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These are books that I, personally, have found useful in teaching or managing or both–or just in understanding more fully the power and plasticity of human learning.  I will add to this list as I think of good books or read new ones.

Books on Psychology, Learning, Management, and Other Interesting Stuff
The Art of Changing the Brain

[completely revolutionized my concepts of teaching and learning and is both research-based on readable]

What the Best College Teachers Do

[anyone who has to teach anyone anything can learn from the stories in this one]

The Big Bing

[anything by Bing is great; this is a collection of his pieces from Fortune]

The Power of Mindful Learning

[just what it says: helping learners become engaged, not passive]

The Brain that Changes Itself

[powerful and intriguing stories about brain plasticity]

Imagine: How Creativity Works

[stories about creativity in all areas of life, from 3M to Bob Dylan and beyond]

What the Dog Saw

[Malcolm Gladwell at his finest: short pieces exploring aspects of human life and work]

The Power of Habit

[a fascinating book filled with examples of how habit takes ahold of our lives and actions]

Thinking, Fast and Slow

[a recent book from one of the pioneers of behavioral economics and “heuristics” research]

You Just Don’t Understand

[one of many fabulous books by Deborah Tannen on the role of communication styles in our lives and work]

Works of Literature: These are some of my favorites works of all time, and they offer, in many cases, greater insights into human behavior and thinking than any number of research studies.  There are hundreds of others I’d like to add, but for now, here’s a starter list.

Middlemarch (my favorite book of all time)

The Sirens of Titan, Mother Knight (both by Kurt Vonnegut–two of his all-time best)

Our Mutual Friend (I could list a dozen great Dickens novels, but this is my favorite)

Of Human Bondage (Maugham’s insight into human emotion is brilliant and compelling)

Vanity Fair (it looks massive and daunting but is hilarious)

The Way we Live Now (I still find this the best explanation of how we got into the financial crisis, even though its from the 19th c)

Crime and Punishment (A single mind, completely explicated, incredibly complex)

Catch-22 (funny and dark–I’ve probably read it 15 times)

The Corrections (strange, but in the best possible way)

The Opposite of Fate (I will read anything by Amy Tan, but this is about her process and is fascinating)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (funny, poignant, detailed, rich)

Carter Beats the Devil (I’m only mad this guy only has one other book)

  1. Thanks for this. You might also be interested in ‘Zen and the Brain’ – James H Austin MD – The MIT Press . . . .

    • Thanks–that looks good. I am always interested in the growing interest in meditation and other “Eastern” approaches by Western neuroscientists–and Aldous Huxley is one of my favorite authors. The Emotional Life of Your Brain touches on some similar topics. Thanks for the tip!

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