Paradigm Shifting Books, Recommended for The Curious Mind

I love to read. I read a lot. It’s a habit I intend to maintain for a very long time.

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I love to read. I read a lot. It’s a habit I intend to maintain for a very long time. I have embraced life-long learning. Reading increases my capacity to write. Stephen King says “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

It’s possible, in principle, to develop a sense of curiosity about anything argues psychologist Todd Kashdan, author of “Curiosity”. A curious mind is an active mind, realises Oliver Burkeman.

If you are looking to feed your own curious mind, these books will keep your curious mind content for hours. And if you are looking for something absorbing to carry you through the rest of the year, this list is exactly what you need. The list features quotes from the books.

A fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
by John J. Ratey

“Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high-performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs. So if you have an important afternoon brainstorming session scheduled, going for a short, intense run during lunchtime is a smart idea.”

“It turns out that moving our muscles produces proteins that travel through the bloodstream and into the brain, where they play pivotal roles in the mechanisms of our highest thought processes.”

An inspiring book that will change the way you look at your brain, human nature, and human potential

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge

“As we age and plasticity declines, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to change in response to the world, even if we want to. We find familiar types of stimulation pleasurable; we seek out like-minded individuals to associate with, and research shows we tend to ignore or forget, or attempt to discredit, information that does not match our beliefs, or perception of the world, because it is very distressing and difficult to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways.”

“One reason we can change our brains simply by imagining is that, from a neuroscientific point of view, imagining an act and doing it are not as different as they sound. When people close their eyes and visualize a simple object, such as the letter a, the primary visual cortex lights up, just as it would if the subjects were actually looking at the letter a. Brain scans show that in action and imagination many of the same parts of the brain are activated. That is why visualizing can improve performance.”

This book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet

The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley

“Humanity is experiencing an extraordinary burst of evolutionary change, driven by good old-fashioned Darwinian natural selection. But it is selection among ideas, not among genes.”

“The wonderful thing about knowledge is that it is genuinely limitless. There is not even a theoretical possibility of exhausting the supply of ideas, discoveries and inventions.”

“The success of human beings depends crucially, but precariously, on numbers and connections. A few hundred people cannot sustain a sophisticated technology: trade is a vital part of the story.”

MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely

“Standard economics assumes that we are rational… But, as the results presented in this book (and others) show, we are far less rational in our decision making… Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless- they are systematic and predictable. We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of he basic wiring of our brains”

“People are willing to work free, and they are willing to work for a reasonable wage; but offer them just a small payment and they will walk away.”

“Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.”

A blueprint for how to behave-and thrive-in a world we don’t understand and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“This is the central illusion in life: that randomness is risky, that it is a bad thing — and that eliminating randomness is done by eliminating randomness.”

“To understand the future, you do not need technoautistic jargon, obsession with “killer apps,” these sort of things. You just need the following: some respect for the past, some curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of the elders, and a grasp of the notion of “heuristics,” these often unwritten rules of thumb that are so determining of survival. In other words, you will be forced to give weight to things that have been around, things that have survived.”

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness

The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thic Nhat Hanh

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

“Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life. Don’t be attached to the future. Don’t worry about things you have to do. Don’t think about getting up or taking off to do anything. Don’t think about “departing.”

Bill offers a clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson

“If this book has a lesson, it is that we are awfully lucky to be here-and by ‘we’ I mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp.”

This book offers insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows

“Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.”

“self-organization is often sacrificed for purposes of short-term productivity and stability. Productivity and stability are the usual excuses for turning creative human beings into mechanical adjuncts to production processes. Or for narrowing the genetic variability of crop plants. Or for establishing bureaucracies and theories of knowledge that treat people as if they were only numbers.”

A blueprint for an entirely new way to solve problems, whether your interest lies in minor lifehacks or major global reforms

Think Like a Freak, by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

“Don’t listen to what people say; watch what they do.”

“The takeaway here is simple but powerful: just because you’re great at something doesn’t mean you’re good at everything. Unfortunately, this fact is routinely ignored by those who engage in — take a deep breath — ultracrepidarianism, or “the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge or competence.”

“With any problem, it’s important to figure out which incentives will actually work, not just what your moral compass tells you should work.”

A dazzling tour of the science of human behavior ever attempted. Robert explains why we ultimately do the things we do…for good and for ill

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, by Robert M. Sapolsky

“The brain is heavily influenced by genes. But from birth through young adulthood, the part of the human brain that most defines us (frontal cortex) is less a product of the genes with which you started life than of what life has thrown at you. Because it is the least constrained by genes and most sculpted by experience. This must be so, to be the supremely complex social species that we are. Ironically, it seems that the genetic program of human brain development has evolved to, as much as possible, free the frontal cortext from genes.”

“..in general, major stressors make people of both genders more risk taking. But moderate stressors bias men toward, and women away from, risk taking. In the absence of stress, men tend toward more risk taking than women;..”

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Originally published at medium.com

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