If you’re reading this you probably already have lots of stuff on your plate.
I know well how hard it can be to find a balance between your daily tasks and personal development.
Yet, critical thinking is a crucial skill that has to be refined.
Think about how Warren Buffett or Ray Dalio can consistently beat the market.
You need to be able to make up your mind by yourself to win, especially in widely competitive markets.
Reading is the easiest and most accessible way for you to develop your critical thinking skills.
I’ve compiled a list of the best critical thinking books that are true game-changers.
Read on to discover why!
Table of Contents
Nicholas Taleb is one of the most influential philosophical voices of our time, and this book will literally change the way that you look at everything in your life. It’s all about how ‘disorder’ is actually good for us. This book is chock-full of life lessons about letting things go and learning how to go with the flow.
Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder helped me learn to see the beauty in the chaos. As a Type-A personality, I’m often in a position where I stress out about things that I can’t control. When I learned how to embrace uncertainty, my whole worldview changed. This book will change the way that you do business, but it will also touch every other aspect of your life. You’ll start to change the way that you think, let go of that control, and begin to feel happier amid chaos.
James E. Ryan’s book on asking probing questions is a must-read for 2019. Often there are plenty of life lessons right at our fingertips, but we’re not asking the right questions. This book will teach you to peel back the surface layer and really start to ask those questions that matter the most.
Thinking outside of the box is one of the number one skills that any entrepreneur must master to really understand their true potential. Too often our questions box us into areas that we don’t need to be confined in. That’s why this book is so empowering. While everyone else is looking for the answers, you need to be asking the right questions. Critical thinking is all about shifting the picture, and this book totally does that!
How many times have you turned on the news and been totally appalled by what you see in the headlines? Let’s get real, gore and sensationalism sell, but Steven Pinker knows that the real news is that the world is getting better. His book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress is a celebration of optimism.
There has never been a time in the history of the world where we have had more financial security, health or overall peace. It might not seem like that’s the case, but Steven Pinker lays down some indisputable facts. If you need a fresh perspective on what’s going on in the world, check out this game-changing book.
Just like Wait, What?: And Life’s Other Essential Questions, this book by Warren Berger focuses on asking the right questions, instead of searching for all of the answers. In my experience, people like those who ask probing questions and really show a sense of empathy. It shows that you care about them, are invested in what they have to say, and will take their words to heart.
Also, when you ask questions with an open mind, you run the risk of cracking your mind open even more! Let me explain. If you ask someone a question about their beliefs and truly listen to their answer, you might change your mind on something. If you make one business resolution this year, try to ask the right questions and work on really being a superstar listener!
Did you know that there’s a science to crafting a compelling argument? Stella Cottrell knows! This book gives you the nuts and bolts that you’ll need to craft your very own arguments and sharpen up those critical thinking skills to levels that you didn’t even know were possible.
While other books focus on more ambiguous aspects of critical thinking, Stella Cottrell leans heavily on the way that effective critical thinking is measured and how you can reflect on your own process to fine-tune your skill sets. This is an excellent book for people who really want to become better listeners, thinkers, and stretch their cognitive muscles to the maximum!
Okay, I don’t know about you, but I love numbered lists. It helps me understand exactly what I’m getting out of a book or article. Edward B. Burger’s The Five Elements of Effective Thinking delivers on its promises completely. You know exactly what you’re getting from this book, and it does not disappoint.
You’ll get step-by-step directions on how to become a better critical thinker, a more successful entrepreneur, and how to change your thought patterns. There is not enough emphasis put on changing thought patterns. Most of our greatest demons and challenges are in our own minds, and it’s important to remember that only by changing up our thought patterns, we can effectively become the engineers of our own lives. Really, it’s that powerful of a technique!
This oldie but goodie by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan first came out in 1997, but you should read it in 2019. Why? Even if you read it back in 1997, it’s time for a refresher course. If you’ve never read it, it’s high time to read this classic book by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan.
This book takes direct aim at pseudoscience, citing the advances in technology as a reason why more and more people are turning to debunked theories. It’s a bit of a radical book, and will no doubt upset some people. I found it even more fascinating in the second read because social media has taken over our lives to such a significant degree. That means that many people are sitting in their information bubbles and only getting the information that they want to absorb.
This book is even more timely now!
Pseudoscience can be fun, but it can also take away from the tasks at hand. Relying on pseudoscience or gimmicks instead of putting in the hard work can be the difference between a successful entrepreneur and an unsuccessful one. This book is an excellent warning to stay on the ball.
I love Dan Ariely’s work, so I was really excited to read this book. I was not disappointed! We like to think that we are totally in control of all of our decisions. Sadly, we are influenced by all sorts of external forces and emotional states that go all the way back to caveman days.
Ariely really digs deep into the science behind this, citing primitive urges and psychological states to boost his argument. The book isn’t all doom and gloom though. We can overcome our irrational urges and start making decisions that make sense. We just need to understand where and when the irrational is coming out. That way we can combat it effectively!
If you’ve had just about enough of critical thinking books that don’t get down to brass tacks quickly enough, you need to check out Anthony Weston’s epic soon-to-be classic A Rulebook For Arguments. This book lets you put your desire to amp up your critical thinking skills into actionable form. It is effortless to follow, gives straightforward advice, and is a fast read!
This is an excellent book for busy entrepreneurs because you can get through it in a matter of a few hours, and start to put the lessons that you learn from Weston into effect as soon as the following week. If you read only one book on this list, make it A Rulebook For Arguments
Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman lets us examine how we put the world together and learn to reason better all of the time! We have two thought patterns; fast and slow. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each is critical to becoming more of a rockstar critical thinker.
This book gives you actionable steps to take to improve your thought process. In my experience, learning how to process information more effectively is the key to thinking critically and understanding the world around us. This book is a must-read for anyone who deals with a lot of negotiations, as it teaches empathy as well as critical thinking!
Do you love this title as much as I do? I’m always thinking of so-called weird things. That’s such a huge part of being an entrepreneur! Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn are the authors of this book, and it will stretch your mental muscles to the point of exhaustion. If you are looking for a book that will revolutionalize the way that you think, How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age is the book for you!
I’m all about testing my mental limits, so I loved this book. Others will want to just take a few lessons from the book, or start slowly. It’s a lot to take in, but if you implement small changes, you’ll find yourself become more and more comfortable thinking outside the box. There are some varsity-level ideas in this book, but it’s really worth the read!
Michael Kallet’s epic book Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills is the beginner’s guide to learning how to be a better critical thinker. Experts can still learn a little something from this book too! The steps that Kallet gives are totally actionable and make sense. It sticks to technique and gives you the exercises that you need to improve your critical thinking.
This book helped me not only in business but in life also. I’ve been able to apply the techniques learned here to family dynamics, rifts between friends, and negotiations. If you need to adjust your perspective, give this book a try!
13. Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson is that bitter pill that we don’t want to take. The secret is, that little pill is really good for us. This book will hit home for a lot of people, but you will also come out on the other end a little wiser and more compassionate. That’s because it challenges us to look at ourselves and do a lot better in life.
Our brains are made to justify actions that just should not be explained. We tend to see fault in others, but not ourselves. It’s not really our fault that we’re wired this way, but we can work to be better. Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts might just be the most important book that you read this year. It’s also one that can help you in your business partnerships, familial relationships, and friendships. Once you stop seeing yourself as infallible, you’ll open up a whole new world!
Karl Albrecht knows that the brain is a muscle that needs to be worked out just like any other muscle. His book Brain Power: Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills is the ultimate guide to giving your brain a serious workout. The techniques that he outlines will sharpen your mental clarity, help you cope with stress better, and even improve your memory.
As entrepreneurs, our power lies in our ability to think outside of the box. We really shouldn’t take our brains for granted. This book contains exercises that totally work. If you do them regularly, you will start to see substantial improvements in your cognitive function. I know that I set aside a little bit of time every day to work on my brainpower. You should do the same thing. You’ll be amazed by the results!
“The quality of your outcomes depends on the mental models in your head. And most people are going through life with little more than a hammer.”
That’s part of the description of this book, authored by Farnam Street‘s founder, that explores the concept of Mental Models, patterns of thoughts to be used weapons against mental laziness and to see things as they are so that you can make the best decision possible.
I was introduced to the concept of mental models by a friend that organized a weekly meetup to discuss each week a different model.
Each one of these models is used by world-class thinkers and will help you make better decisions. Highly recommended book!
This book was published just the last year and it quickly became a best-seller.
It is a comprehensive account of all the most common mental fallacies and how to tackle them to see things more clearly and consequently make better decisions.
Super Thinking authors are no newbie in applying the same concepts contained in this book. Weinberg is the Founder and CEO of Duckduckgo, while McCann is a well-respected statistician and researcher.
When it comes to applying critical thinking few people are quotes as much as Charlie Munger.
Munger co-founded with Warren Buffett investment firm Berkshire Hathaway. This Almanack is a comprehensive look at how he makes decisions based on his stories and lessons.
If you’re looking to sharpen your critical thinking skills, this book is a must-have. After all, the quickest way to learn something is learning from the best, right?
18. The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake
Steven Novella’s book The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake is the ultimate antidote to a culture that is steeped in fear. It helps us all collectively understand what we need to be afraid of, and what is just overhyped noise.
Being an entrepreneur means having the gift of clarity of thought. You can’t do your job if you are paralyzed by fear all of the time! This book really puts things into perspective. This book shows you how to separate fact from fiction. Just like Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress it makes the case for not buying into the hype. Things are a lot better than they seem. All you need to do is use your intuition and brainpower to determine what is real and what is not. This book will give you the tools to be able to do that.
Let’s be honest, there are enough things to fear in this world. We don’t need to make emergencies out of everything under the sun. This book was really helpful in reminding me that I needed to keep my feet planted on the ground. When you’re launching a business, you only have a limited amount of energy to spare on different things. Make sure that you’re not wasting your valuable resources by worrying about things that aren’t problems.
All of these books have positively touched my life. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. If you want to be successful in life, having some fine-tuned critical thinking skills is an absolute must! They will set you apart from the pack and positively affect your overall life! Take some time over the next few days and get into one of these books. You will be so happy that you did!