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8 Books That Will Help You Become Smarter


This list of eight ultimate books to read that make you smarter is not exhaustive but serves as a starting point for the curious mind. These get-smarter books contain topics ranging from politics, art, science, human interest, war, and more. After picking up a read from this list of the best books that will make you smarter, you’ll come away with new knowledge and an appetite to learn more! If you want to get access to the core concepts of these books quickly, try the Headway app. With over 1500 audiobook summaries, you are sure to increase that IQ in no time! Start this new year on the right foot. 

Key points

  • Everyone knows that reading makes you smarter. Science has repeatedly proven that regular readers have a better vocabulary, a broader understanding of several subjects and issues, and even greater levels of emotional intelligence. 

  • Regular reading not only helps you become wiser, but it boosts your brainpower! Being a frequent reader can improve memory performance by giving your brain a decent workout, similar to how going for a jog boosts your cardiovascular system. 

  • Some top-rated books that could help make you smarter include Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

8 best books to make you smarter
1. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson starts A Short History of Nearly Everything by saying he’s delighted the reader can join him. He says that the reader, like every other living being, exists only because of a chain of events that began with atoms.

99.99 percent of species become extinct. This being said, all species’ lives depend on a history of good timing and good luck. Bryson believes that being alive results from a great degree of ‘biological good fortune.’ 

This bestselling book covers complex scientific topics in an intelligible and accessible manner. Bryson wrote it to make science interesting for himself and the everyday reader. Its widespread appeal and wide range of topics land A Short History of Nearly Everything on the ultimate list of books that make you smarter. 

2. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There is no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than brilliant astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

In our fast-paced world today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. Tyson brings the universe down to earth in an approachable way. His book is replete with sparkling wit and consumable chapters that you can fit in anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will teach you what you need to be fluent for the next cosmic headlines. Tyson covers topics such as the Big Bang, black holes, quarks, quantum mechanics, the search for planets, and life in the universe. This book is a wonderful choice if you want to expand your knowledge. 

3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman takes readers on a tour of the mind to explain the two systems that drive our thinking. System one is described as intuitive, emotional, and fast. System two is described as slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman studies a wide range of topics, from the impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies to the challenges of predicting what will make us happy in the future. 

Thinking, Fast and Slow details the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from investing in the stock market to planning a vacation — these biases can only be understood by knowing how the two systems shape our decisions and judgments.

This is one of the best books to make you smarter, as it offers insight into logical and emotional thinking systems. By understanding our two systems of thought, we can make better personal and professional decisions and prevent our biases’ negative effects. 

4. A Brief History of Timeby Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Time asks the big question, and contemplating the big questions is what makes us smarter people. For example, have you ever wondered: ‘how did the universe begin?’ or ‘what makes time possible?’ 

In Hawking’s landmark book, he sets out to explain how the universe works. A Brief History of Time covers topics ranging from quarks to black holes and discusses the theoretical, unexpected, and amazing ways our world is the way it is.

5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War is one of the earliest known texts on warfare strategy. Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu (also known as Sunzi ) believes we should try to avoid war through diplomacy. However, if it is unavoidable, it should be fought psychologically and strategically to minimize harm and waste of resources.

Sun Tzu states that warfare should only be used as a last resort because entering war entails admitting defeat. In his time, Sun Tzu used a mix of peaceful resolutions and fierce combat to deal with his enemies. And although you can find precise fighting strategies and recommendations in The Art of War, it can also act as a guide to being more adaptable — a valuable lesson for our lives today.

It is difficult to pinpoint when this book was written, but most researchers believe it was written at some point during the Warring States period (475 to 221 BCE). The Art of War has been referenced for generations and is a popular read if you’re interested in military strategy and looking for books to make you smarter.

6. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

If given the option, most people would choose greater authority over less. However, being open about the desire for power is not usually the done thing. Some believe you must be simultaneously sophisticated, cunning, democratic, and deceitful to be powerful. Robert Greene’s controversial book claims that you will achieve ultimate power if you can entice, charm, and fool your opponents.

According to Greene, the better you are at delegating authority, the better your friend, lover, or person will be to you. If you can learn to make others feel good about themselves, they will then rely on you as a source of great pleasure.

The 48 Laws of Power spans over 3,000 years and comprises 48 pearls of wisdom from people across multiple civilizations who all share a similar thread. The 48 Laws of Power is generally considered a how-to manual for becoming more powerful. It is an invaluable source of information for people looking for books to expand their knowledge.

7. Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear

Atomic Habits is the perfect book for you if you’re looking to get smarter in your day-to-day life. James Clear is one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation. This book reveals actionable methods that teach you how to form good habits, crush bad ones, and master the little, everyday behaviors that lead to exceptional results.

Did you know that if you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you? The problem is, actually, your system. Bad habits are likely to repeat themselves over and over, not because you don’t want change but rather because you have the wrong system for change. Instead of rising to your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. Atomic Habits will help you alter these systems to achieve maximum potential. 

This book helps you get smarter in your daily behaviors. Clear’s teaching in this book includes how to:

  • make time for new habits (no matter how stressful life gets);

  • create your environment to achieve success easier;

  • overcome a lack of willpower and motivation;

  • get on track when you fall off course.

Atomic Habits could reshape the way you think about success and progress. Once given the correct strategies and tools you need to transform your habits, you will also transform your life. If you are interested in more books about changing your habits, this comprehensive list is sure to help.

8. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens retells the history of homo sapiens from a whole new perspective, starting with the idea that they rule the world because of the strength of their imagination. They are the only species that can believe in the existence of things like gods, states, money, and even human rights.

This book examines significant events that impacted humanity and the world around it. It explores topics such as the birth of agriculture, the invention of money, and the establishment of the nation-state. However, unlike other novels of its ilk, Sapiens takes a multi-disciplinary approach to history, biology, philosophy, and economics in a way that has never been done before. 

A deeply compelling exploration of human history, Harari’s work gained cult status among a wide range of audiences as it is esteemed for combining profound truths with strikingly vivid language. The book has sold over 23 million copies around the world. If you are searching for books that make you smarter, Sapiens should be at the top of your list.


Use Headway to access books that make you smarter

Of course, this book list that makes you smarter is incredibly limited. Almost any book will help expand your vocabulary, broaden your horizons, and acquire knowledge. However, it does take some sifting through and a lot of time

Luckily, the Headway app has a solution for this. Have any of these books that make you smarter piqued your interest? If so, explore the Headway app to learn more about the core insights inside each text before diving in to read the whole thing!

Headway is a unique education experience for people who want to save time by learning on the go. With Headway, you get access to the key ideas from the world’s best books in concise summaries, and it will only take around 15 minutes to read or listen to. Instead of jumping head-first into the entire text, you’ll get a clear picture of the text, the key concepts it discusses, and if it suits you. 

Once you finish reading a segment or listening to the audio, you’ll better understand the book’s main ideas and decide if it is something you want to read in full! Download the Headway app and gain unlimited access to a library of over 1500+ audiobook summaries.


What book should I read to become smarter?

If you want to study books that make you smarter, you can’t go wrong with learning about how the mind works, how the universe works, or a deep dive into the history of humankind. Some great places to start would be Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.

What books can increase your IQ?

All reading stimulates the brain and can increase your IQ, but certain books have been specifically designed to enhance your intelligence and broaden your understanding of the world. A couple of books to start off with include A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Check out the Headway app to learn the core concepts of these books faster and make the most out of your time! 

Can you become intelligent by reading books?

Generally, reading boosts empathy, helps to build vocabulary, makes one aware of a wide range of themes and situations, and creates the ability to sense emotions and sentiments in others. Many studies published in Neurology further maintain that memory and brain function diminish with age, but regular reading may help delay that process and keep minds sharper for longer years.

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