Posts tagged Psychology
The 4-Hour Chef

By Tim Ferriss

Besides being a phenomenal "learn to cook from nothing" cookbook, this also actually a book on how to learn anything. Meta-learning is like catnip to me, and I was already a huge Tim Ferriss fan when this came out, so I snapped it right up. Apparently it hasn't done as well as his other books and it was dealing with it's rough release that led him to start his podcast. I was shocked to learn this, because to me it was more of what I had gotten in The 4 Hour Workweek and The 4 Hour Body, but better refined and figured out. The frameworks in this book are invaluable companions to other "how to learn" frameworks like Scott Young and Cal Newport. Even if you're already a master cook, check this book out for it's advice on how to deconstruct a skill and ask experts the right questions to fast track insights and skills.

Get it here.


By Carl Gustav Jung, trans H.F.C. Hull

If you're like me, you probably have a vague idea of Jung from high school English classes, and something about archetypes. Maybe you heard he was an important influence on Lucas when he made Star Wars. If you studied psychology, you may have gotten a brief discussion about how he was important psychologist for a while, but we've moved past his outdated theories. Well, I'm here to tell you that Jung is both weirder and smarter than you probably think, and that makes it worth reading his stuff for yourself. Synchronicity is a perfect introduction because it is short and enjoyably mind-bending. Jung basically argues that disparate events can be meaningfully linked in ways besides causality. If nothing else, it is an enjoyable mental exercise to wrestle with such an alien concept, and who knows, you might gain a richer understanding of your own experience of the world. 

Buy it here.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

By Julian Jaynes

I just couldn't resist a book about where the voice in your head comes from when today's post is about imagining other people's voices. I have no idea at how well regarded this book is currently as a credible explanation of where consciousness came from, but it makes a fantastic tool for imagining what if the world really were that way? What would it mean? The book argues that "consciousness" - an almost unending voice in your head that narrates your thoughts and what's going on and is perceived as "yourself" is actually a rather recent phenomenon. Jaynes says that the Old Testament documents a culture going through the transition, and that you see similar evidence in Mesopotamian history as well. There's nothing immediately practical here, but it's enjoyably mind-blowing. Plus, season one of Westworld will make a lot more sense, so there's also that.

Buy it here.

Jeff RussellScience, Psychology
The Design of Everyday Things

By Don Norman

This book came highly recommended to me by a friend of mine at work and it certainly did not disappoint. It focuses on questions of how objects in our environment can enhance (or detract) from our experience and our lives. Most useful to me was the distinction between affordances and signifiers and the notion of "knowledge in the head" and "knowledge in the world." If you're even a little bit interested in how the objects, structures, and organizations around you shape your life in subtle ways, you'll thoroughly enjoy this.

Buy it here.

Jeff RussellDesign, Psychology
The People Code: It's All About Your Innate Motive

By Dr. Taylor Hartman, Ph.D.

I'm not gonna lie to you, friends: I was pretty skeptical of this system when I first heard about it at work. One of my business school professors engrained a deep distrust of "personality types" in general by pointing out that almost all of them except The Big Five lack any rigorous empirical testing. That being said, as I read this book, time and again I saw descriptions that rang extremely true for either myself or my loved ones. It's probably easy to take this too far and use it as some kind of universal theory, but it makes an awfully useful heuristic for understanding why you act the way you do, and more importantly, why other people act in such seemingly incomprehensible ways.

Buy it here.


By Nassim Taleb

The core concept explored in this book is what is "risk" and how should we think about it in our lives, but it reaches out and touches so many more areas of interest. Taleb is shockingly smart, enjoyably contrarian, and writes in a very engaging way. This book is one of my top five life and brain changing books - you will be a little bit smarter every time you read it.

Check out the posts I wrote about this book here and here.

Buy it here.

The Checklist Manifesto

By Atul Gawande

I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, but to be perfectly honest, I was worried it was one of those books where if you know the premise you don't need to read it. What I had overlooked is the degree to which making the case for checklists would motivate me to actually change my behavior. The examples given of lives saved and fortunes made through the seemingly simple expedient of using checklists are quite impressive. Plus, there's a neat checklist for creating your own checklist in the back.

If you want to up your game to true professionalism in just about any field, check out this book. 

Buy it here.


By Robert B. Cialdini

This book is a classic for a reason - I've taken my sweet ass time getting to it, but I am absolutely hooked. Drawing on a combination of scholarly experiments and "in the trenches" experience with sales training, this book points out thenearly automatic triggers we have evolved to be good, cooperative members ofsociety and how "compliance professionals" (salesmen, recruiters, and cons) use these techniques to get their way without you even knowing what they're about. This book is doubly valuable - you learn how to spot unscrupulous applications of the techniques as well as how to use them in your own (hopefully legitimate) endeavors. For lots of interesting extra context, check out Scott Adams's Persuasion Reading List.

Buy it here.