There’s nothing quite like a book that not only entertains, but causes you to look at the world with a slightly different lens. Add these books to your holiday wishlist and the next time you find yourself looking for a shift to your mindset, your nightstand will be ready.
The Biggest Bluff - Maria Konnikova
Konnikova spent a year becoming a professional poker player in an effort to better understand herself and the role of luck and chance in our lives. But don’t be put off if gambling isn’t your idea of a good time - you don’t need even a passing interest in poker to appreciate her journey from novice to champion, and the incredible insights she shares along the way. Konnikova demonstrates how self-knowledge is only the first step in changing our patterns of thought, and offers a roadmap for better decision-making that extends far beyond the poker table.
Humankind: A Hopeful History - Rutger Bregman
The idea for Humankind was born when Bregman realized that underneath every discussion about how to solve our social ills was an argument about what people are like, and what’s more, we tend to think most often about the worst aspects of human history. Bregman sets out to tell a different story - one of cooperation, kindness, and generosity, and he backs his argument up with fascinating historical examples. What we expect from ourselves matters. Let’s expect greatness.
Lost Connections - Johann Hari
When his anti-depressants stopped feeling effective, Hari decided that instead of increasing his dose again, he was going to get curious about exactly why the meds were failing him. In Lost Connections, Hari takes us on a journey through chemical, social, and environmental causes of depression (and its cousin, anxiety), and discusses how our reliance on drugs obscures other effective treatment options. The result is a field guide to feeling well regardless of your mental predispositions.
Also the author of Hooked - the original guide to addictive software design - Nir Eyal is among the most influential authors in Silicon Valley. Selling both the disease and the cure is a neat trick if you can pull it off, and there’s plenty of reason to by cynical about this book. But really, who better than the architect of our attention-grabbing app design to tell us how to hack our own responses? Indistractible is sure to give you at least a few tips and tricks to help you control your attention and keep it focused on what you choose.
American Cosmic - Diana Pasulka
Even if you think that UFOs are made-up nonsense, Pasulka will convince you that there’s something fascinating about the way humans have interpreted unexplained phenomena and built narratives to describe their experiences. By drawing a throughline from religious accounts to modern day “experiencers” Pasulka demonstrates our uniquely human drive for understanding, and suggests that perhaps we still have a lot to learn about both the universe and ourselves.