Your Summer Reading List: 5 Psychology Books to Add to Your Bookshelf

Your Summer Reading List: 5 Psychology Books to Add to Your Bookshelf

The summer is a great time to catch up on psychology reading! Here are five books that provide information teachers can use to update, add to, and “enliven” research from your textbook. And as a bonus: they are filled with entertaining stories and details to keep us all reading this summer!

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel, 2014:) Organized in a way that takes the reader through a “course” on cognitive psychology applications for learning (e.g., distributed practice, retrieval practice, and interleaving). If we all read Make it Stick and How we Learn, I  think we’d all be better teachers and students. 

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why it Happens (Carey, 2014): A summary of cognitive science research that SHOULD impact the ways we teach and study! Many non-intuitive findings, explained clearly and with great stories and practical examples. This is the “missing manual” for students and teachers, with explanations about how our memory system works, and implications for teaching and learning.

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (Eagleman, 2011): I  think Eagleman is one of the most effective communicators of biopsychology research out there. He combines effective story-telling about early brain research with summaries of his and other current findings, and extends these discussions by explaining the implications of the research (his writing about how brain research should/could influence the legal system is challenging and provocative). Great examples and background for the Biopsychology chapter. 

Thinking Fast and Slow (Kahneman, 2011): I admit it: I’m not done with this book yet. I’m working my way through this very ambitious book slowly. Each chapter deserves quite a bit of time: Kahneman pulls together decades of research about cognitive biases, framing, prospect theory, and his overall metaphor of “system 1” and “system 2” thinking. 

Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche (Watters, 2011): Excellent background for the disorders chapter. Provides background on cross-cultural research regarding psychological diagnoses, including multiple examples of what happens when American attitudes and thinking about psychological disorders gets “exported” to other cultures.

** Bonus Recommendation**

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness (Rose, 2016)
The premise of this book (Rose argues that we should look at individual differences rather than averages) doesn’t sound revolutionary, but I’m still thinking of ALL the implications of this idea. It’s a “world changer.” Rose uses his compelling life story and heaps of research to develop a compelling (to me) argument that our tendency to focus on averages in research (what he calls “averagianism”) often misrepresents our world and limits our thinking about truth and each other. 

If you are looking for more suggestions about psychology books, TOPSS members Laura Brandt and Nancy Fenton have a great Books for Psychology Class blog where they share books that would be useful in an introductory psychology class.  The Psychology Teacher Network newsletter also has regular book reviews.

Do you have other psychology books you recommend for summer reading? Please feel free to list suggested books in the comments below.

About the Author

Rob McEntarffer taught Psychology and AP Psychology for 13 years at Lincoln Southeast high school in Lincoln, NE. He was involved in the Advanced Placement psychology reading beginning in 1995, working as a Reader, Table Leader, and (from 2003 through 2009) as the High School Question Leader. He co-authored the Test Bank for Blair-Broeker and Ernst’s Thinking About Psychology text and for the AP editions of David Myers’s college level psychology textbook. Rob is also the co-author of Barron’s How to Prepare for the Advanced Placement Psychology Exam. He served as chair of the American Psychological Association’s Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), established a Nebraska chapter of TOPSS, and was a member of APA’s National High School Standards committee. He chaired the Assessment Committee at the Psychology Partnership Project (James Madison University), and won the 2004 Teaching Excellent Award from APA’s Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Rob lives with his wife, two kids, dog, and cat in Lincoln, NE and works for Lincoln Public Schools.