Books to Make You Bright

Get a little “brighter” this winter!

November 23, 2021

Is there anything more satisfying that a great book that entertains and makes you smarter? This list of books will do just that.

Dive into the science of the human mind, language, YouTube algorithms, chemistry, fascinating corners of history—and more!

The alchemy of us

The Alchemy of Us
How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

Ainissa Ramirez

In the bestselling tradition of Stuff Matters and The Disappearing Spoon: a clever and engaging look at materials, the innovations they made possible, and how these technologies changed us.


An Unexpected U.S. History in Thirteen Bestselling Books

Jess McHugh

What does it take to be a good American? And who gets to decide? Journalist Jess McHugh examines thirteen seemingly innocuous, mega-bestselling reference books, guidebooks, and self-help books that have become blueprints for core American values and shaped our national story.

The brain fitness book

The Brain Fitness Book
Activities and Puzzles to Keep Your Mind Active and Healthy

Carter, Rita

Looking at the well-established science and recent scientific revelations, a volume packed with mental exercises and activities offers a well-balanced, clear, and colorful practical guide to keeping the brain fit and healthy.

Business made simple

Business Made Simple
Sixty Days to Master Leadership, Communication, Sales, and More

Donald Miller

These 60 daily readings from author Donald Miller focus on the tangible skills it takes to offer extreme value to your organization while building your company, your career, and your legacy.

The dawn of everything

The Dawn of Everything
A New History of Humanity

David Graeber, David Wengrow

An activist and public intellectual teams up with a professor of comparative archaeology to deliver an account of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the emergence of “the state,” political violence and social inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation.

Design a healthy home

Design a Healthy Home
100 Ways to Transform Your Space for Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Oliver Heath

With indoor air pollution now worse than ever, this book provides the cure and teaches you how to detoxify your home by making small changes to every space/room.


An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future

Saul Griffith

An optimistic—but realistic and feasible—action plan for fighting climate change while creating new jobs and a healthier environment: electrify everything.

The end of bias : a beginning

The End of Bias : a Beginning
The Science and Practice of Overcoming Unconscious Bias

Jessica Nordell

Weaving gripping stories with scientific research, a science and culture journalist, examining unconscious bias, reveals how minds, hearts and behaviors change by outlining approaches to show how we can begin to remake ourselves and our world.

Enneagram empowerment

Enneagram Empowerment
Discover Your Personality Type and Unlock Your Potential

Laura Miltenberger

The enneagram, a popular personality assessment with sacred roots, offers an opportunity to improve your life and relationships through self-awareness and understanding of others. Based on nine core personality types, the enneagram reveals how your personality type and its associated traits can influence your relationships, work habits, and goals. With simple explanations and whimsical illustrations, Enneagram Empowerment gives you the tools to transform.

The extended mind

The Extended Mind
The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

Annie Murphy Paul

Unearthing the untold history of how artists, scientists and authors have used mental extensions to solve, discover and create, an acclaimed science journalist presents a dramatic new view of how our minds work, offering practical advice on how we can all think better.

The family firm

The Family Firm
A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years

Emily Oster

Stuff You Should Know

The first shots

The First Shots
The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine

Brendan Borrell

An award-winning journalist, drawing on high-level access, presents the full inside story of the high-stakes, global race of the lifesaving vaccine to end the pandemic.

First-time home buyer

First-Time Home Buyer
The Complete Guide to Avoiding Rookie Mistakes

Scott Trench, Mindy Jensen

Everything you need to buy your first home, from initial decisions all the way to the closing table! Outsmart the financial trap of homeownership with advice that can save you a fortune during the purchase timeline and into the future.

Gastro obscura

Gastro Obscura
A Food Adventurer’s Guide

Cecily Wong, Dylan Thuras

The team behind Atlas Obscura, a friendly tour-guide to the world’s most amazing places, presents incredible ingredients, food adventures and edible wonders from around the world, including Chilean beer made from fog and 2,000-year-old egg ovens.

Hormone intelligence

Hormone Intelligence
The Complete Guide to Calming the Chaos and Restoring Your Body’s Natural Blueprint for Well-Being

Aviva Romm

From Yale-trained, board-certified family physician and women’s health expert, a six-week intensive program for treating the hidden and undiagnosed hormone imbalances that lead to disease.

How you say it

How You Say It
Why You Talk the Way You Do and What It Says About You

Katherine D. Kinzler

A pioneering psychology professor explains how we are hardwired to prejudge others by the way they speak and discusses how accents can even determine the economic opportunity and discrimination one might face in life.


A Journey Into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive

Philipp Dettmer

 A gorgeously illustrated deep dive into the immune system that will forever change how you think about your body, from the creator of the popular science YouTube channel.

IRAs, 401(k)s & other retirement plans

Iras, 401(K)S & Other Retirement Plans
Strategies for Taking Your Money Out

Twila Slesnick

Whether they are retiring or just need the money, helps people withdrawing from a retirement plan understand the rules, taxes and penalties involved through plainly written explanations, examples, sample forms and lists of relevant tax code sections.

It's elemental

It’s Elemental
The Hidden Chemistry in Everything

Kate Biberdorf

In this practical pop science book, a scientist dubbed “the Cooler Bill Nye” looks at how we experience chemistry every day, answering questions such as what makes dough rise and how coffee gives us an energy boost.

The Last Winter

The Last Winter
The Scientists, Adventurers, Journeymen, and Mavericks Trying to Save the World

Porter Fox

A blend of narrative travelogue, history, and climatology is set against the end of ice, snow, and winter as we know it.

The library

The Library
A Fragile History

Andrew Pettegree, Arthur Der Weduwen

In this meticulously written and deeply researched book, this history of the library, from the ancient world to the digital age, introduces readers to the antiquarians and the philanthropists who shaped the world’s great collections.


A Flaw in Human Judgment

Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

Discusses why people make bad judgements and how to make better ones by reducing the influence of “noise”—variables that can cause bias in decision making—and draws on examples in many fields, including medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, strategy, and personnel selection.

The power of geography

The Power of Geography
Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World

Tim Marshall

Taking readers to 10 regions that are set to shape global politics and power, the author of the global best-seller Prisoners of Geography explains how a region’s geography and physical characteristics affect the decisions made by its leaders.

Resilience recipe

Resilience Recipe
A Parent’s Guide to Raising Fearless Kids in the Age of Anxiety

Muniya S. Khanna, Philip C. Kendall

Written by two pioneering experts in child psychology and anxiety, this book offers an evidence-based plan grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy to help kids build emotional resilience and adaptability, worry less, and thrive-despite the stressors of modern life.


The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else

Jordan Ellenberg

Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face. Geometry asks: Where are things? Which things are near each other? How can you get from one thing to another thing? Those are important questions. Geometry doesn’t just measure the world-it explains it. Shape shows us how.

So to speak

So to Speak
11,000 Expressions That’Ll Knock Your Socks Off

by Shirley Kobliner, Harold Kobliner

Engage with everyday expressions in a completely different (and fun!) way, with this entertaining and interactive book of common phrases that can turn a humdrum gathering into a raucous game night.

The star builders

The Star Builders
Nuclear Fusion and the Race to Power the Planet

Arthur Turrell

An award-winning young plasma physicist, who has a unique talent for making complex science accessible, brings to life the race to harness the power of the stars and produce controlled fusions, creating a practically unlimited supply of clean energy.

Stuff you should know

Stuff You Should Know
An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things

Josh Clark, Chuck Bryant

>The duo behind the massively successful podcast “Stuff You Should Know” offers an unexpected look at weird, fascinating, delightful, or unexpected elements of a wide variety of topics, featuring new subjects that they’ve long wondered about and wanted to explore.

This is your mind on plants

This is Your Mind on Plants

Michael Pollan

In this unique blend of history, science and memoir, a #1 New York Times best-selling author examines and experiences three plant drugs—opium, caffeine and mescaline—from several very different angles and contexts, exploring the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants.

The unseen body

The Unseen Body
A Doctor’s Journey Through the Hidden Wonders of Human Anatomy

Jonathan Reisman

In this fascinating journey through the human body and across the globe, Dr. Reisman weaves together stories about our insides with a unique perspective on life, culture, and the natural world.

Unwell women

Unwell Women
Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World

Elinor Cleghorn

A trailblazing conversation-starting history of women’s health-from Ancient Greece to hormones and autoimmune diseases-brought together in a fascinating sweeping narrative.

We are what we eat

We Are What We Eat
A Slow Food Manifesto

Alice Waters

From chef and food activist Alice Waters, an impassioned plea for a radical reconsideration of the way each and every one of us cooks and eats.

The YouTube formula

The Youtube Formula
How Anyone Can Unlock the Algorithm to Drive Views, Build an Audience, and Grow Revenue

Derral Eves

This book will provide everything a YouTube creator needs to optimize their content strategy, including in-depth, applicable strategies for how to launch a channel, drive massive view and subscriber growth, build a brand and increase engagement, improvesearchability, and drive commerce through YouTube.