You’ve found The Mind Collection Reading List. It’s the place where I’ve collected the most insightful books on critical thinking, decision-making, practical philosophy, human nature, storytelling and more. The ones that inspired my writing, or were featured in my weekly Substack newsletter featuring 3 Ideas in 2 Minutes. Some familiar, some novel, some unexpected.
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Table of Contents
- Make Better Decisions
- Philosophise About Life
- Level Up Your Thinking Skills
- Write & Communicate Better
Make Better Decisions
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Learn about the power of rare yet unexpected high-impact events and how to cope with them. In The Black Swan, essayist and former trader and risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers a solution grounded in building robustness and anti-fragility. Taleb is a truly unconventional thinker who doesn’t pull any punches.
Learn about the power of habits and how to cultivate them with Atomic Habits. Author James Clear shares methods to break bad habits and gradually build useful ones. He breaks down the complex subject with ease, drawing on human biology, neuroscience and psychology. Discover how habits are the key to self-improvement and better decision-making. According to Clear, it’s not you who’s the problem, it’s your system.
The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking
Navigate the world with the Eisenhower Matrix or understand why accidents happen with the Swiss Cheese Model. No matter what decision is at hand, The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler offers a succinct and well-illustrated mental model for you to try out. It’s perfect for a quick primer. Unless you want to dive deeper, in which case some of my below essays might interest you.
Philosophise About Life
The 48 Laws of Power
Uncover the underlying rules of everyday power games with Robert Greene’s infamous The 48 Laws of Power. An insightful but often merciless book about the dark sides of human nature. If we don’t understand even the most manipulative moves, how else are we to guard against the pathologies of power?
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
Discover the unexpected secrets of Zen Buddhism and meditation with this modern classic by Shunryū Suzuki. The Japanese Zen monk popularised the philosophy in the United States. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a highly instructional piece; inspiring and often mind-bending. Put it on your reading list and discover new insights every time you read it.
The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
Peruse Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s collection of thought-provoking, witty and often counterintuitive truths. The title goes back to Greek mythology. Procrustes was known for abducting travellers and making them fit his bed. So be warned. The pithy observations in The Bed of Procrustes pop more than a few bubbles of human self-delusion.
Level Up Your Thinking Skills
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Discover the way your mind works with this fascinating read by Daniel Kahneman. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, the psychologist famously details the two systems that function in our brain: The one that allows you to think fast, intuitive and emotional. And the slower and more logical one. Each one comes with its own advantages and disadvantages in our everyday lives. It should be on the reading list of anyone interested in common errors of thinking.
The Demon-Haunted World
Learn about the principles of scientific thinking by way of witty anecdotes. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan is a classic. The astronomer and science communicator provides you with a baloney detection kit to cultivate an open yet sceptical mind. Would you believe his story about the invisible, floating fire-breathing dragon living in his garage?
Applied Thinking for Intelligence Analysis
Explore this practical guide to learn about the basics of critical thinking and the tradecraft of an intelligence analyst. From the definition of your problem to dealing with different types of knowledge and biases to being able to justify your judgements. If you consider yourself a budding analyst and problem solver, Applied Thinking for Intelligence Analysis by senior lecturer in Intelligence Studies Charles Vandepeer should go on your reading list.
Write & Communicate Better
Putting Stories to Work
Learn how to discover, remember and share stories in business and beyond. With Putting Stories to Work, Shawn Callahan has distilled the skills and techniques needed to master the art of business storytelling in one book. “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor,” social psychologist Jonathan Haidt once wrote. Find out what that means for your business.
100 Ways to Improve Your Writing
Get better at writing with this absolute classic by Gary Provost. In 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing, the US author shows you how to get the ideas flowing and overcome writer’s block. How you can develop your own style and make every word count. If you’re struggling to channel all your ideas into a piece of writing that people just love to read, give it a try. “Don’t just write words. Write music.”
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
Change the way you deal with people on an everyday basis with this handbook on negotiating principles. Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, tweaked his lessons learned and packed them all into one thrilling book. Never Split the Difference explains in detail what makes Tactical Empathy an absolute game-changer or why you shouldn’t shy away from starting a negotiation with a ‘No’. Would it be ridiculous to think that your negotiation skills could be improved?
Handbook of Analytic Tools & Techniques
Learn how to harness the power of structured analytic techniques with the Handbook of Analytic Tools & Techniques by former analyst Randy Pherson. His book is packed with 33 analytic techniques designed to increase the rigour of your qualitative analyses — alone or in a team. Explore competing arguments, review your key assumptions or anticipate the future. It’s well-illustrated, full of examples and even maps relevant cognitive biases and misapplied heuristics to each of the techniques.
The Great Mental Models
Find out how mental models can improve your decision-making with The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts by Rhiannon Beaubien and Shane Parrish. If you can’t get enough of them, there’s a Volume 2 on Physics, Chemistry and Biology and a Volume 3 on Systems and Mathematics. Alternatively, you can read one of my essays on mental models. Just saying.
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness
Learn how to create wealth and live a happy and fulfilled life with this detailed guide by the angel investor turned philosopher. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgensen is a collection of his writing, talks and tweets. It’s life-changing wisdom distilled into simple words.
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