This book was written by chess world champion Josh Waitzkin, the subject of the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer. As a teenager, Waitzkin was one of the greatest chess players in the world. Less than ten years later, he became the world champion of Push Hands Tai Chi, a physical martial art. His immense success in two different fields incites an immediate interest in his approach to learning and mastery. His book The Art of Learning offers a window into this exact aspect of his life, and does so in a compelling read. Waitzkin takes us through his life, offering his perspectives on various parts of his life and discussing in depth his theories on what habits made him so successful. We feel that his book is one of the most important works on the subject of intelligent studying in terms of demonstrating the great power that smart approaches can have on the results you see. Waitzkin focuses both on techniques to implement, but what we really love about this book is his discussion of the psychological states he sees as ideal for learning and performing your best. Having your mind in the right state to accept and interpret new skills and information can increase the effectiveness of your studying more than almost anything else, and Waitzkin helps create an understanding of this better than anyone else we have read.
We recommend reading it with a pen and paper by your side. Keep a column for mindset advice, and another for technique advice. Every time you come across a piece of wisdom, jot down a quick note to save it for later. This will help you refer back to, and internalize, new approaches to the art of learning.