Wednesday, 6 March 2013

My top 5 brilliant psychology books for everyone

The following books are fantastic for anyone with an interest in psychology:

Fascinating, easy-to-read psychology books...

Nature via Nurture: Genes, experience and what makes us human by Matt Ridley

An expert on making evolutionary theory accessible, here Ridley tackles the nature-nurture debate, trying to find answers to the extent to which we are ruled by our genes. The key idea which he explains here is that the genome is not detailed enough to be a complete masterplan, but instead interacts with the environment to make us who we are. He shows how some of the great thinkers in psychology have contributed, each in their own way, to our understanding of human nature. 

Help! by Oliver Burkeman

Self-help books get a bad name, but how to distinguish the good from the bad (without having to read them all)? This book humourously runs through a vast range, current and classic. It debunks the likes of 'paraliminal' CDs and psycho-cybernetics, finds useful insights from some of the older titles in the genre, and gives intriguing summaries of many research findings. In a few cases he concludes, refreshingly, that he simply can't decide whether a technique works or not. It's light-hearted but well-researched throughout.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

For years the structure of the brain has been viewed as static once we reach adulthood - no new neurons or functional change. Doidge elegantly summarises how the new field of neuroplasticity is changing that view, and how it applies to areas such as addiction and stroke recovery.

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

A classic - essays about mysterious neurological conditions, each fascinating and very readable. From the title case of visual agnosia to tales of memory loss to autistic savants. Curiously, Sacks himself suffers from a rare neurological condition called prosopagnosia, meaning that he is unable to recognise faces.

50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler-Bowden

This book deserves its place in my list due to its massive scope, and it's a book I wish had been around when I was first studying psychology. By summarising both classic and contemporary works, it opens up a real magic box of research in neat, 4-page summaries and clearly shows why each is relevant to real life. I loved the 'in a nutshell' 1-sentence summaries for each one too, and the links to related chapters.

What have I missed? Share your favourites in the comments. 

This post is part of #BlogFlash2013 - 30 days of flash blogging - using 
the prompt 'books'


  1. I enjoy your blog very much! My son has the BS in Psychology, not me, but your insight is very relatable for the nonprofessional. I've always been interested in psycology, so this post is perfect!

    Linda Ulleseit

  2. Thank you Linda, I'm glad you found it useful... I'll keep that in mind :)