9 Books to Help You Learn and Think Better

“You are what you consume.”

In today’s information economy, we have more opportunities than ever before to take learning into our own hands. We have valuable information at our fingertips; it’s the type of information that can completely change how we think, work, and feel. 

Being intentional about our consumption can allow us to truly take control of our lives; any question we might have, we can discover the answer for ourselves and take action. And when we care about improving how we think, learn, and work in our daily lives, finding the “right” influences and resources can truly be life changing.

However, sifting through all the information to find the relevant answers can be tough. That’s why we collaborated with our community of self-directed learners to curate a list that can help each of us learn and think better.

  1. If you want to dive deeper into mental models and thinking frameworks:

Check out How to Think by Tom Chatfield. Tom is an AI enthusiast who teaches you (and not just AI) how to approach topics critically. Chatfield teaches you how to develop your critical thinking, creative thinking and collaborative thinking skills alongside your capacities for self-reflection, empathy and wonder. Essentially, he inspires us to identify critical thinking and learning mental models to thrive in life. 

Amazon.com: How to Think: Your Essential Guide to Clear, Critical Thought:  9781529727418: Chatfield, Tom: Books


  1. If you want to understand the power of your mind and its ability to learn:

Read Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers by Jo Boaler. Boaler shares real world examples from her research to demonstrate how powerful our minds really are, and how we are never too old to upgrade how we learn and think. Her examples are truly inspirational, and will allow you to reflect on your own learning journey and potential limiting beliefs you’ve adopted along the way. Her book will help you unlearn those beliefs and truly internalize the power of your brain in helping you learn anything you desire.

Amazon.com: Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers eBook :  Boaler, Jo: Kindle Store


  1. If you want to develop greater self-awareness to navigate life better:

Here’s a copy of Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development by David A. Kolb. Kolb is a psychologist who writes about the process by which we understand and are influenced by the events that happen in our everyday lives. 

Basically, we learn in two ways: 

  • Through our actual lived experience, and 
  • Through imagining situations.

Kolb also argues that there are four major learning styles: 

  • The converging learning style, or the style where people prefer to learn via imagining situations and experimenting on them.
  • The diverging learning style, or the style where people prefer to learn via lived experience and reflection on them.
  • The assimilating style, or the style where people prefer to learn via imagining situations and reflecting on them.
  • And the accommodating learning style, or the style where people prefer to learn via lived experience and experimentation. 

Experiential Learning goes into depth on each learning style, and teaches you strategies for discovering and creating via your unique learning style. 

Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development:  Kolb, David: 9780133892406: Amazon.com: Books


  1. If you want to build better habits:

Read Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. Habits are critical to creating shortcuts for your brain; each time you reinforce one, you’re telling your mind that it can automate the task next time. 

By building mental shortcuts, you can cut out the pain of making yourself do things and focus on the effects of the habit over time. This also means that you can devote more of your brainpower to making new and more unique decisions. You may think this is a small benefit, but those hundreds of tiny decisions pile up over time until you run out of the energy required for big picture goals!

Atomic Habits: James Clear: 9781847941831: Amazon.com: Books


  1. If you want to learn how Learning can accelerate your career:

Break open Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career by Scott Young. Young cares deeply about helping you become an Ultralearner, someone capable of being a savant in any field they set their mind to. And he tells you how to do it in this book. 

The general outline is:

  • How to expand your circle of competence, 
  • How to focus 100% on your goal,
  • How to discover your weaknesses and resolve them,
  • How to test your learning,
  • How to take feedback effectively, 
  • How to retain and remember everything you learn, 
  • And how to experiment and prove what you’ve learned. 

Young shares specific and actionable feedback on each of these areas. You won’t be learning about these concepts theoretically. These are instructions for becoming an ultralearner. 

Ultralearning - Scott H Young
  1. If you want to understand the science of Learning:

Try Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide by Yana Weinstein. This book includes step-by-step explanations and illustrations for basic meta-learning theories. 

Essentially, if you’re just discovering that you can supercharge your learning but don’t know where to start, this is the book for you. Weinstein splits the topics into four sections: 

  • Evidence-based education and the science of learning
  • Basics of human cognitive processes
  • Strategies for effective learning
  • Tips for students, teachers, and parents (and self-directed learners!)

Teachers especially love this book because it presents information discovered by cognitive psychologists in a way that makes sense to people who aren’t full time learners, which makes Understanding How We Learn the perfect read for beginners in the topic. 

Understanding How We Learn: A Visual Guide: Weinstein, Yana, Sumeracki,  Megan, Caviglioli, Oliver: 9781138561724: Amazon.com: Books


  1. If you want to learn how to learn anything:

Check out Learn, Improve, Master: How to Develop Any Skill and Excel at It by Nick Velasquez, where he breaks each aspect of the learning journey into manageable pieces. Velasquez’s book is inspirational as he shares examples of different “masters” across a variety of fields and how they use learning tactics to constantly improve. 

Learn, Improve, Master: How to Develop Any Skill and Excel at It by Nick  Velasquez


  1. If you want to adopt Smart Notes to write, learn and think better:

Grab a copy of How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking by Sonke Ahrens. Ahrens agrees with much of what our Edvo community talks about, such as the value of taking notes to learn better and observe our own thinking. 

Amazon.com: How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing,  Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers  eBook : Ahrens, Sönke: Kindle Store


  1. If you want to adopt a beginner’s mindset and constantly improve:

Try Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant. Grant argues that while the most valued skills in modern society are the ability to think and learn, there are another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. 

We all have our own preconceived notions about how the world is supposed to work based on how we grew up and the standards that were enforced on us, which means that whether we bucked these standards or not, they’re what we build our understanding on. Grant implores us to instead:

  • Start by recognizing the problem, 
  • To think like a scientist, 
  • And then to factor in our emotional intelligence. 

This is how you reach all parts of a problem without being influenced by a possibly flawed personal framework. 

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know - YouTube