Liminal Thinking reading list

I’ve had a lot of people ask me for book recommendations so I am putting together this list of suggested reading on various topics. I will add to this as I have time.

Hover over each link to see a thumbnail of the book cover.


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a great read on how we think. THe bottom line is that thinking takes a lot of effort, so whenever we can get away with it (which is most of the time) we use cognitive shortcuts that can greatly distort our perceptions and reasoning.

Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina is a very down-to-earth, practical guide that will help you understand how the brain understands things and how to apply that knowledge in your life and work.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard is a very accessible book about how psychological research findings can be applied to behavior change.

The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings (1867-1893) and Pragmatism and Other Writings (Penguin Classics) will give you a good picture of the core elements of Pragmatist philosophy.

Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics by Alfred Korzybski, is a dense and difficult, but fascinating book about the mind, its limitations and its potential. Written by a brilliant Polish-American engineer and scientist, it might best be described as a non-Aristotelian logic, a way of thinking about thinking that I see as a radical evolution of Pragmatist thought.

Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences) by Robert Bateson, one of the early pioneers of systems thinking, is a beautiful and thoughtful book about the nature of the human mind and its potential.

Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution by Paul Watzlawick, who studied under Bateson, tells the fascinating story of the early days of brief therapy and the role of paradox in change.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckart Tolle is an inspiring introduction to mindfulness and personal growth.

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn, is a clear, simple, and practical introduction to the essence of Buddhist thought and practice.

Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They’re Getting Good Advice and When They’re Not by Chris Argyris exposes the main problem with most management advice: It simply can’t be implemented in most organizations due to organizational belief bubbles, especially in top management. He provides many examples and demonstrates why the advice of most of his Harvard colleagues is unlikely to cause any meaningful change.

Overcoming Organizational Defenses: Facilitating Organizational Learning, also by Argyris, explains why smart people fail at change , how organizational culture conceals information and distorts reality, and offers some practical advice about what can be done.

Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success, by Carolyn Taylor, is a detailed and specific guide for creating meaningful organizational culture change.

Nothing is Written is a beautiful, short (and free!) ebook on mindful facilitation.

Against Method, by Paul Feyerabend, is a great critical take on the scientific method. Mind-bending and worth reading.

Liminality and the Modern: Living Through the In-Between, by Bjørn Thomassen, is an academic, comprehensive history of the concept of liminality, emphasizing its importance in modern times and providing a framework for thinking about liminality and change (it’s good, but pricey!).

Unflattening, by Nick Sousanis, is a delightful and though-provoking graphic novel that uses visual thinking to explain liminal thinking. A real treasure!

Prometheus Rising, by science-fiction writer Robert Anton Wilson, is a wonderful, thoughtful, idiosyncratic book about re-wiring your brain to see and think differently. Liminal Thinking par excellence. You might see it as a more accessible version of Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, by Robert M. Persig, is a personal and philosophical investigation into the art of life.

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, by David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute, is a great introduction to how brain research can be applied to make yourself more effective at work.

Coaching with the Brain in Mind: Foundations for Practice, also by David Rock, is a wonderful, comprehensive overview of leadership coaching, and a great thinking tool for anyone involved in any kind of culture or change initiative.

Working with Stories in Your Community Or Organization: Participatory Narrative Inquiry, by Cynthia Kurtz, is the most comprehensive and practical book on how to make stories work that I have ever seen.


Strong Influence, By John R. Platt. A plea for systematic inquiry in scientific investigation.

The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses, by T.C. Chamberlain. A treatise on the importance of using multiple hypotheses to triangulate in theory development.

Pragmatic Theory of Truth, by William James. A clear lecture on pragmatism by one of its founders.

How to Make Our Ideas Clear, by Charles Sanders Pierce. A classic essay on thinking clearly.

Identity, Belief, and Bias, by Geoffrey L. Cohen. A summary of research related to identity, belief and bias, including the authors, which relates not only to bias but interventions that can reduce bias and increase positive results.

If you have suggestions for additional books please let me know.

DISCLAIMER: These are Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click through from this page it’s kind of like buying me a cup of coffee, a small reward for my efforts which is much appreciated 🙂 You won’t pay any more for the book than you would otherwise.