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The Best Books on Mental Models (2023)

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Whether you prefer to read them physically, load up an ebook on your e-reader or listen to an audiobook during the day, here are the best books on mental models to give your 2023 a boost.

Transform your thinking and gain a competitive edge - Explore the fascinating world of mental models with these top-rated books and unleash your full intellectual potential!

Whether you prefer to read them physically, load up an ebook on your e-reader or listen to an audiobook during the day, here are the best books on mental models to give your 2023 a boost.

Picture this: the year has just begun, and with it, people start working on their new year’s resolutions. Like so many others, you may have decided to make twenty-twenty-three the year you finally go to the gym. Working out consistently is painful at first, and then it becomes fun; you begin looking forward to it.

Exercise plus the correct diet in a healthy lifestyle does wonders for your body, but what about your mind? Your mind should be a priority as much as anything else.

The content you consume, in whatever form, makes a difference in your everyday life. Especially in books, the right words will give you a new perspective, help with complex situations, open new mental pathways, or make you a wise person.

But First, What Exactly Are Mental Models?

Model is a process that helps us understand how the world around us works better, a way to answer the “why” or “how” of things. Models are spread all over our life. In Biology, for example, models explain how viruses spread. Gravity is the model that came from Isaac Newton’s attempt at understanding why apples fall from trees.

In real life, making good decisions is about steering clear of problems. Which makes well-adjusted mental models indispensable.

Charles T. Munger, a legendary name in the business world, is an example of how much models can work. He has studied several disciplines to make his model approaches as broad as possible, with a latticework of theory. In a commencement speech, the author says that a multidisciplinary strategy made his life more fun and constructive.

But Charlie is well into his nineties after a lifetime of reading and studying. How can we speed up this learning process to catch up with him? With books, of course! There is a new gender of books that aims to compile mental models to help you be more thoughtful about your thinking process.

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what exactly they are, here are the best books on mental models available now:

Top 10 Best Books on Mental Models

Here is a list of the best books on mental models to get started with:

1. The Great Mental Models by Shane Parrish

As the famous saying goes, “Everything looks like a hammer to the man with a hammer.” But if you have done any renovation project, you know a hammer isn’t enough. If various tools are available, you are more likely to use the right one for the job and do it right.

This can also be applied to your mind. The quality of your thinking and its outcomes depend on what mental models are in place. Many people go through life with a hammer and not much else. Conventional wisdom only takes you so far.

The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts is the first book by Shane Parrish in the Great Mental Models series. It was created to upgrade your mind with great and practical tools, so you can easily reach the right one.

Volume number one contains nine of the most flexible multi-use mental models. It gives detailed explanations so you can put them into practice as soon as you want. They will improve decision-making abilities, increase productivity and clear your worldview.

Upgrade your thinking and decision-making skills - Harness the power of mental models and gain a deeper understanding of the complex world around you

2. Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin

Many readers consider this book almost magical; Peter tries to answer how wisdom can be achieved. What do you want from your life? What stands in the way of your happiness? The author takes you in the passenger seat as he searches for wisdom.

Instead of only looking at his own life, Peter goes through the writings of other people who achieved success. His search for wisdom originated partially from his mistakes and watching others make their own. Peter Bevelin also takes from Charles Munger’s philosophy and uses many examples for context.

Peter Bevelin’s book is a beautiful mixture of versatile concepts from people like Feynman, Munger, Einstein, Buffet, and Darwin. It is the perfect book to read in installments or repeatedly; there will always be something new to uncover.

3. Super Thinking by Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann

This author duo, composed of husband and wife, did a remarkable job creating this omnibus of mental models for reference. It’s like a strength training center for your mind. Gabriel is the man who made DuckDuckGo, the browser that won’t keep track of your internet activity. He’s been interested in mental models for a while.

As a leader, he thought a lot about how he could help his team grow. In the end, Gabriel decided it was best to coach them on how to make good decisions. Your best alternative is to build a learning frame in different disciplines to enhance your decision-making abilities.

Super thinking is an excellent guide to mental models. It categorized and divided mental models by how they can be applied, like which are best to deal with conflict or manage your time.

4. Range by David Epstein

Too many specialists make a case for starting early if you want to develop any skill. They say to focus on it and accumulate as many hours of practice as possible. They say that if you experiment with other things or take a break, you will never reach those who have had an early start.

But as David’s research showed, a closer examination of the world’s leaders in different fields shows that specializing early is an exception, not a rule.

Epstein looked at the world’s most successful people in the arts, music, inventions, forecast, and sciences. He discovered that most areas – especially those complicated and hard to predict – were dominated by generalists.

Generalists find their path later in life, balancing different interests rather than having a focus. They can see connections that people who have specialized often can’t. David Epstein’s book makes a strong case for mental models that actively cultivate ‘inefficiency.’

5. Principles by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio’s Principles is the thing if you want a guide for self-reflection. One of the most memorable quotes is when he says that “pain is where the learning is.” He turned terrible experiences into a solid set of principles he nicknamed ‘the machine.’

Bridgewater Associates, the company he founded, used these insights and attached mental models to create history’s most successful hedge fund. Ray’s book gives you a step-by-step on how to learn from past mistakes as he did. He talks about why we need to be “radically transparent.” But most important is his explanation of how to make better decisions.

6. Poor Charlie's Almanac by Peter D Kaufman

This book, edited by Peter D Kaufman, incorporates the wit and intelligence that Charlie Munger had. From talks and lectures to his public commentary, you and Charlie narrating the journey will go to the spheres of business, investing, and life.

By the end of the book, you should be able to invest your money smartly, make better decisions at unprecedented speeds, and have a more logical approach to your daily life. Charlie Munger’s multidisciplinary approach to life is a thinking model he created himself. It was designed to do productive thinking as clearly and straightforwardly as possible.

7. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

On Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel sets out on a revolutionary tour of our minds while explaining the two systems that control our thinking. Number one is quick, guided by intuition and emotion; Two is slower, taking time to deliberate and be logical.

Kahneman takes time to explain how fast-thinking mental models can be beneficial and also full of faults and biases. His writing makes the reader truly understand several aspects of life. It does so by sharing knowledge of how these two systems work. Together they shape our worldview and how we make decisions.

This book feels much more like having a conversation with your friend. Kahneman talks to you about your mind’s thought process, giving pointers on where to provide voice and where to not trust your intuition. He will also explain how each type of thinking, fast and slow, can benefit you.

8. Influence by Robert B Cialdini

Influence is a classic in the field of persuasion literature. It takes time to explain the psychology behind people saying yes to things – and how to apply it. Doctor Robert has years of seminal experience surrounding influence and persuasion.

He has over thirty-five years of research based on concrete evidence and a three-year practical study on what makes people change their behavior, which resulted in this book.

Cialdini will teach you the six universal principles and how to apply them and become successful in persuading people. And how to defend yourself against persuaders. It’s a book perfect for everyone, regardless of their path in life.

9. More Than You Know by Michael Maubossin

In this edition, Mauboussin includes new thoughts on human cognition, management, game theory, the part intuition plays in our lives, and the mechanisms driving the market. He also explains how these topics relate to intelligent investing to avoid blind spots in your endeavors.

More Than You Know is written for professional investors but doesn’t stay within economics and finance. Michael groups his essays into four parts -Investment Philosophy, Psychology of Investing, Innovation and Competitive Strategy, and Science and Complexity Theory. He also includes references for further reading.

10. The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus

Not exactly a traditional publication, The Decision Book became an international bestseller by being different. It takes the best fifty decision-making mental models used in MBA courses and other places and puts them into a single volume.

From the well-known Eisenhower matrix, a mental model for time management, to other lesser-known but equally practical models like the Swiss Cheese model.

It even shows you how to remember what you learn while reading the book using the correct cognitive tools.

Final Thoughts

Unlock the key to personal growth and success - Embrace the learning process and open the doors to new knowledge, skills, and opportunities

Although only ten books are in this article, many more are out there. One of these will surely be a stepping stone in your self-improvement journey!