The most recommended books about learning

Who picked these books? Meet our 27 experts.

27 authors created a book list connected to learning, and here are their favorite learning books.
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Book cover of Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Visual Mapping

Mona Brookes Author Of Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too

From my list on on effective strategies with drawing and learning.

Who am I?

As a lifelong artist and drawing enthusiast, I am passionate about the world of drawing and its potential to inspire creativity and self-expression. I never planned to be an art teacher. Surprisingly, a part-time job as a school bus driver led me to develop Monart®, which has become highly successful in schools around the world. My experience enabled me to present at state art educator conferences without having any formal training. I have had the privilege of inspiring and empowering students of all ages and backgrounds. At 85, nothing makes me happier than when a former student tells me their passion for drawing has led to a successful career.

Mona's book list on on effective strategies with drawing and learning

Mona Brookes Why did Mona love this book?

As a speaker at a conference on Howard Gardner's work on the "Nature of Intelligence," I learned that drawing what you are learning can result in eight times faster and longer retention of the information.

This inspired me to use drawing for learning. Nancy Margullies' book on using diagram drawings, to remember information, was invaluable to me.

As I trained teachers in my drawing methods across the U.S. and Canada, they reported improved student learning and retention. They suggested integrating the method into other subjects, such as drawing parts of a flower during a science lesson, which led to increased comprehension and retention.

I applied Margullies' Mind Mapping system to conference information and shared it with my drawing students, who successfully used the technique for homework and school subjects.

By Nancy Margulies,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Visual Mapping is an easy-to-learn, straightforward system for generating and organising any ideas. Using a central image, key words, colours, codes and symbols, the process is both fun and fast. For many the traditional style of writing ideas in a linear fashion, using one colour on a lined piece of paper, is habit. Retraining the brain to draw ideas radiating from a central image takes practice and patience, but the benefits are considerable, particularly for students and teachers who like to see "the big picture". This second edition includes full colour maps, explores a range of mapping styles and takes…


Book cover of Brain-Based Learning: Teaching the Way Students Really Learn

Chase Mielke Author Of The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again

From my list on making teaching suck a little less.

Who am I?

I’m a veteran teacher, instructional coach, and speaker. I’ve dealt with the bull crap and beauty of education for a decade and a half. As such, I’m dedicated to helping educators find their love of this work, even amidst the struggles. I’m a columnist for Education Leadership and host of the Educator Happy Hour podcast. I travel all over the world to help teachers and school leaders learn the science of well-being so they can be at their best in order to give their best, even on full-moon, post-holiday, “WIFI crashed” days of student chaos.

Chase's book list on making teaching suck a little less

Chase Mielke Why did Chase love this book?

Alright, alright. There should be at least one book that actually helps with the practice of teaching. And this is the one. Countless books admonish specific programs and practices, chock full of the fanciest edu-buzz words. But rarely do they discuss why a strategy works based on the science of human cognition and development. Even less frequently do they back the why with multiple peer-reviewed studies. 

Jensen and McConchie combine an absurd level of nerd as researchers and veteran educators. This book and its predecessors helped me gain a deep understanding of why a strategy worked (or how to make it work), whether it was something new or something tried-and-true. The job of a teacher is to mold human brains. We should probably know everything we can about how those brains work.

By Eric P. Jensen, Liesl McConchie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Learn how to teach like a pro and have fun, too!

The more you know about the brains of your students, the better you can be at your profession. Brain-based teaching gives you the tools to boost cognitive functioning, decrease discipline issues, increase graduation rates, and foster the joy of learning. This innovative, new edition of the bestselling Brain-Based Learning by Eric Jensen and master teacher and trainer Liesl McConchie provides an up-to-date, evidence-based learning approach that reveals how the brain naturally learns best in school. Based on findings from neuroscience, biology, and psychology, you will find:

In-depth, relevant insights…


Book cover of All the Dangerous Things

Kate Robards Author Of The Three Deaths Of Willa Stannard

From my list on missing children.

Who am I?

A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Emotionally driven, tense, full of despair and hope, these stories captivate me. When I decided to include a cold case mystery of a toddler’s disappearance in my debut novel, I dove deep into both true crime and fictional novels on the subject. These books represent a range of gripping mysteries about not only finding missing children, but the scrutiny and heartache their mothers face. I hope you find these stories as absorbing, powerful, and suspenseful as I do!

Kate's book list on missing children

Kate Robards Why did Kate love this book?

Tense and twisty, All the Dangerous Things is psychological suspense at its finest.

It alternates between the past and present, letting dual mysteries unfold. Both storylines are equally interesting and surprising. I was surprised at nearly every turn, and despite my best efforts, unable to predict how either storyline would unfold.

What I really enjoyed is that it would have been easy to dislike the main character, but by learning her backstory in alternating chapters, I grew more invested in this complicated character as the story went on.

By Stacy Willingham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All the Dangerous Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The gripping new atmospheric thriller from the author of the instant New York Times bestseller, A Flicker in the Dark

From the author of New York Times bestseller, A Flicker in the Dark, comes an atmospheric new thriller about one woman's search for the truth

'I devoured this in two evenings and i'm adding Stacy as a go-to author... Thriller fans will adore this read.' Prima

'Pacy and sinister, ALL THE DANGEROUS THINGS has a palpable tension that keeps the pages turning.' Sunday Times and internationally bestselling author, Karin Slaughter

'Brilliant! ... I had to finish this marvelous thriller in…


Anatomy of Embodied Education: Creating Pathways to Brain-Mind Evolution

By E. Timothy Burns, Jim Brown,

Book cover of Anatomy of Embodied Education: Creating Pathways to Brain-Mind Evolution

E. Timothy Burns

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The vast mysterious terrain explored in this book encompasses the embodied human brain, the processes through which humans grow, develop, and learn, and the mystery of consciousness itself. We authors offer this guidebook to assist you in entering and exploring that terrain.

As parents and educators come to understand this terrain and these vital processes more fully, we also begin to see how we have been unnecessarily hampered by erroneous assumptions and flawed educational practices common to our culture. Then, seeing those impediments, we can create ways to move beyond them, allowing our children’s growth, development, and learning to proceed more freely and naturally.

Anatomy of Embodied Education: Creating Pathways to Brain-Mind Evolution

By E. Timothy Burns, Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

Imagine that you have obtained a guidebook for exploring a vast, mysterious forest that you have heard of, but have never known how to approach-a forest so intricate and lush that most people feel reluctant to enter it without an experienced guide, and yet so alluring that you long to wander its paths, follow its streams to their source, gain access to its panoramic views of terrains that have barely begun to be mapped.


What makes this terrain so alluring is that it enfolds largely untold knowledge of the processes through which humans grow, develop, learn. And as explorers understand…


Book cover of Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice

Mona Brookes Author Of Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too

From my list on on effective strategies with drawing and learning.

Who am I?

As a lifelong artist and drawing enthusiast, I am passionate about the world of drawing and its potential to inspire creativity and self-expression. I never planned to be an art teacher. Surprisingly, a part-time job as a school bus driver led me to develop Monart®, which has become highly successful in schools around the world. My experience enabled me to present at state art educator conferences without having any formal training. I have had the privilege of inspiring and empowering students of all ages and backgrounds. At 85, nothing makes me happier than when a former student tells me their passion for drawing has led to a successful career.

Mona's book list on on effective strategies with drawing and learning

Mona Brookes Why did Mona love this book?

I personally recommend this book because it is a must-read for anyone dealing with students who struggle with learning or underperform in certain subjects.

Over the course of my 45-year career, I have encountered hundreds of individuals, including myself, who have struggled with math despite being highly skilled in drawing or art.

Howard Gardner, the head of Harvard University's Project Zero, has been a leader in the field of intelligence research since the late 1970s. His work rendered IQ tests irrelevant for measuring intelligence in education.

Understanding Gardner's work is critical to understanding how individuals function, and it has changed the way I interact with difficult students.

Reading this book gave me a new perspective on intelligence and helped me see it in a completely different light.

By Howard Gardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The most complete account of the theory and application of Multiple Intelligences available anywhere.

Howard Gardner's brilliant conception of individual competence, known as Multiple Intelligences theory, has changed the face of education. Tens of thousands of educators, parents, and researchers have explored the practical implications and applications of this powerful notion, that there is not one type of intelligence but several, ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in self-understanding.

Multiple Intelligences distills nearly three decades of research on Multiple Intelligences theory and practice, covering its central arguments and numerous developments since its introduction in 1983. Gardner includes discussions…


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

Mark William Roche Author Of Why Choose the Liberal Arts?

From my list on books for students about to enter college.

Who am I?

I am a graduate of Williams College and Princeton University and now a professor and former dean of arts and letters at the University of Notre Dame. As dean, I learned that too many of Notre Dame’s students were majoring in business. Invariably, when I asked them about their rationale, they would confess that their favorite courses were in the arts and sciences. They might have followed their passions, I thought, if they and their parents had a deeper sense of the value of a liberal arts education, so I wrote this book to answer their questions and give them justified confidence in the value of liberal arts courses.  

Mark's book list on books for students about to enter college

Mark William Roche Why did Mark love this book?

When I was an undergraduate, I prepared for exams by reviewing my notes and books. When I was a graduate student, I prepared for exams by thinking through possible questions and answering them in my head.

Which was the best strategy? Brown et al. make clear that self-testing is best.

Testing yourself involves active learning and effortful learning, which are far more likely to stick. The book draws on empirical research to help students (and adults) understand how best to learn.

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

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Make It Stick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To most of us, learning something "the hard way" implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.

Memory plays a central role in our ability to carry out complex cognitive tasks, such as applying knowledge to problems never before encountered and drawing inferences from facts already known. New insights…


Book cover of Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers

Michael A. Barnhart Author Of Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations

From my list on history books for teaching and learning.

Who am I?

Gaming led to my career as a history professor. When I was about ten, I discovered some of the first commercial board games, Gettysburg or Diplomacy. Hooked, I delved into the history behind such games and discovered a passion for delving deeper. After I began teaching, I thought I could share that passion with my students through historical simulations. My “sim” courses became among the most popular in the university. 

Michael's book list on history books for teaching and learning

Michael A. Barnhart Why did Michael love this book?

Neustadt and May wrote this book based on their seminars with government officials. Those seminars, and this book, taught two points. First, policy-makers rarely studied the background and context of the issues they were facing but instead were consumed with the need for swift decisions on immediate action. Second, those policy-makers nevertheless used history in making their decisions, nearly always using it simplistically and often incorrectly. The book is composed of a myriad of case studies. In each, the authors show how a better understanding of history might have led to better decisions.

By Richard E. Neustadt, Ernest R. May,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A convincing case that careful analysis of the history, issues, individuals, and institutions can lead to better decisions-in business as well as in government" (BusinessWeek).

Two noted professors offer easily remembered rules for using history effectively in day-to-day management of governmental and corporate affairs to avoid costly blunders. "An illuminating guide to the use and abuse of history in affairs of state" (Arthur Schlesinger).


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 my 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

Jennice Vilhauer 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…


Book cover of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Cathy Pickens Author Of Create! Developing Your Creative Process

From my list on to feed your creativity.

Who am I?

Creativity is a practical, problem-solving, risk-taking endeavor, something we all do, whether we claim it or not. After working for many years with groups of graduate business students, artists, writers, business professionals, women in recovery, men in prison, with those just discovering their creative ability—and with myself and my own creative journey, I realize the question isn’t “Am I creative?” The question is “Am I using it?” or “Am I continuing to grow?” Nothing is more exciting than watching others as they realize just how creative they are.

Cathy's book list on to feed your creativity

Cathy Pickens Why did Cathy love this book?

While not a book explicitly about creativity, it opened my eyes to how our brains work, how we can make them work better, and what we’re just going to have to live with. For instance, “multi-tasking” is really a myth—some brains just switch from one task to another faster and women are better at that than men, something rooted in our evolutionary development. And our brains are hardwired for movement, particularly walking. Developmental neurobiologist Medina offers plenty of food for creative brains.

By John Medina,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most of us have no idea what's really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know--like the need for physical activity to get your brain working its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget--and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains? In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might…


Book cover of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

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?

A biting quip in the debate about whether computers are on the verge of surpassing (or have already surpassed) human intelligence is, “It is not that computers are getting smarter but that humans are getting dumber.”

In the same spirit, Nichols argues that “These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had access to so much knowledge, and yet been so resistant to learning anything.”

By Tom Nichols,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything; with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual
footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.…


Book cover of Principles of Neural Design

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

From my 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

Mark Humphries Why did Mark love this book?

The authors hilariously claim in their acknowledgements that this is a short book. It is not. Instead, it is a volume that explains ten key principles of why brains work the way they do, from why they do so much computation with chemistry to the irreducible smallness of a brain’s components. A densely argued, fiercely detailed book, not one for the faint of heart – but one that has pride of place on the shelves of many neuroscientists, mine included.

By Peter Sterling, Simon Laughlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two distinguished neuroscientists distil general principles from more than a century of scientific study, “reverse engineering” the brain to understand its design.

Neuroscience research has exploded, with more than fifty thousand neuroscientists applying increasingly advanced methods. A mountain of new facts and mechanisms has emerged. And yet a principled framework to organize this knowledge has been missing. In this book, Peter Sterling and Simon Laughlin, two leading neuroscientists, strive to fill this gap, outlining a set of organizing principles to explain the whys of neural design that allow the brain to compute so efficiently.

Setting out to “reverse engineer” the…