What book of Psychology would you recommend me? This is a question that haunts me everywhere; I find it opening the mailbox, in the social networks, blog comments and, of course, in my everyday life. After so much insistence, it only remains me to suggest a series of books of psychology, that in my humble opinion, can help you understand what’s going on in this science. They are ideal for those starting the career in psychology as well as for those who are still undecided and want to know a little more about this science and, finally, for all of those who wish to uncover some of the layers of the human mind.
However, I must first make a point: I am not a great reader of books of Popular Psychology. When I have some spare time, I prefer to imbue myself into the pages of the great classics, from Freud to Vygotsky, through Konrad Lorenz and Bandura, without forgetting Carl Rogers and Allport. Anyway, there are also moments when I put my hands on a book of Popular Psychology. The dynamic is almost always this one: everyone around me have read the popular book and ask my opinion, then I finally succumb to social pressure (mea culpa, I admit) and end up reading the blessed work.
The good news is that, thanks to them, I can now give you a decent list of the top books of psychology (and also the more understandable). In this case, the reading order of course does affect the product, I organized the books by difficulty level so I recommend you start at the top of the list and go down slowly to continue.
- The art of embittering life: Paul Watzlawick
This is a very short book, written in simple language. It is so full of metaphors and funny stories, that when we reach the end we definitely want more and more. Many persons consider this to be a self help book and, some way, it is. However, the work goes much further and invites us to reflect on the wrong attitudes that we assume in our day to day as well as about how we do inappropriate interpretations of the facts.
In a general sense, it is a very readable book, which is very much enjoyable and gives us a fairly complete picture of most of the problems we face with a simple Psychology query. I love particularly the following story: “A drunk is eagerly looking under a lamppost. A cop comes up and asks him what he missed. The man replies: ‘My keys.’ Now there are two looking. Finally, the police ask the man if he is sure he lost the key right here. The guy responds.’ No, not here, but back there, but there’s too dark down there'”.
- Emotional Intelligence: Daniel Goleman
It was a book I read unwillingly but caused me a pleasant surprise. The reason for my initial resentment was the fact that the work had been promoted almost as a “bible for success”. However, when you start to read it you realize that the book is much deeper, and with pinpoint accuracy explores the relationship between thought and emotion.
The most interesting is that the author provides many examples and writes in a very simple way, so that words like hypothalamus, amygdala and cerebral cortex begin to sound familiar. Anyway, this is a book that has much to teach about brain functioning, in particular, about the areas related to emotional processing. If you decide to read it, do not miss the chapter on emotional hijacking, I consider it one of the best.
- Inside Intuition: Flora Davis
A perfect book to help us understand the intricacies of human communication. This is one of those works of which you can enjoy each page, because the author doesn’t turns around the point and is concise, and that is pleasantly appreciated. The language used is very simple, and throughout the book we find several examples of research, cleverly placed to highlight the essential idea.
In this book, you will discover cultural differences about communication and understanding the roles of gestures and proxemics (one of the subjects that I enjoyed). Obviously, after you have finished reading you will end up having collecte many useful notes to help you improve your extraverbal skills and capture the subtle messages that people send while talking. I believe that this is a mandatory book of Psychology, recommended to any professional who has to deal with people daily.
- The Art of Loving: Erich Fromm
Beside what many of us could believe, it’s not a classic self-help manual, but reading it can change your view of relationships in a blink of an eye. With a little luck and a bit of reflection, it will also impact on your view of the world and human relationships.
Unlike the previous books, the reading of this one is a bit heavier work, but the message is so interesting that is worth the effort. The book starts with the theory of love to continue analyzing the different types of feelings, from love among the couple to love for parents or God. Particularly interesting is the chapter devoted to the practice of love, I won’t advance anything that you have to read it yourself. If at the end, you still want more of this author, you can always go for “The Fear of Freedom”, a masterpiece, but requires a slightly higher level of thinking.
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: Oliver Sacks
This is a rather unusual book of Psychology, by the moment it mentions 20 clinical stories as novels. You’ll find the story of 20 people suffering from a neurological disease, and you’ll see how different symptoms appear, from memory loss to the inability to recognize people or objects.
No doubt, this is an ideal approach to mental pathologies that we can see clinically from a more human perspective book. And if you like this type of readings, you can continue with “Tales from the couch” by Gabriel Rolon. The only sin of this book is that focuses on psychoanalysis sessions, but it is interesting for those who do not know their dynamics.
- The Psychopathology of Everyday Life: Sigmund Freud
I’m not a big fan of Freud or his writing, I have to make it clear in advance. But, who’s the psychologist with a minimum of self respect that could skip this classic? Certainly, this is not a book to be read in one sitting, but if you approach it with the necessary calm, you’ll fell hooked into. This work faces issues such as: slips of the tongue, everyday mistakes, daily forgiving of words and intentions…
Anyway, it tries to give an explanation for all those little mistakes and oversights that all of us have been experiencing. Furthermore, it is an excellent work to go into psychoanalysis. Without any doubt, the Freud’s ability to go tying and unite seemingly unrelated situations will leave you speechless.
- Predictably Irrational: Dan Ariely
It is a book which is definitely worth reading. In fact, his language is very clear and simple so it is not too difficult to understand the ideas here expressed. Through a series of experiments of his own, Dan Ariely is guiding us towards the most hidden forces that shape our behavior, especially when we take economic decisions. It is a work that reveals all those factors of which usually we’re not aware, but that have an influence on our decisions. Particularly, I recommend the chapters about the cost of social norms and the effect of expectations.