10 Books on Learning for Mastering New/Hard Skills Quickly

Looking for the best books on learning? I’ve got you covered.

The list below contains excellent guides for learning new skills quickly, mastering your craft, and achieving peak performance in school and at work.

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Best Books on Learning

1. Make It Stick by Peter Brown et al.

Make It Stick by Peter Brown et al. | Books on learning

Most of us believe learning should be easy and fun. That learning “the hard way” is a waste of time and effort.

In Make It Stick, the authors draw on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology to offer unorthodox yet practical strategies for learning effectively.

They argue that struggling to overcome learning barriers leads to better retention and mastery of the learning material. 

In fact, several common study habits are counterproductive, the authors say.

Rereading, rote repetition, underlining/highlighting, and cramming just create the illusion of mastery, but you quickly forget what you’ve learned.

Make It Stick is an invaluable book on learning for teachers, students, athletes, and trainers interested in lifelong self-improvement and learning.

What’s in it for you:

  • Understand the most effective learning techniques:
    • Self-testing
    • Spaced repetition
    • Interleaving connected topics

2. Ultralearning by Scott Young

Ultralearning by Scott Young

An essential book on learning for future-proofing your career and maximizing your competitive advantage, Ultralearning offers nine basic concepts for learning hard skills—quickly.

In our rapidly changing world, Scott Young argues that to stay ahead, we must prioritize self-education and become ultralearners. 

Young draws on the latest research to offer the most effective learning strategies, interleaving stories of great ultralearners like Benjamin Franklin and Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman.

What’s in it for you:

  • Stay relevant, learn a new skill, reinvent yourself, and adapt quickly to the ever-changing demands of your career and life

3. The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin

The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin

Josh Waitzkin has been a public figure since age nine—as a chess champion in his childhood and a World Champion in the martial art Tai Chi Chuan in his adult life.

At the center of Waitzkin’s incredible success in two wildly different fields is his ability to learn. 

The Art of Learning details Waitzkin’s remarkable journey to the top of the chess and martial art worlds.

He shares the core principles of performance and learning that have helped him succeed.

What’s in it for you:

  • A remarkable performer’s life lessons in a page-turning book
  • Routines for achieving peak performance in your work

4. A Mind For Numbers by Barbara Oakley

In A Mind for Numbers, engineering professor Barbara Oakley offers tools to help you better understand mathematical and science problems.

Oakley lets you in on secrets for effective learning. And contrary to conventional belief, she argues that math requires creative and analytical thinking.

It’s an excellent learning book for students struggling with math/science and professionals changing to a career that demands a new skill set.

What’s in it for you:

  • Learn to excel in areas that don’t come naturally to you

5. Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer

Joshua Foer went from a perpetually forgetful journalist to a US Memory Champion in a year.

Through his unlikely journey, Foer discovered a profound truth that is often forgotten: we are the sum of our memories.

In Moonwalking With Einstein, he draws on cutting-edge research to offer tools for transforming our understanding of memory.

In an era where our smart devices have all but made the art of remembering an obsolete skill, Foer makes an urgent bid for the resurrection of this forgotten art.

What’s in it for you:

  • How to dramatically improve your memory

6. Limitless by Jim Kwik

Limitless offers an invaluable guide to brain fitness and mental expansion. 

In this book on learning, Jim Kwik offers practical strategies for unlocking your brain’s superpowers and changing your habits.

Kwik teaches you how to achieve remarkable results quickly by revealing science-backed practices and routines to accelerate memory, recall, focus, communication, self-learning, and speed reading. 

What’s in it for you:

  • How to harness your mindset, ignite your motivation, and master the most effective learning strategies

7. Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley

In 2013, Kevin Horsley broke a world memory record.

In Unlimited Memory, Horsley offers his memory strategies for learning faster, becoming more productive, and achieving more success. 

Better yet, he distills the tools, strategies, and techniques that the world’s top memory experts use to dramatically improve their memory.

What’s in it for you:

  • How to double your productivity and eliminate wasted time, stress, and mistakes by learning to concentrate at will
  • How to master your attention to focus longer, even during stressful situations

8. Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Anders Ericsson dedicated his career to studying violin virtuosos, chess champions, memory mavens, and star athletes.

Peak is a distillation of 30 years of groundbreaking research into an effective learning strategy that is radically different from the way people think about learning new skills.

Whether you want to improve your performance at work, school, or in any area, Ericsson’s methods will teach you how to get better at the skills that matter most to you.

What’s in it for you:

  • A powerful, science-based approach for getting better at the things you care about
  • How to apply the principles of great performance in your work and personal life

9. How We Learn by Benedict Carey

How We Learn by Benedict Carey

In How We Learn, Benedict Carey draws on decades of education research to discover the truth about how our brains retain and absorb information.

Carey questions conventional knowledge about learning and offers an alternative way of learning that makes it less of a chore.

Within the wealth of strategies, you’ll find a framework for making learning a natural part of your life—you’ll learn how to learn quickly, efficiently, and automatically. 

What’s in it for you:

  • A fascinating guide about memory and how we really learn

10. Learning How to Learn by Barbara Oakley et al.

Geared towards students, Learning How to Learn offers a surprisingly simple way for mastering any subject. 

Students will discover tools to master subjects that don’t come naturally to them and learn how to maximize the time they spend studying,

What’s in it for you:

  • The secret to unlocking your learning potential by understanding how the brain works

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