Best Psychology Books

There’s nothing quite like delving into the best psychology books to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others around you. As 450 million people suffer from mental disorders, if not more, due to a stigma of seeking help, this is by far one of the essential subjects to consider.

Although self-diagnosis isn’t recommended, the best books on psychology can help you to better understand the afflictions you encounter daily. Even for students who are searching for curriculum materials or books that can help you to understand a topic in your classes better, these titles will prove to be invaluable.

You can guarantee there won’t be a shortage of materials, as you can browse through titles written by authors who have dealt with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and more. Having a deeper understanding of the human psyche and how it can be affected over the years is an asset that plenty of people do not have.

The best books on psychology are incredibly notable, as trained professionals in the field wrote them. Not only will you have statistically valid information at your fingertips, but you will also be able to gain experience from individuals who have been face to face with patients suffering from an assortment of disorders.

Being able to understand how to assess, diagnose, and treat these disorders can provide you with the stepping stones you need to establish yourself as a trained psychologist or psychiatrist.

If you’re not searching for classroom texts, psychology books can also assist you in dealing with a loved one’s diagnosis. Plenty of the titles that we recommend are fantastic resources for families struggling through mental disorders, especially if you have a fundamental understanding of the ones you’re faced with.

Using these books can assist you with making a choice to get help, or helping a family member in getting help for themselves. With the help of the best psychology books on this list, you will have the opportunity to see yourself in a different, healthier way, which is better not only for you but for everyone around you, as well.

Best Psychology Books, Best Books on Psychology

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Put aside your insecurities over any lack of talent and ability you might feel, and pick up Angela Duckworth's book Grit. Instead of focusing on the idea that there’s a big secret behind outstanding achievement, Duckworth touts the importance of blending passion and relentless persistence, otherwise known as grit. Duckworth herself is the daughter of scientists who frequently told her she lacked genius. Her book shows how everyday people, from cadets at West Point to finalists in National Spelling Bees, have actually succeeded through sheer passion and persistence. The trick is finding your own grit.
Sujan Patel
Co-Founder/Web Profits
Science and Sanity

Science and Sanity

Science and Sanity, by Alfred Korzybski. OK, General Semantics was the 30s equivalent of pop-psychology in the 70s, but there are some great concepts there. "The map is not the territory." The idea is that people get stuck in concepts and don't go back to observation. My friend George Simon applied General Semantics to psychology, and gave me a grounding in how to see people and to acknowledge what I saw that is the bedrock of my personal philosophy to this day. There are many popular introductions to General Semantics on the market, and also a fun science-fiction book, A.E. van Vogt's The World of Null-A.
Tim O'Reilly
Founder/O'Reilly Media
The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

This is probably the definitive beginner text on evolutionary psychology and one of the easiest to get into. It’s a little depressing at first, realizing how ruthless many of our so called “good” feelings are. But then you realize that truth is better than ignorance, and you emerge seeing the world as it truly is for the first time.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
The Art of Thinking Clearly

The Art of Thinking Clearly

Dobelli examines our most common decision-making failings with engaging eloquence and describes how to counter them with instructive good sense.
Robert Cialdini
Author
The Power of Persuasion: How We're Bought and Sold

The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Sold

The ability to be convincing, sell ideas, and persuade other people is a meta-skill that transfers to many areas of your life. This book didn't become that popular, but it's the best book on persuasion that Will has found. It's much more in-depth than other options in the genre.
Will MacAskill
Founder/80,000 Hours
The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

A chance to reflect on your own life and flaws by reading how others deal with theirs. I also love how short the vignettes are. Usually just a few pages. It’s immensely readable, and the whole book is refreshingly succinct as well.
David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp
The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature

The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature

If you're trying to get people to buy more stuff, this book will show you how. If you're trying to understand why you buy so much stuff, this book will show you how as well. Good stuff on every page.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

A lot of people email me asking about habits - how to form good ones, how to break bad ones, how to stop doing the dumb shit we always do. I've got a friend named James Clear. He's an accomplished author and business owner and is kind of a "habit guru." He's probably forgotten more habits research than I've ever brought myself to look at. He just launched his first book. It's called Atomic Habits and it's probably the most practical and complete guide I've ever seen about habit formation and habit change. Do check it out. And then email him and tell him that I have luscious and beautiful hair and he doesn't. Then stick out your tongue and go, "Nyah, nyanya, nyah, nyah."
Mark Manson
Author
Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

The psychologist Roy F. Baumeister has shown that the force metaphor has a kernel of neurobiological reality. In Willpower, he has teamed up with the irreverent New York Timesscience columnist John Tierney to explain this ingenious research and show how it can enhance our lives. . . . Willpower is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition.
Steven Pinker
Author
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Just look at the table of contents:
  • Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  • Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  • Rule 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you
  • Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  • Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  • Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world
  • Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  • Rule 8: Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  • Rule 9: Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  • Rule 10: Be precise in your speech
  • Rule 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  • Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
Read this book.
James Altucher
Entrepreneur, investor
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

What I'm reading right now is "The Untethered Soul", which is also a really, really amazing book. It's a little hippy yoga, but it's all about how you deal with stuff that happens to you in life and be emotionally strong.
David Henzel
Co-Founder/MaxCDN
Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious

One of the loveliest, most insightful books about social psychology that I ever read.
Malcolm Gladwell
Writer & Journalist
Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book is amazing—it didn't change my mind, so much as it has changed the way I think. It helps to understand the difference between the way you make quick decisions, versus considered decisions—it takes different mechanisms in the brain. Understanding which you're doing at any given time can have a profound impact on what you ultimately decide.

John Lilly
Partner/Greylock Partners
Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

We often create a false dichotomy between thinking and feeling. In this dichotomy, thinking is important, strong, and adaptive, but feeling is not. Marc Brackett shows us how emotions and our ability to feel, understand, and use them are key to fulfilling our potential.
Carol S. Dweck
Author
Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion

Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion

If you understand principles, you can create tactics. If you are dependent on perishable tactics, you are always at a disadvantage. This is why Ramit studies behavioral psychology and the elements of persuasion that appear hardwired. One of his most gifted books is Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, and his favorite copywriting book is an oldie: The Robert Collier Letter Book, originally published in 1931.
Ramit Sethi
Founder/GrowthLab
Escape from Freedom

Escape from Freedom

Escape from Freedom examines what happened to the human psyche when we went from a medieval caste system to the modern world. As we gained freedom from all sorts of oppressions, we also got detached from a predictable and safe role in society. That anxiety is often difficult to cope with, especially when things don’t turn out the way we aspired to. Fromm argues that we need to balance this freedom from with just as much freedom to. Positive freedom, not just negative freedom.

The book was written in 1941 and obviously colored by the rise of fascism and the world wars. But it’s message is as timely today, in an age of populism and unease. It draws a compelling connection between the loss of identity and belonging with the appeal of authoritarian figures. That it’s a human response to turn away from freedom when that freedom turns life into anxiety and disappointment. So from Trump to Erdogan, there’s strong public support.

David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp
The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays

The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays

The title essay in this book is peerless and amazing. The rest of the essays, which talk about Haley’s unusual approach to psychotherapy are also quite good. If you’ve gone to therapy, are thinking about going to therapy, or know someone going to therapy, this book is a must-read.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
When the Body Says No: The cost of hidden stress

When the Body Says No: The cost of hidden stress

Once thought to be in the domain of genes, our health and behavior have recently been revealed to be controlled by our perception of the environment and our beliefs. Gabor Mate, M.D., skillfully blends recent advances in biomedicine with the personal insights of his patients to provide empowering insight into how deeply developmental experiences shape our health, behavior, attitudes, and relationships. A must-read for health professionals and lay readers seeking awareness of how the mind controls health.
Bruce Lipton
PhD, Cellular Biologist, Author
The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

“The Compassionate Instinct” is a great resource for those who wish to enhance their socio-psyche abilities for thought leadership, especially for wellbeing leadership development. The literature probes into the infinite resources of human capital, particularly into avenues of humans’ compassionate instinct. Our compassionate instinct plays a cardinal role in how we choose to connect to others.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Love’s Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Love's executioner and other tales of psychotherapy.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology

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