The most recommended books on perception

Who picked these books? Meet our 29 experts.

29 authors created a book list connected to perception, and here are their favorite perception books.
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What type of perception book?


Becoming Animal

By David Abram,

Book cover of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

Sarah R. Pye Author Of Saving Sun Bears: One man's quest to save a species

From the list on improving your connection with nature.

Who am I?

My parents took my brother and me out of school on April Fool’s Day 1979 (when I was 13). We spent the next eight years sailing from the UK to the Americas. Our ‘boat-schooling’ was informed by the world around us: trying to plot our position with sextant taught me mathematics; squinting at a scooped bucket of seaweed taught me about biodiversity; hunkering down in horrendous storms made me realise my insignificance; and finding a way to communicate in local markets took away my fear of difference. April 1st is my most significant anniversary. I'm indebted to my courageous parents for helping me understand I'm a small part of of an incredible planet.

Sarah's book list on improving your connection with nature

Why did Sarah love this book?

Becoming Animal changed the way I look at my habitat. I hope it does the same for you. In his philosophical musings, David Abram contemplates why nature is something we look at, not something we are. He suggests our calloused coldness and ordered separation from other species allows us to subdue the wild-ness, but it comes with a numbing feeling of solitude. I too believe our disconnect with natural systems fuels many human ailments (physical and psychological). I love Abram’s suggestion that we change the spelling of Earth to Eairth to acknowledge that we, and the air we breathe, are part of this planet, not separate from it. 

By David Abram,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David Abram’s first book, The Spell of the Sensuous has become a classic of environmental literature. Now he returns with a startling exploration of our human entanglement with the rest of nature.
As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we’ve ignored the wild intelligence of our bodies, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. Abram’s writing subverts this distance, drawing readers ever closer to their animal senses in order…

Being You

By Anil Seth,

Book cover of Being You: A New Science of Consciousness

Susan Blackmore Author Of The Meme Machine

From Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor Consciousness researcher Meditator Psychonaut Samba drummer

Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Susan love this book?

This multi-award-winning book is yet another addition to the confusing but vibrant field of consciousness studies. There are too many of these books, and I nearly didn’t persevere, but after a slow start (yeah, yeah, the ‘hard problem’ etc.), it got really interesting.

I don’t think he has really given us a radical new theory of consciousness,’ but I love his ‘Beast theory’ of being human. We are beasts through and through but concoct models of self that make us out to be something much more exotic than a bundle of neurally encoded predictions that serve to keep our bodies alive—all good, challenging stuff.

By Anil Seth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Anil Seth's radical new theory of consciousness challenges our understanding of perception and reality, doing for brain science what Dawkins did for evolutionary biology.

'A brilliant beast of a book.' DAVID BYRNE

'Hugely important.' JIM AL-KHALILI

'Masterly . . . An exhilarating book: a vast-ranging, phenomenal achievement that will undoubtedly become a seminal text.'

Being You is not as simple as it sounds. Somehow, within each of our brains, billions of neurons work to create our conscious experience. How does this happen? Why do…

Brain Rules

By John Medina,

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 the 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

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…

Hair Peace

By Dawn Doig, Savannah Horton (illustrator),

Book cover of Hair Peace

Argyro Graphy Author Of Inspiring Children to be Kind

From the list on children’s books where kindness wins every time.

Who am I?

I know first hand the damage that bullying can have on children, It weighs heavy on your psyche, and emotional well-being. I was determined to find a way to teach children important values to fight the root causes of bullying. I found an old "sketch" and it was my "aha" moment. With continued tweaking, my bubbly hippo was born that I named Bentley. Sporting his red running shoes, Bentley has become a positive role model for children. He represents resilience, friendship, joy, and kindness. We all grew up hugging a teddy bear, but now it's time for the World to Hug a Hippo. The books I've picked below inspire me and will help kids learn the value of kindness. 

Argyro's book list on children’s books where kindness wins every time

Why did Argyro love this book?

This is a wonderful story about self-confidence, self-esteem, and being kind to ourselves. It is easy to want what others have and oftentimes comparing ourselves brings about negative emotions. This story teaches us to embrace our differences and accept ourselves as we are.

By Dawn Doig, Savannah Horton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Johanita is a young girl of African descent who does not like her hair.  She has short, tight, kinky curls but wants hair like other girls at school  because she believes it will make her more beautiful. 

When she goes to the mall with her mother one day, Johanita discovers a salon full of wigs.  She proceeds to try on different wigs and wears one to school each day to match with her 'twin'.  After a new girl starts school, Johanita discovers that beauty comes in many forms and it isn't your hair that makes you beautiful. 'Hair Peace' was…

Thinking in Pictures

By Temple Grandin,

Book cover of Thinking in Pictures

Claire LaZebnik Author Of Hidden Brilliance: Unlocking the Intelligence of Autism

From the list on cherishing and enjoying your neurodivergent child.

Who am I?

I always intended to be a fiction writer (and have written ten novels, both YA and adult) but my oldest child is autistic, which led to my meeting and then collaborating on several non-fiction books with Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel, who’s an expert in the autism field, currently at Stanford University. Finding myself writing non-fiction wasn’t the only way having an autistic child changed my life. When my son was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what that meant for his future, and I desperately wanted information—and even entertainmentthat made me feel inspired and hopeful. I needed to find my way toward feeling positive and not anxious, for both our sakes.

Claire's book list on cherishing and enjoying your neurodivergent child

Why did Claire love this book?

I still remember when my son’s speech therapist recommended this to me: she warned me that I would find it overwhelming because Temple had such huge challenges.

But I didn’t feel discouraged or overwhelmed at all. Grandin is so uniquely herself from beginning to end, so smart, so aware, so able to figure out both her own needs and those of the animals whose lives (and deaths) she improves, that I found the book totally uplifting, not to mention fascinating.

The fact that she singlehandedly made our slaughterhouses infinitely more humane proves the point my co-author and I are always trying to make: neurodivergent individuals will think of things no one else does and enrich any project or community they’re part of.

By Temple Grandin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The idea that some people think differently, though no less humanly, is explored in this inspiring book. Temple Grandin is a gifted and successful animal scientist, and she is autistic. Here she tells us what it was like to grow up perceiving the world in an entirely concrete and visual way - somewhat akin to how animals think, she believes - and how it feels now. Through her finely observed understanding of the workings of her mind, she gives us an invaluable insight into autism and its challenges.

The Institute

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Institute

JG Faherty Author Of Songs in the Key of Death

From JG's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Reader Wine enthusiast Horror fan Bad movie addict Bourbon enthusiast

JG's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did JG love this book?

I know I was a few years late getting to this one, and that’s on me, as it was in my TBR pile since the day it was released. I found the book intensely captivating. It drew me in from the very first page, and from there, it’s a rollicking, non-stop thrill ride to the end.

Combine that with the very realistic depictions of the Institute itself, which you can almost believe is a real place.

King has always been great at bringing his characters to life, and this book is no exception. It is classic King, and I would recommend it to any fan of horror or supernatural thrillers.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Institute as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It does everything you'd expect of a masterpiece - and it is one' Sunday Express

'Hums and crackles with delicious unease' Independent

'Captivating' The Sunday Times

'An absorbing thriller' Mail on Sunday


Luke Ellis, a super-smart twelve-year-old with an exceptional gift, is the latest in a long line of kids abducted and taken to a secret government facility, hidden deep in the forest in Maine.

Here, kids with special talents - telekinesis and telepathy - like Luke's new friends Kalisha, Nick and Iris, are subjected to a series of experiments.

There seems…

That's not my monster...

By Fiona Watt, Rachel Wells (illustrator),

Book cover of That's not my monster...

Tracey Warr Author Of Almodis: The Peaceweaver

From Tracey's 2-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Swimmer Reader Medieval history researcher Independent publisher

Tracey's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Tracey's 2, and 7-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Tracey's 2-year-old love this book?

He loves running his finger over the touching and feeling parts of the book and he enjoys learning words, such as ‘bumpy’ and ‘scratchy’.

He loves the pictures, the story and the textures that he can touch and try out to see if this is the right monster or not.

By Fiona Watt, Rachel Wells (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked That's not my monster... as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet five funny monsters in this exciting addition to the much-loved That's not my... series. Babies love the best-selling That's not my... books with their bold illustrations, patches to stroke, and a mouse to spot on every page, all designed to develop sensory and language awareness.

Book cover of Sensory Integration and the Child

Carol Stock Kranowitz Author Of The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Differences

From the list on sensory processing differences.

Who am I?

As a preschool teacher for 25 years, I observed many children with sensory processing differences (SPD), autism and ADHD. I wondered why they were uncomfortable touching finger paints, why they avoided swings and never let their feet leave the ground, why they broke crayons and tripped on-air, and why they felt inadequate playing and making friends. To help"out-of-sync" children become more competent in work and play, I learned to identify their sensory processing challenges and steer them into early intervention. My mission is to explain to families, teachers, and professionals how SPD affects learning and behavior, to offer practical solutions, and to see all children flourish.

Carol's book list on sensory processing differences

Why did Carol love this book?

Dr. Ayres formulated the theory of sensory integration and processing in the mid-20th century and published Sensory Integration and the Child in 1972. Preserving her core content, this updated version includes checklists, photographs, illustrations, tips for parents, and cases, to make her brilliant insights and practical solutions more accessible to families today.

By A. Jean Ayres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sensory Integration and the Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic handbook, from the originator of sensory integration theory, is now available in an updated, parent-friendly edition. Retaining all the features that made the original edition so popular with both parents and professionals, "Sensory Integration and the Child" remains the best book on the subject. With a new foreward by Dr. Florence Clark and commentaries by recognized experts in sensory integration, this volume explains sensory integrative dysfunction, how to recognize it, and what to do about it. Helpful tips, checklists, question-and-answer sections, and parent resources make the new edition more informative and useful. Indispensible reading for parents, this book…

Hollywood Notebook

By Wendy C. Ortiz,

Book cover of Hollywood Notebook

María Amparo Escandón Author Of L.A. Weather

From the list on changing your perception of Los Angeles.

Who am I?

I am a creature of habitat. I can’t help but connect with my environment in every possible way. It’s physical, emotional. I spent the first 23 years of my life in Mexico City. Leaving was heart-wrenching, but the promise to fulfill a dream drew me to Los Angeles. During the next four decades I became a student of Los Angeles and the Latino community that populates it. I agree with Randy Newman: I love L.A. 

María's book list on changing your perception of Los Angeles

Why did María love this book?

Born in Los Angeles and with profound connection to this city’s psyche, Wendy Ortiz delivers a map of Los Angeles transformed into words, a fragmented memoir of hurt, love, loss, and reinvention. What does a young writer (one of thousands) living in this city and trying to make it worry about? Joblessness. Rent. Bills. Riding the metro. Alcohol. And yes, sex and publishing too, of course. This book proves that it’s not always 72 and sunny in Los Angeles.

By Wendy C. Ortiz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hollywood Notebook is a prose poem-ish memoir of fragments. Ortiz takes us through the streets of Los Angeles and the internal maps she's charting as she moves from her twenties to her thirties in a studio apartment in Hollywood. A cartography of love, loss, and transformation, Hollywood Notebook is a portrait of the author's psyche overlaid on a map of the city she makes her home.

The Hidden Brain

By Shankar Vedantam,

Book cover of The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives

Jenny Grant Rankin Author Of Increasing the Impact of Your Research: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Findings and Widening Your Reach

From the list on getting people to accept facts.

Who am I?

Though my two doctorates and experience landed me in the arenas of education and data-sharing, I soon realized that merely sharing information was not the way to get people to embrace fact. My books and speaking (I’ve lectured at Cambridge, Columbia, Oxford, Comic-Con, etc.) now focus on how to persuade people to absorb, remember, care about, and act on new information. I teach everyone from scientists to parents about how to share information in ways that get around people’s mental blockades. I’m also a Mensan and Fulbright Specialist who writes for Psychology Today and was honored by the White House.

Jenny's book list on getting people to accept facts

Why did Jenny love this book?

I first fell in love with Vedantam’s way of weaving storytelling with research via his podcast Hidden Brain. When I found out he had written a book I was thrilled, and his written account of our unconscious minds did not disappoint. Vedantam doesn’t shy away from anything (terrorism, capital punishment, race, gender, politics…) in tackling why our reasons for thinking things are not what we believe them to be. He helps us understand the power (for good or for bad) of our “hidden brains” in a way you will never forget.

By Shankar Vedantam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The hidden brain is the voice in our ear when we make the most important decisions in our lives—but we’re never aware of it. The hidden brain decides whom we fall in love with and whom we hate. It tells us to vote for the white candidate and convict the dark-skinned defendant, to hire the thin woman but pay her less than the man doing the same job. It can direct us to safety when disaster strikes and move us to extraordinary acts of altruism. But it can also be manipulated to turn an ordinary person into a suicide terrorist…

Book cover of Why the World Doesn't Seem to Make Sense: An Inquiry Into Science, Philosophy and Perception

Mahmoud Elsayed Author Of The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality

From the list on to understand humanity and the universe.

Who am I?

Mahmoud Elsayed has always been interested in finding rational answers to the big existential questions. This could clearly be noticed in his writings and philosophy. He has also worked in various and somehow diverse fields of engineering and science which allowed him to smoothly, flexibly, and knowledgeably jump from a field of expertise to another in order to make his philosophical arguments comprehensive. 

Mahmoud's book list on to understand humanity and the universe

Why did Mahmoud love this book?

Our daily routine and the full of distractions life of the 21st-century human often draft us away and divert us from the fact that we live in a completely weird and bizarre reality. Steve Hagan digs deeper into this concept and presents amusing and mind-blowing notions about our perception and the things that we made out of it (philosophy and science). 

By Steve Hagen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why the World Doesn't Seem to Make Sense as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Buddhism Plain and Simple ponders what we truly know about reality.
Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense is an eminently down-to-earth, practical, and non-technical response to the urgent questions posed by contemporary science and philosophy. This revised and updated edition of How the World Can Be the Way It Is includes new scientific understanding and clarification of some of its more complex ideas. Steve Hagen aims for an intelligent general audience not necessarily familiar with modern or classical physics, philosophy, or formal logic.
Hagen takes us on a journey that examines our most basic…

Lost Horizon

By James Hilton,

Book cover of Lost Horizon

Zachary Shore Author Of This Is Not Who We Are: America's Struggle Between Vengeance and Virtue

From Zachary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Professor Historian

Zachary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Zachary love this book?

I had seen the 1937 film adaptation as a child yet never read the book. Picking it up in 2023, I was struck by a subtle theme that I would have completely missed at an earlier age.

The characters, and therefore the author, are aware that a second great war might lie ahead, and some would escape. The longing for a place of refuge where they would scarcely age, free from the stresses of our modern world, made even more sense in the 1930s. Hilton’s characters embody the fear that another, even darker time is on the horizon. In that sense, they are lost, not simply in the Himalayas, but in their inability to escape from a looming calamity.

It made me wonder if the many apocalyptic books and shows of our present time reflect a comparable collective fear that something darker lies ahead of us.

By James Hilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic James Hilton tale of the enchanted Shangri-La.

The Eyes of the Skin

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Book cover of The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

Hannah Platts Author Of Multisensory Living in Ancient Rome: Power and Space in Roman Houses

From the list on multisensory history.

Who am I?

My passion for ancient history and archaeology began in secondary school when I started learning Latin and we were taken on a field trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace. By the time I started my MA at Bristol, my obsession with ancient Roman housing was well and truly established, and it quickly became clear to me that this was the area that I wanted to study for my PhD. Now as an Associate Professor in Ancient History and Archaeology at Royal Holloway, University of London, I have been very lucky to study and teach a range of areas in ancient history and archaeology, including my beloved area of the Roman domestic realm. 

Hannah's book list on multisensory history

Why did Hannah love this book?

Exploring how and why Romans built their houses to impact all bodily senses sits at the heart of my book.

Whilst interest in planning and building for such full body experiences in architecture today has declined, Pallasmaa’s The Eyes of the Skin presents a compelling argument for the importance of understanding the role of the multiple bodily senses in our experience of built spaces around us.

Divided into two main sections, the first of these examines the pre-eminence of sight in the West and its detrimental impact on architectural practise and our built environs.

The second part considers the role played our other bodily senses in experiencing architecture and proposes a new approach to building design and construction which seeks to integrate full sensory experience into the architectural process.

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1996, The Eyes of the Skin has become a classic of architectural theory. For every new intake of students studying Pallasmaa s classic text, The Eyes of the Skin provides a totally fresh understanding of architecture and a new set of insights. This third edition is intended to meet students desire for a further understanding of the context of Pallasmaa s thinking by providing a new essay by architectural author and educator Peter MacKeith. This text combines both a biographical portrait of Pallasmaa and an outline of his architectural thinking. The new edition will includes a new…

Book cover of The Passing of the Dragon

Helen H. Wu Author Of Long Goes to Dragon School

From Helen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Translator Art enthusiast Asian American heritage advocate

Helen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Helen's 9-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Helen love this book?

This brief tale offers a profound exploration of an artist's inner journey. It delves into the insecurities and fears that often haunt creative minds.

The protagonist's quest for inspiration, intertwined with a surprising twist involving her beloved poet, adds captivating layers to the narrative. It elegantly portrays the elusive essence of art, where the artist's intent can diverge from the audience's perception.

As an artist, I found it deeply relatable—a poignant reminder of the intricate dynamics within our creative pursuits. This narrative is a valuable gift to fellow artists, beautifully articulating the pursuit of visibility and the complex interplay between creator and audience.

By Ken Liu,

Why should I read it?

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

The Children's Crusade

By Henry Treece,

Book cover of The Children's Crusade

Thorne Moore Author Of Long Shadows

From the list on lives, perception, and beliefs of ordinary people.

Who am I?

I studied history at school and university, always with a leaning towards social, economic, and religious history, rather than political and military. I do appreciate well-researched biographical detail, but I prefer fiction that depicts ordinary life convincingly and gets inside the heads of ordinary people, understanding their world through their eyes, their needs, and most importantly their beliefs. I grew up in England, but I live now in West Wales, where history runs very close to the surface. My books are frequently ranked as Crime, but rather than being detective fiction, they explore the deep roots of crimes and their far-reaching consequences, through decades or even generations.

Thorne's book list on lives, perception, and beliefs of ordinary people

Why did Thorne love this book?

I chose this because it was probably the first historical novel I read, aged 11 or 12. It deals with real events – sort of. Whether the Children’s Crusades of the early 13th century really involved children or merely the dispossessed poor, this book did bring to life the driving force of the religious fanaticism of the time. And whipping up young people to leave their homes and head for a war zone in the hope of dying or killing for God is a horribly contemporary theme, though it was written in the 1950s. An excellent introduction to historical fiction for young people, but also thought-provoking for adults.

By Henry Treece,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Book cover of Opinions and Opossums

R.L. Toalson Author Of The First Magnificent Summer

From the list on young female empowerment.

Who am I?

I wrestled with big questions as a child, particularly concerning gender inequality. I was aware of the issue as young as 7 years old. I didn’t even feel comfortable challenging the way things were until I was a young adult. Thus began my journey of researching, studying, and embracing women’s rights and gender equality. I feel very passionate about presenting those big questions earlier in the lives of girls, so they start feeling comfortable challenging the places where things don’t make sense, or the areas where inequality still exists. There is a need for more books like these in the market, but I hope you enjoy this list!

R.L.'s book list on young female empowerment

Why did R.L. love this book?

I love this book because it tackles big questions on the female front—including those young girls have about religion: Why is Eve blamed for everything? Why is God always portrayed as a man?

Main character Agnes itches with questions. But girls aren’t supposed to question authority. As she thinks more and more about the deep things, Agnes wrestles when her own opinions and finds her courage to challenge the status quo—as every girl needs to do!

By Ann Braden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Agnes has been encouraged not to question authority by her mum-but that's especially hard in religion class, where it bugs her that so much gets blamed on Eve and that God's always pictured one way. Fortunately, Agnes' anthropologist neighbour, Gracy, gets Agnes thinking after they rescue an opossum together. Playing dead didn't serve the opossum well, so maybe it's time for Agnes to start thinking for herself. And when Agnes learns that some cultures picture God as a female, she feels freed to think-and write-about things from new perspectives. As she and her best friend, Mo, encourage each other to…

The Sundial

By Shirley Jackson,

Book cover of The Sundial

F. Brett Cox Author Of The End of All Our Exploring

From the list on the old (and new) weird America.

Who am I?

Author Greil Marcus’ phrase “the old, weird America” gave me exactly the right words for something I’ve always felt: that there is a specific weirdness to the American landscape, an uncontrollable current of strange that runs beneath the carefully cultivated surface of heroes and neighbors and shared, stable dreams. Of course, as William Faulkner observed, the past isn’t past, and America is as weird as it’s ever been. Maybe weirder. Look at the news. Look out your window. No surprise, then, that I’m drawn to such a perspective when I read other people’s stories, and seldom get completely away from it when I write my own.

F.'s book list on the old (and new) weird America

Why did F. love this book?

Sometimes you come to an older book as an experienced reader and can still be amazed. Everyone knows The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but everyone should also know this remarkable novel about a world that may or may not be ending, a family that may or may not have special knowledge, a society that may or may not deserve to continue. No one understood the concept of “just beneath the surface” better than Shirley Jackson, and few if any explored it with more wit and grace.  

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before there was Hill House, there was the Halloran mansion of Jackson’s stunningly creepy fourth novel, The Sundial

When the Halloran clan gathers at the family home for a funeral, no one is surprised when the somewhat peculiar Aunt Fanny wanders off into the secret garden. But then she returns to report an astonishing vision of an apocalypse from which only the Hallorans and their hangers-on will be spared, and the family finds itself engulfed in growing madness, fear, and violence as they prepare for a terrible new world.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher…

The Mind's Eye

By Oliver Sacks,

Book cover of The Mind's Eye

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

Why did M. love this book?

For me, thinking about blindness and the brain all started with an essay by Oliver Sacks called “To See and Not See” (An Anthropologist on Mars). In The Mind’s Eye Sacks picks up some of the threads of that earlier essay and goes deep into how seeing is not just a matter of having functioning eyes. From the pianist who could  suddenly no longer read music to blind people (like myself) who still consider themselves very visual, these neurological tales are intellectually intriguing and emotionally compelling. Sacks even includes his own journal of vision loss as one of the case studies. But whether he is the patient or the doctor, his distinct voice and personal connection to his subject matter has had a huge influence on my own writing.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How does the brain perceive and interpret information from the eye? And what happens when the process is disrupted?

In The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world - and The Mind's Eye is testament to the myriad…


By Timothy D. Wilson,

Book cover of Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live by

Susan M. Weinschenk Author Of How to Get People to Do Stuff: Master the art and science of persuasion and motivation

From the list on understanding human behavior.

Who am I?

I have a Ph.D. in Psychology and a lifelong fascination with people and why they do the things they do, including why I do the things I do. My life and career have been all about trying to learn as much as I can about psychology, brain science, how people think, how people learn, and how to use this body of knowledge and research to understand myself and others. My work is about applying behavioral science to the design of technology to better fit and serve people.

Susan's book list on understanding human behavior

Why did Susan love this book?

Redirect describes the research on how self-stories drive our behavior. “Self-stories” are the small stories we tell ourselves and others about why we do what we do. There are two reasons why this book is so amazing: First, it makes you see that these largely unconscious self-stories are really controlling our whole lives, and secondly, Dr. Wilson shares his research on how very easy it actually is to change the stories and therefore change our lives. I’ve used his techniques many times to make it through my own life challenges and it works. Changing your self-story is the only way to get your life to change. Luckily, if you follow Dr. Wilson’s research and techniques you will discover it is much easier than you think to change the stories.

By Timothy D. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What if there were a magic pill that could make you happier, turn you into a better parent, solve a number of your teenager's behavior problems, reduce racial prejudice, and close the achievement gap in education? There is no such pill, but story editing -- the scientifically based approach described in Redirect -- can accomplish all of this.

The world-renowned psychologist Timothy Wilson shows us how to redirect the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us, with subtle prompts, in ways that lead to lasting change. Fascinating, groundbreaking, and practical, Redirect demonstrates the remarkable power small changes…

A Stone Sat Still

By Brendan Wenzel (illustrator),

Book cover of A Stone Sat Still

Carli Valentine Author Of The Fun Thieves

From the list on that teach how perspective is everything.

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.

Carli's book list on that teach how perspective is everything

Why did Carli love this book?

I absolutely adore this book by Brendan Wenzel. It’s all about a stone and how various animals see it and describe it in completely different ways. It contains a powerful message about how we all have different perspectives. Many different factors play into our perspectives such as life experiences, our upbringing, our personality, and our attitude. It was a wonderful conversation starter with my children so we could talk about how we can change our attitudes and shape our perspectives to achieve a more happy life. 

By Brendan Wenzel (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Stone Sat Still as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brilliant follow-up to the Caldecott Honor-winning and New York Times bestselling picture book They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel!

A Stone Sat Still tells the story of a seemingly ordinary rock-but to the animals that use it, it is a resting place, a kitchen, a safe haven...even an entire world.

This is a gorgeous exploration of perspective, perception, and the passage of time, with an underlying environmental message that is timely and poignant.

* Filled with stunning illustrations in cut paper, pencil, collage, and paint
* Soothing rhythms invite reading aloud and bedtime snuggles
* Introduces concepts…