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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) is a singular and ground-breaking work of modern philosophy that attempts to illuminate the relationship between logic, language, and reality.