10 Books About the Brain for 2019

December 23rd, 2018 7 Comments Features

deeper learning
Brain science is more prolific—and popular—than ever before, and with a deeper understanding of how the mind functions comes a coinciding movement surrounding self-growth and neuroeducation. It’s easier than ever before to self-educate and stay up-to-date with the latest trends when you have not only such a wealth of research coming out, but also popular literature making it more accessible and enjoyable to read.

From Jonah Sachs’s thoughts on how “unsafe thinking” promotes creativity to Michael Pollan’s insights on the relationship between consciousness and mental health, the literature on brain science is expanding rapidly—and so are our minds. Here are ten of our recommendations for brain books to add to next year’s reading list.

1. Unsafe Thinking: How to Be Nimble and Bold When You Need It Most

By Jonah Sachs


“How can you challenge and change yourself when you need it most? We’re creatures of habit, programmed by evolution to favor the safe and familiar, especially when the stakes are high. This bias no longer serves us in a world of constant change.

In fact, today, safe thinking has become extremely dangerous. Through stories of trailblazers in business, health, education and activism, and leveraging decades of research into creativity and performance, Jonah Sachs reveals a path to higher performance and creativity for anyone ready to step out of their comfort zone.” —IndieBound

2. Elastic: Unlocking Your Brain’s Ability to Embrace Change

By Leonard Mlodinow

“Drawing on groundbreaking research, Mlodinow outlines how we can learn to let go of comfortable ideas and become accustomed to ambiguity and contradiction; how we can rise above conventional mindsets and reframe the questions we ask; and how we can improve our ability to solve problems and generate new ideas—critical skills for achieving professional and personal success in our quickly morphing world.” —IndieBound

3. How to Change Your Mind

By Michael Pollan

“A brilliant and brave investigation by Michael Pollan, author of five New York Times best sellers, into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs—and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences… The true subject of Pollan’s ‘mental travelogue’ is not just psychedelic drugs but also the eternal puzzle of human consciousness and how, in a world that offers us both struggle and beauty, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.” —Powell’s Books

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow

By Daniel Kahneman


“In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.” —Barnes and Noble

5. Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are

By Robert Plomin

“In Blueprint, behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin describes how the DNA revolution has made DNA personal by giving us the power to predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses from birth. A century of genetic research shows that DNA differences inherited from our parents are the consistent life-long sources of our psychological individuality—the blueprint that makes us who we are. This, says Plomin, is a game-changer. It calls for a radical rethinking of what makes us who were are.” —Thebestlittlebookshopintown

6. Genius Foods

By Max Lugavere

“In Genius Foods, Lugavere presents a comprehensive guide to brain optimization. He uncovers the stunning link between our dietary and lifestyle choices and our brain functions, revealing how the foods you eat directly affect your ability to focus, learn, remember, create, analyze new ideas, and maintain a balanced mood. Weaving together pioneering research on dementia prevention, cognitive optimization, and nutritional psychiatry, Lugavere distills groundbreaking science into actionable lifestyle changes.” —Harper Collins

7. The Brain: The Story of You

By David Eagleman

“Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman on a whistle-stop tour of the inner cosmos. It’s a journey that will take you into the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, genocide, brain surgery, robotics and the search for immortality. On the way, amidst the infinitely dense tangle of brain cells and their trillions of connections, something emerges that you might not have expected to see: you.” —Canon Gate Books

8. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

By Matthew Walker, PhD


“In this ‘compelling and utterly convincing’ (The Sunday Times) book, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker provides a revolutionary exploration of sleep, examining how it affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. Charting the most cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and marshalling his decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels, regulate hormones, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, slow the effects of aging, and increase longevity. He also provides actionable steps towards getting a better night’s sleep every night.” —Simon and Schuster

9. The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind

By Michael Gazzaniga

“How do neurons turn into minds? How does physical “stuff”—atoms, molecules, chemicals, and cells—create the vivid and various worlds inside our heads? The problem of consciousness has gnawed at us for millennia. In the last century there have been massive breakthroughs that have rewritten the science of the brain, and yet the puzzles faced by the ancient Greeks are still present. In The Consciousness Instinct, the neuroscience pioneer Michael S. Gazzaniga puts the latest research in conversation with the history of human thinking about the mind, giving a big-picture view of what science has revealed about consciousness.” —Macmillan Publishers

10. The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves

By Eric Kandel

“In his seminal new book, The Disordered Mind, Kandel draws on a lifetime of pathbreaking research and the work of many other leading neuroscientists to take us on an unusual tour of the brain. He confronts one of the most difficult questions we face: How does our mind, our individual sense of self, emerge from the physical matter of the brain?” —Barnes and Noble

Bonus: Download the BrainFacts.org Brain Facts Book here.


Saga Briggs is Managing Editor of InformED. You can follow her on Twitter@sagamilena or Facebook.

7 Responses

  1. Hi, I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and include almost all info. I like to see more posts like this.

  2. Mariia N-iX says:

    Thank you, Saga!
    I add some of these books to my “must-read list”

  3. William Hook says:

    Oh, that’s great to know about these brain books which can help in two ways: Enhance the reading skills, Enhance the knowledge also. I love to read your article and happy to know about these brain books. Thank you so much to spending your time and provide us such great stuff with full of knowledge.

  4. Preet says:

    Great Article And Books…

  5. This post is really awesome. Thank you for spending the time on such an informational post.

  6. Good read! Thinking fast and slow is my favorite!

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