With unequaled insight and brio, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and best-selling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life.
This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica - how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred - we have learned more about the human brain in the last 30 years than we had in the previous 3,000.
The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind - not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain's work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.
Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the "odyssey years" that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment, love, and commitment, to the nature of effective leadership. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility.
©2011 David Brooks (P)2011 Random House Audio
"An uncommonly brilliant blend of sociology, intellect and allegory." (Kirkus)
I've been looking for this book for a few years and once i bought it, I decided to listen to it rather than to read it.
It turned out to be a wonderful experience for my first book.
Arthur read it very well and convincing. This was a blast, and the book, both due to the narrator and the story, are an absolute must.
I really liked it. One of the few books I lamented when it finished. I wanted to go on and on.
Very good insights and a storyline that helps understand the concepts presented. I even bought a hardcopy version to present my father!
This book covers a lot of ground on the psyches of two very different individuals. Using their lives as a way fit the reader to learn lessons about his and the world in general, this really helped put a lot into perspective.
The end is also incredibly moving and kind of hard to swallow - although you know what's coming. I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about human nature or themselves.
I really wanted to love this book. Over the years I've worked hard to study all aspects of human behavior in hopes of creating a fulfilling life. This book promised to weave all of the individual aspects of human behavior research into one graspable narrative. However, the fictional lives portrayed were loveless, joyless, career driven and frankly tortured and bleak. I definitely admire Brooks for the effort, but I'm not really sure who this book is for or what message he wanted to get across. Those interested in hard research will be underwhelmed while those looking for life guidance will be left without any solid take away points.
Listening to this book, I have in turns taken specific life advice, been struck by truths about human behavior, and felt deep empathy for these characters onto whom Brooks deftly models human nature. Enriching, fascinating, humorous, and moving - my understanding of what a person and a society is has been forever deepened.
How We Decide- Jonah Lehrer. Also a lot of Malcolm Gladwell books.He references these types of books a lot.
Social Psychology 101 in Narrative Form
As someone who has read Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed a similar presentation of interesting statistics about psychology and sociology. He did repeat some of what has been said in other books- so I had heard some of it before. The book itself tries to synthesize much of that kind of data. The narrative element kept it engaging, and I felt like I knew Harold and Erica. David Brooks used a humorous writing style as he explored dozens of social topics. If I had one criticism, I would say that he touched on too many topics, and could have hit a stronger main point had he narrowed his range a bit. Overall, it was a joy to read. As a 20 something, it made me reevaluate my priorities in life.
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