Friday, January 1, 2010

Top Psychology Books of 2009, revised links

Below are some of the top psychology books published in 2009 selected completely by me based on what I read, book reviews and other "best of" lists. Also, great news -- I have two of the books below to give away for free! I have one copy each of Scott Lilienfeld's 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology and Stanislas Dehaene's Reading in the Brain. To enter, enter a comment below with both your e-mail address and the name of a psychology-related book that you've always enjoyed (regardless of the year of publication). I'll randomly select two winners from the comments that are posted by 6 pm EST on January 15, 2010. Good luck!
(side note from Chuck here--I took all Steve's info and changed the links--sorry for any problems this may have caused)

Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention
Stanislaw Dehaene -- "Drawing on scads of brain-imaging studies, case histories of stroke victims and ingenious cognitive psychology experiments, cognitive neuroscientist Dehaene diagrams the neural machinery that translates marks on paper into language, sound and meaning."

Scott O. Lilienfeld et al. -- "Because I only use 10% of my brain, I had to play Mozart music while reading this book, and then be hypnotized to recover the memory of it because of early childhood traumas that were repressed but occasionally leaked through out-of-body experiences and ESP. And if you believe any of the above you need to read this book...twice if its mythbusting revelations cause you to repress the memory of it." (Michael Shermer!)

The Red Book
C.G. Jung -- "It is an astonishing example of calligraphy and art on a par with The Book of Kells and the illuminated manuscripts of William Blake. This publication of The Red Book is a watershed that will cast new light on the making of modern psychology."

Lise Eliot -- "In taking the challenge of addressing the difference between little boys and little girls, Eliot explains how modest differences at birth between the brains of boys and girls are amplified by social factors that in turn produce anatomical changes in the brain to give rise to the greater differences evident in the actions of brains of mature men and women. Eliot explains, in language that is clear to all of us, that these sex differences are plastic and can be modified by experience."

Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive
Barbara Fredrickson -- "Positive psychology pioneer Fredrickson introduces readers to the power of harnessing happiness to transform their lives, backed up by impressive lab research."

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman -- "The central premise of this book by Bronson (What Should I Do with My Life?) and Merryman, a Washington Post journalist, is that many of modern society's most popular strategies for raising children are in fact backfiring because key points in the science of child development and behavior have been overlooked."

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life
Alison Gopnik -- "As she tackles philosophical questions regarding love, truth and the meaning of life, Gopnik reveals that babies and children are keys not only to how the mind works but also to our understanding of the human condition and the nature of love."

Christopher Payne -- "Architect and photographer Christopher Payne spent six years documenting the decay of state mental hospitals like these, visiting seventy institutions in thirty states ... Accompanying Payne's striking and powerful photographs is an essay by Oliver Sacks (who described his own experience working at a state mental hospital in his book Awakenings)."

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
David Kessler -- "Conditioned hypereating is a biological challenge, not a character flaw, says Kessler, former FDA commissioner under presidents Bush and Clinton). Here Kessler describes how, since the 1980s, the food industry, in collusion with the advertising industry, and lifestyle changes have short-circuited the body's self-regulating mechanisms, leaving many at the mercy of reward-driven eating."

Jonah Lehrer -- "Lehrer [...] illuminates the many processes involved in even the simplest decisions. By letting the experts do much of the talking and by drawing conclusions from his voluminous research and knowledge of the field, Lehrer presents a readable account of what we know about how we decide -- and acknowledges the vast universe of what we don't."

Dave Cullen -- "Cullen expertly balances the psychological analysis—enhanced by several of the nation's leading experts on psychopathology—with an examination of the shooting's effects on survivors, victims' families and the Columbine community. Readers will come away from Cullen's unflinching account with a deeper understanding of what drove these boys to kill, even if the answers aren't easy to stomach."


Anonymous said...
My favorite Psych book is "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey" by Jill Bolte Taylor. It taught me so much about the brain, strokes, plasticity...yet also motivation and not giving up. It touches on many important psych topics!

Anonymous said...

I like to relate "popular" literature and apply it to the psychology field. Doing so, Stephen King's Under the Dome allows for discussions on all sorts of social psych topics (leadership, mobs, Zimbardo) brain abnormalities and development - I'm only 2/3 of the way through so who knows what else might arise!

Anonymous said...

It's not a new book by any means but I really enjoy "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. I talk about many of his examples during my social psychology unit.

Jennifer Collison said...

From my comment from Chuck's post, before it was revised: Consider "Salsa Dancing Through the Social Sciences" by Kristin Luker (research methods - smart, enlightening book about research methods) and "Drive" by David H. Pink (all about motivational theory). I also like "Welcome to Your Brain" by Sam Wang, as it is a kind of brain user's manual.


Virginia Welle said...

I'd second the comments about "Welcome to Your Brain" and Bolte-Taylors's "Stroke of Insight." I'm currently tremendously enjoying Daniel Gilbert's "Stumbling On Happiness." Not a new publication, but I'm just now getting to some titles that have been on my to-read list for a while. Besides happiness research, there's a lot of info on memory and problem-solving, too!

Anonymous said...

I liked Jonah Lehrer's "How We Decide." He uses lots of studies that are applicable through the psychology curriculum and the students find fascinating. It also got me into his blog, which is very interesting. Thanks for the recommendation on Gilbert - I just picked it up to catch up on my old reading list as well.

Anonymous said...

Some of my favs-"Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters" by Miller and Kanazawa 2007-great examples for explaining Evolutionary perspective, "Outliers" by Gladwell 2008-adds depth to statistics, "Blink" by Gladwell 2005 for Cognition and "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Doidge 2007-Neuroscience and brain plasticity

JT Carlton said...

Gladwell's "Blink" is a must read. It has many applications to the cognition chapter and my students enjoy his writing style.

Anonymous said...

I second the endorsement of all of the Malcolm Gladwell books. His latest release, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of several of his NY Times articles.

Riki Koenigsberg said...

An older book that I find makes brain topics more interesting for the students is "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Tales", by Oliver Sacks. He is a neurologist who describes cases studies in a very interesting wasy.

Riki Koenigsberg

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy Erich Fromm's "The Art of Loving" and Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning."

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Psychology in Context by Sattler/Shabatay. Great stories that students relate to. Each story list psychological concepts and questions are at the end of each story.


Dave Cullen said...

Thanks again for including my book, Columbine.

I have also read and loved my colleague Ashley Merryman's NurtureShock. Now I have a lot more reading to do. I can't wait to read How We Decide and Positivity.

This year, you might look for two books on the brain by David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Baylor med school in Houston--one from Oxford Press and one from Pantheon. I met him at the Texas Book Fest and he is brilliant. And his book "Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives" was my favorite of this year. (He writes fiction, too. That, I must admit, makes me envious.)

Anonymous said...

I second "The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat." Each study is attention-grabbing, and makes it an easy read.

Anonymous said...

My students have enjoyed reading sections from

When The Air Hits Your Brain by Dr. Frank Vertosick

From the description:
Rule One for the neurologist in residence: "You ain't never the same when the air hits your brain." In this fascinating book, Dr. Frank Vertosick brings that fact to life through intimate portraits of patients and unsparing yet gripping descriptions of brain surgery. His section on doing his residency in the Mental Illness ward is great.

Dr. Brent Kidder

Kristin Whitlock said...

The first book that came to mind is "The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil" by Philip Zimbardo. In this book, Dr. Zimbardo presents his case of the impact of stiuational variables on behavior, describes his "Prison study" in incredible and compelling detail, ties such forces to today's world, and explains how we can all become heroes. A great read!

Rachael Peterson said...

"The Female Brain" by Louann Brizendine is by far the best book I have read recently. I can't keep it on the shelf in my classroom because my students consistently check it out and very often end up buying their own copy. They have formed their own discussion groups and are eagerly awaiting release of "The Male Brain" March 10th.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I discovered an author named Anthony De Mello. He was a psychologist, a catholic priest, and a spiritual teacher. I've recently read his book "Awareness," and he really challenges the type of behavior that most people consider "normal" and brings up a lot of mind opening matters. The book has a very unusual mix of psychology and spirituality.

Sherry said...

I also really enjoyed "the man who mistook his wife a for hat and other tales" and Psychology and the Simpsons. I have my students pick any non-fiction to read, evaluate, and report on for thier final exam. We do an informal presentation (why you should/shouldn't read this book). It has been very eye opening for students to see all that is out there.

Anonymous said...

"Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing" by Margaret Livingstone is a beautiful, not-overly scientific book I use during the sensation & perception unit. Her explanation of why the Mona Lisa is so mysterious connects the dots nicely.

Michael Sandler