5 Books Every Researcher Should Read

I read very little prior to university, and only what I had to while I was there. Since leaving, however, I have discovered a passion for reading which started with the first two books on this list, and has rapidly expanded. This post was inspired by my interview with Dr Elizabeth Cottier-Cook, where she recommends two books that are now on my reading list. I thought it would be good to share some of the books that have influenced the way I think and believe would be great reads for anyone working in research. I’m currently on my 13th book of the year with the aim of reading at least 20 before the year is out, as well as publishing one of my own.


The Art of War – Sun Tzu

The Art of WarFirst up is the Art of War. A book that many people have heard of, but have never read. It is actually incredibly small and could be read in about an hour!

Every paragraph is rich with wisdom that can be applied to any area of life. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book. It is so densely packed with information that I get something new from it each time. It is also the book I have given away the most times.

I highly recommend The Art of War. Try reading it and putting yourself in the place of the general of your research team, or project.

“The general that harkens to my council and acts upon it will conquer: let such a one be retained in command!” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War 1:15.

Get it here.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleThe next book that set me on the path to reading a wealth of personal development books was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

This book showed me the best way to prioritise and put first things first. To begin with the end in mind, and – most importantly – to always seek out win-win scenarios.

This is another book that I have lent out presently.

Get it here.


The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin

The Icarus DeceptionDrawing on the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus, Seth shows that the safety zone does not line up with our comfort zones. Everyone remembers not to fly too high, but flying low is worse because it is just as dangerous, but feels safe. So do that research that only you can do, even though it’s out of your comfort one.

He then goes on to say that our world demands connection. As scientists we need to be prepared to ship our work when it’s not perfect so that it connects with people and they can take it to the next level. Or, when communicating our research, it’s more about the connection than perfect delivery. Be creative and put yourself out there.

Get it here.


The 50th Law – Robert Greene, and 50 Cent

The 50th LawThis one is a little different. It looks at the life of 50 Cent and how growing up in gang culture gave him the character required to succeed in his chosen field. Robert explores how we can develop the same character traits without having to go through gang culture.

The main takeaway from this for me was to take bold, urgent, and unconventional action. I gave a speech on this the Toastmasters club I attended when I read it.

Get it here.


Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and SlowAnyone who works with statistics needs to read this book. Thinking Fast and Slow gives insight into the psychology operating when we look at statistics and probability, and how it influences our decision-making.

This is book is great at revealing our own biases, even as people who handle statistics regularly, and will benefit the way you communicate with the public as well as other researchers.

Get it here.


To conclude, these are just 5 books that have influenced the way I think for the better, and I urge you to read them too. I would love to hear if you have read them too, and what you got out of them. Let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram. What are your favourite books, and what did they teach you?


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