The most recommended books about reason

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to reason, and here are their favorite reason books.
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Book cover of Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry

David M. Skover Author Of The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon

From my list on freedom of speech history and purposes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired federal constitutional law professor, the former Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Constitutional Law at Seattle University Law School. Moreover, I am the coauthor of more than ten books, most of them focusing on First Amendment free speech topics. Often, I wrote at the intersection of popular culture and free speech rights. My booklist reflects my passion for books about the history, purposes, and practices of freedom of speech, particularly as it is exercised in the United States.

David's book list on freedom of speech history and purposes

David M. Skover Why did David love this book?

Freedom of speech means many things to many people, but often the advocates of free speech have not thought very clearly or deeply about the purposes for protecting speech and the reasons for the American free speech system.

Of all of the books on free speech theory that I have read, I appreciate Fred Schauer’s book the most. It is truly a classic about the philosophical foundations of freedom of speech. Do not be intimidated by the idea of free speech theory:  Schauer’s book can be understood by any serious nonfiction reader, and I highly recommend it for its powerful reasoning and beautiful prose.  

By Frederick Schauer,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of As A Man Thinketh

Zangba Thomson Author Of Take a Look... There's Money All Around You!

From my list on self-development to help you become successful.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Zangba Thomson, a happy, positive, and charismatic human being. I appreciate the simple things in life, and I am content with what I have. I laugh and smile a lot, and people say I am always in a good mood. I love to motivate, encourage, and inspire people to focus on the solution and not the problem; and to be optimistic and cheerful despite difficulties. In a nutshell, I love seeing people succeed. My motto is (P) Positive (E) Energy (A) Always (C) Creates (E) Elevation (PEACE). I hope you enjoy my book recommendations and I wish you the very best on your road to success. 

Zangba's book list on self-development to help you become successful

Zangba Thomson Why did Zangba love this book?

A book I strongly recommend on your success journey is As A Man Thinketh. This 60-page book is short, sweet, and to the point. Your thoughts are things, and you are where you are in life because of how you think. Understanding that profound statement can enable you to weave happiness and prosperity into your life. Also, As A Man Thinketh will show you how to always stay positive and keep successful thoughts flowing in your mind so you can live a prosperous life. 

Book cover of Reasons as Defaults

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Horty uses tools that were originally developed in the fields of artificial intelligence and non-monotonic logic in order to develop an explanatory theory of how reasons compete with one another. The main thing that has led contemporary moral philosophers to be so interested in reasons is that they seem to be able to compete. For example, if on the one hand, you promised your friend to keep a secret, that is a reason that counts against telling anyone else, but if the secret is that they are having an affair with the spouse of another of your friends, that is a reason that counts in favor of telling, and to figure out what you should do, it seems like we have to weigh these reasons together to see which one is more important. But very few ethicists have gotten very far in thinking about the distinctive challenges…

By John F. Horty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although the study of reasons plays an important role in both epistemology and moral philosophy, little attention has been devoted to the question of how, exactly, reasons interact to support the actions or conclusions they do. In this book, John F. Horty attempts to answer this question by providing a precise, concrete account of reasons and their interaction, based on the logic of default reasoning. The book begins with an intuitive, accessible introduction to
default logic itself, and then argues that this logic can be adapted to serve as a foundation for a concrete theory of reasons. Horty then shows…


Book cover of Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain

Daryl Weber Author Of Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands

From my list on to help you understand the mind of your customer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was young, I was fascinated with how the mind works; how all of our thoughts, feelings, memories, decisions, and actions come out of this lump of flesh in our heads. I studied consciousness, psychology, and neuroscience both at university, and on my own for decades. Once I started working in marketing, for many of the biggest and best brands in the world, I realized that marketers tend to have deep misconceptions and misunderstandings for how the mind actually works. My goal is to bridge the gap between all of the knowledge we have about the brain, and how that could be helpful to brands and marketers. 

Daryl's book list on to help you understand the mind of your customer

Daryl Weber Why did Daryl love this book?

The work of Dr. Damasio was foundational in building my understanding of how human emotions work, and their role in human actions and decision making. This book explores Damasio’s work in detail, giving a rich understanding of human emotions – and how they are not frivolous things but actually core to how humans act and behave. 

By Antonio Damasio,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the centuries since Descartes famously proclaimed, 'I think, therefore I am,' science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person's true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended until recently to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes' Error. Antonio Damasio challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wonderfully engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery through a series of case studies, demonstrating what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury,…


Book cover of Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

Dan Hill Author Of Two Cheers for Democracy: How Emotions Drive Leadership Style

From my list on the heart of leaders when democracy is at risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family moved to Italy when I was six, and I attended Italian first grade in a fishing village where I had to rely on reading body language as I didn’t grasp the language for a bit. Fortunately for me, Italians have lots of body language to read so I could navigate the inevitable cliques and power dynamics evident even at the elementary school level. From that experience to being taken to view the Dachau concentration camp a year later, I’ve always been sensitive to how “the other” gets treated—often unfairly—and the role leaders can play for good or evil.

Dan's book list on the heart of leaders when democracy is at risk

Dan Hill Why did Dan love this book?

Armed with the latest findings in neurobiology, the author explores how profoundly emotions drive our behavior and “thinking.” Why the air quotes around the word, thinking? The answer is that fMRI brain scan data reveals that most decision-making is basically emotionally driven, intuitive, and super quick, i.e. under a second.

By Leonard Mlodinow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to eat for breakfast to how to influence people, and not one of them could be made without the essential component of emotion. It has long been held that thinking and feeling are separate and opposing forces in our behaviour. But as best-selling author Leonard Mlodinow tells us, extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well being as thinking.

How can you connect better with others? How can you improve your relationship to frustration, fear, and anxiety? What can you do to live…


Book cover of World-Tree Online

J.J. Thorn Author Of Heavy

From my list on LitRPG for both creative worlds and engaging magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

Though I write, I will always be a LitRPG reader first. I enjoy these stories for their ability to craft interesting magical worlds, their creativity of plot, and their breadth of scope. Some LitRPGs are two-dimensional, which have their place, but each of the stories I’ve listed here are most definitely not. They act as my inspiration, both in how I wish to write and in how I’d like to be more creative overall. My day job is as a technical writer for a software company, and LitRPG stories got me back into reading, forced me to think more creatively, and allowed me to follow my dream of writing my own.

J.J.'s book list on LitRPG for both creative worlds and engaging magic

J.J. Thorn Why did J.J. love this book?

Whenever I think of a ‘typical’ LitRPG, I think of World Tree Online. And I’ll be honest, I dropped it once before picking it back up! Years after my grave mistake, I still point people towards this story because it exemplifies many of the reasons why I love this genre: A thought-provoking world where human emotions take root in both the good and ‘bad’ characters; a story where there are actual consequences when things go wrong; and a magic system with endless possibilities, driven by creativity and perseverance. 

If I haven’t sold you yet, know that the action escalates with each book and the author only got more creative as time went on. This story is one I draw inspiration from often and I hope you check it out.

By E.A. Hooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked World-Tree Online as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2056, the world’s most powerful AI System, ARKUS, comes online. Created to extend human lifespans, it quickly makes world-changing discoveries in health science. It also develops an advanced VR headset that uses consumable nanomachines to let users experience time faster in virtual worlds.

Two years later, ARKUS releases World-Tree Online, a game where players scale a giant tree with thousands of unique game worlds hanging from the branches. The game’s time-dilation makes it so that one hour of playtime feels like one month to those in-game, allowing humans to virtually extend their lifespans.

However, after an old gamer named…


Book cover of The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt

Graeme Gill Author Of Revolution and Terror

From my list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became passionate about this subject when I was at university and I realised that so many revolutions that were conducted in the name of high ideals ended up involving considerable suffering and death on the part of the ordinary people. And not just the ordinary people, but the revolutionaries as well. Why, I wondered, was this the case, and did it mean, as many in the 1960s and 1970s argued, that revolution was ultimately self-defeating? The quest to answer these questions remains on-going, but the books I have suggested have helped me to make some headway towards a resolution.

Graeme's book list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”

Graeme Gill Why did Graeme love this book?

I love this book because it is a passionate statement about revolution in the middle of the twentieth century by one of the foremost philosophers of our time.

The book is stimulating because of the depth of reasoning and clarity of argument, but also because it continually stimulates me to argue with it. Without doubt, a classic of its genre and one that, while not always easy to read, I found hard to put down.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide Our Politics

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Author Of Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

From my list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of communication and political science who’s been researching and publishing on the effects of political media on democratic health for 25 years. More recently, I’ve been trying to understand the roots of inter-party hostility, the drop in trust in institutions, and the rise in Americans’ belief in breathtakingly false information. My hope is that through this selection of books, you’ll start to understand the synergistic dynamics between America’s complicated history with race, changes in America’s parties, media, and culture, and various social psychological processes, and maybe even start to see a way out of this mess.

Dannagal's book list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Why did Dannagal love this book?

I always tell my students that one thing that I love about being a social scientist is that it’s as much art as it is science. Oliver and Wood exemplify the creative side of social psychology as they study how people are intuitionists or rationalists.

My favorite part is the questions that they designed to measure whether people are “magical thinkers,” that is, are they more concerned about symbolic harm than actual harm: “Would you rather stick your hands in a bowl of cockroaches or stab a photo of your family six times?”

I like to think of myself as rational, but there’s no way you could make me stab a photo of my family! I’ll take the cockroaches, thank you…

By J. Eric Oliver, Thomas J. Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

America is in civic chaos, its politics rife with conspiracy theories and false information. Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the rise, while scientists, universities, and news organizations are viewed with increasing mistrust. Its citizens reject scientific evidence on climate change and vaccinations while embracing myths of impending apocalypse. And then there is Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who won the support of millions of conservative Christians despite having no moral or political convictions. What is going on?

The answer, according to J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, can be found in the most important force shaping American politics today:…


Book cover of Locked Room Murders

Martin Edwards Author Of The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators

From my list on crime fiction, the world’s most popular genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a storyteller and I conceived The Life of Crime as the ‘life story’ of a fascinating and truly diverse genre. I’ve always been intrigued by the ups and downs of literary lives, and the book explores the rollercoaster careers of writers from across the world. The chapter endnotes contain masses of trivia and information, as well as some original research, that I hope readers will find enjoyable as well as interesting. But The Life of Crime isn’t an academic text. It’s a love letter to a genre that I’ve adored for as long as I can remember.  

Martin's book list on crime fiction, the world’s most popular genre

Martin Edwards Why did Martin love this book?

This is a fun book. The late Bob Adey’s passion for locked-room puzzles and his extraordinary breadth of reading shines through. After a discursive history of this type of detective story, he lists over two thousand novels and stories and the ‘impossible crime’ elements within them. A separate section listing all the solutions is not only enlightening but highly entertaining. A recent updated edition by Brian Skupin evidences the enduring appeal of ‘miraculous mysteries.’ 

Book cover of The Age of American Unreason

Joel Stein Author Of In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book

From my list on saving democracy from populism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started worrying about populism in 2008, when vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin chastised the elitists, whom she defined as “people who think they’re better than anyone else.” Meanwhile, she thought she was so much better than anyone else that she could serve as backup leader of the world despite the fact that she believed that the political leader of the United Kingdom is the queen. After she lost she vowed, “I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist.” She was unaware that there is a third option: to study so that you know more than the next person. 

Joel's book list on saving democracy from populism

Joel Stein Why did Joel love this book?

If you’ve ever wondered if people today are dumber than people in the past, you should watch Idiocracy. And then read this book. It shows how we’ve devolved into people who look at lists of the best five books and never actually read those books. In 2008, for a column for the L.A. Times, I had her take a quiz from the author of the book How Dumb Are You?: The Great American Stupidity Quiz and she got two wrong. I got 11 wrong. The point is: Read her book instead of mine.

By Susan Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreasonfocuses on the convergence of social forces—usually treated as separate entities—that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.