Books that make you think cover image

Reading is without a doubt one of the best activities you can do to develop yourself, to bring a positive change, and to become a more interesting person. While reading any book that you can find will benefit you and add to your knowledge, there are some genres of books that make you think sharply and smartly. So we made a list of these books with their genres with a brief explanation as to why they make your brain think. 

There are 7 genres of literature that we’ll be including in this list; to ensure a holistic improvement in thinking and analyzing. Getting knowledge in these fields will make you an overall great thinker and someone who can talk to anyone in almost any field. Here are the genres;

  • Philosophy 
  • Science 
  • Sci-fi
  • Literature 
  • Politics 
  • Poetry 
  • Development 

Let’s look at some books from each of these genres and the reason why you should read them.

Philosophy books


Philosophy is a genre that everyone should read if they want to change their mindset and steer their thinking ship in the right direction and perhaps even reach the shore. These books are far more helpful and effective than any self-help books out there. But some books can be a bit tricky and hence it is important to start with something mild, something easier to ingest. 

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

A very easy book to read with great teachings by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. This book has changed a lot about me in the way I think and see the world. It teaches self-control, how to maintain a calm outlook and live fearlessly.

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl 

Who doesn’t suffer in life? But there must be something to suffer for, something that gives your suffering meaning and then you get all the strength to take the hard times. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl takes us back to the horrible times of surviving Nazi-led Germany and how he faced the atrocities and rose above them.

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle 

This book might be a little difficult to read and comprehend because it has been translated from a source that was written millennia ago. But once you read it completely, this book will contribute to your ethics, your behavior and morals, and will transform you into a different, better person.

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant

Kant is famous for communicating complex philosophical ideas in simple language; this book is the testimony for that. The book discusses ideas such as ethics, virtues and vices, morals, duty, and other concepts that make up the metaphysical aspects of man. A great book for opening your mind to a new way of thinking.

Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre 

Jean-Paul Sartre is considered the father of Existentialist philosophy and brings light to a new way of thinking. How people view life, our attitudes towards it, and the significance of art, politics, philosophy, etc in our lives. 

I have not included some books by very popular philosophers such as Nietzsche, Plato, Socrates, etc. This is because these authors are very powerful and should not be approached if you are new to philosophy. You can go for these authors once you have read the ones listed in the list.

science books


A man without the knowledge of science is just an emotional and irrational body. This does not mean being a Ph.D. in any scientific field but having basic groundwork knowledge of basic sciences and learning critical thinking. So we have included science books that are not very difficult to understand but have the essence of science. The subjects range from physics, biology, astrophysics, and more. Take a look.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan is one of the most admirable scientists/educators of all time. Not only did he know how to communicate complex scientific ideas to the masses in simpler terms, but he knew how to make the masses feel the joy of science and learning. This book encapsulates Sagan’s personality. Cosmos is about the origin of the universe, the origin of humanity, our endeavors, our failure, our past, and our future. 

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee

We all know that our bodies are very complex organic machines and so is every organ inside them. But have you ever thought about the piece of code that rules it all; the DNA? The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee is one of the most well-written books of medical science and reading every line in it was a delight. 

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkin 

Do you have the DNA or does the DNA have you? Dawkin in these brilliant books puts a different perspective and shows how genes can be “selfish”. A tale about how genes have evolved not to make better animals or humans but to make more copies of themselves. Honestly, this book has changed the way I used to observe and understand evolution.

Behave by Robert Sapolsky 

Behave is a book about…you guessed it, human behavior. But there’s more. Firstly, this book is a dense book which means that there is so much information, citations, footnotes, etc. But completing this book and the amount of knowledge you get from this book is mind-blowing. It talks about why humans do things the way we do things. And if you want to make your brain think, this book will definitely do that task. 



The next genre will be fiction (literature) and the previous genre was science, so in between, we get science fiction. Science fictions are important for people to read because they show how far the human imagination can take us. Sometimes the ideas of the authors can be the igniting spark inside your mind. There’s no doubt sci-fi books make you see, think, and behave differently. 

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Read about the journey of Hari Seldon who foresees the imminent fall of the entire Milky Way Galaxy and sets up the foundation of engineers and scientists. I don’t want to write more because that would be giving away the plot. Read this brilliant novel trilogy and it will expand your thinking capabilities.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is perhaps one of the most popular and successful science fiction novels of all time. The book is about the misadventures of Arthur Dent, the last surviving human in this whole universe. He embarks on a journey with his alien friend. Read this classic and you will not be disappointed.


One of the most imaginative novels I have ever read, Kurt Vonnegut tells a story about Billy Pilgrim and how he is stuck in time, getting lost in the non-chronological time’s world, and visiting various events of his life. Just a one-line description of the story and it is enough to make you wanna read the book.



I have seen so many new readers avoid fiction for two reasons; They find it long and difficult to read and second is they think it isn’t going to help them change. This is very wrong because good fiction has so much power to influence your mind and thinking. Remember that all the great authors are in some way psychologists and when you read their work, you are going inside their minds, their life. This is like getting a treasure of experience, all through the book. Take a look at these books and start with these if you haven’t to make your brain think more.

Animal Farm

Whenever anyone who isn’t a reader wants to get into the habit of reading, Animal Farm by George Orwell is the book I recommend. This book is one of my favorite books, period. The book is short with a powerful message, presented in a very imaginative way. This is a must-read for anyone who’s new to reading. 

Great Expectations 

Dicken’s writing can be a bit complex and some people might find it difficult to read, but once you manage that (by getting a dictionary perhaps), all the works in Dickensian novels feel like sweet nectar. The way he tells a story is brilliant and form, I found it helped me be a better speaker as well. 

Sherlock Holmes 

Do I need to write anything about Sherlock Holmes? Yes, there have been numerous TV shows and movies about the character but there is something different when the books are read. Every word, reading about the thinking process is like getting inside the head of Sherlock Holmes. And who doesn’t want to be Sherlock Holmes, Watson?

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore was my introduction to Haruki Murakami and now he has become one of my favorite authors. This book takes the metaphysical/ absurdist/ fantasy genres and mashes them together, creating a beautiful story that will keep you hooked to the book.

The Brothers Karamazov 

Fyodor Dostoevsky is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. If Tolstoy was a sociologist, then Dostoevsky was a psychologist. This is because he understood human nature so well. Reading his works, especially The Brothers Karamazov or The Idiot is always an enlightening experience.

economics and politics

Economics and Politics

I know reading about politics can get a bit boring but understanding it takes a lot of mental effort. It helps you understand the masses, how to influence them, and much more. Learning about politics is a great way to focus your thinking, make you analyze and handle difficult situations better.

Fascism: A Warning 

A book that dives deeper into the mind of a fascist or more aptly, into fascism explaining what it is, how it is on the rise, and what are the threats it proposes. This book gives a very accurate and clear picture of the fight for power and the limits people are willing to cross to get there.

The Economists’ Hour

Learn about the post-2008 economic crisis and all the events that led up to it. Written by Binyamin Applebaum, editorial writer of The New York Times. The book provides great insights into market fluctuations, the role of bankers and buyers, and how the dynamic among different sectors keeps the economy afloat. 

The Meritocracy Trap by Daniel Markovits

This book is about everything wrong with the idea of meritocracy, or the division of people (jobs) based on their achievement is very damaging to the goal of equal opportunities. A great book to learn something so unconventional and get a unique perspective about the functioning of society.

poetry books


It is difficult for a non-reader to read poetry. But if you are not ready for poetry, you are missing out on so many beautiful literary creations. It is necessary that you must start with simple poems that are easier to read and understand. If you start with Milton or Shakespeare, it will be hard for you to understand or appreciate poetry (since these poems are in the advanced levels).

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

Neruda is famous for writing love poems that are easy to read yet powerful in terms of impact. Poems by Neruda are influenced by his life, the people around him, and the thoughts that run in his mind. A perfect source of learning a new perspective.

The Golden Treasury by Francis Turner Palgrave

The Golden Treasury is a collection of poems by almost all the famous poets out there. So opening this book is like opening a box of chocolate; you never know which poet’s work you’ll be reading. But no matter what, all the poems are worth a read. 

Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth 

William Wordsworth has written some great poems. His Prelude is considered to be one of the greatest poems from the Romanticism movement. But Prelude is not for a beginner in poetry. So the Lyrical Ballads have some other great poems such as the Lucy poems and other great short poems. You have to read Wordsworth if you are reading poetry.

The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson 

There is something about Dickinson’s writing, something so familiar, so true that makes me want to read her poems again and again. With bold patterns and unique rhyming, her poems are truly an example of an expression of the self. Read her poems to learn a lesson or two. 

development books


This genre has books for personal development, not self-help books because those books have very little content and more repetitive garbage. We have selected the best books for personality development that have material backed by science with which you can work on yourself and be a better version of yourself. Take a look.

Thinking Fast, and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This book will change the way you think, literally. Kahneman is a psychologist and Noble Laureate in Economics. Imagine how much you can learn from him. This book talks about two types of thinking; emotional and the other is logical. I’d love to give more but I don’t want to spoil the book for you.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel 

Entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel explain why some companies become so huge and why most of the new start-ups fail. The book talks about everything; from investments to smart decision-making. Now if you want to start a start-up or not, this book will help you in doing anything in your life.

Atomic Habits by James Clear 

The best way to develop oneself is by developing positive habits. And the most difficult thing about that line is developing new habits. James Clear cites scientific studies and explains how to start making new habits that stick.

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

The Demon-Haunted World is all ab0ut making the right decisions based on a scientific evaluation and ignoring the myths. Sagan’s writing style and the way he communicates make the book ten times more fun to read. 

This concludes the article. These genres and books were chosen to ensure holistic growth and make your brain work harder. These books present ideas that change the way you think and observe the outside world. So go ahead and get a new perspective. You can read more articles related to this topic:

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