While discussing book reading habits with a few people recently, I came to the realization that I tend to read a lot of non-fiction, and that non-fiction has shaped how I live my life and view the world. I wanted to share some books that I’ve read (skewed in favor of the past few years, when I started keeping better track of what I’ve read) that I have found particularly meaningful for me.

It was hard for me to narrow down the list, but I managed to get it down to 10 books. In no particular order:

  • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely: this was one of the first books about behavioral psychology I ever read and is a great place to start. Dan does a great job at examining human behavior and debunking common assumptions about presumed human rationality.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee: this is a fascinating book about the history of cancer. Reading this book teaches the reader the basics behind cancer, cancer biology, cancer treatment, and how cancer has been viewed and funded over the past few centuries.
  • Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach: This book takes a look at sexuality and sexual practices from the lens of the scientist. Perfect for anyone who thinks science and sex are sexy.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl: While it was written in 1946, Viktor’s accounts on finding meaning through suffering are still powerful and resonant today. The first half of the book is about his experiences during the Holocaust, and the second half is about applying some of his theory to finding meaning in life.
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen: this book covers a whole variety of topics related to virology and pathology, bound together as a series of narratives, with chapters on diseases such as AIDS, ebola, SARS, and influenza.
  • Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks: This is a great introduction to feminism that is easy to read and addresses a lot of common questions, concerns, and misconceptions about it.
  • Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage by Dr. Robynne Chutkan: Click-baity title, awesome book. I highly recommend that every woman read this book, particularly anyone who has experienced GI problems now or in the past.
  • Emotional Equations: Simple Steps for Creating Happiness + Success in Business + Life by Chip Conley: Another kind of click-baity titled, but otherwise great book. Chip breaks down common sets of emotions into “equations.” Each chapter discusses a different equation or group of equations. While it might seem reductionist, it provides a lot of interesting food for thought.
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff: this book is cute and fun to read while actually addressing relevant and meaningful issues in life. Benjamin’s examination of Pooh and Taoism really made me think about why I viewed the world the way I did.
  • Getting to Yes: How To Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher: This is a great introduction to mutual gains negotiation. Life is all about effective communication and working to get what is right for you. This book teaches you how to achieve your goals while maintaining or even enhancing relationships with others.

Would love to hear if anyone has read these books and would like to discuss them, and/or has recommendations.