best psychology books

25 Best Books on Psychology

Wondering what to read next? Here we bring you the Best Books on Psychology.


best psychology books

“It is not primarily our physical selves that limit us but rather our mindset about our physical limits.” 


This quote by Ellen J. Langer aptly summarizes the strength that our mind has over us. Our thought process influences each aspect of our life, from music preferences to career goals, from our sense of styling to the side of the bed we prefer to sleep on. Most of us are unaware of the forces of our mind and how with proper knowledge and tools, we can manipulate the mind to become the best versions of ourselves. Our psychology is characterized by several issues pertaining to philosophy, such as free will vs. determinism, dualism vs. monism, etc. Psychology and Philosophy are both correlated, one loses meaning without the other. Hence, it is necessary to understand the philosophy of psychology. 

We hope that by the end of this list you would get your next inspiration to read amongst the Best Books on Psychology.

Contents

Best Books On Psychology

1. THINKING, FAST AND SLOW - By Daniel Kahneman

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Kahneman delves into the dynamics of our thought process and breaks it down into two systems that direct the way we visualize. System 1 is fast and automatic, based on our unthinking subconscious; whereas System 2 is more slow, logical, and calculative – based on our conscious mind. By knowing the cohesiveness of these two systems, we can understand our judgments, biases, and decisions – say what makes us happy, how to go about planning a vacation, our risk appetite, etc.

Further, the book sheds light on behavioural psychology and also introduces the concept of WYSIATI: What You See Is All There Is. WYSIATI explains why we are quick to jump to conclusions in light of visible affirmation; completely ignoring all we cannot see at first glance. Thinking, Fast and Slow will give you a new perspective on behaviours and judgments and understand how despite being given the same set of evidence, two individuals can develop completely opposite narratives of the same situation.

The book won the award for Notable Books for Adults in the year 2012 and the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

2. THE SOCIAL ANIMAL: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement - By David Brooks

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

This book is impossible to put down, compelling us to change our skewed version of the world and the way we see ourselves. Brooks trails the framework along with the lives of two fictional characters, Harold and Erica, a married couple, and uses them to illustrate theories based on human nature and society. These characters are used to depict that there are two levels of mind, one unconscious and the other conscious, and Brooks aptly addresses the relation between these two areas. Reading this book will have a strong social impact, revealing that what matters most to people nowadays is how they relate to one another and that in the long run, our emotional relationships have a great influence on our mental construct and well-being.

The book debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list.

3. THE HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS - By Jonathan Heidt

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The Happiness Hypothesis is not another self-help book, teaching you how to plaster a silly smile on your face and asking you to see the world with a rainbow-coloured lens. The book has 10 chapters, each shedding light on how various civilizations around the world from times immemorial, and draws upon ancient wisdom and personal happiness. Further, Haidt explains that happiness isn’t attained internally or externally. A human being subsists both as an individual as well as a member of social circles. Hence, happiness can be achieved by finding the perfect balance between these two spheres. 

To quote from the book, “A good place to look for wisdom… is where you least expect to find it: in the minds of your opponents. You already know the ideas common on your own side. If you can take off the blinders of the myth of pure evil, you might see some good ideas for the first time.”

4. INFLUENCE: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION - By Robert Cialdini

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The book highlights six universal principles of persuasion used by practitioners all across the planet. It touches upon the dynamics of Human Psychology based on countless experiments and researches; and also explains why and how professionals are able to sell us their ideas. The framework of the book is based on thirty-five years of a rigorous research of Dr Robert Cialdini. The principles explained are Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity.

These principles can help you stimulate personal development and act as a shove to the path of success; and how you can make use of this philosophy to influence those around you and at the same time how to defend yourself against it.

Fortune listed the book in their “75 Smartest Business Books”. It is also mentioned in 50 Psychology Classics.

5. MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING - By Viktor E. Frankl

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

In this fascinating book by psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, he grabs our attention with a compelling narrative and how he survived the Nazi concentration camps; and how later in life this experience led him to fabricate the Logotherapy, i.e., the importance of meaning in one’s life. The meaning of life differs from person to person. This meaning of life can be discovered in three ways – by creating a task, having an experience with something or someone, and our attitude towards inevitable suffering. The book also details the meaning of love and suffering. The moment our suffering finds a meaning, it ceases to be so and turns into sacrifice. Once you are successful in finding the meaning of life, you would not only be happy but also be equipped with the ability to cope with sorrows.

This book has been one of the most influential books in the USA and had sold over 10 million copies by the year 1997. 

6. QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING - By Susan Cain

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

This book is a must-read for those who find themselves to be introverted and often wonder what’s wrong with them. In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that being introverted doesn’t necessarily imply that a person is shy and sensitive. Being introverted refers to preference to listen over speaking, being creative and innovative but not taking any credit for the same, and favour working individually over working in teams. 

Cain further goes on to say that the society majorly undervalues introverts and how they are reproached for the same. In doing so, we lose a great deal of talent. She has also been the one to initiate the Quiet revolution and also gives examples of prominent personalities in her book such as Steve Jobs, Van Gogh, Einstein, who were all self-described introverts. 

The book was also awarded the Guardian First Book Award 2012 Longlist and was also featured as one of the 12 Best Psychology Books by British Psychological Society.

7. PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL: THE HIDDEN FORCES THAT SHAPE OUR DECISIONS - By Dan Ariely

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

MIT behavioural economist Dan Ariely demonstrates with the help of numerous evidence and researches that how our ‘rational’ decisions are not so rational as we perceive them to be. Reading this book will help you understand how everyone is just a pawn and as much as we think that we are the ones steering our lives, at the end of the day we are all victims of our own instincts and fears. 

We constantly misjudge, procrastinate, underestimate; however, this does not render our behaviour to be chaotic or senseless. Instead, this pattern of mistakes that we commit makes us ‘Predictably Irrational’. Ariely explains, “My goal, by the end of this book, is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick. I hope to lead you thereby presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing. Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are—how we repeat them again and again—I think you will begin to learn how to avoid some of them”.

8. HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE - By Dale Carnegie

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment with one of the Best Books on Psychology of all time, released in 1936. Dale Carnegie makes use of a plethora of real-life examples and emphasizes the importance of ego and self-esteem.

Carnegie stresses the fact that we must smile, be genuine and considerate towards others and keep criticism to the lowest. “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” he wrote. He further said that taking someone’s name often acts as a love spell and would make that person invariably to start liking you.

The book has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and was number eight on the list of “Top Check Outs OF ALL TIME” by the New York Public Library.

9. GAMES PEOPLE PLAY - By Eric Berne

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

This powerful and eye-opening book details on the games that our human mind plays while making the most basic social interactions. In the first part of the book, Bernes introduces the concept of transactional analysis as a means of interpreting social interactions. The second part talks about “mind games”. We play games all the time – competitive games with our friends, sexual games, power games with our bosses, etc. The book highlights common, often destructive patterns of human interactions, and how these interactions, at times, take on much more complex forms that neither are we aware of nor we can fathom. 

While reading this book, you would be able to identify the toxic games people play with your mind and how you can terminate your part in those games by identifying the patterns of the said game. Games People Play is a great self-help book and a much needed mental vaccine

10. THE POWER OF YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS MIND - By Joseph Murphy

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Murphy’s idea in The Power of Your Subconscious Mind is quite simple. He says if you want something, you just need to etch that idea into your mind. This book will help you uncover your undiscovered potential, overcome your fears, and help you gain that X factor that you have always wanted. Filled with inspiring real-life success stories, this book will unlock the secret to success in whatever path you may choose.

Joseph Murphy provides the cause and effect to each solution. As he has written,” We are what we think all day long”. He equates the power of our subconscious mind with God or a divine entity. The book concludes with how our process of thinking, our psychology can make life-altering transitions in our life.

11. BLINK: THE POWER OF THINKING WITHOUT THINKING - By Malcolm Gladwell

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

In Blink, Gladwell redefines the way we understand the world within. He talks about snap judgments, the psychology behind thinking, without thinking. The main question that the author addresses in this book are when should we trust our instincts blindly and when should we think things through. The book shifts through a number of delightful anecdotes, all about our backstage mental process, that we refer to as intuition. 

Gladwell further explains the theory of ‘thin-slicing’, that is our tendency to extrapolate about something or someone with the help of data picked up by our brain by simply observing and interacting with it. 

12. INCOGNITO: THE SECRET LIVES OF THE BRAIN - By David Eagleman

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The book very lucidly describes what we understand as well as what we do not understand about the brain. Eagleman says that the brain is actually a set of representatives with its own viewpoints, and finally, we choose one such set of beliefs. This book is really interesting and informative about the latest research into the workings of the brain. The book revolves around neuroscience and related concepts.

Initially, you might find the book to be a bit unsettling to find that we are not as ‘in charge’ of our minds as we consider ourselves to be. Eagleman also has an interesting take on crime and punishment, he says that all our actions can be traced back to several states of the brain rather than our individual choice. He argues that we shouldn’t punish criminals and law-offenders, but rehabilitate them through specific mental processes, while others can be locked away for everyone’s protection because there is no way to change things.

13. SWITCH: HOW TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CHANGE IS HARD - By Chip Heath and Dan Heath

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Like many other psychological books, Switch describes two systems of mind – the rational side (the Rider) and the logical side (the Elephant). The Heaths demonstrate how everyday people – employees, managers, parents, etc. have united both these systems and consequently, achieved extraordinary results in their respective domains. 

Often the Elephant ends up controlling the Rider. The book teaches how w can perfectly align both our sides, and thereby make successful changes. Switch talks about transformation, the need for change and how we can make smooth transitions. 

This book is a must-read on Psychology and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 47 weeks, Top 10 Best Business Books of the Year 2010 – The Globe and Mail

14. PSYCHOLOGY - By Pearson (by K. Ciccarelli Saundra, White J. Noland, Misra Girishwar)

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Throughout the book, the authors stimulate the interest of the readers by detailing how psychology relates to their personal lives. This book is used as a textbook and referred in the coursework of many psychology degrees by premier institutes across the world. It describes the importance of Wundt and James in the development of psychology, and how the cognitive revolution shifted psychology’s focus back to the mind.

It goes on to talk about the three Influential Approaches of Psychology: Gestalt, Psychoanalysis, and Behaviorism, as well as the field of Psychology today.

15. STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS - By Daniel Gilbert

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The book revolves around the idea that through cognitive biases and perception, people imagine the future poorly, in particular, what will make them happy. In this witty, fantastically written book, famous Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert talks about the illusion of the mind and how we misjudge our actions and satisfactions. He further talks about how our minds work – and, more importantly, how they sometimes fail.

One of the funniest, interesting and thought-provoking books, it teaches us how much our mind hides from us whilst constructing our imagination and how we have a poor perception of happiness. In 2007, the book was awarded the Royal Society Prize for Science Books general prize for the best science writing for a non-specialist audience.

16. HOW THE WORLD SEES YOU - By Sally Hogshead

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The central thesis of the book is that the greatest value that you can add is to become more of yourself. How The World Sees You gives us step by step method of how we can describe ourselves in just two or three words, and this is the tagline of our personality, a mission statement – helping you to build yourself and captivate those around you.

In this book, Sally Hogshead is less interested in what you do, what your strengths are than in ‘who you are’ – your natural advantages that distinguish you from those around you. “When you live according to your highest district value, you become your most fascinating, and most valuable self”. 

The book includes a private code to unlock one free Fascination Advantage online assessment. Your customized online report, based on Sally Hogshead’s extensive research on what fascinates listeners, will reveal how you fascinate others, including your top two Fascination Advantages in communication, the Personality Archetypes you need on your team to optimize your success, the five words to describe your personality’s highest value to become more successful

17. THE PARADOX OF CHOICE: WHY MORE IS LESS - By Barry Schwartz

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

In The Paradox of ChoiceBarry Schwartz explains how the smallest of our decisions have become way too complex as a result of the numerous choices presented to us. He offers advice on how to focus on the right choices, and how to derive greater satisfaction from the choices that we do make. 

He also explains how too much of a good thing can prove to be dangerous to our psychological and emotional well-being, such as profound dissatisfaction and self-blame in individuals, resulting in paralysis in decision making and depression. The book highlights plenty of interesting concepts and theories and does a great job of outlining various psychological realities about the concept of choice.

18. SWAY: THE IRRESISTIBLE PULL OF IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR - By Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

We are all rational beings; however, we commit many irrational actions in our daily lives, more than we realize or like to admit. In Sway, the Brafman brothers draw on concepts such as behavioural economics, social psychology and organizational behaviour. They present cutting-edge research and evidence showing how once we attribute a certain value to a person or thing, it dramatically alters our perception of subsequent information.

The book introduces us to ‘sways’, the pull towards an irrational decision and why do we get ‘swayed’. Reading this book will take you on a fascinating journey into hidden psychological supremacy that derails our ability to think and make decisions logically

19. THE FIRST 20 HOURS: HOW TO LEARN ANYTHING… FAST! - By Josh Kaufman

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Research has suggested that it takes around 10,000 hours to properly master a skill. However, in this fast pacing world, is it possible to spare that much time? While acquiring a new skill, the beginning is the most crucial and frustrating. In The First 20 Hours, Josh Kaufman offers a consistent approach to become proficient in a particular skill – this method allows us to break down complex skills, maximize productivity and remove common obstacles to learning. By completing 20 hours of focussed and dedicated practice, you can go from knowing absolutely nothing to performing visibly well. 

Dive into this book with Kaufman, and read how he field tests this method as he learns to play the ukulele, practise yoga, learns windsurfing, relearns to touch-type, learning to program a Web application, and study the world’s oldest and most complex game. At the end of the day, the only thing standing between you and the skill you want to pursue is your TV/ web surfing time for the next 2 weeks. 

 

20. THE POWER OF HABIT: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO IN LIFE AND BUSINESS - By Charles Duhigg

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The Power of Habit indulges in scientific discoveries that explain why habits do exist and how they can be changed. The key to coming out at the top is to understand how habits work, about human nature and its potential for transformation. In order to practice a new habit, we need to take advantage of the patterns that already exist within us.

Duhigg talks about the Golden Rule of Habit Change and quotes numerous examples of how people let go of their addictive habits and replaces them with new ones. Duhigg describes how Procter and Gamble used research on the habit loop and its connection to cravings to develop the market for Febreze, a product that eliminates bad odours, to maximize their profitability.

The book reached the bestseller list for USA Today, Amazon.com, The New York Times, and was also long-listed for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award in 2012.

21. THE WILLPOWER INSTINCT: HOW SELF-CONTROL WORKS, WHY IT MATTERS, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO GET MORE OF IT - By Kelly McGonigal

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

McGonigal defines willpower as “the ability to do what you really want to do when part of you really doesn’t want to do it”, and says that humans experience conflicts between impulse and self-control in personal and social contexts and quotes examples like the craving for something to eat, the urge to procrastinate and complain, etc. The book consists of various explanations of biological and psychological mechanisms involved.

Another important part of the book is developing self-awareness by doing exercises, which is crucial to someone wanting to work on one’s willpower and motivation. One of the most important takeaways of the book is that we may never be in control of our thoughts, but we can choose whether and how to act upon them.

22. THE ART OF CHOOSING - By Sheena Iyengar

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

Every moment of our life, we make a choice. These choices define us and shape our lives. In this award-winning book by Sheena Iyengar, she quotes, “Choice allows us to be architects of our future”, and goes on to say that we should take responsibility for our lives and not wait for some greater force, to determine our fate. The book explores the mysteries of choice in everyday life. 

Iyengar writes that by understanding the thinking behind our choices, we may understand ‘metaphorical multilingualism’, that is understanding that goes beyond mere tolerance. She manifests it in her own work, by writing with ‘sighted’ language, in spite of being blind since early childhood and she encourages others to step out of the confines of their minds and enlarge our views of life.

The book was listed third in Amazon’s top ten books in Business & Investing of 2010 and was also shortlisted for the 2010 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

23. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: WHY IT CAN MATTER MORE THAN IQ - By Daniel Goleman

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

In this compelling book, Daniel Goleman insists on us to become our own masters, make our emotions our allies, and no longer be a slave to them. He posits that emotional intelligence is as important as IQ in order to become successful in life. 

The book explores five realms of emotional intelligence – awareness of one’s own emotions; being able to shake off negative emotions such as anxiety, gloom, and irritability; motivating oneself; feeling empathy, and interacting smoothly with others. When the brain is flooded with emotion, we lose the ability to focus as our working memory is unable to work effectively. This book offers avenues of reflection. Goleman also talks about the physiological effects of the manifestation of an emotion. He highlighted the interior dialogue that we have with ourselves and the solutions that have been found by rigorous research in this area.

24. THE ART OF THINKING CLEARLY - By Rolf Dobelli

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The Art of Thinking Clearly was written in the year 2013, as weekly columns in leading newspapers in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The book details the 99 most common errors of judgment made by us – from envy to cognitive biases and social distortions. By identifying these errors, we can avoid them and make better, informed decisions.

Dobelli further goes on to write about the illusion of control and how we tend to believe that we can influence something over which we have absolutely no impact. Exemplarily written, the book offers insights on matters such as Decision Fatigue, Association Bias, Motivatio Crowding, etc. 

The book was also featured in the Top 10 of Germany’s Der Spiegel Bestseller List for 80 consecutive weeks.

25. IKIGAI: THE JAPANESE SECRET TO A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE - By Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia

WHY IT IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS ON PSYCHOLOGY?

The book is based on an ancient Japanese technique called Ikigai. Ikigai means a reason for being, a sense of purpose, and better yet a reason to jump out of bed each morning. The book draws multiple references from an island in Japan called Okinawa, where people have been known to live longer and delightful lives. 

Subsequently, it helps the readers to dive deep into discovering the meaning of life and provides the tools for the same. The authors suggest to find ’flow’ in each and everything we do, that is, completely immerse ourselves into the experience without being distracted by the surroundings.

Ikigai aims for us to find common ground amongst what we love, what are we good at, what the world needs, and what can we be paid for.  

Best Books On Psychology - The Conclusion

We hope you found this list useful. This list consists of books based on different areas of psychology, such as cognitive biases, neuroscience, behavioural economics and so on, and hence, can be read by a wide variety of people. Note that not all the books mentioned here are purely scientific in nature as psychology is a subject that is an amalgamation of science and philosophical theories.
So what are you waiting for? Put on your reading jam, pick up a Psychology book, and dive deep down into the realms of the mind.