Best Psychology Books On Human Behavior And The Brain (Top 5)

 |   |  Disclaimer: Links to some products earn us a commission

There are a lot of good books on psychology and behaviour. These are my top psychology book recommendations on how our brain functions and how we behave as individuals and a species.

These are the books I’ll speak about in this post:

  1. The Tell-Tale Brain – Learn about the brain
  2. The Art of thinking clearly – Make better decisions and think smarter
  3. The Cyber Effect – Welcome to the mysterious land of the internet people
  4. The Brain – Learn about the ultimate enigma
  5. The How of Happiness – Build a happier life

If you are a student of psychology, you’ll fall in love with these books. Your knowledge on the subject will see a spike unlike anything before and my guess is that you’ll have an exciting time reading these! Trust me on it, these books contain the knowledge students wish to have but don’t always find it in academic books.

Top psychology books for Everyone

Review, purchase links, and book background!

Read on to find out more about these books!    

Top Psychology books for everyone

1. The tell-tale brain

Author – V.S. Ramachandran[1]

Here is a book that covers a lot of the uniquely amazing aspects of the brain. It touches evolution, cognition, autism, synesthesia. He himself has done some kick-ass research. Quite famous for his investigation into mirror neurons and his 10 dollar genius hack to cure phantom limb itching (irritation on the part of the body that has now been amputated). You’ll learn some many fascinating ideas and facts by reading The tell-tale brain. You’d gain technically deep insights into what happens inside your skull. When it comes to writing, I think V.S. Ramachandran is a showman! You can see his personality within a few pages.

Technical depth – High
Ease of reading – Moderately easy
Factual density – High

Click the image to buy it from amazon:

2. The art of thinking clearly

Author – Rolf Dobelli[3]

Do you ever have 5 minutes to read an amazing chapter? This book gives you 100 of those. Just 2 or 3 pages per chapter- each discussing cognitive biases (errors in our think) with practical examples. These are not just your regular examples – Ralph Dobelli has gone out of his way to pick the best of the best real-life & relatable events that showcase how a cognitive bias has led to something crazy or wrong. He also shows how we can tackle them. Another beautiful aspect of this book is that he points at related cognitive biases at the end of each chapter. Every chapter will make you a little wiser. Trust me on it.

Technical depth – Moderate
Ease of reading – Easy
Factual density – High

Click the image to buy it from amazon:

3. The Cyber Effect

Author – Mary Aiken[5]

One of the most influentials environments today is the internet. A second environment that the human lives in. Think about it – Up until the late 20th century, we had one environment, the one we called, well, environment. Today, that is not the case, we live in the material world and the virtual world. Both worlds have an effect on the human condition. Dr Mary has first-hand research experience into observing humans on the internet and she speaks of a number of things – candy crush conquering our minds, sexting, criminal behaviour, self-neglect, online dating, cyberchondria, addiction, etc. The book is powerful with its harsh evidence-based narration. I recommend reading it to understand how humans behave online. She is the expert who offers answers to questions about us and the internet. This is perhaps the best psychology book on human behaviour with respect to the digital online era.

Technical depth – High
Ease of reading – Easy
Factual density – High

Click the image to buy it from amazon:

4. The Brain

Author – David Eagleman[7]

David Eagleman is my idol. If you are fascinated by the brain, this is the perfect book. Right from how we become a living entity to how we die, and of course, all things between. He shows the excitement in the brain. David Eagleman is quite famous for his Ted-Talks and popular media presence. He even has a series called ‘The Brain’ which is in a way similar to Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Cosmos. If you prefer the show, go ahead and watch it here.

Technical depth – Moderate
Ease of reading – Moderately easy
Factual density – Moderate

Click the image to buy it from amazon:

5. The How of happiness

Author – Sonja Lyubomirsky[9]

There are a lot of self-help and psychology books about happiness and well-being but no book that I have read is grounded in such strong evidence-based conclusions. Sonja has crafted an interactive book that helps one create happiness through a few techniques. She has also dedicated a section to addressing the idea of happiness if the person is depressed. Which by the way, is a different ball-game. Personally speaking, I’ve published a critical review of this book and can say with certainty that this is the real deal on happiness.

Technical depth – High
Ease of reading – Easy
Factual density – High

Click the image to buy it from amazon:

These are the best psychology books on human behavior and the quirks of the human brain I can recommend.  So which books are you going to try out?

Help me run this site with a donation :)

From all these psychology books, I read The Art of thinking clearly first. The 100 cognitive biases in it made me an even more objective person. In fact, the first lecture I delivered was based on that book.

I then read The How of happiness as a classroom assignment. The book was the best I had read on happiness. Low on fluff, high on content. Here is a post based on the techniques covered in that book.   

I’ve been a fan of David Eagleman. He, in my opinion, is the coolest neuroscientist there is. The Brain was a brilliant primer to understand a little of everything. His series is amazing as well.

The Tell-tale brain is full of these amazing fun facts. Just in passing V.S. Ramachandran spoke of these fascinating circular creatures called ‘Volvox’. Who’d have known that there are biological creatures shaped like a circle! In terms of the journey the book took me on, I love this the best.

Cyberpsychology is something that caught my interest just recently as I wanted to get bigger on the internet. You know, to make money off ads on my blog, get sponsored, hook people on to my content, etc. The internet became more fascinating to me as I got into more and more forum discussions. That day, I walked into the crosswords store in Pune, India and saw the book title. I did not think. Just picked it up, began reading and my mind was blown. Of all of the psychology experiments that make it to bestseller psychology books – read the Stanley Milgram experiment, the marshmallow experiment, etc., this book had the most insightful ones. They are insightful not because they are great experiments but because they are so damn relevant today – for the internet people.

If you have read any of these books, do leave a comment and tell me about your experience with the book!

BONUS BOOK (a little bit of everything for the academically inclined)

Psychology (2008) by Saundra K. Ciccarelli

It’s a textbook.

If you are interested in learning a little bit about everything from the academic point of view (perfect for undergraduates), you should read this book. It’s the standard book that introduces many people to psychology.

This book covers theories of personality, emotion, memory, learning, psychology tests, experiments, cases, disorders, therapies, history, etc.

P.S. Links in this post are affiliate links. That means, I get a commision if you are in India and buy any of these books from the links provided. Regardless of that, I declare that I have read these books and curated them for this post.

Was this useful?

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 2

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?


Check out these quick visual stories

Intelligence quotient, Sentience quotient, Encephalization quotient… novel ways to measure intelligence

Inquiry-based learning – It is still valuable today


Join 3,518 other subscribers

17 thoughts on “Best Psychology Books On Human Behavior And The Brain (Top 5)”

  1. Thanks for the reply, and sorry for replying back late. Almost everything fascinates me as I currently barely know anything and would like to know a little bit of everything, but mostly about how the brain stores information, solve problems, the subconscious mind and sleep and learning in general.

  2. Great content on the website, loved it.
    Which book would you recommend if I want to learn psychology as a hobby. I already read your blog.

  3. Hello,
    I’ve read works of Dr. VS Ramachandran, and certainly his first book ‘Phantoms in the Brain’ is more fascinating than his second work ‘Tell Tale Brain’. Tell Tale Brain actually expands on the fundamentals set in his previous work, though it could be read as standalone book. It leaves out many elementary details probably to avoid repetition of content. Phantoms in the Brain is fascinating work and more factually correct as Dr VSR himself notes a majority of hypotheses in Tell Tale Brain are merely conjectures, and a bit controversial at that! (esp, since recent researches into mirror neurons seems to negate his surmise of it being linked with autism). The later chapters, esp one towards the end, about consciousness is all speculation. It is a must read, but if you have to place just one- Phantoms in the Brain definitely should be it. To be honest, placing works of Neurology in psychology section is a bit misleading. You should have chosen seminal psychology classics like ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kanheman and the one of the groundbreaking book on social psychology ‘The Social Animal’ by Elliot Aronson. But then again, it seems you are unfamiliar with a lot of important work and books in the field. Nevertheless, something is better than nothing.

    • Hey Bruce, thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts man. I get where you are coming from and to an extent, I agree with you about Dr. VSR’s books. The conjectures are the reason why I put the book is on this list. It makes one think and even snowball around it to learn more. I guess you can say it is based on neurology but it has many psychological contexts.

      Thinking Fast and Slow is great. In spite of people saying Daniel K just regurgitated content, I think his book, with its formatting, interlinking of biases, clarity in examples, etc. is worth putting in a top 5 book list. It offers value even if you spend 1 minute reading any random page.

      Anyway, this is an old list now. I should create for 2019. There are so many good books to choose from!

      The social animal is a little out of context today to keep in the list, IMO. However, it is groundbreaking, I agree.

      Btw, I saw that you entered your website as lichess, do you work there? I love the app. In fact, I just played a game a few minutes before reading this comment.

  4. by the way, I’ve jst seen ur profile and got to now that u have a command on the science of psychology. From the past few days, I’m searching for books on criminal psychology. whether it may be fiction novels which have psychoanalysis or non fiction criminal psychology novels, U’ll be doing a great help to me if u recommend some. tq.

  5. "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" is a fantastic book on how our subconscious mind work. written by dr Joseph Murphy. i would like to recommend this to all our readers.

  6. Great post! Two more books I'd like to recommend:
    1. The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg (How to form better habits)
    2. Getting Things Done by David Allen (How to organise your life/brain/work in better way. The book is considered as a quintessential productivity book)



Your skill level and task difficulty give you 8 moods at work You’re Googling wrong, start searching smarter Write 9x better with these 9 psychological hooks Why we Fall for Misinformation so Easily Why social media affects mental health: Hints from 40 studies Why do accidents happen in slow motion? What’s your intelligence type? 8 types mapped to skills What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Very high intelligence has a few downsides Unlock EPIC brainstorming by walking