Life Hacks best books

25 Underrated Books on Persuasion, Influence, and Understanding  December 3, 2015 – 11:55 am

book coverReading good books remains the supreme “life hack”—knowledge that often took years to assemble can be consumed in mere hours.

I can’t think of a single better way to empower your learning (and yourself) than that. And as a professional, executive, or entrepreneur, the more you know about how people tick, the better.

The problem is that when looking for new reads, lists are often populated with books that everybody already knows about. How many more recommendations of Cialdini’s Influence do you need before you’re sick of seeing it?

As a voracious reader of brainy books on influence and persuasion (not limited to academic coverage), I thought I’d mix things up with a few underrated suggestions that you won’t see on most bookshelves.

1. The Person and the Situation

In my opinion, this is the best book Malcolm Gladwell’s name has been attached to. It’s one of the definitive works in social psychology, perhaps only eclipsed by Eliot Aronson’s The Social Animal.

book coverThe authors combine thorough, academic insights with highly relatable writing. An odd, but perhaps accurate, way to describe it is that it’s like a college textbook that you actually want to read!

The reviews seem overly positive, but frankly, they are warranted. One of my favorites:

“I felt that I had a better grasp of social psychology after reading this book than I did after taking a year of PhD level courses.” Buy the book

2. Yes! (50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive)

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book, but just be forewarned that this should be used as a complement to the other “meatier” entries on this list.

While the book is informative, the studies are glossed over pretty quickly and not much depth is given to any individual study. It does make for a great “rabbit hole” read: you’ll find out about a study, look up more about it, find more related studies, and “fall down the rabbit hole” searching for new material.

book coverThis is a great starting point to getting your feet wet in a variety of persuasion-related studies.

Buy the book

3. Creative Advertising

In this book, Pricken gives a step-by-step breakdown of effective ads, doing a wonderful job of explaining why these ads are so impactful. It might be the book I’ve recommended to marketers most often in the recent months.

It’s beautifully designed, and you’ll get a candid look at the ads themselves—oh, how I love when theory is thrown out the window in favor of real-world examples.

Buy the book

4. The Art of Human Hacking

The book has a somewhat antagonistic tone, but it fits with the subject matter. People are referred to as “victims” and the activities are defined as “exploits” and “attacks” because that is what is being analyzed.

But that shouldn’t dissuade you from reading it—it’s like watching those shows where a former thief shows the homeowners how easy it was to break into their house. Here, though, the lock-picking is substituted for human manipulation. This is not a book you read to copy specific methods; it’s one you read in order to understand.

Buy the book
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