The human psyche is a complex and illusive subject to read about. There are countless books written on the subject, but few are truly great.
Here are our top 19 best books about psychology.
#1 Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
A fascinating book about cognitive biases (automatic errors in decision-making), the different systems in the brain and how they affect these biases and information about how we can improve our own well-being. It’s a long book and quite ‘sciencey’ in parts but well worth a read. It informed a lot of the current work around behavioral economics.
#2 The Dreams Behind the Music: Learn Creative Dreaming as 100+ Top Artists Reveal their Breakthrough Inspirations by Craig Webb
This book reveals a fascinating and rather unique angle on many famous music artists showing how they use nightly dreams for huge breakthroughs in terms of creative inspiration, performance skill mastery, crucial career choices, and even life and death decisions.
Dreamers featured include The Beatles, Sting, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Drake, Lorde, U2, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Beethoven, Mozart, and many others detailing the dreams have led to 20+ Grammy wins, the most-covered song of all time, iTunes’ most-sold song, and even major successes in other fields such as the top-grossing film of all time, and even the mega-corporation Google.
It also highlights the universal dream principles and techniques that anyone can use to harvest unparalleled creative inspiration, improve professional skills, heal, and gain key guidance to solve life’s challenges in pragmatic and often quite surprising ways.
#3 Emotional GRIT: 8 Steps to Master Your Emotions, Transform Your Thoughts & Change Your World by Neeta Bhushan
This book is devoted to shedding light into this new era of leadership: emotional leadership that is so needed both in personal interactions and in organisations today. The core concepts of taking people through the emotionalGRIT process: Grow, Reveal, Innovate and Transform. Merging behavioural & brain science with stories of emotional intelligence GRIT to inspire a mandatory change in our mindset, and approach to our own lives.
#4 Counseling and psychotherapy: Newer Concepts in Practice by Carl. R. Rogers
A sensible approach to client-focused care, this book teaches therapists to let the person before us clue us in to their needs. We are not to decide what’s good for someone, they are. The classic education represented in this volume is a humbling experience that evokes decency for both sides of the person aka client/therapist interaction. Therapists are guides, not arbiters nor judges. Therapists provide information plus perspective. They can rely on sound principles as they suggest ideas, the paths to pursue to increasing happiness, while advising the person before them of potential pitfalls and payoffs.
#5 Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath
Change is a frightening thought to many. This book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath considers the hard parts of experiencing changes in both our personal and professional lives, as well as how we can tackle our challenges to make changes happen. It discusses the instinctual and logical parts of our brains and why these two entities make change so difficult for us. By giving thorough, descriptive explanations as well as anecdotes, the authors help reads understand why change can feel paralyzing and what can be done to encourage change.
#6 The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
Nowadays we all want options, but this book by Barry Schwartz talks about how all of these choices are actually leading to anxiety and frustrations. Schwartz elaborates on how choices just make things more complicated and confusing. He discusses how endless possibilities can lead to self-doubt in a person, which can cause a whole host of mental health issues. Schwartz includes anecdotes and research to advise readers on how to make decisions that will truly make them happy.
#7 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Dr. Jordan Peterson
This book describes 12 helpful rules individuals can use to help themselves navigate the complexities of life in an advanced society. It’s incredibly insightful, well written and provides psychologically sound advice for all individuals regardless of age, race, gender or status.
#8 Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
Successful people have high emotional intelligence. This book describes what makes for emotional intelligence and provides the basics about emotions, including their neuro-biology, purpose, and why they’re difficult for humans to master. It is an enlightening blend of psychology and research that teaches us how to better know ourselves and others to help us succeed in life.
#9 How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything, Yes Anything! by Albert Ellis
As one of the fathers of cognitive-behavioral therapy, Ellis teaches us how our thoughts generate our feelings and behaviors. Moreover, he shows us how to change our negative and destructive thinking so that we can be happier and more successful. This book is full of examples of how to do exactly that.
#10 Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Mark Epstein
This book teaches us that happiness comes from letting go, but it’s a special kind of letting go which allows us to set aside expectations and just be with ourselves in the present. Epstein teaches us how to observe without judging and make ourselves okay no matter what is happening in our world. There are many examples and stories to illustrate points the author wants to make.
#11 Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristen Neff
Most of of are sorely lacking in self-compassion, the art of meeting our own suffering with kindness, although we often exhibit this quality with other people. Neff teaches us what self-compassion is and isn’t and provides the evidence for understanding why it is crucial for health and happiness.
#12 UnWorthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself by Annelli Rufus
So many people have a deep hatred of themselves because they believe they’re unworthy of the good things in life, especially love. Rufus explains how this erroneous belief is learned consciously and unconsciously in childhood and how it shapes our lives for the worse. She goes on to describe how we can learn to believe and feel that we’re worthy so that we can live up to our potential.
#13 Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse by Shannon Thomas
Thomas explains what constitutes psychological abuse and why we let it happen. She uses anecdotes and stories to illustrate each type of abuse and how it harms us. She also explains why it’s hard to leave an abuser, how to stop and escape abuse, and how to be free of psychological abusers forever.
#14 The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health by Karen R. Koenig
Emotional eating is a major cause of higher weight and poor health. This book teaches the importance of emotions and how to use them to create a better life. It describes 7 emotions that commonly cause emotional eating and how to break the pattern of turning to food due to stress or distress.
#15 Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry by Randolph M. Nesse, MD
From the co-founder of the field of evolutionary medicine, launched twenty years ago with his coauthored book Why We Get Sick, comes a new, landmark work on why humans are vulnerable to so many mental disorders: GOOD REASONS FOR BAD FEELINGS: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry (Dutton; February 12, 2019), by Randolph M. Nesse, MD.
#16 Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts by Suzann Pawelski, James Pawelski
Written by a husband-and-wife team of positive psychology experts, this book provides step-by-step instructions to strengthen your relationship, get through difficult times, reignite passion, or turn your “good” marriage into a “great” one! Not only do I apply the principles in this book to my own relationship, but often recommend it to my clients who are looking for a deeper connection with their partners and thriving romantic relationships.
#17 The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Everyone should read the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The book is full of research and examples of how a positive brain fuels success in work and life. The book provides clear examples of how you can adopt a positive and optimistic attitude. It teaches how to make small shifts in your mindset that can move you from the attitude of “I will be happy when I get that job/car/partner” to being happy NOW to fuel your future success.
#18 Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung & Aniela Jaffé
A preeminent psychologist’s best written work.
#19 The Parents Manual of Sport Psychology by James I. Millhouse,Ph.D.
This book describes the psychological approach used by many of the most successful athletes in the world to be the best and avoid things that can lead to failure. The same strategies can be used by anyone to achieve anything.