Geek Reads

Geek Reads

Each of these books below explores a wide range of topics. To help you decide which books are more likely to match your particular areas of interest, we have grouped them into categories that reflect particular aspects of each book that ignited insights for our work.

The Brain

These books explore new understandings of how the human brain operates and how that shapes the ways in which we feel, think and behave.

  • The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, by Antonio Damasio
  • Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, Antonio Damasio
  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, by David Eagleman
  • The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas, by Michael S. Gazzaniga
  • How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker
  • The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

Decision-making & Persuasion

These books explore how human beings make moral decisions, including Moral Foundations Theory.

  • Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem Solving, and Prediction, edited by John Brockman
  • Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, by Adam Grant
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt
  • On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits, by Wray Herbert
  • The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
  • Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow
  • To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
  • The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives, by Shankar Vedantam
  • The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, by Drew Westen

Empathy, Identity & Lived Experiences

These books explore identity formation and the role of identity, including how identification can facilitate empathy.

  • Out of Character: Surprising Truths about the Liar, Cheater, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us, by David DeSteno and Piercarlo Valdesolo
  • What’s the Matter with Kansas, by Thomas Frank
  • Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, A Journey to the Heart of Our Political Divide, by Arlie Russell Hochschild
  • Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, by Andrew Solomon
  • Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race, by Derald Wing Sue


These books explore implicit bias and how human beings make instinctive judgments.

  • Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell


These books explore tribal identity, in-group/out-group dynamics, the “other” and otherness, and discomfort about difference.

  • Against Fairness, by Stephen T. Asma
  • On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, by Stephen T. Asma
  • Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, by Joshua Greene


These books investigate cognitive linguistics or the power of words, metaphors and categories.

  • Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning, by Benjamin K. Bergen
  • Cognitive Linguistics: An Introduction, by Vyvyan Evans and Melanie Green
  • I Is An Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, by James Geary
  • Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, by George Lakoff
  • The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, by Steven Pinker


These books explore the nature and power of human beliefs and the myths that bind and separate us.

  • The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life, by Jesse Bering
  • Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe, by Jim Davies
  • The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, by Michael Shermer


These books explore how innovators develop new ideas and the ways in which they get others to adopt them.

  • Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently, by Gregory Berns
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson


These books explore what about the human brain makes storytelling and narrative so uniquely powerful, as well as giving insights into how to construct persuasive stories.

  • Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, by Lisa Cron
  • The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, by Jonathan Gottschall
  • The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands through the Power of Archetypes, by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson
  • Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction, by Keith Oatley
  • Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell – and Live – the Best Stories Will Rule the Future, by Jonah Sachs


These books explore the role of emotions in human decision-making.

  • The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, by Jonathan Haidt
  • Understanding Emotions, by Dacher Keltner, Keith Oatley, Jennifer M. Jenkins

Do you have a favorite “brain book” to share?  Please let us know what you have found most inspiring or insightful and what about it spoke to you regarding the way you do your work. Email us at