Top 10 Critical Thinking Books

by | Critical Thinking

Critical thinking may be the issue of our times—because as a society, we really can’t tackle, or even agree on, the various other challenges we face unless we can think about them clearly, objectively, rationally.

If you want to better understand what critical thinking is and how to get better at it, there are lots of books that can help—but these “top 10” stand out from the crowd.


The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

by Carl Sagan

This book simply must top the list, because the late scientist and author Carl Sagan continues to be such a bright shining light in the critical thinking universe. Chapter 12 includes the details on Sagan’s famous “baloney detection kit,” a collection of lessons and tips on how to deal with bogus arguments and logical fallacies.

Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results

by Shane Parrish

Shane, creator of the Farnham Street website and host of the Knowledge Project podcast, explains how to contend with biases and unconscious reactions so that you can make better everyday decisions. Lots of insights from many of the brilliant thinkers Shane has studied.


Good Thinking: Why Flawed Logic Puts Us All at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World

by David Robert Grimes

A brilliant, comprehensive 2021 book on critical thinking that, to my mind, hasn’t received nearly enough attention. The scientist Grimes dissects bad thinking, shows why it persists, and offers the tools to defeat it.


Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

by Adam Grant

Intellectual humility—being willing to admit that you might be wrong—is what this book is primarily about. But Adam, the renowned Wharton psychology professor and bestselling author, takes the reader on a mind-opening journey with colorful stories and characters.



Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era

by Daniel J. Levitin

The psychologist Levitin explains why and how information overload can short-circuit our critical thinking and offers strategies for surviving and navigating a sea of fake news.




Think Like a Detective: A Kid’s Guide to Critical Thinking

by David Pakman

The popular YouTuber and podcast host Pakman—normally known for talking politics—has written a fantastic primer on critical thinking for children. The illustrated book presents critical thinking as a “superpower” that enables kids to unlock mysteries and dig for truth. (I also recommend Pakman’s second kids’ book called Think Like a Scientist.)


Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

by Steven Pinker

The Harvard psychology professor Pinker tackles conspiracy theories head-on, but also explores concepts involving risk/reward, probability and randomness, and correlation/causation. And if that strikes you as daunting, be assured that Pinker makes it lively and accessible.



How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion and Persuasion

by David McRaney

David is a science writer who hosts the popular podcast “You Are Not So Smart” (and his ideas are featured in A More Beautiful Question). His well-written book looks at ways you can actually get through to people who see the world very differently than you (hint: bludgeoning them with facts definitely won’t work).


Healthy Democracy coverA Healthy Democracy’s Best Hope: Building the Critical Thinking Habit

by M Neil Browne and Chelsea Kulhanek

Neil Browne has been a pioneer in presenting critical thinking as a question-based approach to making sense of the world around us. His newest book, co-authored with Chelsea Kulhanek, breaks down critical thinking to “11 explosive questions”—including the “priors question” (which challenges us to question assumptions), the “evidence question” (focusing on how to consider and evaluate evidence), and the ”humility question” (which reminds us that a big part of being a critical thinker involves being humble enough to admit that opposing viewpoints might be worth considering).


Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking

by M Neil Browne & Stuart M. Keeley

A classic that goes back a couple of decades and has been reprinted in a dozen editions. This slim but packed guidebook provides a great foundation for any critical thinker (as it did for me, when I first delved into this subject).





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