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6 Best Books on Critical Thinking

Looking for the best book for critical thinking? Discover the six best books on logical and critical thinking that will benefit your career and personal life.

Many of the greatest revolutionary leaders were pioneers in thought, driving innovative ideas into societies built upon limited beliefs. From Martin Luther King Jr. to Stephen Hawking, these people have demonstrated the willpower it takes to think critically when the odds are stacked against you.

Critical thinking skills are usually built over a lifetime of hands-on experience. However, books on analytical thinking offer an accelerated option that provides access to the same tools and resources. Unfortunately, many people still struggle to find a way to fit reading into their schedule — in which case, book summaries can help you gain the same information from a book in less than half the usual time. 

Headway offers a convenient option for busy people who want to learn new skills and build their mental capacity while on the go. With this app, you can listen to 15-minute summaries of your favorite critical thinking books during commutes, errand-running, or any time you need a mental boost.

In this article, you can learn about the best books for deep thinkers to help you grow your perception and increase your overall wisdom.

Key points:

  • Critical thinkers range from society’s most affluent celebrities to ordinary individuals. Undoubtedly, anyone can develop critical thinking skills with enough practice and access to tools and resources.

  • Analytical thinking books can help develop your mindset by exposing you to new ideas and perspectives written by leading psychologists and deep thinkers. Some of the best books on logical and critical thinking include The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin and Think Again by Adam M. Grant.

  • The Headway app is a great resource for busy people who want to broaden their mental capacity with fresh perspectives and insightful ideas. Consider using Headway to listen to detailed 15-minute summaries of the best books on critical thinking.

What is critical thinking?


Critical thinking is the deeper analysis of situations and concepts that many people may otherwise look over. This process can allow you to tap into hidden parts of the brain and develop an awareness of your inner self and the world around you. Although everyone processes thoughts in their own way, the critical thinking process can generally be summed up into five steps. 

These steps involve the following:

1. Clarify the context

When facing a situation requiring deeper thought, you should first make a note of previous circumstances and ensure that you have a complete understanding of the current events. Consulting the past is a great way to gain context for a situation without jumping to conclusions. For instance, you might ask, “When did this situation become an issue?” or “How did this situation come about?”

2. Identify arguments and evidence

Before delving deeper into a problem, you’ll want to identify the exact issue you are facing. For instance, if someone tries to persuade someone to agree with them, you can identify that an argument is taking place. Afterward, you can look at the types of evidence they are presenting and form a deeper understanding of the issue.

3. Consider sources of information

If you took English in high school, you’d know how serious it was to cite your information from credible sources. Getting facts from untrustworthy sources can inhibit your ability to make sound arguments. In this case, it’s important to consider your sources to rule out any biases or unfactual information.

4. Analyze different viewpoints

You may experience multiple perspectives competing to come out on top in any given situation. For example, consider the following scenario: You and a co-worker are in charge of purchasing new office chairs for the entire staff. However, you quickly realize that you and your co-worker disagree on which office chairs can offer staff members the most lumbar support. In this example, you can use critical thinking skills to analyze both arguments and understand the evidence behind them to come forth with the most reasonable and effective solution.

5. Reach an educated conclusion

Once you have considered all your options, weighed out each argument, and deeply analyzed the facts, you can come to a reasonable conclusion. By the end, you will have exercised effective critical thinking skills and decided based on contextual evidence and reasoning.

6 Critical thinking books

Developing your critical thinking skills often begins with finding a book that matches the area you’d like to focus on. Here are six of the best books on thinking to help you improve cognition and be more inclined to question the world around you.

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow proposes that the mind is separated into two distinct systems that shape our judgment and ability to process thoughts. One system is dictated by intuition, or slow thinking, which depicts thoughts that require more effort to make deliberate decisions. It is conscious and aware, considering everything before going through a change.

The second system operates off initial reaction or fast thinking. For instance, this system represents thoughts that involve little to no control, likely based on feelings, emotions, or impressions. These two systems work together to manage a myriad of circumstance-dependent thoughts. However, the pairing is not always smooth — sometimes, your brain is lazy, and the two systems fight over who’s in charge.

Daniel Kahneman is a renowned author and psychologist known for his work on the psychology of decision-making. In his book, Kahneman teaches how to balance the two systems in your mind to minimize intellectual errors and make better choices. Readers can therefore gain scientifically-backed insight into how the brain functions and learn more about their feelings and inner workings.

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

In The Organized Mind, author and cognitive psychologist Daniel Levitin explores what it means to ‘think critically’ while being influenced by modern advancements in technology and science. After 10,000 years of evolution, the human brain is still limited in terms of complex thought. By taking a Zen approach to thinking, Levitin shows how to keep up with the increasing amount of information and complexity involved with the modern world.

In the book, Levitin explains the importance of understanding the human brain’s mental capacity. For example, the brain has evolved to focus on multiple thoughts simultaneously, but this doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for our health. The brain consumes energy with each passing thought, which means making too many decisions can cause us to be less present and more overwhelmed.

Levitin offers solutions to many problems caused by poor organization and a lack of time management. This includes organizing your environment and work life by decluttering your mind and prioritizing one idea at a time. By taking in the concepts and ideas presented in this book, readers can learn the best ways to manage their work and lifestyle without experiencing burnout or fatigue.

3. The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird

Edward Burger and Michael Starbird begin their book by stating the importance of effective thinking — helping you be more creative, learn to problem-solve efficiently and become more aware of opportunities. The authors then take a unique approach to thinking by using an interesting metaphor that compares various thinking strategies to earthly elements such as earth, fire, water, and air. However, this book adds a fifth element to the mix, known as the ‘Quintessential Element.’

According to Burger and Starbird, each element represents some level of effective thinking that can help you stimulate your mind and learn more efficiently. For instance, the earth element represents grounding or understanding concepts on a deeper level. In contrast, fire is compared to learning from your mistakes and using errors to lead you toward a solution. These five elements can help you challenge your perspectives and ideas, master the fundamentals of any given situation, and understand the history or context behind every decision.

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking also explains how to adopt these elements into your life to help you reach new lengths in your career and personal relationships. This includes taking the time to reflect on your current beliefs and find out what needs challenging. From this book, readers understand what it means to transform yourself and your way of thinking.

4. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics focuses on helping you make more informed decisions and lead a sound lifestyle with economics. A key concept that Levitt and Dubner present in their book is the theory that experts often take advantage of the fact that they know more than you. As such, it’s important to consider this to make better decisions and avoid being duped by sellers or superiors.

Levitt and Dubner explore the study of economics by stating that three types of incentives dominate your way of thinking: economic, social, and moral. Incentives are behind nearly every decision and greatly influence your behavior. Economic incentives normally involve some type of loss or gain in money or time. Social incentives give you a better chance of appealing to your peers, while moral incentives appeal to your conscience and willingness to perform good behavior.

To sum it up, this book offers profound insight into how economics influences different parts of our thinking and behavior. For instance, certain disincentives keep us from committing a crime, including the risk of ruining our reputation or losing our job or house. Readers can gain a better understanding of how others might use incentives to persuade them to change their beliefs. 

5. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Many decisions are made through deliberate thought and conscious effort, while others are made on a whim. Malcolm Gladwell claims that the latter decision-making method is much more efficient and can lead you toward more successful opportunities in your career and life. Gladwell also presents the 40-70 rule, which states that decisions should only be made when you have at least 40% of the information, but never over 70%.

In Blink, readers are introduced to the idea that stress is a major roadblock in filtering bad information from good. When you spend too much thinking about what to do next, stress can inhibit your brain’s ability to process information and, in turn, lead you down the wrong path. As such, Gladwell suggests letting stress diminish before making any hash decisions. Then, allow your unconscious mind to filter through the information and provide a sound solution instantly.

Gladwell acknowledges that the unconscious mind is not to be trusted all the time. He suggests creating screens and filters that prevent wrongful information from reaching your brain. In essence, this means pushing past all prejudices and biases to help you make decisions based on intuition. Readers can therefore learn how to judge situations quickly and efficiently without going into overdrive.

6. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam M. Grant

Think Again is designed to help ordinary people reach new lengths in their careers and personal lives by increasing their intelligence and developing better communication skills. In this book, Adam Grant presents the concept of rethinking your beliefs to introduce more successful modes of thinking. With the right tools and resources, Grant states that anyone can change their mind by opening themselves up to higher levels of competence.

Grant explores the growing need for change in a fast-paced society while maintaining a sense of humility in the fact that we don’t know everything. According to Grant, people are highly likely to think they are good at things they are bad at, which creates a “blind spot” of sorts that can inhibit their ability to improve in those skills. Fortunately, it’s easy to challenge these blind spots by maintaining an open mind and examining your thoughts and methods.

The art of persuasion is also a key concept in the book that readers can learn and use to their advantage. For example, Grant explains that reflective listening, rather than bombarding with facts, is the best way to convince someone of an idea or belief. Readers of this book can gain insight into how the mind can be highly adaptable and prone to change with various techniques.

Read more critical thinking books with Headway

The best books on thinking present ideas that will challenge your current state of mind. Fortunately, Headway is a bite-sized learning app that aims to introduce you to revolutionary ideas through summaries of some of the leading books in psychology and critical thinking.

The Headway app carries book summaries in various genres, from self-improvement to psychology, business growth, and philosophy. It also provides several exciting features like progress trackers, achievements, and a personalized library to help you maintain your personal development journey and reach your critical thinking goals.

With Headway, users can take advantage of a free seven-day trial. Download the Headway app to receive unlimited access to a catalog of over 1,500 thought-provoking book summaries.


What is the best critical thinking book?

The best thinking books will feature critical concepts and ideas on processing your thoughts and emotions. For instance, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman teaches you that there are two systems in our minds competing for control, and balancing these two systems can help you make more sound decisions. However, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell teaches that the unconscious mind, or your intuition, is much better for decision-making.

How can books enhance critical thinking skills?

Books offer an efficient way to learn valuable judgment and decision-making skills without going through the experience directly. This can help you build better critical thinking skills by allowing you to safely think through the possibilities and scenarios of various situations. Many books also provide various tools and strategies to help you gain new perspectives and ideas.

Which book is best for deep thinkers?

Deep thinkers often take special recognition as people who think ahead of the collective society and present unique and controversial ideas. As such, The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin may be a good resource to help you organize your mind and channel your thoughts toward a zen-type philosophy. 

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