Skip To Content
    Jul 18, 2013

    21 Books That Will Teach You Something Important

    A mini syllabus for, like, life.

    1. Learn how to read intelligently.

    Simon & Schuster

    How To Read A Book: The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

    Once you read it: You'll never again completely forget the plot of a book you read.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    2. Learn how to get things done.

    Penguin Books

    Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

    Once you'll read it: You will be way more productive – because your tasks will be prioritized, your work day will have much-needed structure, and you'll be able to ignore unnecessary disruptions.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    3. Learn how to cook.

    John Wiley & Sons

    How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

    Once you read it: You'll be able to cook everything – and creatively, not just by reading recipes.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    4. Learn how to make your house a home.

    Scribner

    Home Comforts: The Art & Science Of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

    Once you read it: You'll know how to fold a fitted sheet!!

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    5. Learn how to write clearly and concisely.

    Longman Publishing Group

    The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White

    Once you read it: You'll finally know how to use a semicolon.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    6. Learn how to draw.

    Tarcher

    Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain by Betty Edwards

    Once you read it: You'll remember why you loved to draw as a child and forget why you stopped as an adult.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    7. Learn how to make people say yes and how to say no.

    HarperBusiness

    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

    Once you read it: You'll understand exactly how advertisers and salespeople convince you to buy things, and then teach you how to use those techniques yourself – hopefully for good.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    8. Learn what public school didn't teach you about American history.

    Touchstone Books

    Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

    Once you read it: You'll start seeing U.S. history in a nuanced light that will also illuminate the way you see our present.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    9. Learn how to have the hard talk.

    Penguin Books

    Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton & Sheila Heen

    Once you read it: You'll have the confidence to have all of those big talks that you need, but don't want. Equally applicable to work and to home.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    10. Learn how to express yourself with words.

    Shambhala

    Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

    Once you read it: you'll be inspired to express yourself with words.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    11. Learn how to manage your money.

    Penguin Books

    Your Money Or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

    Once you read it: money will stop dictating your ups and downs, and you'll be inspired to allow your passions to rule your life while achieving financial independence.

    Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

    12. Learn why you're never satisfied.

    Vintage

    Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

    Once you read it: You'll stop trying so hard to be happy and just let yourself... be.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    13. Learn about what that whole "string theory" thing is.

    Vintage

    The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

    Once you read it: You'll get how science can sometimes be "the better story" after all.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    14. Learn how to interpret studies and statistics.

    W. W. Norton & Company

    How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff

    Once you read it: You'll read the "news" with appropriate cynicism.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    15. Learn why the things you use every day look and work the way they do.

    Basic Books

    The Design Of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

    Once you read it: You'll never look at a door the same way again.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    16. Learn how to read comics.

    William Morrow Paperbacks

    Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

    Once you read it: You'll never doubt that comics are art.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    17. Learn the basics of design and production.

    Princeton Architectural Press

    Design It Yourself: A Design Handbook by Ellen Lupton

    Once you read it: You'll start making beautiful things... yourself!

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    18. Learn why people do and buy the things they do.

    HarperCollins

    Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

    Once you read it: The mysteries of your bad monetary decisions will be unveiled and you can start fighting your own dumb psychology to make better choices.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    19. Learn what Marcel Proust can teach you about living well.

    Vintage

    How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

    Once you read it: Your life will change, duh.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    20. Learn how to contemplate the universe.

    Broadway Books

    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

    Once you read it: Your mind will no longer stutter to a stop when you are trying to grasp the concepts of science – from quantum physics to evolution.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    21. Learn the meaning of life.

    Beacon Press

    Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

    Once you've read it: Everything will be in perspective.

    Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

    Want great book recommendations in your inbox every week? Sign up for the BuzzFeed Books newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form