Would you be interested in thought provoking books? Have you recently thought a lot? Do you often find yourself lost in thought? You’ve come to the right place if you’ve ever been concerned about anything.
No matter what category they fall under, the finest book club reads to keep the conversation going, whether you’re discussing themes or arguing exactly how unreliable that narrator was.
The benefits of books are many. They frighten the living daylights out of us, make us weep, make us laugh, or impart knowledge to us.
Get smarter and more receptive by reading inspiring literature.
Find novels that make you reevaluate your beliefs about life’s purpose or preconceived notions.
You’ll learn something new from these thought-provoking books, and they just could influence how you manage your house, travel, prepare meals, socialize, or engage with others.
The best fiction books may change your life. Books about racism and mental health are available.
The novels included in this list are thought-provoking because of their topic rather than their literary or intellectual quality.
You’ll be reflecting on these thought-provoking works for a while after you finish them, from a reclusive heiress to a set of twins whose lives follow unexpectedly different routes.
Thought-Provoking Books: Factual
If you like novels that make you think, check out these books.
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
The Prophets is a New York Times best-seller that chronicles the romance of Samuel and Isaiah, two enslaved men who lived on a plantation in pre-Civil War Mississippi.
Their bond is their anchor, providing one another with lifelines in a hopeless world.
However, as the truth about their relationship is revealed, the plantation’s delicate structure falls apart, and the fault lines extend deeper than anybody could have expected.
Robert Jones Jr.’s first book is a remarkable read that will stick with you long beyond the last page and is full of lyrical language that is reminiscent of Toni Morrison.
The Beauty In Breaking by Michele Harper
We adored Harper’s The Beauty In Breaking for novels that are contemplative and cause you to reflect more deeply on the healing process.
Harper, a Black ER doctor, talks about how she overcame racism, sexism, trauma, and divorce. There is beauty in breaking, as Harper says.
Through her contacts with patients, Harper looks at the world besides how she perceives it. Harper supports yoga and meditation despite having had a science-based education.
Readers observe Harper being unfairly passed over for promotions and discover issues with the healthcare system.
Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
The “bullshit” jobs that many people now hold are the complete antithesis of the jobs detailed in Nickel and Dimed.
Graeber asks the why in an elaboration of his 2013 piece, which went viral.
Why are so many lucrative occupations useless, and why are so many of the most important and vital positions in society underpaid and undervalued?
Although he only gives lip attention to the undervaluation of the emotional work, women contribute to their employment, Graeber cannot recognize the role racism plays in this conundrum.
Bullshit Jobs, despite their shortcomings, make a strong case against meaningless labor performed only for the sake of labor.
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
This book, which was written in 1998 but is startlingly still relevant today, uncovers the inner workings of a system that most people see every day but don’t really want to look at.
When welfare reform was a hot political topic, Barbara Ehrenreich tested the waters and see whether she could live honestly on the minimum wage.
Warning: there is a spoiler ahead. Her struggles and insights are made from a position of privilege since she had the freedom to decide to end the cycle of poverty.
Still, for anyone who has held a low-paying job, this book will be startlingly true, and hopefully, a thought-provoking read for everyone who hasn’t.
Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman
Huguette Clark was a typical 20th-century lady. She spent more than $80,000 on handcrafted Japanese dollhouses.
For nearly $2.4 million, she once purchased a string quartet made entirely of Stradivarius.
And she owned a multi-million dollar property in Connecticut that she never even furnished, much less went there.
Huguette’s large fortune, what she did with it, and the heated and opaque court fights it provoked are all explored in this odd real story of the youngest daughter of W. A. Clark, a robber baron of Rockefeller-like proportions who actually created the city of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Quiet by Susan Cain
Do you want to change how you think about your personality type after reading a nonfiction book?
One book that altered the way we saw ourselves as introverts who pass for extroverts is Quiet.
In a society where noise overrides silence, Cain explores the initial impressions and preconceptions we associate with introverts and extroverts.
Learn what introverts can contribute. Get the assurance that it is OK for you to be who you are, even if that means working quietly in the background.
One of our favorite novels that helps you consider stereotypes and societal ideals is Quiet, which is also a great book to listen to while driving.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
Are you aware that women are twice as likely as men to die from a heart attack? Or that the wrong-sized crash test dummies make women 73% more likely than males to sustain injuries in auto accidents?
You now know these somber facts and more because of Criado Perez’s study. Besides the negative effects on women’s physical and mental health, how males are treated in the workplace, in government policy, in urban planning, and in many other areas is damaging.
This instructive book aids in shedding light on those gaps and, perhaps, points the way toward a solution.
Brotopia by Emily Chang
That Silicon Valley is a boys’ club is well known. Even its most notorious female resident, Elizabeth Holmes, tried to project greater authority by lowering her voice and dressing like Steve Jobs.
What led to that, though? What effects will this frat house 2.0 have on how we work and live given that technology is such a big part of our daily lives?
In her provocative expose on Silicon Valley’s pervasive sexism and disenfranchisement, Emily Chang researched all of this and more.
Killers of The Flower Moon by David Grann
This three-part epic is so well-written that it’s difficult to believe it’s nonfiction.
Part true crime, a part love letter to the west, part exploration of the legacy of animosity against native communities, even in their triumph.
Incredibly wealthy for the local Indigenous population, oil was discovered on Osage property at the end of the 19th century.
They possessed the rights to the oil, and the money made from drilling it since they were given the property.
The Osage laid claim to riches that exceeded every dollar-generated during every American gold rush in under ten years, but because of good ol’ imperialism and bigotry, the white people in the area weren’t too thrilled about it.
A string of killings that followed led to the creation of the FBI as we know it, with consequences that continue to have legal significance today.
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen
Well-behaved women seldom create history, according to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
Anne Helen Petersen examined that hypothesis.
She has a PhD in media studies with a celebrity gossip specialization, so she provides an academic perspective to this issue as she looks at the most contentious women of the modern age.
Petersen’s inclusion of contentious figure Caitlyn Jenner should tell you all you need to know about how far she dives into this water, even if it limited many of the topics in this book to a single aspect of their reputation or identity.
This book will make you consider how we publicly regard women and what it entails for women privately.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
The 1910s were the era of newly found radium. It quickly appeared in toothpaste to chocolate and was a captivating, brilliant blue.
Fortunately, it wasn’t truly present in those items since radium, when consumed, substitutes calcium in your bones and gradually kills you.
Only the watch faces given to soldiers in the Great War’s trenches included real radium to make them sparkle at night.
The corporations who employed the young ladies who painted those watch face urged them to lick the tips of their paintbrushes to keep them small, which resulted in a small amount of radium being consumed.
The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn
The Jonestown mass suicide had a crater-sized cultural influence; it is the source of the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” (though any true crime enthusiast worth their salt would know it was Flavor Aid).
But how does one transition from founding a church in Indiana that supports social welfare initiatives and integration to running a notoriously deadly cult? From the very beginning of his research all the way to the very finish, Jeff Guinn takes the reader along.
As a result, we get a terrifying and insightful glimpse at the genuine Jonestown participants and how they were psychologically, physically, and emotionally coerced until there was no turning back.
Originals by Adam Grant
What qualities define originality? The answer to this query, presented by industrial psychologist Adam Grant, will not be what you may expect.
The outcomes of non-conformity are as varied as the non-conformists themselves, and they come in all different shapes and sizes.
Grant shows how speaking out and speaking up may be effective by skillfully fusing scientific evidence and interesting tales.
In fact, to be more creative, being an aggressive contrarian is likely the last thing one should do.
Adam Grant believes that disagreement is beneficial for everyone, from athletes to performers, since it advances society.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Who hasn’t imagined entering a room filled with pasta, rice, or even meditation?
One of the many excellent nonfiction novels that inspires reflection on the purpose of life is Eat, Pray, Love.
Gilbert is faced with a choice between divorce and sadness.
In her travels to places like Italy, India, and Indonesia, she embraces friendship, culture, and the power of compassion while also discovering how stillness and the natural world can inspire inner serenity.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Perhaps Henrietta Lacks’ contribution to modern medicine is the most important of all time. Too bad she was never informed.
Unknowingly, Henrietta gave birth to some of the first human cells to be grown in a lab. Later, her husband and kids too suffered from similar exploitation.
The biotech sector made billions of dollars thanks to the innovations made possible by Lacks’ cells.
However, her descendants are only left with a hidden legacy—one that Skloot worked for ten years to explain.
This stimulating study offers a sharp examination of the background of Black medical exploitation.
Switched on Pop by Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding
Everyone has a guilty-pleasure song or musician. We too have a tune that makes us crazy to hear in the supermarket.
Pop music’s explosive rise has solidified its place in contemporary culture. Sloan has examined the motivation for pop music in this essay.
Not personality, though. neither backing dancers nor dazzling attire. The tunes.
Sloan and Harding analyze the rhythm and harmony of the most popular pop songs of the last few years through the prism of musicology in an amusing manner.
One of the most thought-provoking books on popular music has valuable lessons that even those who are new to music theory may learn.
We may be both successful and satisfied if we live out our purpose and make the most of our creative abilities.
Do not waste your day. The stories of successful company entrepreneurs and how they fulfilled their aspirations are abundant in the job.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic is your writing Bible if you’re seeking for motivational publications that make you consider passion and creativity, even though some of its more esoteric or “magical” elements are a little more than we completely buy into.
Big Magic will be supportive, illuminating, and honest. You’ll be more inquisitive, bold, and callous when you finish this profound book.
Gilbert is a real-life comedy star. You’ll value her straightforward counsel, which she bases on both her own experiences and that of other outstanding artists.
At a medieval-themed party, we’ve all played the red lobster.
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
According to Wilkerson, a hidden caste structure drives interactions between race, class, and economic status in the United States today.
This system, which contains eight key principles, has supported repressive power systems for many years.
Wilkerson claims that the Nazis even looked at it while creating their eugenics programs.
Wilkerson’s strong, poetic prose shines throughout this depressing message. Caste pulls up a rock with a bunch of worms below, much as in her earlier book, The Warmth of Other Suns.
However, Wilkerson provides you with warm, comfortable gloves to remove the worms. Read this book if nothing else on this list.
On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
Timothy Snyder, a fascist expert, probably didn’t expect that his writings would be so important to Americans in the twenty-first century.
Even here we are. Snyder carried out what historians do as textbook fascism started to openly infiltrate political discourse in 2016.
He took a glance in the past. In order to teach us from their example, Snyder has gathered 20 instances from the 20th century.
The book has fewer than 200 pages, despite its serious subject.
The book is clear and straightforward, getting right to the subject wasting no time. It has a powerful punch for its size.
Thought-Provoking Books: Memoir/biography
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
It seems inadequate to merely call this book a memoir. Coates skillfully combines his personal experiences with the historical events and ideologies that formed them, reaching widely into the past, present, and future.
Reading the book almost seems intrusive because of the closeness with which Coates talks to his kid.
And yet, it is as universally potent, as passionate, as optimistic, as indignant, and as joyful as biting into a ripe peach.
You are powerless to stop the liquid from dripping haphazardly down your arm. This is one of, if not the most influential and thought-provoking work on Blackness ever written.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah was literally born a criminal since he was the offspring of a white man and a Xhosa woman during the apartheid era in South Africa.
Noah’s journey from the son of working-class parents to the presenter of one of the most popular television shows in the world is almost unbelievable in its improbability, even if far too many novels these days are referred to be “inspiring.”
Noah was born and raised in South Africa, but his stories are regrettably still applicable today in the United States.
On the radio, Noah has perfected comic timing, and his book is loaded with just the right mix of levity, vulnerability, and power.
Madness by Marya Hornbacher
Before receiving a definitive diagnosis of bipolar illness, Marya Hornbacher underwent many inpatient mental health treatment programs, got married and divorced, and authored a heartbreaking book about her battle with an eating disorder.
This insightful biography offers a peek into her brain’s most intricate workings.
The tempo alternates between rapid acceleration and cool detachment.
The tempo alternates between quick bursts of energy and deliberate quiet.
Hornbacher obviously cannot write about her disorder objectively, but that’s a good thing.
The illegal misdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of bipolar disease persist.
Madness makes an important step toward improved treatment and increased acceptance of bipolar illness by advancing actual knowledge of the condition.
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
Susannah Cahalan was a young, ambitious lady who believed she was sick with the flu.
Till her signs and actions become increasingly weird. Nobody could have predicted the final course that the reality of what was occurring to her would take.
Her path to recovery led to hundreds of other patients getting the same diagnosis after she baffled the top neurosurgeons in the world.
A must-read is Cahalan’s narrative of her trauma, which is equal parts memoir and medical treatise.
The Netflix movie based on Cahalan’s memoir is also a decent way to kill two hours.
Thought-Provoking Books: Fiction
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Gunmen broke into Bob Marley’s house in 1976 and made an attempt on his life. That marks the conclusion of this book’s nonfiction section.
This novel lives just near enough to liminal space, with ghosts, drug addicts, grandmothers, and newspapermen, to leave you feeling haunted.
This epic story, which spans decades and countless kilometers, begins with Bob Marley and spirals out of control.
A Brief History of Seven Killings is a thought-provoking novel, both for its examination of a societal underbelly and the sumptuous prose. It is equally rich and engrossing.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Machado turns traditional ghost stories from campfires into cheesy feminist allegories in this delightfully spooky book.
Her restricted first-person narration forces the reinterpreted tales further into the reader’s mind. It’s difficult to believe this is Machado’s first since it’s so expertly written.
All the imagery fits well in Machado’s steady language, which swings joyously between the gloomy and the absurd.
It seems unpolished and Alice Through the Looking Glass weird, making it one of the most thought-provoking volumes of writings.
If you dare, read it at night, while curled up under the blankets with a flashlight.
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