According to Amazon, Bill Bryson takes on “everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization,” so you can say there’s a lot to learn.
2. The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
In his book, Sagan takes the time to debunk popular pseudoscientific myths, including some you might have fallen pray to. This particular passage seems relevant today:
Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
3. Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, And Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre
Goldacre bluntly bashes journalists, nutritionists, homeopaths, politicians, and pharmaceutical companies as he makes a point of exposing fake news we probably all grew up believing.
4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012, Kahneman’s book explores the mind and breaks down the two systems that drive the way we think. This book won’t only help you understand others better, but also yourself.
5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Meditations is one of the world’s most influential books, and for a good reason. This will make you examine of the philosophy behind virtue, pleasure, and tranquility above happiness — an old lesson that still holds true today.
6. Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter
An Eternal Golden Braid is a meditation human thought and creativity that intertwines itself with the mathematics of Gödel, the artwork of Escher, and the music of Bach. It also delves into AI and the future of technology, a real-life look into the future that all Black Mirror fans will appreciate.
7. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Hesse’s novel follows Siddhartha, a man on a journey of self-discovery during the time of the first Buddha. He leaves his family home to gain spiritual illumination, and while following his journey, readers gain it, too.
8. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
This New York Times bestseller is full of indignation and dark humor as he chronicles the the root of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. You’ll laugh a lot and you’ll learn a lot, too.
9. Sophie’s World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder
In this novel, 14-year-old Sophie is sent a note that makes her consider two questions: who is she, and where does she come from? Sophie sets out to find the answer by enrolling in a correspondence course that covers the biggest philosophers over time, all the while receiving strange notes addressed to someone else. Sophie’s World is more than just a mystery novel — it’s an in-depth look at philosophy and self-awareness.
10. How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff
You’d be surprised how often numbers are sensationalized, inflated, and oversimplified to influence your decisions and actions, but Huff is sure to lay it out for you in an easy-to-understand format. It’ll change the way you look at numbers and media, but in the best way possible.
11. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Carnegie’s advice will help you get the job, win over the friends, and change people without making them hate you for it — trust me, it’s stood the test of time for a reason.
12. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt
Dubner and Levitt ask a lot of strange questions in this book, like “Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool?” or “What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?” But they have a point, I swear. The pair decide to take a crack at the riddles of everyday life, using economics as the key to all the answers.
13. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wants you to love science just as much as he does, so he put together this easy-to-consume book about the cosmos that will leave you absolutely speechless. You’ll be one step closer to comprehending the universe.
14. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Cosmos is one of the bestselling science books of all time, and for good reason. Sagan not only makes his readers take a good, long look at themselves, but also the world around them and the universe they have only yet to conceptualize.
15. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu was a military general and adviser to the king of the southern Chinese state of Wu 2,500 years ago, and his book — full of small pieces of sage advice — takes a close look at strategy based on Chinese warfare and military thought. These lessons are still useful in politics, business, and everyday life, and they’ll change the way you take on the world.