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9 Best Nonfiction Books Of All Time According To Psychologist Paul Bloom

Paul Bloom, a prominent psychologist known for his insightful research on the human mind and behavior, has curated a list of the 9 best nonfiction books of all time.

These selections delve into a wide range of topics, from psychology and human nature to morality and society.

Join us as we explore these thought-provoking works that have left an indelible mark on the world of nonfiction literature.

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Frederick Crews meticulously dissects the life and work of Sigmund Freud in this illuminating biography. Delving deep into Freud's theories and their cultural impact, Crews challenges the mystique surrounding the father of psychoanalysis. This book offers a critical examination of Freud's ideas, making it essential reading for those interested in the history of psychology.

“No, says the modern research: these were just Freud’s guesses, and he guessed wrong every time.25”― Frederick C. Crews, Freud: The Making of an Illusion

Oliver Burkeman's exploration of time management is a refreshing departure from traditional productivity literature. He presents a philosophical and practical approach to making the most of our limited time on Earth, emphasizing the importance of meaningful experiences over mindless productivity.

“Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster. Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved “work-life balance,” whatever that might be, and you certainly won’t get there by copying the “six things successful people do before 7:00 a.m.”― Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Michael E. McCullough embarks on a journey through human history to uncover the origins of kindness and moral behavior. From our nomadic ancestors to the challenges of the modern world, McCullough argues that our moral codes were not simply a result of evolution but a product of reason and invention. This book offers profound insights into the evolution of human morality.

Joseph Henrich's book takes a cross-cultural perspective to explore the unique psychological characteristics of Western societies. He delves into how Western cultures developed a penchant for individualism and how this distinct psychology contributed to their prosperity. This work sheds light on the fascinating interplay between culture and human behavior.

“Monogamous marriage changes men psychologically, even hormonally, and has downstream effects on societies. Although this form of marriage is neither “natural” nor “normal” for human societies—and runs directly counter to the strong inclinations of high-status or elite men—it nevertheless can give religious groups and societies an advantage in intergroup competition.”― Joseph Henrich, The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

Maria Konnikova's captivating journey into the world of professional poker serves as a metaphor for life's uncertainties. Through her experiences, she provides valuable lessons in decision-making, self-control, and understanding human behavior. Konnikova's storytelling makes this a compelling read for those interested in mastering the art of attention and strategy.

“You’re not lucky because more good things are actually happening; you’re lucky because you’re alert to them when they do.”― Maria Konnikova, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

Hugo Mercier delves into the psychology of trust and belief, exploring why humans are susceptible to persuasion and manipulation. Drawing on cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, Mercier uncovers the mechanisms that shape our decision-making and the conditions under which we trust others. This book is a fascinating exploration of our cognitive biases and reasoning.

“It is based, however, on a convenient fiction: most reasons are after-the-fact rationalizations. Still, this fictional use of reasons plays a central role in human interactions, from the most trivial to the most dramatic.”― Hugo Mercier

Rory Sutherland's work examines the psychology of marketing and persuasion. He delves into the art of creating magic in brands, business, and life, offering insights into how human behavior is influenced by advertising, branding, and the power of perception. This book is a captivating exploration of the psychology of consumerism.

“It is much easier to be fired for being illogical than it is for being unimaginative. The fatal issue is that logic always gets you to exactly the same place as your competitors.”― Rory Sutherland, Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense

Bruce Hood's exploration of the human desire for possessions and material wealth delves into the psychology of consumerism. He examines why we often seek more than we actually need and the underlying cognitive processes that drive our cravings. Hood's work challenges our understanding of materialism in modern society.

“If we were content with ownership, then we would stop acquiring more stuff. But the combination of the thrill of the chase, the need for status and the crippling sense at the prospect of loss reveal that ownership Is one the strongest human urges and does not easily respond to reason. Of course, most of think we are the exception, but then, that is why we are possessed.”― Bruce M. Hood, Possessed: Why We Want More Than We Need

Kate Manne's book is a profound examination of misogyny and its insidious presence in contemporary culture. Through rigorous analysis, she exposes the logic of misogyny, illustrating how it operates within societal structures and influences gender dynamics. Manne's work offers essential insights for those interested in feminism, gender studies, and social justice.

“always somebody’s someone, and seldom her own person. But this is not because she’s not held to be a person at all, but rather because her personhood is held to be owed to others, in the form of service labor, love, and loyalty.”― Kate Manne, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out more similar list on my on my blog —

These 9 nonfiction books, according to psychologist Paul Bloom, offer profound insights into various aspects of human behavior, psychology, and society.

Whether you're interested in understanding the human mind, moral development, or societal dynamics, these books provide a rich source of knowledge and contemplation for readers seeking to expand their understanding of the world.


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