Science and Sanity, Alfred Korzybski
If you read only one book from this list, this should be it. Korzybski coined the term “the map is not the territory”, and that barely scratches the surface of his thoughts. “Science and Sanity” explains what language does to our thinking and how to free ourselves from the limits of 2300 years of restricting logic.
The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer
May be the ultimate collection of rituals, folk-lore, mythology and religion. Reading it will give you a new view on magical thinking, religion and science.
Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, by Henry P. Stapp
One of the books I have the most notes about. It gives food for thoughts on all topics regarding the mind, from what consciousness and ego are to synchronicities and their relevance, on to the riddle of will.
Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse
This book gives you no new knowledge, but it does give you a new structure for your existing knowledge. It is a fascinating read that I found by accident 20 years ago and that I still reference to this day.
The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement for Couples, by John M. Gottman
Ignore all the relationship self-help books and buy this one. If you want to know what makes relationships work and what causes them to fail, read something by a guy who has been scientifically researching the subject for decades, including long-term studies over that much time. It’s brilliant writing and there’s tons of stuff in there you wonder why that isn’t being considered basic knowledge.
The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Why and how we misjudge risk in rare events, from economics to … well, basically everything. Worth a read for two reasons. One, Taleb is right and will open your eyes on many things. Two, he is not afraid to speak his mind, frankly. This much honesty and courage in calling the duck a duck has become rare in books.