The best psychology books of 2013

It’s the season for Christmas book lists and we’ve trawled through them, looking for the psychology-themed tomes earning a recommendation. Here are ten suggestions, in no particular order:

1. The best non-fiction book of the year as voted by readers at GoodReads was The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek. “Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.”

2. On Slate’s list of the 10 most crucial books of 2013 was Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. “Love it or hate it,” said Slate, “Sandberg and her book will forever be a founding document for a generation of career women who found in its pages advice, sympathy, understanding, provocation—or just a way to start the discussion they’ve been needing to have for years.”

3. The winner of the British Psychological Society’s 2013 Book Award in the popular category was Claudia Hammond’s Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception.

4. Barnes and Noble listed Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath among the year’s best new non-fiction. “As usual, his research covers a vast terrain;” said the Barnes and Noble editors, “in this case, from Cold War battlefields to the minutiae of microscopic cancer research; and as usual, his findings [in this case about the effects of obstacles and challenges] are as telling as they are surprising. David and Goliath reminds us again that with the proper guide, almost everything can be seen anew.” (not everyone was so impressed).

5. New Scientist chose The Anatomy of Violence: The biological roots of crime by Adrian Raine as one of their favourite science books of 2013. “Apparently, heart rate is a good predictor of criminal tendencies. More about this and other telltale signs from criminologist Adrian Raine as he builds a case that violent criminals differ biologically from the rest of humanity.”

6. Foyles of London lists Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed among its science recommendations for Christmas. “Cat Sense offers us for the first time a true picture of one of humanity’s closest and most enigmatic companions.”

7. For The Guardian, Lisa Appignanesi chose psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz’s The Examined Life as among the best psychology books of 2013. She describes it as “a finely honed rendition in some 30 vignettes of what passes in his consulting room.” (check out her other choices, including Naoki Higashida’s The Reason I Jump and Giovanni Frazzetto’s How We Feel).

8. Brain Pickings has published a list of the 13 best psychology and philosophy books of the year, including Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova: “an effort to reverse-engineer Holmes’s methodology into actionable insights that help develop ‘habits of thought that will allow you to engage mindfully with yourself and your world as a matter of course.'”

9. James McConnachie for the Sunday Times listed The Society of Timid Souls: Or, How to Be Brave by Polly Morland among his pick of the best “thought” books of the year. “… hugely thought-provoking account of encounters with the brave and the formerly frightened: big-wave surfers, armed robbers, firefighters, maimed soldiers and neurotic orchestral musicians. It is a work that feels entertaining, rather than profound, but keeps niggling away afterwards.”

10. And the Digest editor’s own recommendation: The Happy City by Charles Montgomery. The fascinating psychology and neuroscience of how we’re affected by urban design.


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