This week I finished 9 new non-fiction books, which puts me at 233 books so far for the year! I read about some interesting topics like why we choose ignorance rather than reality, how we’ve actually evolved to be more altruistic than some think, and the psychology behind why some of us love horror movies and being scared. I also read a pretty interesting book about a Jewish woman journalist who went undercover into nazi and incel forums as well as some books to spark my creativity. Enjoy the list, and I’ll see you next week for more!
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).
This was my first time reading anything from Talia Lavin, and this was a really great book. As much as people like to talk about “snowflakes” and SJWs, the incel and white supremacy movement online is real, and it’s scary stuff. Personally, I grew up online and as a gamer, and I’ve known many of these types of guys, and I don’t know how many mass shootings we need to witness before people take this issue of domestic terrorism seriously.
I recently started following Talia on Twitter, and although I don’t 100% agree with everything she says, I respect the hell out of her for this book. She put a lot on the line by infiltrating incel and white supremacy groups to get an inside look of what’s going on. Not only did she do it, but before she started investigating, she knew the threats that she would receive after she published this book from those groups, but she did it anyway.
I don’t know what the solution is to help curb this hatred that’s happening from these groups, but the least we can do is be aware that it’s happening. With that said, I highly recommend this book.
Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women by Kate Mann
Radicalization to Terrorism: What Everyone Needs to Know by Sophia Moskalenko and Clark McCauley
How to Be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
After reading quite a few books about inequality, racism, and other issues that plague the world, this book was a bright light that was much needed in my reading rotation. I’ve been waiting for this book for months from Michael McCullough, and it was phenomenal. The Kindness of Stranger is a perfect blend of evolutionary psychology along with effective altruism, and I learned a ton by reading this book.
I’ve read many books about group selection and why cooperation developed via altruism within tribes, but this book shed new light on the topics. McCullough also details the interesting history of social work and social services, which I was unaware of prior to reading the book.
I was hoping to learn a little bit more about human selfishness and ingroup vs outgroup problems that we see today, but the author chose not to dive into it in this book. I actually think it was a good decision to leave some of those things out because there are plenty of books on those topics, and his focus on kindness and altruism helped keep the book positive, and I appreciate that.
Why We Act: Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels by Catherine Sanderson
Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer (FREE)
I’ve been a huge wuss for most of my life. I’ve hated haunted houses and scary movies, and I’m a 35-year-old man, but my girlfriend loves all that spooky stuff. This last year, I’ve learned to love horror movies and being scared, and I wanted to learn some of the psychology behind it. This book from Margee Kerr is exactly that. Why do some people love scary movies? Why do people love haunted houses? What about adrenaline junkies who risk their lives? Are people who are into BDSM psychologically different? Kerr answers all these questions and much more.
As a lifetime lover of fear, Margee did a ton of research for this book, but my favorite was the final chapter. After all of her research, she puts together an ideal fear experiment, and it was really cool to hear about. I really enjoyed this book and wish there were more like it.
SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable by Bruce Hood
Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There by Richard Wiseman
How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
Since the 2016 election and the foreign influence on social media, I’ve wanted to understand how people can fall for fake news. After reading Brotherton’s first book about the psychology of conspiracy theories, Suspicious Minds, I knew I had to get this book. Brotherton has become one of my favorite authors and researchers, and he does an amazing job breaking down the psychology behind why people believe what they believe.
I think my favorite part about this book is that Brotherton debunks a lot of conventional wisdom we have about fake news and echo chambers. Intuitively, we believe that echo chambers drive people further to polarization and that high numbers of people fall for fake news. Based on the research, the data shows otherwise. If you’re interested in learning more about how fake news affects people and the world we live in today, I highly recommend this book.
Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories by Rob Brotherton
I’ve seen this book recommended by many people I respect, but I was hesitant to purchase it. I follow Carissa on Twitter, and I let her know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t think this topic is as big of a deal as some people say it is. She replied to me and let me know that she had people like me in mind as she wrote this book. I appreciate when authors interact with their audience and potential audience, so I purchased the book right then and there. And honestly, I read this book straight through within about a day. It’s awesome.
What I love about Carissa is that she’s a philosopher, so she has a whole new perspective about the case for privacy. As someone who has a social media presence and works in marketing, I’m often surprised that people don’t know all of the ways our data is collected, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t read books like this. But Carissa was able to make a multitude of arguments that I hadn’t thought of yet. Personally, I feel the most compelling argument she made that hadn’t crossed my mind is that my data isn’t just about me; it can affect people I know if it’s abused.
While Carissa made excellent arguments about how when we allow people to have our data, we give them power, I’m still a little skeptical. This has nothing to do with her writing, but I’m just a bit of a nihilist when it comes to these tech subjects. The author gives some great ways we can protect our data and regulations that should be put in place. And while I don’t believe it’s as big of a threat as some feel it is, I would vote for legislation regulating Big Tech’s ability to access our data in a heartbeat.
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
I read and write non-fiction, but I’m always trying to improve my writing style. I’ve always felt like my weak point is storytelling, and that’s why I picked up this book. I’ve seen this book referenced by quite a few non-fiction writers when discussing the power of storytelling, and now I know why. This is a great book if you want to learn the formulas for various styles of plots. This is a must-read for fiction writers, but I think it’s also great for non-fiction writers like myself who want to become better storytellers.
For my entire life, I’ve loved creating. Whether it’s writing, making videos on my YouTube channel, or some other form of creativity, I just have things in my brain that I need to get out to the world. That’s why I’m so glad I came across the work of Todd Brison. Recently, I read his first book The Creative’s Curse during a time when I was kind of in a creative slump, and it was super inspiring. So, I picked up this book and loved it as well.
The Unstoppable Creative is more about developing a practice and how to get your work out there. What I love about Todd’s method is that he doesn’t overwhelm you with advice. He knows that there’s compound interest in creating small, meaningful practices. If you’re an artist, writer, musician, or any other type of creator, I guarantee you’ll benefit from this book.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I fell in love with Seth Godin’s work a few years ago when I was trying to learn about marketing my work. I’ll read just about anything Seth puts out as a way to keep sharp when it comes to my writing and other creative endeavors. This book is broken up into a couple of hundred little tidbits of wisdom for the practice of being a creator. In typical Seth Godin style, there are some anecdotes and success stories woven into his advice throughout the book, and as usual, there’s a lot of his personal wisdom from his experience. This wasn’t my favorite book of his, but it’s definitely worth the read if you’re a creative, an entrepreneur, or someone interested in ethical marketing.
Other favs from Seth Godin:
This was a really interesting book, and I learned a ton. If you’ve ever wanted to understand why people choose to stay ignorant and deny reality, you should definitely read this book from Renata Saleci. The book starts with a chapter titled “The Many Faces of Ignorance”, and it was interesting seeing all of the different ways self-deception works. Saleci then dives into specific topics such as why people deny their illness when they receive a diagnosis, why trauma survivors choose to stay ignorant, and much more.
I can’t stress enough how much I loved this book, but it’s not what I was hoping for, and that has nothing to do with the author or how she wrote the book. Personally, I create content on my YouTube channel and on Medium to dispute conventional wisdom, and I’m fascinated by how people fight reality when faced with counter-evidence about their beliefs. I was hoping this book would discuss various reasons we do that, but the author chose to pick very specific topics to discuss. While I learned a ton, I’m also still searching for a book that will answer some of the questions I still have about other situations.
Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception by Neel Burton
The Enigma of Reason by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber
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