10 Books That Will Make You Smarter

Good books are hard to come by. I think you might find something you like.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman was the first psychologist to win a Nobel Prize. This is his life’s work, and it will make you reconsider a lot of what you presume about how we think. The implications of his research go far beyond our personal lives. The field of behavioral economics, which he helped invent, will shape how the world operates for decades to come.

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Csikszentmihalyi has researched happiness for longer than most of the world has been alive. His theory on the concept of flow — a mental state of complete immersion — should be mandatory reading for everyone. Primarily scientific, but part philosophical, this book breaks down a big part of the happiness equation, and it does so really well.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius is considered to be a prime example of what Plato called a Philosopher King — a noble and self-aware leader. Meditations is less a book than it is a collection of thoughts. Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, the most powerful man in the world, when he penned it. He wanted to record his lessons on how to live a good life. It’s timeless.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
A student of psychology was sent to a concentration camp during the Second World War, and this is the story of his observations. Heartbreaking, infuriating, but always insightful, it’s a fascinating account of human nature and the concept of meaning. Frankl breaks the book into two parts: his experience and his psychological theory. It’s a useful perspective.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
This is one of the most important books written in the last few years. Harari takes us on a trip through history to answer one question: how did Homo Sapiens become the dominant species on Earth? Covering topics ranging from anthropology to science to economics, he paints a fairly comprehensive picture. It may well change the way you think about being human.

Risk Savvy by Gerd Gigerenzer
Gigerenzer is a German psychologist, and he has spent his career studying human decision-making. Risk Savvy shows us how misinformed the conclusions of even experts, such as lawyers and doctors, often are and provides a framework for making better choices in the face of uncertainty. It will teach you how to be risk literate.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger
Everybody has heard of Warren Buffett, but few know of Charlie Munger: his equally ingenious partner in crime. This is a collection of many of Munger’s talks and speeches over the years. Although it will resonate more with those interested in the art of investing, there is enough general and cross-disciplinary wisdom squeezed in to keep most people engaged.

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen
A few years back, Christensen gave a speech to the Harvard MBA class of 2010. It was so well-received that he was approached to write a book about his wisdom. Using well-known principles from the business world, he helps us better think about the demands of work and life. This book will make you rethink your career strategy.

Super intelligence by Nick Bostrom
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a big topic when it comes to future trends, and it may just be the most important one. In fact, if machines pass human intelligence levels, it’s likely that little else will matter. Bostrom is a philosopher at the University of Oxford, and he asks a lot of the big questions as they relate to AI. Not enough people are rationally thinking about this.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
Kolbert is a journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize in the non-fiction category for this book. She walks down the road of history to previous mass extinction events known to man and then compares them to the effects of human activity. It’s one of the best books written on the topic, and Kolbert maintains a fair degree of objectivity on a challenging subject.