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Give Your Brain a Boost: 12 Books Guaranteed to Make You More Intelligent

John Rampton
Updated Apr 01, 2022

Want to be smarter—or at least, feel like it? Pick up one of these great reads for great minds.

The idea that reading makes you smarter has been proven by numerous research studies, including those that have identified improvements in crystallized, fluid and emotional intelligence in those subjects who read regularly.

These types of intelligence include vocabulary, understanding of numerous subjects and issues, and the ability to detect emotions and feelings in others for better communications and relationships.

Here are 12 books that further enhance that level of intelligence that you can get from reading.

Related Article: Top CEOs Share Their Favorite Inspirational Reads

1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War by Sun TzuWhile this ancient book might, at first, appear like a manual that you would use in the military, the ideas about strategy contained within its pages translate into successful tactics that anyone from a CEO to an entrepreneur can use to create a more intelligent strategy for their business.

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Dan Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Dan KahnemanSo much of today’s success comes from having the right mindset for business. This book is dedicated to showing you how to think methodically and rapidly as well as when to know to make faster or slower decisions. You want to be quick on your feet, but you also do not want to rush into a decision that needs more thinking time, so Dan Kahneman offers both the Fast System and Slow System to help you know when and how to use each speed of thinking.

3. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

This book shares information across many areas of science related to the universe and how we got to the point in human history where we are now. Along the way, Bill Bryson adds some pretty heavy information on physics, biology, chemistry and more. Having the ability to discuss how and why we might be here as well as our purpose might impress a few people during a conversation or two.

4. The Greatest Secret in the World by Og Mandino

This book has absolutely stood the test of time and is on most lists as a book that is a must read – don’t miss it – whatever situation you are in. Not only does this book make you more intelligent with the insights, but it also gives you the plan for developing those traits that work to get you what you want in an easier way. The transformational processes described in this book also will help improve relationships with all types of people.

5. The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes

Those that write well are often deemed to be more intelligent than those that cannot. Pick up this manual, which serves as both a how-to book and a fountain of inspiration to be brave and take on writing. This gives you the information you need to improve everything from your grammar and structure to tone and style.

6. Jump Start Your Business Brain by Doug Hall

This book is designed to enhance your level of intelligence around designing and launching a new product. It focuses on the types of skills and knowledge essential to making a viable product.

7. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

While it may seem like it could potentially be over your head, Carl Sagan makes some very deep and expansive topics accessible. Plus, he covers so many areas, such as religion, philosophy, history, culture and science, to make you feel more well-rounded or, at least, deliver some tidbits you can toss into a dinner party conversation about the meaning of life.

8. Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Creativity continues to be pegged as a critical success factor and a pathway to differentiation in business. Yet, it can be one of the most difficult things for us to put into a defining practice for use. Using examples from today’s biggest creative successes in film, the book offers a glimpse of how to tap into the creative potential that is in all of us.

9. You Are Not Your Brain by Jeffrey Schwarz

Most of us need to practice greater discipline in how we think and act. This book offers tips on how to control your mind while managing any impulses that may be impacting relationships, productivity, and overall success.

10. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: While high IQ is great to have, this book provides the logic behind why some are more successful than others, illustrating that it is not always related directly to intelligence levels. Using findings from evolutionary psychologically, Malcolm Gladwell teaches you how to be smarter and, more importantly, successful.

11. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Since we all seem to develop both good and bad habits in our lives, it is good to understand why we do what we do, and the impact that our habits can have on us, our relationships, and how well we do in the business world. Reading this book can provide the inspiration and strategy to alter habits and develop those that position us to be more admired, influential, and successful.

12. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

To be more intelligent often requires changing perspectives and altering the way you think and decide. With so many diverse examples used within this book, it’s entertaining to see the thought processes used across a wide group of people to determine the approach you can take to start thinking differently.

These are all in my home and office libraries because I have realized that part of success comes from listening to what others have to say. Whether these books change how you think, decide, or act, others will begin to notice incremental improvements in your intelligence. This could mean greater respect at work, a jump in the influence you have over others, or even a fast pass to a spot on “Jeopardy.”

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Shutterstock/Andrii Kobryn

John Rampton
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online payments company John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.