Best Books on Learning: 70 Great Books on How to Learn Faster (2020)

Best Books on Learning How to Learn

Best Books on Learning How to Learn

Learning is a skill – one you can greatly improve. And whether you’re an athlete, student, hobbyist, employee or entrepreneur; whether you want to accelerate your learning and unlock your potential or you just want to read more this year, the 70 books below are an amazing place to start uncovering the secrets of getting better at getting better.

In the coming years, I’ll be reading every book on this list and passing on the best ideas in articles and summaries. If that sounds like something you’d like more of click here to sign up for free updates and I’ll send my latest posts and learning tips right to your inbox.

One last thing! I actively update this list every few months to include new discoveries. I LOVE recommendations. If there’s a book you love but can’t see below, leave a comment. I’ll add it to my long-list and you may find it in the next round of updates.

Any questions, let me know!

But for now, without further ado – here’s the list…

70 Great Books on How to Learn Anything Faster

The books below are ranked by a combination of Goodreads rating, the number of Goodreads reviews and first publication date. The goal is to give a good balance of what’s most loved, what’s most popular and what’s delivered timelessly relevant advice.

Where should you start? Look at this list of books on learning like a menu. Start at the top, work your way down and begin with the first couple of titles that jump out at you. Remember, you can always come back for more later. Enjoy!

  1. Mastery (1991), George Leonard
    The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment
    Rated 4.2 over 5,000 reviews on Goodreads
  2. The Art of Memory (1966), Frances A. Yates
    Rated 4.2 over 1,200 reviews on Goodreads
  3. How to Read a Book (1940), Mortimer J. Adler (Summary)
    The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
    THE classic guide to reading faster, deeper and more effectively than you ever realised was possible – by deep-thinkers, philosophers and life-long learners, M. Adler and C. van Doren.
    Rated 4.0 over 13,500 reviews on Goodreads
  4. The Brain That Changes Itself (2007), Norman Doidge (Summary)
    Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science
    An informative and readable journey into the history, science and consequences of recent research in neuroplasticity – the brain’s incredible ability to change and reorganise itself – by psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and researcher, Norman Doidge.
    Rated 4.2 over 25,900 reviews on Goodreads
  5. Seeking Wisdom (2003), Peter Bevelin
    From Darwin To Munger
    Rated 4.4 over 2,200 reviews on Goodreads
  6. Neuroscience (1995), Mark F. Bear
    Exploring the Brain
    Rated 4.3 over 900 reviews on Goodreads
  7. Outliers (2008), Malcolm Gladwell (Summary)
    The Story of Success
    A systematic debunking of the myth that success is mostly determined by talent and hard-work – with quantitative and qualitative evidence from medicine, sport, business, history, music, science and more – by journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell.
    Rated 4.1 over 425,600 reviews on Goodreads
  8. The Minto Pyramid Principle (1987), Barbara Minto
    Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving
    Rated 4.1 over 1,400 reviews on Goodreads
  9. Effortless Mastery (1996), Kenny Werner (Summary)
    Liberating the Master Musician Within, Book & CD
    An inspirational and practical guide for advanced and expert practitioners in any field on finding mastery by getting out of your head and surrendering to your art – by jazz pianist and composer, Kenny Werner.
    Rated 4.2 over 1,400 reviews on Goodreads
  10. On Intelligence (2004), Jeff Hawkins
    Rated 4.1 over 5,300 reviews on Goodreads
  11. The Mind of a Mnemonist (1965), Jerome S. Bruner by Alexander R. Luria
    A Little Book about a Vast Memory, with a New Foreword
    Rated 4.0 over 1,400 reviews on Goodreads
  12. Thinking in Systems (2008), Donella H. Meadows
    A Primer
    Rated 4.3 over 5,000 reviews on Goodreads
  13. The Fifth Discipline (1990), Peter M. Senge
    The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
    Rated 3.9 over 31,500 reviews on Goodreads
  14. Mindset (2006), Carol S. Dweck (Summary)
    The New Psychology of Success
    A research-grounded dive into the self-fulfilling nature and impact of Fixed- and Growth-Mindset beliefs in personal development – by social and developmental psychology professor, Carol Dweck.
    Rated 4.1 over 55,700 reviews on Goodreads
  15. Mastery (2012), Robert Greene (Summary)
    An exploration of Mastery – its benefits, principles and strategies – enriched with instructive and inspirational biographies of historical and contemporary masters – by modern-day Machiavelli and author Robert Greene.
    Rated 4.3 over 19,900 reviews on Goodreads
  16. The Complete Problem Solver (1981), John R. Hayes
    Rated 4.6 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  17. How to Become a Straight-A Student (2006), Cal Newport
    Rated 4.2 over 3,800 reviews on Goodreads
  18. Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), Daniel Kahneman
    Rated 4.1 over 209,400 reviews on Goodreads
  19. The Memory Book (1974), Harry Lorayne (Summary)
    The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play
    A practical guide to remembering anything, faster, with simple, millennia-old mnemonics and proven memory boosting techniques – by memory masters, Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas.
    Rated 4.0 over 1,600 reviews on Goodreads
  20. The Art of Learning (2007), Josh Waitzkin
    A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence
    Rated 4.1 over 11,400 reviews on Goodreads
  21. How the Mind Works (1997), Steven Pinker
    Rated 4.0 over 16,300 reviews on Goodreads
  22. The Feldman Method (1980), Andrew H. Thomson
    Rated 4.3 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  23. Super Memory – Super Student (1972), Harry Lorayne
    How to Raise Your Grades in 30 Days
    Rated 4.1 over 200 reviews on Goodreads
  24. How to Develop a Perfect Memory (1993), Dominic O’Brien (Summary)
    The perfect manual for anyone wanting to effortlessly retain names, faces, facts, figures, speeches and languages. All the tools you need to develop a perfect memory – by 8-time World Memory Champion, Dominic O’Brien.
    Rated 4.2 over 200 reviews on Goodreads
  25. The Master and His Emissary (2009), Iain McGilchrist
    The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
    Rated 4.3 over 1,100 reviews on Goodreads
  26. The Nurture Assumption (1998), Judith Rich Harris
    Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do
    Rated 4.1 over 1,200 reviews on Goodreads
  27. In Search of Memory (2006), Eric R. Kandel
    The Emergence of a New Science of Mind
    Rated 4.1 over 3,900 reviews on Goodreads
  28. Attention And Effort (1973), Daniel Kahneman
    Rated 4.0 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
  29. The Talent Code (2009), Daniel Coyle
    Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else
    Rated 4.1 over 15,400 reviews on Goodreads
  30. Brain Rules (2008), John Medina
    12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School
    Rated 4.0 over 26,700 reviews on Goodreads
  31. Rhetorica ad Herennium (-50), Marcus Tullius Cicero
    Rated 4.0 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
  32. A Mind for Numbers (2014), Barbara Oakley (Summary)
    How to Excel at Math and Science
    A practical, research-based guide to unlocking the power of your brain to learn math, or anything else you put your mind to, even if you think you’re hopeless – by professor Barbara Oakley.
    Rated 4.3 over 8,300 reviews on Goodreads
  33. Science of Sports Training (1991), Thomas Kurz
    How to Plan and Control Training for Peak Performance
    Rated 4.3 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  34. Developing Talent in Young People (1985), Benjamin S. Bloom
    Rated 4.2 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  35. Pragmatic Thinking and Learning (2008), Andy Hunt (Summary)
    Refactor Your Wetware
    A practical and extensive collection of ideas, frameworks, tools and tips to supercharge your learning at school, at home and at work – by programmer and life-long learner, Andy Hunt of Pragmatic Programmers.
    Rated 4.1 over 3,500 reviews on Goodreads
  36. Deep Work (2016), Cal Newport (Summary)
    Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
    A timely reminder of the value of deep, focussed work and the dangers of losing yourself in the shallows of entertainment and distraction – by author and associate professor, Cal Newport.
    Rated 4.2 over 37,600 reviews on Goodreads
  37. Atomic Habits (2018), James Clear (Summary)
    An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
    A powerful and practical guide to transforming your habits, making change stick and achieving remarkable results – by author and habit-guru, James Clear.
    319 pages. Rated 4.3 over 46,300 reviews on Goodreads.
  38. Peak (2016), K. Anders Ericsson (Summary)
    Secrets from the New Science of Expertise
    A practical, fact-based primer on the primacy of purposeful and deliberate practice in expert performance – by psychologist and scientist, Anders Ericsson, and science writer, Robert Pool.
    Rated 4.3 over 7,300 reviews on Goodreads
  39. Make It Stick (2014), Peter C. Brown (Summary)
    The Science of Successful Learning
    Tools, strategies and stories to help students, teachers and trainers learn more effectively based on 10 years of collaboration between 11 cognitive psychologists – collected and synthesised by author Peter Brown and psychology researchers Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel.
    Rated 4.2 over 6,500 reviews on Goodreads
  40. Black Box Thinking (2015), Matthew Syed (Summary)
    Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do
    A fascinating account of how cognitive biases and fixed mindsets cause individuals and institutions to fail to learn from their mistakes (and what to do about it) – by athlete and author, Matthew Syed.
    Rated 4.3 over 4,400 reviews on Goodreads
  41. The Rise of Superman (1990), Steven Kotler
    Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
    Rated 3.9 over 3,000 reviews on Goodreads
  42. How To Pass Exams (1995), Dominic O’Brien
    Accelerate Your Learning, Memorise Key Facts, Revise Effectively
    Rated 4.1 over 200 reviews on Goodreads
  43. So Good They Can’t Ignore You (2012), Cal Newport
    Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
    Rated 4.1 over 17,900 reviews on Goodreads
  44. Learning How to Learn (1992), L. Ron Hubbard
    Rated 4.2 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  45. Tools of Titans (2016), Timothy Ferriss (Summary)
    The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
    A curated collection of interview notes on health, wealth and wisdom from over 100 conversations with top performers and curious characters – by author, podcaster and life-hacker Tim Ferriss.
    Rated 4.2 over 17,700 reviews on Goodreads
  46. The Power of Habit (2012), Charles Duhigg (Summary)
    Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
    A page-turning dive into the power and ubiquity of unconscious habits in shaping our decisions and destinies (plus a practical guide to changing them) – by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Charles Duhigg.
    Rated 4.1 over 236,800 reviews on Goodreads
  47. Fluent Forever (2014), Gabriel Wyner
    How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
    Rated 4.2 over 4,600 reviews on Goodreads
  48. Writing to Learn (1988), William Zinsser
    How to Write–And Think–Clearly about Any Subject at All
    Rated 4.0 over 700 reviews on Goodreads
  49. Antifragile (2012), Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    Things That Gain from Disorder
    Rated 4.1 over 25,000 reviews on Goodreads
  50. Synaptic Self (2002), Joseph E. LeDoux
    How Our Brains Become Who We Are
    Rated 4.0 over 4,500 reviews on Goodreads
  51. 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (2015), Thomas Frank (Summary)
    A short, practical guide for students on being more productive and studying more effectively – by veteran student-success writer, Thomas Frank of College Info Geek.
    Rated 4.4 over 2,000 reviews on Goodreads
  52. How the Brain Learns (1998), David A. Sousa
    Rated 4.1 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
  53. The Practicing Mind (2006), Thomas M. Sterner
    Bringing Discipline and Focus into Your Life
    Rated 4.0 over 5,100 reviews on Goodreads
  54. The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (2006), K. Anders Ericsson
    Rated 4.3 over 100 reviews on Goodreads
  55. Teaching at Its Best (1998), Linda B. Nilson
    A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors
    Rated 4.1 over 100 reviews on Goodreads
  56. Bounce (2010), Matthew Syed (Summary)
    Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success
    A thoughtful investigation into the primacy of practice and mindset over talent when learning and mastering new skills – by top-ranked table tennis champion and journalist, Matthew Syed.
    Rated 4.1 over 5,400 reviews on Goodreads
  57. From Novice to Expert (1984), Patricia E. Benner
    Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice, Commemorative Edition
    Rated 4.1 over 100 reviews on Goodreads
  58. Talent is Overrated (2008), Geoff Colvin
    What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else
    Rated 4.0 over 15,400 reviews on Goodreads
  59. Music, Language, and the Brain (2007), Aniruddh D. Patel
    Rated 4.1 over 700 reviews on Goodreads
  60. Searching for Memory (1996), Daniel L. Schacter
    The Brain, the Mind, and the Past
    Rated 4.0 over 300 reviews on Goodreads
  61. Reasoning (1976), Michael Scriven
    Rated 4.1 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  62. Tribe of Mentors (2017), Timothy Ferriss
    Short Life Advice from the Best in the World
    Rated 4.2 over 5,200 reviews on Goodreads
  63. The Little Book of Talent (2012), Daniel Coyle (Summary)
    52 Tips for Improving Your Skills
    52 short, immediate and practical tips to kick-off your learning, improve your skills and sustain your progress at school, at work, at home and at play – by journalist and author, Daniel Coyle.
    Rated 4.1 over 4,900 reviews on Goodreads
  64. Design for How People Learn (2011), Julie Dirksen
    Rated 4.1 over 800 reviews on Goodreads
  65. The Mind Map Book (1993), Tony Buzan
    How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential
    THE handbook for structuring knowledge with Mind Mapping rather than mnemonic systems and memory palaces – by founder of the World Memory Championships, Tony Buzan.
    Rated 3.8 over 2,400 reviews on Goodreads
  66. How Learning Works (2010), Susan A. Ambrose
    Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
    Rated 4.1 over 800 reviews on Goodreads
  67. How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci (1998), Michael J. Gelb
    Seven Steps to Genius Every Day
    Rated 3.9 over 4,000 reviews on Goodreads
  68. High Performance Habits (2017), Brendon Burchard
    How Extraordinary People Become That Way
    Rated 4.3 over 2,800 reviews on Goodreads
  69. The Overnight Student (1990), Michael L. Jones
    Rated 4.1 over <100 reviews on Goodreads
  70. Learning How to Learn (1984), Joseph D. Novak
    Rated 4.0 over <100 reviews on Goodreads

II. Best Books Of All Time

These are the overall best books to read (by type).

III. Best Nonfiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best nonfiction books to read (by topic).

IV. Best Fiction Books (A-Z)

These are the best fiction books to read (by genre).

Or, you can read all my book recommendations.
Arthur is a productivity coach and writer who helps top young execs and entrepreneurs be more productive, find more balance and live more meaningfully. Want to know more? Take this 2-minute quiz to discover your Productivity Quotient (PQ) and learn how to get BIG things done. Take the Quiz →

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Sunny Adams
Sunny Adams

Thanks a ton buddy for this excellent work


Hi Arthur,

I would be nice if you can add the list speed reading tool kits too. Even avid readers can pick up one or two tricks to sharpen

Great job,


Hi, can you recommend me please up to 5 books that are the best for me? I need a book that teaches me how to learn things faster (not only school, I mean I need it to learn effectively no matter what it is :D), mostly outside of school or learning languages, but it would be helpful too 🙂
Thanks in advance 🙂 😀


can you recommend around 5 to ten books that are the best?

Danyal Mughal
Danyal Mughal

Excellent List Arthur.


Great list. I’ve been trying to become more productive and use technology less so this list is great for me.

One book I really want to read is Deep Work, by Cal Newport. Thanks for sharing.

Mateus Lopes
Mateus Lopes

Many thanks for the tips. I’m reading everyone.

Kevin Kelly
Kevin Kelly

Great list, Arthur! Also check out The New Science of Learning by Doyle and Zakrajsek

Marybeth Herald
Marybeth Herald

Although it is specific to law students, Your Brain and Law School focuses on both learning theory (and practical applications to study) as well as dealing with cognitive biases that might interfere with the learning process. Let me know if you need more information from the author…

Stacey morris
Stacey morris

The First 20 Hours.