Books about psychology

TOP PICK

The absolute go-to must-read book on the topic. The author looks at the part that emotion plays in our lives and thinking, and the physiological and chemical processes involved. Did you know, if a core emotional area of the brain is damaged, we can’t make decisions? This helps to build out our understanding of why others – and we – behave the way we do. If only I could remember most of it, I’m sure I’d get along better…


 

TOP PICK

I love this book. I’m an intovert. The book explains so well what it is to be an introvert, and how they can cope with an extrovert world, as well as how extroverts can relate to introverts. I’m not shy. I enjoy giving presentations to hundreds of people, but afterwards I want to be on my own, or sit in a quiet corner and have a meal or a drink with one or two interesting people. No, I don’t want to get in a bus to drive 45 minutes to a noisy restaurant that someone else likes where I’ll have to shout to communicate with a load of strangers. There’s an excellent chapter on how to bring up introvert children, which should be compulsory reading for all parents.


 

Susan Weinschenk has also written books that bring psychology to design.


 

TOP PICK

What motivates people? Are you intrinsically or extrinsically driven? Why does offering people money to do a job sometimes result in poorer performance? Anyone interested in reward systems at work should read this.


 

I’m not that much into self-help, to be honest. There is an entire industry out there (as with slimming) that feeds off peoples’ need for something better, and which peddles mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science as the way ahead. Sometimes, though, I’ll come across something that’s rooted in reality, that has some real science to back it up, or maybe it’s just a personal narrative that doesn’t make claims of global proportions, but works for that person.

This book gives a convincing and highly entertaining exposition of how mindfulness can help you cope with daily life. It promotes mindfulness as more effective than CBT, and gives you tools that you can put into practice.


 

I had expected something along the lines of how to stop biting your nails, how to diet and stop drinking. This book has a much broader canvas. There’s good background on the science of habits and what it takes to break them. And whilst there is some of the ‘small’ stuff, a lot of the book is also about social movements and the way that people behave on the big stage. It’s difficult to categorise and maybe a stronger subtitle would help out. Well worth a read though.


 

TOP PICK

I had expected a book that used the template of many others, with a pile of reports of psychological research mixed with some stories and personal experience. Instead it’s mostly tales of personal experience with some reference to studies, and it’s all the better for it.

The author is an executive coach and the book is a distillation of many of the lessons he has learned over the years. It’s an entertaining read for all the anecdotes that bring out the lessons, and importantly, it’s concrete and practical. The aim of the book is to help us to live better and work better – where ‘better’ is to be more productive and happier. The actions suggested are realistic and understandable. There’s none of the theory that can take the edge off the practicality, and there’s none of the padding of other books where you think that some good editing could have got the message across in half the words.