The best 35 Language books

The Third Chimpanzee

The Third Chimpanzee

Jared Diamond
The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal
4.3 (150 ratings)

What's The Third Chimpanzee about?

In The Third Chimpanzee (1991), Jared Diamond explores the evolution of Homo sapiens, which started out like any other animal and gradually became a unique creature capable of producing speech, making art and inventing technology. The book reveals some extraordinary insights about the nature of human beings.

Who should read The Third Chimpanzee?

  • Students of history and anthropology
  • People interested in human evolution
  • Readers querying the essence of humankind

Fluent Forever

Fluent Forever

Gabriel Wyner
How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
4.3 (194 ratings)

What's Fluent Forever about?

Fluent Forever unlocks the secrets of how to get the most out of your memory, so you can learn languages faster than you ever thought possible. It teaches you how your memory works and the precise techniques you can use to remember more words, more accurately, in a way that’s efficient and fun.

Who should read Fluent Forever?

  • Anyone learning a language
  • Anyone who wants to improve their memory



Gaia Vince
How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time
4.2 (241 ratings)

What's Transcendence about?

Transcendence (2020) is a wide-ranging overview of humanity’s history, from its beginnings on the savannas of Africa to the globe-spanning civilization of today. This multifaceted exploration shows how fire, language, beauty, and time came to define our species.

Who should read Transcendence?

  • History buffs seeking a deep look at the past
  • Armchair anthropologists curious about the origins of human society
  • Anyone interested in what makes humans human

The Mother Tongue

The Mother Tongue

Bill Bryson
English And How It Got That Way
4.4 (72 ratings)

What's The Mother Tongue about?

The Mother Tongue (1990) provides a unique and personal look at the history of the English language. You’ll learn how, thanks to its flexibility and adaptability, English has endured and flourished, despite centuries of invasions, uprisings and censorship.

Who should read The Mother Tongue?

  • Historians
  • Linguists
  • Word lovers

Words Like Loaded Pistols

Words Like Loaded Pistols

Sam Leith
Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
4.3 (99 ratings)

What's Words Like Loaded Pistols about?

Words Like Loaded Pistols (2012) is a guide to identifying rhetoric and using it to your advantage. These blinks use historical, contemporary and everyday examples to show how rhetoric is a part of everything we do, which is why it’s such an essential topic to examine.

Who should read Words Like Loaded Pistols?

  • Anyone who wants to better understand the science behind political jargon
  • Students and professionals striving to become better public speakers and writers

10 Days to Faster Reading

10 Days to Faster Reading

The Princeton Language Institute and Abby Marks Beale
Zip Through Books, Magazines, and Newspapers – Understand and Remember Everything You Read
4.4 (436 ratings)

What's 10 Days to Faster Reading about?

10 Days to Faster Reading (2001) sets out to help you get through your ever-growing pile of must-read books. By breaking down the mindsets and bad habits that inhibit effective reading and replacing them with highly efficient reading techniques, you’ll be reading faster and retaining more than ever before.

Who should read 10 Days to Faster Reading?

  • Anyone who wants to read faster and remember more of what they read
  • Educators looking for new reading strategies for students
  • College students and bibliophiles

Persuasive Copywriting

Persuasive Copywriting

Andy Maslen
Cut Through the Noise and Communicate With Impact
4.3 (161 ratings)

What's Persuasive Copywriting about?

Persuasive Copywriting (2019) is a valuable guide to the world of copywriting, with tips on how to get the attention and keep the interest of customers, as well as generate those all-important sales for your client. Author Andy Maslen takes time-tested techniques that have proven reliable for generations and shows how these are being successfully applied in an online world that’s increasingly focused on content marketing.

Who should read Persuasive Copywriting?

  • New and experienced copywriters
  • Marketing and sales professionals
  • Writers eager to engage readers

Language Intelligence

Language Intelligence

Joseph J Romm
Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga
4.3 (103 ratings)

What's Language Intelligence about?

Language Intelligence (2012) focuses on an aspect of language that is often overlooked or dismissed: the art of rhetoric. From the King James Bible to Shakespeare, from modern-day political campaigns to the lyrics of pop songs, rhetoric is a widely used tool – one that we all should learn to use and understand. After all, in words there is power and strength.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“These blinks take you through history and around the world in search of answers to the age-old question of how the languages we speak affect the way we think and act. Really fascinating stuff!”

– Erik, Editorial Production Manager at Blinkist

Who should read Language Intelligence?

  • Linguists and grammarians
  • Politicians and marketing experts
  • Poets and singers

The Language Instinct

The Language Instinct

Steven Pinker
How the Mind Creates Language
4.0 (84 ratings)

What's The Language Instinct about?

The Language Instinct (1994) provides an in-depth look into the origins and intricacies of language, offering both a crash course in linguistics and linguistic anthropology along the way. By examining our knack for language, the book makes the case that the propensity for language learning is actually hardwired into our brains.

Who should read The Language Instinct?

  • Anyone interested in linguistics
  • People who want to know why Noam Chomsky is so famous
  • Anyone who has ever been taken aback by how quickly their children learned to speak

Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime

Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime

James O. Pyle and Maryann Karinch
Secrets of Calculated Questioning From a Veteran Interrogator
4.0 (84 ratings)

What's Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime about?

Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime (2014) is a guide to asking questions that will elicit the responses you seek. The authors draw on decades of experience to show that everyone – from teachers to journalists to doctors – can benefit from asking the right questions in the right way.

Who should read Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime?

  • Journalists, lawyers or anyone whose job involves asking a lot of questions
  • People interested in the sociology of language
  • Those wishing to improve their conversational techniques

The Stuff of Thought

The Stuff of Thought

Steven Pinker
Language as a Window into Human Nature
4.1 (59 ratings)

What's The Stuff of Thought about?

The Stuff Of Thought (2007) offers an in-depth look at language and, more specifically, what it can tell us about human nature and the complexities of the human mind. These blinks touch on everything from our ability to unconsciously detect subtle grammatical patterns to the linguistic rules surrounding politeness.

Who should read The Stuff of Thought?

  • Readers interested in the complexity of language
  • Psychologists and language therapists
  • Students of linguistics and literature

How Language Works

How Language Works

David Crystal
How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die
4.4 (80 ratings)

What's How Language Works about?

How Language Works (2005) unlocks the secrets of how and why we communicate. Language is one of the defining characteristics that makes humans human. But because it’s such a fundamental concept, we rarely take the time to think about where it comes from or how it evolves. These blinks examine the historical and personal origins of language and the many different ways it affects our daily lives.

Who should read How Language Works?

  • Language lovers curious to learn how language works
  • Those who appreciate the vast diversity of languages in the world
  • People concerned about endangered or extinct languages

How You Say It

How You Say It

Katherine D. Kinzler
Why You Talk the Way You Do – and What It Says About You
4.2 (130 ratings)

What's How You Say It about?

How You Say It (2020) examines the role that speech plays in structuring society. Through research and intelligent analysis, it shows how our accents, word choices, and other linguistic quirks become part of our identity and change how we see others.

Who should read How You Say It?

  • Social scientists wanting to learn more about language
  • Big talkers curious about the hidden meaning of their accents
  • Anyone interested in unpacking their unconscious biases

China In Ten Words

China In Ten Words

Yu Hua
The ten key concepts underlying China’s transformation
4.0 (89 ratings)

What's China In Ten Words about?

China in Ten Words (2012) explores the way modern China talks about itself and probes what that tells us about its past, present and likely future. Honing in on ten common concepts, author Yu Huan tells the story of a nation that has seemingly changed beyond recognition, yet in many ways remains closer to its revolutionary origins than one might believe.

Who should read China In Ten Words?

  • Students of the history of Communist China
  • Linguists curious about how language shapes cultural concepts
  • Those who are fascinated by the modern “Chinese Miracle”

Through the Language Glass

Through the Language Glass

Guy Deutscher
Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages
4.0 (50 ratings)

What's Through the Language Glass about?

Through the Language Glass (2010) explores the many ways in which language both reflects and influences our culture. By exploring the different ways that languages deal with space, gender and color, the book demonstrates just how fundamentally the language you speak alters your perception of the world.

Who should read Through the Language Glass?

  • People interested in language and how it affects us
  • Anyone interested in how the brain works
  • Linguistics students

Words That Work

Words That Work

Frank Luntz
It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear
4.0 (124 ratings)

What's Words That Work about?

Words That Work (2007) is a guide to getting your point across more efficiently and effectively. These blinks explain the power of language and how it can help you in any number of situations, from business to political discussions to getting out of a traffic ticket.

Who should read Words That Work?

  • Anyone who wants to communicate more effectively
  • Academics interested in the hidden power of language

The Sense of Style

The Sense of Style

Steven Pinker
The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
4.2 (73 ratings)

What's The Sense of Style about?

The Sense of Style (2014) offers a refreshing and relevant guide to writing potent, readable texts of all kinds. Instead of extolling the same confusing and sometimes counter-intuitive rules found in traditional style guides, The Sense of Style offers simple tricks and heuristics guaranteed to improve your writing.

Who should read The Sense of Style?

  • Lovers of the English language
  • Professional or amateur writers
  • People interested in linguistics

Writing That Works

Writing That Works

Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson
How To Communicate Effectively In Business
4.0 (57 ratings)

What's Writing That Works about?

Writing That Works (1981) is the definitive guide to business writing. These blinks are full of advice on how to write clear, compelling and succinct business communications, covering everything from quarterly reports to presentations, emails and even resumes.

Who should read Writing That Works?

  • Marketers and advertisers at all levels
  • Students of business, marketing and advertising
  • Entrepreneurs looking for tips on effective business writing



David Crystal
The gr8 db8
3.5 (15 ratings)

What's Txtng about?

Txtng (2008) is a bold endorsement of texting as an effective and creative – and even poetic – form of communication. These blinks offer a look at how the unique language of text messaging came to life and why critics of texting’s inventive shorthand need to calm down, stop worrying and learn to love the SMS.

Who should read Txtng?

  • Avid texters who are proud of the creative language they use
  • Emoticon lovers who want to get more creative with their smileys
  • Linguists who are confused about the language of texting

Words on the Move

Words on the Move

John McWhorter
Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally)
4.6 (33 ratings)

What's Words on the Move about?

Words on the Move (2016) is a whistle-stop tour through the history of the English language, from its Anglo-Saxon roots to global lingua franca. Packed with illuminating insights into the evolution of words and meaning, John McWhorter’s entertaining look at language dispels plenty of myths along the way. He argues that emoticons and the new use of “like” aren’t a threat to our language, but quite the opposite – they’re the latest chapters in a story of endless evolution.

Who should read Words on the Move?

  • Language learners and enthusiasts
  • Anyone who’s wondered where words come from
  • History buffs

Holy Sh*t

Holy Sh*t

Melissa Mohr
A Brief History of Swearing
4.2 (42 ratings)

What's Holy Sh*t about?

Holy Sh*t (2013) is a journey through the history of swearing. Starting in ancient Rome and coming up to the present day, these blinks delve into the cultures of different periods to highlight the rich evolution of swear words and obscenities throughout history.

Who should read Holy Sh*t?

  • Language lovers
  • Historians, anthropologists and students of cultural studies
  • People who want to broaden their swearing vocabulary

Do I Make Myself Clear?

Do I Make Myself Clear?

Harold Evans
Why Writing Well Matters
4.1 (54 ratings)

What's Do I Make Myself Clear? about?

Do I Make Myself Clear? (2017) offers a much-needed look at why clear and concise messages are, now more than ever, so important. There is an overwhelming abundance of content these days, and yet finding the truth has never been more difficult. Politicians and marketing executives use deliberately misleading words that obscure the truth and leave us confused and distrustful. Other times, bad writing simply leaves us scratching our heads. If we hope to better understand the facts, we need more people who can deliver clear and meaningful writing.

Who should read Do I Make Myself Clear??

  • Aspiring writers
  • Students hoping to craft better papers
  • Readers tired of bad writing

Because Internet

Because Internet

Gretchen McCulloch
Understanding the New Rules of Language
4.1 (130 ratings)

What's Because Internet about?

It’s common knowledge that the internet has profoundly changed society, and Because Internet (2019) looks at one specific and significant change: how online culture has transformed the English language. These blinks show how the web has created new linguistic rules, remixed old ones and democratized writing itself. Along with these shifts, prepare to explore the memes, emoji and demographic makeup of the internet.  

Who should read Because Internet?

  • Language nerds fascinated by recent changes in English
  • Inflexible grammarians clinging on to past practices
  • Parents consistently baffled by their children’s text messages

What Makes Us Human?

What Makes Us Human?

Charles Pasternak
The Reasons Why We are So Different
4.1 (20 ratings)

What's What Makes Us Human? about?

In What Makes Us Human (2007), a group of experts shares ideas on this centuries-long question. These blinks plumb the depths of the mystery of our species, to discover why humans alone cook food to eat, think creatively and understand cause and effect.

Who should read What Makes Us Human??

  • Scientists, philosophers and theologists
  • People who want to explore questions about human life

Making a Point

Making a Point

David Crystal
The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation
3.9 (14 ratings)

What's Making a Point about?

Making a Point (2015) is all about punctuation, the little marks that tie written language together. These blinks explain what function punctuation serves, why it can become a heated topic of discussion and how writers have used it creatively for years.

Who should read Making a Point?

  • Anyone who writes
  • Students of language or literature
  • Grammar nerds

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

Daniel Everett
Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle
4.5 (32 ratings)

What's Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes about?

Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes (2008) tell us about the unique culture and language of the Pirahã, an indigenous people of the Amazonian jungle who don’t use numbers, have names for colors or bother with small talk. They also laugh and smile more than most other cultures. These blinks explain what languages can tell us about the human experience and, moreover, why we shouldn’t forget how many other cultures and languages besides our own exist around the world.

Who should read Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes?

  • Language enthusiasts looking to learn more
  • Anyone who thinks all languages are more or less the same
  • Citizens of the world looking to gain fresh perspectives on other cultures

The Secret Life of Pronouns

The Secret Life of Pronouns

James W. Pennebaker
What Our Words Say About Us
4.4 (28 ratings)

What's The Secret Life of Pronouns about?

The Secret Life of Pronouns (2011) shines a light on the everyday language that we seldom pay attention to, revealing the ways in which it serves as a window into our personality and our social connections.

Who should read The Secret Life of Pronouns?

  • Linguists, psychologists and grammar nerds from all disciplines
  • Anyone interested in what language can reveal about others and ourselves

The First Word

The First Word

Christine Kenneally
The Search for the Origins of Language
3.7 (11 ratings)

What's The First Word about?

The First Word examines the different theories and viewpoints that have been put forward in the past half a century on the complex topic of the origin of language.

Who should read The First Word?

  • Anyone interested in learning about where language comes from
  • Anyone interested in how we can observe language in animals

The Information

The Information

James Gleick
A History, a Theory, a Flood
4.3 (13 ratings)

What's The Information about?

The Information takes us on a journey from primordial soup to the internet to reveal how information has changed the face of human history and shaped the way we think and live today. New technology continues to accelerate the speed at which information is transmitted, and to have lasting consequences for society.

Who should read The Information?

  • Anyone who wonders what impact technology has on our brains
  • People interested in biology, number theory and information theory
  • Anyone fascinated by the history of human thought

Thirty Million Words

Thirty Million Words

Dana Suskind
Building a Child’s Brain
4.6 (21 ratings)

What's Thirty Million Words about?

Thirty Million Words (2015) explains the importance of language in a child’s early development and long-term success. These blinks outline the optimal early language environment for a child and highlight the ways parents can help their children during these critical years.

Who should read Thirty Million Words?

  • New parents
  • Psychologists and educators
  • People who want to learn a new language.

Last Ape Standing

Last Ape Standing

Chip Walter
The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived
4.4 (20 ratings)

What's Last Ape Standing about?

Last Ape Standing (2013) tracks the journey of the evolution of human beings. It starts seven million years ago when the jungle habitat of our early ancestors began to recede. This began a process which saw our forbears start walking upright, develop large brains and use tools for the first time.

The process continued over millions of years, and eventually humanoids with large brains left Africa to migrate across the world. The last of these many migrations was our species, Homo sapiens, the first species we know to have the capacity for culture. And this capacity, along with the ability to learn, enabled us to become the last apes standing.

Who should read Last Ape Standing?

  • Anyone interested in the process of evolution
  • Anyone who wants to know how human beings came to dominate the planet
  • Anyone who is interested in why we spend so long in childhood

I Can Hear You Whisper

I Can Hear You Whisper

Lydia Denworth
An Intimate Journey Through the Science of Sound and Language

What's I Can Hear You Whisper about?

I Can Hear You Whisper (2014) is about human communication, and the phenomenon and culture of deafness. Hearing is a complex process that doesn’t function the same way for everyone, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing have developed alternative methods of communication, around which a special culture has grown. These blinks give an overview of that culture and show that it’s just as rich as any other.

Who should read I Can Hear You Whisper?

  • Anyone interested in the science or culture of deafness
  • Sociology or medical students

The Half-Life of Facts

The Half-Life of Facts

Samuel Arbesman
Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date
3.9 (16 ratings)

What's The Half-Life of Facts about?

As we continue to accumulate knowledge, we begin to realize how often old ideas are overturned due to new facts that contradict them. The Half-Life of Facts explores how knowledge is created and how it permeates our world and personal lives. The book also gives some helpful advice on how to deal with our ever-changing world and regain a sense of control.

Who should read The Half-Life of Facts?

  • Anyone who feels the world is changing too fast
  • Anyone interested in understanding scientific and technological developments
  • Anyone who’s completely sure of one particular fact about the world

Word by Word

Word by Word

Kory Stamper
The Secret Life of Dictionaries
4.3 (12 ratings)

What's Word by Word about?

Word by Word (2017) is about an object, and its associated profession, for which people rarely spare a thought: dictionaries and the honorable occupation of lexicography. Kory Stamper introduces the fascinating world of word classification through her own experience at Merriam-Webster, showing what dictionaries can do and, just as importantly, what they don’t.

Who should read Word by Word?

  • Language enthusiasts and linguistics nerds
  • Lovers of English literature
  • Anyone hoping to get a new perspective on underappreciated professions

I is an Other

I is an Other

James Geary
The Secret Life of Metaphor And How It Shapes The Way We See The World

What's I is an Other about?

I Is an Other demonstrates that metaphor is not just a literary tool but a fundamental way we have of discovering and making sense of the world. The author shows various ways in which metaphors are used in diverse fields, such as politics, economics, psychology, science, business and more.

Who should read I is an Other?

  • Anyone interested in how metaphors are used by politicians and advertisers to manipulate us
  • Anyone interested in how companies and scientists can use metaphors to solve problems
  • Anyone interested in language and writing

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