The 14 Best Books on Critical Thinking to Read in 2018

The aim of improving your skill of critical thinking isn’t just to be able to reason and give logical arguments about a subject skillfully; your goal is to get to the right answer, to make the right decisions and choices for yourself and others.

Critical thinking helps you:

First, improve the quality of your decisions and judgments, and reevaluate your beliefs objectively.

The human mind is rarely objective. However, mastering the skill of critical thinking keeps your mind objective, at least about those things based on facts.

Take for example the beliefs you have about yourself; Some are based on facts, some on subjective (negative) opinions of others.

Second, become an independent thinker (learn to think for yourself); take ownership of your values, beliefs, judgments, and decisions.

Mastering Critical thinking is essential, especially in our modern times, because you must:

  • Make a tone of decisions every day;
  • Think and come to the right conclusion fast;
  • Solve (mostly alone) your problems and issues;
  • Weigh carefully facts and information you receive from the dozens of sources you have at your disposal;
  • Reevaluate your strategies, beliefs, and habits periodically.

Critical thinking is a skill that you must learn; you’re not born with it. To make your journey easier check out the best books on critical thinking, learn from the masters and get inspired to become yourself a master of critical thinking.

The best books on critical thinking:

1. Critical Thinking: A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Thinking, Better Decision Making, and Problem Solving – Jennifer Wilson

As the title says, this book introduces you to the art of critical thinking. You’ll discover in it:

  • What is critical thinking in practice,
  • The different thought processes of critical thinking,
  • How will your life be better mastering critical thinking,
  • The things your brain needs to enjoy exercising critical thinking,
  • Techniques you can use for solving problems,
  • How to become a better decision maker,
  • Strategies to use in your critical thinking processes,
  • Ways to make good decisions when more people (not just you) are involved,
  • Tips to frame your questions in order to maximize the efficiency of your critical thinking.

2. Wait, What?: And Life’s Other Essential Questions- James E. Ryan

Wisdom comes from observation, learning, practice, and asking the right questions.

Using examples from history, politics, and his own personal life, James e Ryan shows you the importance of knowing how to:

  • Ask questions and gain a better understanding,
  • Get to be more curious,
  • Push yourself to take action,
  • Make your relationship stronger,
  • And stay focused on the important things in life.

The book starts with the five fundamental questions:

  • What…?
  • I wonder…?
  • Couldn’t we at least…?
  • How can I help…?
  • What truly matters….?

Knowing how to formulate, address, and deliver the right questions doesn’t leave room for misunderstandings, misinterpretations; asking the wrong questions will most probably give you a wrong answer.

This book (Wait, What?: And Life’s Other Essential Questions) will make you feel (more) courageous; after all, asking questions thanks courage. Asking yourself and others the right questions helps you make informed decisions and decisive action.

3. Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills – Michael Kallet

This book is a guide on how to train your brain to work even more for you. The author (Michael Kallet) is a critical thinking trainer and coach and gives you a practical set of tools and techniques for critical thinking in your day-to-day life and business.

If you want a clear, actionable step by step programme to:

  • Improve your critical thinking skills,
  • A better understanding of complex problems and concepts,
  • And how to put them in practice, then this book is for you.

Learn how to discover the real issues that need a solution, so you don’t waste your time in trying to solve imaginary problems. Increase your mental toughness, useful and productive thought.

4. Brain Power: Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills – Karl Albrecht

In this book, Karl Albrecht shows you how to:

  • Build your mental strength,
  • Think more clearly logically and creative,
  • Improve your memory,
  • Solve problems,
  • Make decisions more effectively.

Karl Albrecht talks in this book about the six functional abilities you need to have and become more adaptable and an innovative thinker.

The book is packed with practical exercises, fascinating illustrations, games, and puzzles to improve your mental capabilities.

5. The Art of Thinking Clearly – Rolf Dobelli

The art of thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli is a window into human psychology and reasoning; how we:

  • Make decisions;
  • Evaluate choices and options;
  • Develop cognitive biases.

This book helps you notice and recognize erroneous thinking and make better choices and decisions, change unwanted behaviors and habits.

It will change the way you think about yourself and life in general because you have in this book 99 short chapters with examples of the most common errors of judgment and how to rectify them.

If you wish to think more clearly, make better decisions and choices, reevaluate your biases, and feel better about yourself, this book is for you.

6. Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking – D.Q. McInerny

When you decide you want to study the field of logic more closely and improve your critical thinking, this book might be exactly what you need. It’s written clearly and concisely laying out for you the basic building blocks of logic and critical thinking.

The ancient civilizations understood better than us how important is to study logic and rhetoric. With the help of this book, you’ll bring back into your life these essential things that our modern society forgot and missed to teach you as a child.

Having increased logical thinking doesn’t mean to ignore your emotions. It means to start from your emotions and together, (emotions and logic) to take better decisions and see more clearly your choices to move forward in life.

7. Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dr. Dan Ariely

“Predictably Irrational, The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” is a book packed with examples of how:

  • Irrational are our choices;
  • We make decisions on impulse;
  • We fool ourselves with optimism- “that must work for me.”

The author presents you, in this book, a large number of mental traps and flawed tendencies which can make your life harder.

After reading this book, you’ll be better informed about a variety of human flaws and how to avoid being trapped by irrational thinking. You’ll be better prepared to make decisions and choices based more on facts rather than subjective personal opinions.

8. A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas – Warren Berger

Knowing how to ask the right questions is determining your success about many things in your life:

  • Influencing others,
  • Getting out of tricky situations,
  • Reevaluating your beliefs,
  • Offering yourself and others compassion,
  • Overcoming mistakes and fears.

Warren Berger shows you in this book examples of people who are successful (partially) because they are experts in asking questions and don’t have preconceived ideas about what the answers should be.

This book helps you avoid wasting your innovative and brilliant ideas by presenting them in the same way over and over and getting nowhere over and over.

Asking yourself (and others) the right questions gives you the opportunity to display your ideas in the way that those around you feel compelled to listen.

9. A Rulebook for Arguments – Anthony Weston

This book is impressive because, Anthony Weston gives you a lot of excellent and practical advice, ordered in a logical and clear manner.

The examples in this book are realistic and useful, ranging from deductive to oral arguments, from argumentative essays to arguments by analogy.

Once you read this book you’ll want to have it on hand to sort out all sorts of situations you’ll encounter in your day-to-day life.

10. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman, the author of this book, is a renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics.

In this book, you will discover where you can and cannot trust your intuition; how to use the two systems that drive the way you think.

The first system is fast, intuitive, and emotional; the second system is slower, based on facts, and more logical.

The author argues that knowing how to use these two systems can make a huge difference in how you:

  • Design your strategies,
  • Predict consequences,
  • Avoid cognitive biases,
  • (and even simple things like) choosing the colors for your home office.

If you want to improve your critical thinking, know when you should use logic (instead of using emotions), and become mentally stronger this book is definitely for you.

11. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload – Daniel J. Levitin

​​​Critical thinking can’t be created in a cluttered mind. It’s like trying to prepare a gourmet meal for your loved ones in a cramped and dysfunctional kitchen.

As if is not enough all the information you store in your mind from what you personally experience every day, our modern times forcefully adds to that information a lot of junk.

The book “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload” by Daniel J. Levitin will help you sort out and organized your thoughts with the help of the four components in the human attentional system:

  • Mind wandering mode;
  • Central executive mode;
  • Attentional filter;
  • Attentional switch.

The book is showing you how you can improve your critical thinking and make better decisions concerning many areas of your life.

This book can (really) change your life if you’re dealing with procrastination, multitasking, the inability to switch off and block the outside world.

All in all, you’ll be better prepared to think straight in the age of information overload.

12. Don’t Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking – Thomas E. Kida

Thomas E. Kida talks in this book very elegantly about the six basic mistakes your thinking can make.

  • The first mistake is being mesmerized by stories and ignoring the facts or statistics.
  • The second mistake is searching to confirm what we already know or believe.
  • The third mistake is to discount the role that chance and coincidence play in our life.
  • The fourth mistake is believing that what you see it’s always the reality.
  • The fifth mistake is to oversimplify things.
  • The sixth mistake is to believe (trust) faulty memories.

This book can be for you an eye-opener into critical thinking, accepting who you are as you are, and improving the way you choose and make decisions.

13.The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking – Mikael Krogerus, Roman Tschäppeler,‎ Philip Earnhart, Jenny Piening

Did you know you have a strategy for everything you do? From brushing your teeth to making new friends? From choosing a career to dealing with difficult people?

Considering you have a strategy for everything you do, it’s only logical the try to improve every day the way you develop your strategies and don’t leave it to chance, habit, or convenience.

“The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking” can improve your critical thinking and help you make your life easier and more enjoyable.

This book is interactive and provokes you to think about some of the strategies that don’t bring you the results you want.

It contains 58 illustrations offering summaries for known strategies such as the Rubber Band Model, the Personal Performance Model, and the Black Swan Model.

This book is for you if you want to improve the flexibility of your thinking, accept challenges more comfortable, feel more in control of your decisions and choices.

14. Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era - Daniel J. Levitin

From this book, by Daniel Levitin, you’ll learn how to think critically and avoid being manipulated by things like misleading statistics and graphics, extreme view, or fake news.

The book contains three main sections:

  • Evaluating numbers - how to read statistics and data to find out what lurks underneath and make a more objective analysis
  • Evaluating words - how to assess the information you receive from experts, understanding the difference between incidence and prevalence, risk perceptions, and probabilistic thinking
  • Evaluating the world - how to interpret scientific methods for different types of reasoning (induction, deduction, abduction) 

This book will help you improve your critical thinking providing you with a lot of food for thought.

You know how in a criminal trial they call two experts that have divergent opinions on the same facts? Depending on whose side they are? This book teaches you to see the truth. 

The aim of improving your skill of critical thinking isn't just to be able to reason and give logical arguments about a subject skillfully; your goal is to get to the right answer, to make the right decisions and choices for yourself and others.

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