10 Best Psychology Books for Students

What is the best book to learn psychology? Here are the 10 Best Psychology Books for Students
10 best important psychology books

Psychology is an interesting but dynamic discipline. Although it is relatively young, it encompasses a plethora of literature. There are comprehensive books to introduce you to various sub-fields of psychology. There are psychology books that deal with specific theories by famous psychologists. You also have to stay updated on recent research and development in the field. This list tries to cover most of these areas but it is in no way exhaustible. There are no limits to the amount of knowledge you can gain. Consider this list as an introduction to the field and explore more in whichever area interests you the most. Suggestions are followed by some books which you can refer to if you find the suggested book interesting. We may earn a commission from some of the links in this article

10 Important Psychology Books 

  1. The Psychology Major’s Handbook by Tara L. Kuther

You might sometimes get disillusioned with psychology or wonder where this field will take you. Tara Kuther’s book gives you all the reasons why you should major in psychology and lists the career opportunities for psychology majors’ students. It also offers excellent tips which can come in handy to students. Other suggested readings are-

  • ‘Getting In: A Step-by-Step Plan’, a guide from the American Psychological Association which gives detailed information about admission into the top-ranked institutes
  • Career Paths in Psychology by Robert Sternberg

2. Pioneers of Psychology by Raymond E. Fancher and Alexandra Rutherford

It is important to have an introductory book which takes you through the evolution of the subject thus far. If you find history boring, this book has the potential to change your viewpoint. It casts and engaging look at the history of psychology from its early philosophical angle to the progress in the modern-day. It explores how renowned thinkers such as Darwin, Spinner, Freud, Descartes and Locke shaped the branch of psychology. To gain introductory historical knowledge, you can also refer to

  • An Introduction to the History of Psychology by Hergenhahn and Henley
  • Introduction to Psychology by James W. Kalat.
  • The Little Book of Psychology by Emily Ralls and Caroline Riggs
  1. How to Think Straight About Psychology by Keith E. Stanovich

Research is an important part of most humanitarian disciplines. This book helps better understand various research methods and develop critical thinking skills. It is treated as a supplement in introductory psychology, critical thinking, statistics courses and courses in research methodology. It looks into how to identify pseudoscience and explores topics in psychology such as experimental control, correlational studies, experimental studies, etc. Stanovich argues that there are three interrelated features that define science viz. systematic empiricism, production of public knowledge, investigating solvable problems. These features are further explored in the book.

  1. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

The latest version of this book is a must-have for all psychology students. It serves as a reference for any literature reviews, research studies, lab reports, etc. throughout the course. It has an easy to use reference and citation system and offers guidance in writing scholarly articles. It also guides users through the scholarly writing process—from the ethics of authorship to reporting research through publication. It helps you stay updated with all recent changes, research and development in the field.

  1. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

The author is a renowned neurologist who shares his account of various patients with neurological disorders. The book comprises twenty-four case studies split into four sections – Losses, Excesses, Transports, and The World of the Simple. It is an interesting read for all people but especially so for psychology students looking to go into neurological psychology.

“Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: Extraordinary Journeys into the Human Brain by Dr Allan Ropper and Brian David Burrell” is another interesting read in clinical neurology.

  1. Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese

Much of the psychological knowledge encompassed in theories is verified through experiments. This book is an exploration into the craziest psychological experiments that have happened across time (but mainly the 1970s) in the name of science. As a student who seeks to go into experimental psychology, this book makes you appreciate the ethical procedures put into place in the 21st century and the importance of following such ethical guidelines.

  1. Social Psychology by Roger Brown

Social psychology is an emerging subfield in psychology and Brown’s warm engaging style makes it even more captivating. Besides exploring social psychology, Brown summarises important research and pioneers in cognitive psychology. Brown analyses a wide range of subjects including obedience and rebellion, altruism, group decision processes, the psycho-legal questions of eyewitness testimony, jury size and decision rule, the psychosexual question of androgyny, the sources of ethnic conflict, and much more. He is also an expert in psycholinguistics and child psychology. The book as a whole gives a broad overview of various fields.

  1. Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud

Freud is one of the classical psychologists who created his own therapeutic technique called psychoanalysis. This is the text that started the therapy revolution. Freud introduces the unconscious and the structure of the id, ego, and superego which is the structure of personality as defined by him. Freud’s work triggered a lot of research. Most of his perverse ideas on sex and aggression have been refuted since then, but it is important for any serious student of psychology to understand where it all started.

While exploring classical works by famous psychologists, you can also read-

  1. Behaviourism by John B Watson

This book marked the beginning of the Behavioural Revolution. Although it was controversial at the time, it has since then been legitimised by supported research. Watson developed Behavioural Psychology by emphasising on observable behaviours instead of thoughts and emotions. This book set the groundwork for future behavioural psychologists like Skinner. This book is a must for any behaviourist or anyone willing to deeply study the various schools of psychology.

Another book to read while exploring behaviourism is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. The book talks about how there are two systems which determine the way we think and how intuitions can’t be trusted.

  1. The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson

This is a modern psychology classic which combines impeccable research with fluid and engaging writing style. Aronson illuminates the intricacies of human aggression, interpersonal love and human behaviour in general and covers diverse topics such as terrorism, conformity, obedience, politics, race relations, advertising, war, interpersonal attraction, and the power of religious cults. The book might have been termed as a self-help book had it not been for Aronson’s extensive references to peer-reviewed articles and studies with give authenticity to his work.


Psychology is a very wide discipline and no amount of books can ever completely encompass it. However, it is also simultaneously a subject that interests even those who don’t study it on an academic level. We hope these Psychology books help you dive into the interesting world of psychology. You can always refer to audio-visual material in terms of podcasts and video lectures that are available to better grasp certain concepts. Happy Reading!

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Astha is an opinionated Gen Z and a dedicated bibliophile who is currently pursuing Political Science and Economics at Miranda House. She is an ambivert and finds discussions on politics and international affairs to be her favorite icebreakers. She is a proud feminist.