Must-have Psychology Books for Beginners

I'll be honest: not all the books I mentioned are exciting. But they provide a wide insight on what you will be doing when you start off your education in psych. As you eventually decide whether you want to concentrate on individual branches like cognitive psychology or abnormal psychology, it pays to be aware of all the options you have.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Psych courses usually have a set list of books that you need to study as per the curriculum. The great thing about the field is there are a large number of books that may be outside your curriculum and still be able to boost your grades by a lot. To that end, here are some books that may or may not be suggested by your professor but are invaluable nonetheless.

Career Guidance and Development in the Psychology Field

Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You
Robert J. Sternberg has written one of the better guidance books in relevance to psychology. You need to get this book and dissect its matter before you affirm your decisions on your own career path in this field. The book covers almost everything there is to the fourteen branches in psychology, giving you a proper idea of what it is to be a major in a particular branch.

Invitation to Psychology
Written by Carole Wade and Carol Tavris, the book is the perfect introduction to the world of psychology. The book has the right blend of perceptive explanation and real life situational examples. The book covers most of the specialties in a very reader-friendly and active manner, compelling the reader to keep thinking about the whole process. Invitation to Psychology will probably be a textbook to students and a definite must-have for a formal introduction to the field.

Pioneers of Psychology
Written by Raymond E. Fancher, Pioneers of Psychology remains one of the best and most extensive books that anyone should read. It contains historical records of all the greatest minds in the field like Freud, Skinner and Darwin. In fact, the book should probably be featured in your curriculum already. If it isn't, suggest that it should be and start reading it anyway.

Expanding Your Thoughts as a Psychologist

An Interpretation of Dreams
Dr. Sigmund Freud is the creator of the branch of psychoanalysis. He is one of the first and greatest minds in the field. This book is the first one on dream fulfillment and interpretations of them. The book is filled with all his work regarding dreams along with multiple illustrations, showing us his concept of "dream-fulfillment", the mechanisms of repressing thoughts and how they affect our dreams.

On Becoming a Person
Carl Rogers is the leading psychologists in humanistic mental assessment. Before one becomes entitled to reading a person's thought patterns and diagnose problems, he/she must be acquainted to all the possible approaches to the patient's mind. Carl Rogers provides one such angle. The book portrays a "self-recovery" direction for a better, positive psychological growth of the patient.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem includes an entire life's worth of studies by Nathaniel Branden, a top psychotherapist in the branch of humanistic assessment of self-esteem issues. As a future psychologist, it is essential to learn about the importance of self-esteem in a person's life and how to build it day-by-day. The book itself is easy to figure and basically gives a step by step pattern on the things a patient can do to grow his/her self-esteem.

Bonus Reading

The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
I had to include this one in here. It's not only a good read, it leaves you with a pretty good idea on some of the craziest cases of psychology and neurology. Written by neurologist Oliver Sacks in 1985, the book tells us about some of his more 'curious' patients. Some of his cases and explanations have been used in movies too. For example, Dustin Hoffman counting toothpicks in Rain Man, is actually a scene from Oliver's case study called "The Twins", which explains the condition of two autistic twins.

Running With Scissors
The book is not as much about professional psychology as it is about light reading. Just remember that this is a psychology book, and the concept of 'light' will be different from other books. It delves into the life of the author, Augusten Burroughs, who was sent to live with a psychiatrist by his mother. The book covers most aspects of clinical depression, along with a host of other mental illnesses including bipolar disorder, sexual perversion and OCD.

The more you learn in it, the larger the field gets; such is psychology. You are attempting to cure mental problems of humans, after all. The books listed will help you expand your map and help you see where you are, where you want to be. They should, at the same time, help you understand the field as a means for helping those in need.