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Happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, has long known what keeps her content: reading. The University of California, Riverside, psychology professor confesses she consumes one or two books each week—traditionally and audiobook-style—when she should be working. Still, she feels her guilty pleasure enhances her work.

"I get so many great ideas from reading books outside my area," says Lyubomirsky. "Psychologists really need to get out there and expose themselves to as much as we can."

gradPSYCH asked Lyubomirsky to share some titles that have inspired her personally and professionally.

  • "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health" by Gary Taubes

    "This is an incredibly revealing treatise on the course of scientific thinking and scientific progress (or regress), and how bad science and flawed thinking propagates. There's a lot about the role of science versus pseudoscience and how bad hypotheses get perpetuated in part because we don't read each other's work in various subfields."

  • "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    "This is one of my favorite books of all time. The people, stories and history are absolutely gripping. You don't have to be a person who is into the Kennedys to like this. It's about war, politics, social conditions, the Depression, the stock market, you name it."

  • "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld

    "Sittenfeld is very good at getting into the head of characters and articulating the thoughts they are experiencing. I'm a Democrat, but I became much more sympathetic to Laura Bush upon reading this. She seems like a fascinating person."

  • "Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson" by Robert Caro

    "Lyndon Johnson is one of the most irreverent and morally ambiguous politicians of all time, and here you get to go along for the ride. Caro also illuminates the inner workings of the U.S. Senate—something that still helps me grasp the news out of Washington."

—J. Chamberlin