Weekly Non-Fiction Reading List 10.12.20

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WHOA! This is a big week. I finished nine books. Recently, I’ve become really interested in an assortment of topics and am trying to read books from people I typically disagree with to better understand their point of view. I’m also starting to be a little more strict with my ratings of books. For a long time, I rated every book a 5 just because I know reviews are subjective, and as a writer, I respect the effort put into a book. Now, I’m starting to see the flaws in many arguments or how a book is promoted or structured, and I’m taking that into account.

Each of the links to the books are affiliate links, so if you use my link to purchase any of these books, some comes back to support what I do (and it also helps fund my reading habit).

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova

For some reason, I took way too long to finally check this book out. It keeps popping up everywhere, and not only did I love a previous book I read by Maria, but I also love poker. Once I started this book, it was hard to put it down. I absolutely loved it.

Maria Konnikova is a journalist who spent most of her life studying psychology. She decided she wanted to try and become a poker pro, but not for the money. Something I’ve been really interested in lately is the balance between luck and skill because sometimes we can make the best decisions possible and still lose, and this is something Maria noticed as well. So, she decides to learn poker, and this is her story. Not only is she a great storyteller, but she also intertwines psychological studies and theories throughout the book. Even if you don’t like or play poker, this is a great book for anyone who wants to become a better decision maker.

Similar Books:

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

How to Argue With a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don’t) Say About Human Difference by Adam Rutherford

This is an excellent, short book diving into all of the biological myths when it comes to race. The author focuses on biology and genetics to showcase the racist history of science and how many claims were proven wrong. If you want some good, solid evidence to argue with racists, this book is great. I think the problem is that anyone who believes in what this scientist debunks is most likely too far gone to be swayed by facts. Personally, I believe most racists are the ones who don’t realize all of the biases they have, and that’s why I enjoy the psychology books on this subject more than the biological ones.

Similar Books (psychology based):

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin Banaji

The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne

Many books that discuss inequality discuss it from a moral and ethical point of view, but this was by far the best book I’ve read that really looked at it from all angles. Keith Payne has been studying inequality for years, and this book focuses on the psychology of inequality. There’s a huge misconception that lower-class people make bad decisions for bad reasons, but when you understand the psychology, you see how they are forced into what Payne calls the “live fast and die young” approach.

The Broken Ladder is an absolute must-read because it really focuses on how many of our issues come from our relative status. When you have a better understanding of that, you see that there are certain things we can do to improve our happiness and well-being now as we also fight to change how our society runs. This book reminded me of the documentary Happy, which started out with the story of one of the happiest people on Earth, but the kicker was that he and his family basically live in poverty. The Broken Ladder offers a ton of societal as well as individual solutions, and I can’t recommend it enough.

The Meritocracy Trap: How America’s Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of meritocracy. For most of my life, I was a firm meritocrat and firmly believed that if you worked hard, you’d get where you wanted to go. Now, I know that’s only partially true, but this book took a completely different angle than the other books I’ve read. Markovits is a Yale Law professor, and this is the first time I’ve seen someone explain how even the elite are being affected by what he calls “the meritocracy trap”. This book went a little over my head in certain sections, but it’s a great read for anyone who wants to work towards better solutions of equality in this capitalist-driven sodicety we live in.

Similar books:

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Anne Case & Angus Deaton

Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari

The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael Sandel

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

As a liberal who is also intrigued by human behavior and how we think, I think it’s important to understand the thought processes of the right. After having this book referenced in multiple other books, I decided to check it out, and I was severely disappointed. In my opinion, it’s extremely overrated. I figured it’d be great for me since Hochschild is a social psychologist, but it wasn’t. The book barely touches on any psychological theories and it’s in no way a book backed with significant data.

If you like good storytelling and want to read about a liberal social psychologist from Berkely who moved to Louisiana to interview Tea Party members, this book might be great for you. I did learn a lot about how awful the local government treats Louisiana residents, and I’m shocked at how the locals she spoke to still support their government. But again, this is a very microscopic view of the right, and there’s probably less than a dozen people she “analyzed”. I think there are far better books if you’re trying to understand the other side as a whole.

Similar (better) books:

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene

The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science- and Reality by Chris Mooney

A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

Personally, I feel that philosophy is the most important subject out there, and that’s why I always try to have a philosophy book in rotation. There are so many great philosophers throughout history that help us think from different angles, and I love books like this one that summarize the ideas of many philosophers. If I’m being honest, some of the books get a little too complex for my liking, but this one was perfection. If you’re looking for a simple book going through the history of some of the most important philosophers, I highly recommend this one.

Similar books:

The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers by Eric Weiner

How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman

Would You Kill the Fat Man?: The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds

Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions by Gerd Gigerenzer

Every choice we make is about risk management, and we struggle with decisions because we often don’t know how to assess risk. Recently, as a creator, I’ve been trying to balance my time and wondering where my efforts should be focused, so I decided I wanted to learn more about risk, and the work of Gerd Gigerenzer has been referenced in a ton of other books I read, so I finally checked it out, and it was definitely worth the read.

Typically, with books like this, they get too economical for me, but Gerd does an amazing job using real-life situations. I think the most eye-opening information in this book is that many doctors and healthcare professionals are not properly trained in analyzing statistics and knowing what the risks are. Knowing how to manage risk can help us make better decisions about our health, but also in other areas of our life. Should we take that new job or stay put? Should we spend our time here or there? This book will definitely help you in all areas of your life when it comes to being risk savvy.

Similar books:

An Economist Walks into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk by Allison Schrager

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Everything Is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails Us by Duncan Watts

Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

Recently, I’ve been trying to read books that I may disagree with, and that’s why I picked up this book. As a millennial, I often look at my peers as entitled even though they swear they aren’t. And as someone who works two jobs, runs a YouTube channel, writes blogs, cooks, cleans, and has a son, I’m curious what others mean by “burnout”. So, I picked up this book, and if this isn’t entitlement, I don’t know what is.

I could write an entire book rebutting Can’t Even, so I’m going to keep this simple. Petersen and others do a slight of hand where they say, “We aren’t entitled,” and then proceed to explain how they want to work whatever job they want, with whatever schedule they want, for as much money as they want. If that’s not entitlement, I don’t know what is.

In a nut shell, if you need this book or agree with this book, I highly recommend you start with therapy. Most of the issues this book presents are due to social comparison, and the rest are due to the fact that we live in a capitalist society. Social change is going to take time, but you can start therapy now. Many of the issues brought up in this book are just about “keeping up with the Joneses”, which is what we call a “you” problem.

Like I said, I could write on this forever, but I 110% disagree with just about everything in this book. But it did start off strong when she was explaining how the previous generation kind of screwed us over.

The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense by Gad Saad

I heard about this book a couple months ago, and it sounded interesting since I love reading about the irrationality of people. Previously, I never heard of Gad Saad, so I followed him on Twitter and checked out his YouTube channel. Within about a week, I unfollowed him. I’m 100% for debating and the sharing of ideas, but like many of the current SJW-bashing “intellectuals”, they seem more interested in arguing than having a debate. Nevertheless, I still purchased the book on release day.

This book definitely falls into the category of books I’m reading of people I disagree with, but not by much. If I had to break it down into percentages, I’d say I disagree with about 60% of what Gad Saad has to say, but I agree with 40%. But when it comes to his overall argument that we should be able to have logical, rational discussions without people becoming outraged, I 100% disagree.

While Gad Saad uses quite a bit of research to back his arguments, it’s only on specific subjects. For people like Gad Saad, Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, and others, I feel there are some low-hanging fruit subjects that they love capitalizing on. When it comes to implicit biases, they avoid discussing the research because they either A) know the research isn’t on their side or B) are afraid of what the research shows. Rather than looking at the research of people like Dr. Jennifer Eberdhardt, they try to simplify the message of the book White Fragility. Personally, I’d love to see someone like Gad Saad go head-to-head with Dr. Eberdhardt or Keith Payne to discuss biases and inequality.

Lastly, I gave this book a 3-star rating because there’s a group of these authors that don’t really present anything new in their books, but they know they’ll make money off of the echo chamber they’ve built, so they figure “why not?”.

I’ll be doing this every week, so stay tuned! You can follow me here as well as on Twitter and Instagram The Rewired Soul, and make sure you’re following me on GoodReads too.

If you need help with your mental health, I highly recommend the service I use, BetterHelp. They’re an affordable online therapy service, and by using this affiliate link, you help support The Rewired Soul.

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Psychology/mental health/philosophy. Stay up to date by following me here & on Twitter/Instagram @TheRewiredSoul. Books available at www.TheRewiredSoul.com/shop

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