Thumbs up (with caveats) for Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. Psychology.
A short book. This is Junger’s rather diffuse “theory of human satisfaction” interweaving threads of PTSD, belonging, and how humans frequently feel better during hardship. This was an interesting book which made me think, so if that is its goal, it has succeeded. As a work of rigorous intellectual study, it fails utterly.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. Psychology.
This review will be slightly censored as it has to pass email spam filters. This offends both my bookseller side and my linguist side, but you can’t win ’em all. Which is, come to think of it, exactly the point of the book: pick your battles carefully and with reference to your underlying values.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. Psychology.
Okay, to be honest, this book did little for me, but that is not a flaw with the book. Influence is, rightfully, a basic touchpoint of pop psychology. The word “basic” is the problem: I had an atypical upbringing, and was well-educated in the art of psychological manipulation before I learned my seven-times table.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams. Psychology.
I’m allergic to self-help books—not because I’m not interested in getting better at being a human being, but because almost all of them are full of “follow your dreams and think positively and you will be happy and wealthy” advice, despite all of recorded history amply demonstrating that this is false.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World by Shereen El Feki. Sociology.
First of all, let’s start with: what a brilliantly clever cover! This book, however, is done a disservice by the too-broad subtitle: you’d think that “the Arab World” would be represented by data drawn from many countries, but not so; 90% of the book concerns Egypt.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Mindhacker: 60 Tips, Tricks, and Games to Take Your Mind to the Next Level by Ron Hale-Evans. Psychology.
Sometimes I want to write reviews that are essentially: if you’re the kind of person to whom this book sounds interesting, you should read it, because it is a really excellent version of what it says it is. Inevitably (having an interest in psychology in general and in improving brain performance in specific) I was familiar with some of the stuff in here, but it’s still an absolute treasure trove cram-packed with actionable processes to do such diverse things as easily learn to fingerspell, visualize four-dimensional objects, generate pseudorandom numbers in your head, psych yourself into a good mood, or up your scholar stats by getting a university library card even if you aren’t a student.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity–What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves by Christian Rudder. Sociology.
The funny thing here is that Modern Romance (my review) was written by a comedian and Dataclysm was written by a numbers dweeb, and Dataclysm is way funnier. The topic is not quite the same—MR is about dating, and Dataclysm is more generally about how big data can be used to study many facets of sociology—but since the author of Dataclysm was one of the founding partners of OkCupid, he draws a lot of his data from online dating, making the two books feel very similar.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Sociology.
The title accurately represents the topic. I did enjoy reading this book overall, but it fell flat for me personally because, as a sociology book written by a humorist, it wasn’t that funny (not Mary Roach-funny), and I was already familiar with a lot of the research presented. Two things I learned: Tinder is more sensible than it seems; and we should probably, as a society, take another look at the assumption of monogamy, because smart people should question the validity of any rule that is practiced more in the breach than the observance.… >> Read more