The best books about the mind

Many authors have picked their favorite books about the mind and why they recommend each book.

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Out of Mind

By J. Bernlef, Adrienne Dixon (translator),

Book cover of Out of Mind

There cannot be a more brilliant or more shattering evocation of what it feels like to gradually realise you are forgetting yourself and vanishing from your own life: the mind observes the mind’s deterioration. Bernleff’s pioneering novel, published in 1984, follows the journey of its narrator Maarten from the first days of confusion into a darkness of self-loss. A beautiful, poignant masterpiece about memory and forgetting. 


Who am I?

I am a novelist, a journalist, a humanist celebrant, and coauthor with my husband of the best-selling Nicci French thrillers. Witnessing my father’s dementia and his slow-motion dying radically transformed the way I think about what it is to be human. In 2014, I founded John’s Campaign which seeks to make the care of those who are vulnerable and powerless more compassionate, and which is now a national movement in the UK. In 2016, I won the Orwell Prize for Journalism for ‘exposing Britain’s social evils' in the pieces I wrote exploring the nature of dementia.


I wrote...

The Last Ocean: What Dementia Teaches Us about Love

By Nicci Gerrard,

Book cover of The Last Ocean: What Dementia Teaches Us about Love

What is my book about?

I wrote this book because of my own need to understand a disease that so profoundly affected my father and all who loved him, and because I believe there are better, kinder, and more hopeful ways of dealing with an illness that can dismantle a self. It’s a psychological, philosophical, intellectual, and emotional investigation into this loss, a collection of stories -  some of which are desolating while others are redemptive and show how brave and resilient people can be. It is also a farewell to a man who I loved and who is the book’s guide and its sweet-natured ghost.

Daydream's Daughter, Nightmare's Friend

By Nonnie Jules,

Book cover of Daydream's Daughter, Nightmare's Friend: One Woman's Journey Through Two Hells

I've always heard there are two sides to every story. Generally, this means a good side and a bad, or at least one with some sort of a redeeming perspective. But what does a person do when both sides are equally hellish? For Maiya, it means she truly is Daydream's Daughter and Nightmare's Friend. It seems as though the insufferable miseries will never end. This book is deeply emotional and compelling. The author describes the events in vivid detail creating a sense for the reader of being there in the midst of it all. The book immediately captures your attention, and page after page keeps you wondering what will happen next. An excellent story by an excellent author.


Who am I?

While the subject matter of the books on my list may vary, the thing that ties them together is the suspenseful tension that builds and keeps the reader on edge. The unexpected twists and turns are the "secret sauce"  that adds flavor and fervor. I like the way each of these books keeps your mind from wandering by combining vivid imagery with a compelling storyline. As an author myself, I am always fascinated by those who make it look so easy and effortless. And as an avid reader, I constantly search for these kind of books; the kind that make you feel as if you just have to keep reading.


I wrote...

Over My Dead Body

By Bruce A. Borders,

Book cover of Over My Dead Body

What is my book about?

When the director of Child Protective Services uses his position to exact a personal vendetta in removing three-year-old Ashley from her home, a protective father, Jeff Blake, puts up a fight. The situation quickly becomes violent and by the end of the short encounter, three people are dead. Ironically, Ashley is still taken.

To further complicate matters, Amy, the wife and mother, winds up in a mental ward due to the trauma she witnessed in her home. Ashley is placed in foster care, while the family’s attorneys attempt to salvage what they can and re-unite the family. The police, as well as the courts, understandably, are not too concerned with the needs of the family and it seems the entire justice system is against them.

Mudras for Healing and Transformation

By Joseph Le Page, Lilian Le Page,

Book cover of Mudras for Healing and Transformation

Mudras is the only book you will ever need if you want to explore using a mudra practice, which I highly recommend. Mudras describes the physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, and spiritual properties of over 100 mudras and explains how they are performed and their mind/body effects. Mudra practice is a great addition to a breath and meditation practice and this book is a treasure trove of the inner workings of mudras.

Who am I?

As a lifelong asthmatic I’ve been working with the body for as long as I can remember. Childhood activities included getting lost in the woods, camping, and roller-skating, and grown-up life has included the professions of a modern dancer, choreographer, yoga therapist, and occupational therapist. If you can learn to slow down and find safety in your body, you can always manage to find your way home.


I wrote...

Yoga Bones: A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Pain and Orthopedic Injuries Through Yoga

By Laura Staton,

Book cover of Yoga Bones: A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Pain and Orthopedic Injuries Through Yoga

What is my book about?

Yoga Bones - A Comprehensive Guide to Managing Pain and Orthopedic Injuries Through Yoga explains the common conditions causing bodily pain and the easy and fun ways to self-manage through yoga. Beautifully photographed and illustrated, Yoga Bones discusses conditions such as sciatica, lumbar herniations, and hip replacements among many others. By targeting specific areas of the body, Yoga Bones helps to identify problem areas and use yoga as a roadmap for developing self-care. Yoga Bones also offers lifestyle insight such as breathing, anti-inflammatory nutrition, stress-reduction, mindfulness, and the importance of leisure - teaching us to slow down and feel the powerful effects of self-care.

Benny the Brave in The First Day Jitters

By Julie Anne Penn, Darren Penn, Sergio De Giorgi (illustrator)

Book cover of Benny the Brave in The First Day Jitters

In this book, a little girl named Sarah is worried about starting her first day at school. She can’t help but imagine all the terrible things that could happen. Her friend named Benny helps her to change her perspective by showing her all the things that could go right instead of wrong. I really enjoy this book because it’s so easy to let our minds wander to the negative possibilities. I like how this book reminds us to see the good that can happen in situations and also encourages us to find good positive friends like Benny that will help give us a boost when needed! 


Who am I?

I've always believed in the power behind positive thinking, but it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of worry or disappointment. I picked this topic because I feel that perspective is the tool that can help us change a negative attitude into a positive one. We don’t always have control of various things happening in the world around us. However, we do have the power to try to change our perspective and look at things in a more positive way. I believe this skill is essential to find gratitude and happiness in life, and I love how each of these books approach the topic of the importance of perspective in different ways.


I wrote...

The Fun Thieves

By Carli Valentine,

Book cover of The Fun Thieves

What is my book about?

Disappointment looms when fun activities keep getting canceled due to the fun thievery by different elements in nature. But are these thieves really all bad

Children will learn to keep positive attitudes when dealing with frustrating situations and change their perspectives to help them look on the bright sideRelatable situations will help to teach kids to try to find the good in something that seems to be all bad.

Problems of the Future and Essays

By Samuel Laing,

Book cover of Problems of the Future and Essays

Published 1893, Laing considers all kinds of searching questions relating to astronomy, geology, spiritualism, poetry, taxation, finance, and much more. Clearly a possessor of a powerful intelligence, Laing endeavors to make sense of the universe and human life with the limited information he had at his disposal, compared to what we know today. How does the sun burn, he asks? Is it made from coal? A notion he dismisses with rational precision. Later, he considers the arms race from his nineteenth century viewpoint and uncannily predicts a “Great War” that will engulf most of Europe, with “Constantinople” being the likely catalyst of “the blood-rain deluges of the greatest war the world has ever seen”.


Who am I?

My father, a history teacher, often pointed out battlefields and scenes of historical importance when I was a child: so an ordinary-looking countryside became the place where knights in armor clashed, or where Viking longboats glided along a river. I grew up habitually overlying vivid scenes from the past on modern landscapes, all of which inspired me to write novels, including The Night of the Triffids, Blood Crazy, and Darkness Demands. Much of my fiction reflects my interest in the evolution of the human mind and how our minds are molded by the world we live in, hence my choice of the five books that I do wholeheartedly recommend for the eager adventurer in thought.


I wrote...

Vampyrrhic

By Simon Clark,

Book cover of Vampyrrhic

What is my book about?

David Leppington has returned to the town of his birth to investigate the possibility of a job as a GP, and also to learn more of its history. Bearing the same name as the town, the Leppington family used to be prominent members of the community. But the clan has dwindled to a sole uncle who is more loner than town leader. In this small, isolated town, people are affected by a horrendous condition. It’s Quiet. Unassuming. A forgotten backwater. Yet beneath Leppington’s streets terrifying creatures stir.

Knock Knock Dream Journal

By Knock Knock,

Book cover of Knock Knock Dream Journal

I included this book because the most important part of dream interpretation is recording your dreams. This journal has space for your to write a title for the dream as recommended in the previous book Dream Work. In addition to writing out the dream, there are boxes to check off the category of dream – from a nightmare to mundane - and a checklist to note the prevailing emotion. There is space to draw images from the dream and a section to reflect and try an interpretation. You can use any of these features and the journal, by offering space and checkboxes, deepens engagement with the dream, and may offer directions you wouldn’t have thought of by yourself.


Who am I?

I am a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in ADHD. My passion for dreams overlaps with my interest in ADHD which is commonly associated with daydreaming. I have intensively studied dreams in courses, conferences, experiential dream groups, and in years-long therapy that focused only on dream interpretation. I have seen dreams offer insights and at times solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems in my client's lives and also in my own life. I am an author writing on ADHD, executive functioning, and depression including the books The Gift of Adult ADD and The Six Super Skills for Executive Functioning. Dreams can offer insights into all of these conditions suggesting perspectives and healing actions.


I wrote...

Six Super Skills for Executive Functioning: Tools to Help Teens Improve Focus, Stay Organized, and Reach Their Goals

By Lara Honos-Webb,

Book cover of Six Super Skills for Executive Functioning: Tools to Help Teens Improve Focus, Stay Organized, and Reach Their Goals

What is my book about?

Do you have trouble paying attention? Do you miss important deadlines? Do you ever feel “scattered” or unorganized? You’re not alone. Between friend drama, social media, dating, smartphones, and a changing body and brain, most teens need a little extra help staying focused. The good news is there are real skills you can learn now to help you stay on track—in school and in life. This book includes six super simple skills to help you stay focused & reach your goals! The six super skills are finding gifts, setting goals, chunking, boosting motivation, mood management, and the science of attention management.

In this fun and easy guide, you’ll discover six powerful “super skills” to help you pay attention, stay organized, and get stuff done—so you can be your very best. 

You Are Not Your Thoughts

By Frances Trussell,

Book cover of You Are Not Your Thoughts: The Secret Magic of Mindfulness

The author of this book, Frances Trussell, explains so succinctly why the blessing of our self-aware mind can so easily become a curse for so many humans. So mindfulness and meditation is not so much about having no thoughts or making your mind go blank. Rather it is about coming to a different relationship with your thoughts. On the other side, lies a life of bliss and freedom.


Who am I?

I started meditating in my min-40s as I was in a stressful job. I resisted at first, thinking I was too busy and that I couldn’t make my active mind go quiet. I persisted though and soon discovered that I had a better day all around on days when I meditated and seemed to be pushing water uphill when I missed my morning meditation. Intrigued by this, the engineer in me researched why this might be. I started writing books on how it can help and I learned how to script and record my own meditations. Over fifteen years later, I find myself as one of the top meditation guides on the Insight Timer app, with over 4 million listens.


I wrote...

The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness: How to improve your productivity, creativity and focus by slowing down for just 10 minutes a day

By Tom Evans,

Book cover of The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness: How to improve your productivity, creativity and focus by slowing down for just 10 minutes a day

What is my book about?

Daily meditation does more than help us relax. It is becoming well accepted and understood how our well-being benefits from the regular practice of mindfulness meditation. This book explores how even more tangible benefits can be delivered from just treating yourself to 10 minutes of ‘me time’ each day. Indeed, each of the ten chapters comes with a free ten-minute meditation.

Just imagine having more time in each day and clients and opportunities finding you. Just imagine being able to tap into unlimited inspiration. It is the key to living a blissful existence. This book is not just theory but also practice as each of the ten chapters is accompanied by a ten-minute meditation.

Don't Think Like a Human

By Lee Carroll,

Book cover of Don't Think Like a Human: Channelled Answers to Basic Questions

On the surface, this book might not seem like a book on mindfulness. The author probably wouldn’t make that claim. It is all about the mind though and how we think. Our thoughts don’t so much become things but they are things. What we think influences the world outside us, not just in how we perceive it but by our thoughts actually being mirrored in our reality. In an unusual style, of channeled Q&A, Lee Carroll outlines how we can think differently and, as a result, our world changes for the better.


Who am I?

I started meditating in my min-40s as I was in a stressful job. I resisted at first, thinking I was too busy and that I couldn’t make my active mind go quiet. I persisted though and soon discovered that I had a better day all around on days when I meditated and seemed to be pushing water uphill when I missed my morning meditation. Intrigued by this, the engineer in me researched why this might be. I started writing books on how it can help and I learned how to script and record my own meditations. Over fifteen years later, I find myself as one of the top meditation guides on the Insight Timer app, with over 4 million listens.


I wrote...

The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness: How to improve your productivity, creativity and focus by slowing down for just 10 minutes a day

By Tom Evans,

Book cover of The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness: How to improve your productivity, creativity and focus by slowing down for just 10 minutes a day

What is my book about?

Daily meditation does more than help us relax. It is becoming well accepted and understood how our well-being benefits from the regular practice of mindfulness meditation. This book explores how even more tangible benefits can be delivered from just treating yourself to 10 minutes of ‘me time’ each day. Indeed, each of the ten chapters comes with a free ten-minute meditation.

Just imagine having more time in each day and clients and opportunities finding you. Just imagine being able to tap into unlimited inspiration. It is the key to living a blissful existence. This book is not just theory but also practice as each of the ten chapters is accompanied by a ten-minute meditation.

Magic of Thinking Big

By David M. Schwartz,

Book cover of Magic of Thinking Big

Being a creative person is a journey, that’s for sure, and not an easy one. It’s tough and it takes courage, but you can get there. Along the way, how do you prevent yourself from getting discouraged, especially when you’re focused on bringing a big idea to life? Reading this timeless book on the importance of mindset never fails to motivate me. Follow its advice, and you will be able to climb the highest of mountains and pick yourself back up when you get knocked down. A must-read for inventors, entrepreneurs, and anyone with an idea.

Who am I?

The traditional way of commercializing an invention — patenting, prototyping, then marketing it — doesn’t work very well and never has. When I found an easier way to share my creativity with the world, it changed my life, because the feeling you get when you hold something in your hand that you first imagined in your head is second to none. My 10-step process breaks down barriers so that everyone who has an idea — young or old, rich or poor — can get in the game of bringing it to market. I’ve published 5 books, 1,000 articles, and more than 700 videos to help others take advantage of the power of open innovation.


I wrote...

One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams Into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work

By Stephen Key,

Book cover of One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams Into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work

What is my book about?

Do you have ideas for new products? Do you enjoy designing solutions to problems? Are you motivated to make improvements? Whether you’ve invented a must-have kitchen tool, pet toy, or automotive product, this book will teach you how to transform your creativity into recurring passive income. The beauty of the licensing business model is that you don’t need to write a business plan, raise money, or quit your day job to launch your product ideas onto the market.

Instead, One Simple Idea teaches you how to minimize risk and maximize your likelihood of success as you learn the right way of protecting, designing, marketing, and pitching your invention ideas quickly. This book is beloved by the inventing community because it’s enjoyable to read and offers detailed, practical strategies that work. It is based on the real-life successes of author Stephen Key, the inventor and IP strategist, and his many clients.

A Mathematician's Apology

By G.H. Hardy,

Book cover of A Mathematician's Apology

I read this in one gulp at the age of sixteen, but it has remained part of my mental furniture to this day. There is a story from the First World War of a Cambridge don accosted in the street with a demand to explain why he was not at the front. "Madam, I am the civilisation they are fighting to preserve." Written in a very dark time, it is a celebration of the value of intellectual endeavour independent of practical utility. Beautifully written it gives genuine insight into the nature of mathematical thought.

Who am I?

If you want to know what conducting an orchestra is like, you ask a conductor. If you want to know what being a mathematician is like, you ask a mathematician. I have been studying, researching, and teaching mathematics (mainly at Cambridge but also in France and elsewhere) for a lifetime and loved (almost) every moment of it. In the words of Constance Reid, `Mathematicians are people who devote their lives to what seems to me a wonderful kind of play.'


I wrote...

The Pleasures of Counting

By T.W. Körner,

Book cover of The Pleasures of Counting

What is my book about?

The demand that learning should be certified by examinations coupled with the natural demand that those examinations should be fair tends to produce a rather dull experience. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness and I wrote this book to show that mathematics is useful, important, and interesting.

Why are we not all called Smith (and its implications for evolution)? Why are Arctic animals large? What is the fastest way to sort an index? Does the wind have a velocity? Why did convoy work? If such questions interest you then, I hope, so will my book.

Or, view all 17 books about the mind

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