hold that Thought

By Mark Bajerski, Paulo Goode (illustrator),

Book cover of Hold that Thought: The Little Book of Healing and Empowerment

Not everyone has the time, patience, or ability to read a complete book – so enter this enchanting volume! Mark Bajerski’s book is a treasury of uplifting quotes. Each day, you arbitrarily ‘choose’ a page, then read its spiritual message. Spirit guides your choice, so the message you receive is the most appropriate for you at that moment in time. Then, you simply Hold that Thought.

I have found that these uplifting spiritual truths reinforce my spirit no matter what circumstances I face, and so touched and delighted was I when a friend gifted a copy to me that I, in turn, gifted copies to my friends.

A gem of a book and a daily reminder that the Universe abounds with magic.

Hold that Thought

By Mark Bajerski, Paulo Goode (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Are you open to receiving all the love that the Universe so freely intends for you? Do you limit yourself by a belief that you are powerless to change your life? Are you ready to rediscover your inner beauty and to share that beauty with the world?

Hold that Thought is an incredible collection of divine messages and truths that guides us to the greatest source of our inner light, healing and strength. Mark Bajerski, author and international spiritual healer, beautifully shares these ‘whispers’ from Spirit, whispers that are intended for each one of us. Mark spent years of his…


Who am I?

I am a writer and lecturer who is irresistibly drawn to the spiritual and paranormal, but whose academic qualifications are in maths and science. So, I have struggled to find my niche in life: a belief in God and Spirit, a passion for the ‘paranormal,’ and an attraction to the scientific – subjects whose advocates attack one another without compunction. Then, I watched the film What the Bleep Do We Know? and found the communion of spirit and science that had eluded me for so long. Thus, I have a new passion: quantum physics, consciousness, and the creation of reality  which means, for me, the Universe is truly full of magic.


I wrote...

The Perfect Pair: The Enchanted Mirror

By David C. Holroyd, Tracy J. Holroyd,

Book cover of The Perfect Pair: The Enchanted Mirror

What is my book about?

The true story of a teenager blessed with a psychic gift and harbouring a dream. An aqua-circus training facility concealed within a West Yorkshire village. The creation of two legendary show dolphins: The Perfect Pair. A dangerous concept for those controlling the captive industry, and one that must be destroyed. But how do you destroy the quest for perfection without birthing a fury?

The backbone of this story is the mind connection shared by the young trainer and his dolphins. David Capello’s uncanny insight into the cetacean mind demonstrates why the world must protect its Atlanteans against slaughter and exploitation; a tenet with the potential to devastate big-money industries, and the reason why so many seek to undermine Capello’s testimony by ridiculing its ‘paranormal’ phenomena.

Book cover of Conscious Mind in Search of a Fundamental Theory

Chalmers is the philosopher who first called Consciousness the “Hard Problem” and this is his attempt to solve it. It’s a hugely ambitious work that puts up an entirely new theory then tests it so hard that he leaves nothing for his critics to do. You may not swallow the theory, but it’s worth reading just to follow the meticulous thinking and imaginative leaps of a terrific brain.

Conscious Mind in Search of a Fundamental Theory

By David J. Chalmers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conscious Mind in Search of a Fundamental Theory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is consciousness? How do physical processes in the brain give rise to the self-aware mind and to feelings as profoundly varied as love or hate, aesthetic pleasure or spiritual yearning?

David J. Chalmers unveils a major new theory of consciousness, one that rejects the prevailing reductionist trend of science, while offering provocative insights into the relationship between mind and brain. Writing in a thought-provoking style, Chalmers proposes that conscious experience must be understood as an irreducible entity similar to such physical properties as time, mass, and space that exists at a fundamental level and cannot be understood as the…


Who am I?

I was hooked on brain science from the moment in the 1980s when I saw the first blurry images that revealed the physical markers of thought. I set out to find out all I could about this astonishing new area of discovery, but there was practically nothing to be found – neuroscience as we know it barely existed. I pounced on every new finding that emerged and eventually wrote what was one of the first books, Mapping the Mind, that made brain science accessible to non-scientists. There are hundreds of them now, and these are some of the best.


I wrote...

Consciousness

By Rita Carter,

Book cover of Consciousness

What is my book about?

Is consciousness merely an illusion, a by-product of our brain's workings, or is it, as the latest physics may suggest, the basis for all reality? Your perception of the world around you, your consciousness, should be the one thing you could talk about with absolute confidence. But nothing about consciousness is clear-cut and understanding it is perhaps the hardest problem facing modern science.

Book cover of The Neurobehavioral and Social-Emotional Development of Infants and Children

This book helps clinicians and parents to understand the need for mothers or primary attachment figures to repair the missteps and misunderstandings from moment to moment to foster emotional security. Every mother and baby have moments of misunderstanding, the sooner the mother can repair this rift through empathy and taking responsibility for the misstep, the more seen and heard and secure the baby will feel.

The Neurobehavioral and Social-Emotional Development of Infants and Children

By Ed Tronick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Neurobehavioral and Social-Emotional Development of Infants and Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the course of his esteemed career, he has received funding for hundreds of key studies in the US and abroad on normal and abnormal infant and child development-including his Mutual Regulation Model and Still-Face Paradigm, which revolutionized our understanding of infants' emotional capacities and coping-all of which led to critical contributions in the field. Much of his work serves as the benchmark for how mental health clinicians think about biopsychosocial states of consciousness, the process of meaning making, and how and why we engage with others in the world.

Now, for the first time, Tronick has gathered together his…


Who am I?

Erica Komisar is a licensed clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, and parent guidance expert who has been in private practice in New York City for over 30 years. A graduate of Georgetown and Columbia Universities and The New York Freudian Society, Ms. Komisar is a psychological consultant bringing parenting and work/life workshops to clinics, schools, corporations, and childcare settings. She is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Daily News. She is a Contributing Editor to The Institute For Family Studies and appears regularly on Fox and Friends and Fox 5 News


I wrote...

Chicken Little the Sky Isn't Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety

By Erica Komisar,

Book cover of Chicken Little the Sky Isn't Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety

What is my book about?

This is a guide for parents who want to raise emotionally healthy and resilient adolescents in a time of great stress where anxiety and mental health disorders are epidemic.

In these times of great stress for our kids, resilience is not a given. The epidemic of mental health disorders in adolescents has made parenting even more challenging, but parents can still have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of their child. This book offers parents the tools they need to navigate this tumultuous time of change and create a continuous deep connection with their child. With covered topics such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavioral issues, and addiction, parents will learn how they can recognize mental health disorders as well as obtain compassionate and practical advice on how to address these issues if they occur

Book cover of In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind

This is an earlier incarnation of the global workspace theory of consciousness (which in turn follows up on Baars’ book from nearly a decade earlier, titled A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness). Although some of the evidence Baars draws on is a little bit dated today, the theory is still valid, and the book is a great read.

In the Theater of Consciousness

By Bernard J. Baars,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The study of conscious experience has seen remarkable strides in the last ten years, reflecting important technological breakthroughs and the enormous efforts of researchers in disciplines as varied as neuroscience, cognitive science, and philosophy. Although still embroiled in debate, scientists are now beginning to find common ground in their understanding of consciousness, which may pave the way for a unified explanation of how and why we experience and understand
the world around us. Written by eminent psychologist Bernard J. Baars, Inside the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind brings us to the frontlines of this exciting discipline, offering…


Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the question of what is innate and what is learned, and how the two things interact to issue in ourselves. It turns out that the innate human capacity for controlled uses of working memory, combined with a suite of other cognitive enhancements, then interact with culture and cultural learning to enable distinctively human forms of life; and that those cognitive enhancements are themselves a product of gene-culture co-evolution.


I wrote...

The Centered Mind: What the Science of Working Memory Shows Us about the Nature of Human Thought

By Peter Carruthers,

Book cover of The Centered Mind: What the Science of Working Memory Shows Us about the Nature of Human Thought

What is my book about?

This book builds on my previous work on the nature of self-knowledge and the architecture of human and animal minds. Drawing on my knowledge of the scientific literature on working memory and related topics, here I develop an argument that challenges central assumptions about the mind made by many philosophers, scientists, and ordinary people. I argue that our non-sensory goals, judgments, decisions, and intentions can only ever operate unconsciously behind the scenes, selecting and manipulating the sensory-based images that figure consciously in working memory (most notably visual imagery and inner speech). I also show that so-called “propositional attitudes” like judgments and decisions are never under direct intentional control, whereas our capacity to control the sensory attentional system lies at the heart of human intelligence.

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