Tree books are books that lay out a framework of ideas. A good example is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking: Fast and Slow, which lays out his life’s work — the entirety of behavioural economics — in a single book. (So an entire field, like a tree of knowledge, in one book. Geddit, geddit?) Other books I can think of in this category are High Output Management by Andy Grove, and Principles by Ray Dalio.


[…] tree books and narratives are difficult to summarise. And I’d warn against reading summaries of those books in lieu of reading the actual text: too much gets lost in translation.

(Chin 2018)

Related: Narrative book, Branch book


Chin, Cedric. 2018. “The Three Kinds of Non-Fiction Books.” Commonplace - the Commoncog Blog.