The 14 Best Books on Decision Making

BookSummaryClub Blog The 14 Best Books on Decision Making

I have a bit of a confession – I often have analysis paralysis. When it comes to decision making, I have to make a concerted effort to focus. It does not always work, especially it presented with multiple options. I have to consider each one and overthink every possible scenario that comes along with it. In the end, it has something to do my preparedness and contingency plans if something goes wrong; but what if there was a way to avoid all this unnecessary stress and worry? There are multiple ways in which to do, as I have learned, we just need to educate ourselves. That’s why this article takes a look at the 14 best books on decision making so that you too, can learn how to make smart and better decisions. 

Best Books on decision making

Decision making takes many forms. It could be something as simple as choosing lunch, to hard relationship decisions to even more complicated budget decisions at work. So, this article will feature 14 books which will cover:

  • Business decisions
  • Career decisions
  • Relationship decisions
  • Group decisions
  • Financial decisions

Bet you didn’t realise how many different decisions you make right? That’s mostly because we never think to categorise it. Let’s take a look at these books and what each one has to offer.


The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Discover more about:

  • The abundance of choice and choice overload
  • How to relieve the stress and anxiety of decision making
  • Decision satisfaction
  • How to limit choices

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz explains how the abundance of options we are now faced with contributes towards even more anxiety when it comes to decisions. The society we live in provides more options to ensure that there is something that would satisfy everyone’s needs, however, it leads to us most likely being unsatisfied with our final decision. The book offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on those that are important and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

 📘BOOK #2

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Discover more about:

  • Predictable decisions
  • Hidden forces which influence decisions
  • Estimating value
  • Recognizing irrational patterns

We often think we put a lot of thought into our decisions and that they are based on smart and rational thinking. But after reading this book, you will have a better idea of the hidden forces working for and against you when it comes to decision making. We tend to focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another and estimate value accordingly. By recognizing our irrational patterns, we can make better decisions in life and business

 📘 BOOK #3

Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

Discover more about:

  • How can you do better?
  • A four-step process designed to counteract biases
  • How you can stop the cycle of agonizing over your decisions
  • Not overlooking precious opportunities

In this book, Chip and Dan Heath discuss the four issues that cause bad decisions. These are narrow framing, confirmation bias, short-term emotion and overconfidence. Describing these four concepts in detail, Decisive helps you learn about the errors we make when making decisions and gives you a practical guide to help overcome these issues. Easy to read, with practical advice, this book is definitely worth a read.

 📘 BOOK #4

Smart Choices by John S. Hammon, Ralph L. Keeney and Howard Raiffa

Discover more about:

  • Evaluation of your plans
  • Breaking your potential decision into its key elements
  • Identifying the key drivers that are most relevant to your goals
  • Applying systematic thinking
  • Using the right information to make the smartest choice

Discussed in this book are the eight elements of smart choices: Problem, Objectives, Alternatives, Consequences, Tradeoffs, Uncertainty, Risk Tolerance, Linked Decisions. The authors teach the reader how to analyze their current situation, measure factors appropriately, and make tradeoffs without confusion or emotional distress. Ultimately, in order to satisfy your objectives, you need to ensure you’ve identified the right problem, clarified your ultimate objective and avoid uncertainty and risk.

 📘 BOOK #5

Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

Discover more about:

  • How sure are you?
  • What are the possible ways things could turn out?
  • What decision has the highest odds of success?
  • Is my success attributable to dumb luck rather than great decision making?

Annie Duke draws on examples from business, sports, politics and poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions. Just like poker, this book is all about strategy. It explains how all decisions tend to have an unknown element of luck and how we need to “think in bets”. By shifting your thinking from a need for certainty to a goal of accurately assessing what you know and what you don’t, you’ll be less vulnerable to bad decision making.

 📘 BOOK #6

Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Discover more about:

  • Choice Architecture
  • The biases that can lead us to make bad decisions
  • How people think
  • Freedom of Choice

This book draws on decades of behavioural science research and numerous examples to explore the various factors that influence decision making or what the authors call “nudges”. The authors discuss how nudging can be used at the individual level, and then they demonstrate how this technique can be scaled up to the corporate or workplace level. If we are aware of these subtle nudges in our environment that can affect our behaviour, then we may be able to make better decisions.

 📘 BOOK #7

Streetlights and Shadows by Gary Klein

Discover more about:

  • How the conventional wisdom about decision making can get us into trouble
  • Why experience can’t be replaced by rules, procedures, or analytical methods

In contrast to other books on this list, Streetlights and Shadows, Gary Klein debunks the conventional wisdom about how to make decisions. He takes ten commonly accepted claims about decision making and shows that they are better suited for the laboratory than for life. The standard advice works well when everything is clear, but the tough decisions involve shadowy conditions of complexity and ambiguity. The book offers more realistic ideas about how to make decisions by providing real-life examples.

 📘 BOOK #8

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Discover more about:

  • How does the human mind make decisions?
  • How can we make decisions better?

In this book, Jonah Lehrer’s goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better? To answer these questions Lehrer looks at experimental evidence and real-life experiences pertaining to the rational and emotional responses we have in decision making.

 📘 BOOK #9

The Worry Solution by Martin Rossman

Discover more about:

  •  Identifying worries you can and can’t control.
  • Cultivating the part of your brain that helps you solve problems more creatively.
  • “Hardwire” yourself for calmness and clarity with guided imagery.

This book differs from others on this list by not directly addressing decision-making but rather our problem-solving abilities. Based on cutting-edge research and proven clinical techniques, Dr Martin Rossman has developed a program to help you harness the healing power of the mind to invigorate the emotional and intuitive parts of your brain and enhance your problem-solving abilities. Providing a practical guide to avoid unnecessary stress, this book will teach you how to live your best life.

 📘 BOOK #10

Yes or No: The Guide to Better Decisions by Spencer Johnson

Discover more about:

  • Focus on real needs, versus mere wants
  • Creating better options
  • Seeing the likely consequences of choices
  • Identifying and using your own integrity, intuition, and insight to gain peace of mind, self-confidence, and freedom from fear

This book provides an easy, practical system that anyone can use to make better decisions. The book revolves around a man who takes a hiking trip with a group of other people. They use the hike to reflect on their decisions and analyze how they could have made better decisions, sooner. Johnson then began to study the way we make decisions, realizing that “our poor decisions were based on illusions we believed at the time, and our better decisions, on realities we recognized in time.”

 📘 BOOK #11

Wiser by Cass Sunstein and Reid Hastie

Discover more about:

  • How group decisions go wrong
  • Cascade effects, as members follow what others say or do
  • Methods and advice for making groups smarter

This book is all about group decisions. Separated into two parts, the first part of the book explains in detail the problems that groups get into when making decisions. In the second part of the book, the authors turn to straightforward methods and advice for making groups smarter. Drawing examples from a broad range of organizations―from Google to the CIA― Wiser will help your team and your organization make better decisions―decisions that lead to greater success.

 📘 BOOK #12

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell 

Discover more about:

  •  Choices that seem to be made in an instant
  • Why are some people brilliant decision makers?
  • Why do some people follow their instincts and win?
  • How our brains really work

Much like the title suggests, this book is all about the decisions we make in a blink. The book reveals that great decision-makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of “thin-slicing”, filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables. Using extensive case studies, the book covers ideas, research, and stories about our unconscious mind and snap judgments.

 📘 BOOK #13

How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert

Discover more about:

  • Information architecture 
  • A seven step process for making sense of any mess
  • The complexities we face

Much like The Worry Solution, this book provides a way to eliminate unnecessary stress and process the information in front of you. It provides a seven-step process for making sense of any mess. Each chapter contains a set of lessons as well as workbook exercises structured to help you to work through your mess. This may seem like a roundabout way to decision making, but knowing how to process the large amounts of information in our daily lives will definitely give us clearer decisions.

 📘 BOOK #14

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Discover more about:

  • The two systems that drive the way we think.
  • How the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.
  • How we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.

Daniel Kahneman explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

So, there you have it. My recommendation of the 14 best books on decision making. The irony of the many options provided does not go unnoticed. However, any of these books will help you learn how to make smarter and better decisions! If you don’t have the time to read them all why not consider trying book summaries instead? You will still be able to get the key ideas from each book in a fraction of the time.

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