L&D Book Recommendations: What Books To Read?

L&D Book Recommendations: What Books To Read?
Summary: Are you interested in what works in learning, how the brain might function, what the future may bring, and how to design your life to feel more like a game than a bad soap opera? I've read over 100 books. Here's some of my recommendations.

What Shall I Read Next? L&D Book Recommendations

Well, here's a list of recommended books I found useful while researching and writing my own. The titles are listed in no particular order, but I grouped them into categories for you. Categories are loosely based on the focus area where I gained the most knowledge out of them. However, since learning, playing, designing, and changing are all human-centered activities, you may find many of these categories actually overlap. Pick, choose, read, and share!

Learning (And Doing Business)

  • How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
    Ambrose, Susan A.
  • The Accidental Instructional Designer: Learning Design for the Digital Age
    Bean, Carolyn
  • Make It Stick
    Brown, Peter C.
  • Listening: The Forgotten Skill: A Self-Teaching Guide (Wiley Self-Teaching Guides)
    Burley-Allen, Madelyn
  • How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens
    Carey, Benedict
  • Design for How People Learn (Voices That Matter)
    Dirksen, Julie
  • The Learning & Development Book: Change the way you think about L & D
    Emerson, Tricia
  • Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization (Columbia Business School Publishing)
    Hess, Edward D.
  • Instructional Designer Competencies (The Ibstpi Book Series)
    Koszalka, Tiffany A.
  • Expanding the Self: The Intelligent Complex Adaptive Learning System:
    A New Theory of Adult Learning (The Knowledge Series)
    Bennet, David
  • The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning: How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results
    Pollock, Roy V. H.
  • Map it! The Hand-on Guide to Strategic Training Design
    Moore, Cathy
  • Revolutionize Learning & Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age
    Quinn, Clark N.
  • The Success Case Method: Find Out Quickly What’s Working and What’s Not
    Robert O. Brinkerhoff
  • Write and Organize for Deeper Learning: 28 evidence-based and easy-to-apply tactics that will make your instruction better for learning (Make It Learnable Book 1)
    Shank, Patti
  • Continuous Learning: Delivering CONSISTENT Business Results: Delivering CONSISTENT Business Results (Executive Learning Exchange Book 1)
    Tussing, Dirk
  • The Trainer's Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning to Organizational Strategy
    Pangarkar, Ajay, and Kirkwood, Teresa
  • Disruptive Learning: Discover Your Inner Learning Rebel
    Tipton, Shannon
  • A Quick Guide to LLAMA - Agile Project Management for Learning
    Torrance, Megan
  • Show Your Work
    Bozarth, Jane
  • The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
    Senge, Peter M.
  • The Social Leadership Handbook Second Edition
    Stodd, Julian
  • TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks
    Karia, Akash
  • Connect Using Humor and Story: How I Got 18 Laughs 3 Applauses in a 7 Minute Persuasive Speech
    Reddy, Ramakrishna
  • The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
    Truby, John


  • Ebook: Design Thinking (Innovation Trends Series)
    BBVA Innovation Center
  • Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
    Brown, Tim
  • Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
    Burnett, Bill
  • Dark matter and trojan horses. A strategic design vocabulary.
    Hill, Dan
  • Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics
    Wendel, Stephen


  • The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees (Business Books)
    Meister, Jeanne
  • Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy
    Newberg, Andrew
  • Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition (Business Books)
    Patterson, Kerry
  • Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life
    Paul, Richard
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
    Kahneman, Daniel


  • How to Talk about Videogames (Electronic Mediations)
    Bogost, Ian
  • Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games
    Boller, Sharon, and Kapp, Karl
  • Escape the Game: How to make puzzle and escape rooms
    Clare, Adam
  • HTML5 Game Development from the Ground Up with Construct 2
    Dillon, Roberto
  • Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers
    Gray, Dave
  • Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals (MIT Press)
    Tekinbas, Katie Salen
  • Game Thinking: Innovate smarter & drive deep engagement with design techniques from hit games
    Amy Jo Kim


  • The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
    Brynjolfsson, Erik
  • TOMORROW | TODAY: How AI Impacts How We Work, Live and Think (and it’s not what you expect)
    Daly, Donal
  • Learning in the Age of Immediacy: 5 Factors for How We Connect, Communicate, and Get Work Done
    Carson, Brandon

Debating (About How Our Mind Might Work)

  • The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement
    Brooks, David
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change Interactive Edition
    Covey, Stephen R.
  • See You Later, Procrastinator! (Get It Done) (Laugh & Learn series)
    Espeland, Pamela
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
    Fisher, Roger
  • Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work . . . and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging
    Fowler, Susan
  • Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
    Gardner, Howard
  • Leave The Grind Behind: Rocket fuel to live life on your terms. Make more money, build your legacy, and quit your job.
    Gesso, Justin
    Goleman, Daniel
  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
    McGonigal Ph.D., Kelly
  • Brain Matters: How to help anyone learn anything using neuroscience
    Meacham, Margie
  • The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life
    Roth, Bernard
  • Searching For Memory: The Brain, The Mind, And The Past
    Schacter, Daniel L.
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
    Thaler, Richard H.
  • Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back
    Zolli, Andrew

And of course, if you've read all of these, and you want something completely different: Engage the WORL&D! - A whimsical, brain-picking meme-oir from a creative digital learning strategist.
Olah, Zsolt 


Every book I read opened up new questions, and ultimately led to another book. I never finished reading all I wanted to, I just ran out of time. Strangely, one theme kept returning in this eclectic collection of writings. That theme was mindfulness, the mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment. If you have any recommendations on where to start mindfulness, please let us know!