We have an exciting week of non-fiction book reviews! I finished 10 books by some amazing authors. I read some excellent books about racial injustice in the United States and how racism affects all of us. I also read some thought-provoking books about psychology as well as some new books on finance and investing. Enjoy!
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).
One of the greatest myths in the United States is that our criminal justice system works. By default, we’re trained to believe that anyone who ends up in a courtroom must be some type of bad person, and it completely strips away their humanity and the nuance of their story. This is why I read books like Usual Cruelty, and it’s one of my new favorite books on the injustices in America.
What I loved about this book from Karakatsanis is that he takes a somewhat philosophical perspective and asks, “Do you think this is fair?” and “Do you think this is justice?”. By simply getting the reader to ask questions, it gets your wheels turning and you start to realize how screwed up the whole system is. Typically, a book like this would leave me bummed out, but it actually gave me hope. The fact that this author wrote this book lets me know that there are those out there in the field of law who care and are trying to make a difference.
The New Jim Crow (Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer Eberdhart
During the 2020 presidential race, I couldn’t help but ask myself why poor white people would vote for Trump. Don’t they get that most white people in our country are doing terribly due to wealth inequality and other economic issues? So, when I saw this book from Heather McGhee, I had to grab a copy on launch day, and it didn’t disappoint. McGhee is not only an extremely intelligent woman with years of economics experience, but she’s also an excellent writer and storyteller. In this book, you start to learn how racism effects everybody and not just some people.
As you read this book, you hear these stories of why whites won’t unionize with blacks and how forms of systemic racism hurts everyone. As a psychology nerd, I was amazed by the mental gymnastics some of the people in these stories could do to justify issues that are hurting everyone. This book somewhat reminded me of Strangers in Their Own Land and how the people in the South vote republican even though the party is doing nothing for them and actually hurting them. The Sum of Us is a definite must-read for anyone who wants to understand our country’s economic issues from a different angle so we can begin working towards solutions.
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes
Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (And how anyone can harness it. Even you.) by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas
I’m a recovering drug addict with 8 years sober, and when I got clean, I was miserable, and there was nothing funny about life. Eventually, I learned how important it is to not take life too seriously, and that’s why I decided to pick up this book. I love psychology, and I love to joke around, so I had to get this book from Aaker and Bagdonas. In their book, they discuss everything from the psychology of humor to good practices for using it in the work place. I’ve worked in rehab facilities where you deal with mental illness, suffering, and a lot of death, and one way I was able to connect with clients was through humor, and that’s why everyone needs this book.
Personally, this book just helped confirm a lot of things I already do, but that provided me with a ton of value. Sometimes I question trying to lighten the mood and cheer colleagues up when we’re dealing with a work disaster. But if you’re someone who is socially awkward and/or introverted, you definitely need this book. Aaker and Bagdonas give you practical tips to help you feel more comfortable loosening up at your own pace and they also teach you how to walk the fine line between humor and upsetting people. I really hope a lot of companies read this book because it benefits people in all aspects of an organization and it’ll help people realize that life and work can be fun while we also handle business.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle
This is an excellent book. I’m a newer investor, and from what I’ve learned, investing in index funds fits my goals and style pretty well. I’m not looking to get rich off of a random sleeper stock. I just want gradual guaranteed growth. Once I learned that John Bogle was a huge advocated of S&P 500 index funds, I knew I had to get this book. Much like the title suggests, it’s pretty common sense to invest in index funds. By the time I finished this book, I had a better understanding of why it’s common sense and what to look for in various types of index funds and much more about investing.
How I Invest My Money: Finance experts reveal how they save, spend, and invest by Joshua Brown and Brian Portnoy
One of my mentors recommended this book when I told him that I was finally trying to get my finances in order, and he wasn’t wrong. This is a great book, and even though I’m a man, Nicole Lapin has great tips that are practical for any gender. She covers topics from saving, to moving up the work ladder, to retirement, investing and much more. I’ve read dozens of books on this topic and was starting to hear a lot of repeat information, but Nicole touched on some things that other books don’t. I also listened to the audio version of this book, which made it a bit more entertaining as well. It’s read by the author, and she has a great personality.
I’ve read hundreds of books on mental health and psychology, and this is without a doubt one of my new favorite books about depression. This is a completely unique, counter-intuitive approach to working on your depression, and I loved it so much. I won’t spoil it for you, but I was completely caught off guard by how this book was written. As an author of some mental health books, I’m angry that I didn’t think of writing a book like this. If you struggle with depression, get this book now.
The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe
The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
This is one of the most fascinating, thought-provoking books that I’ve read in a long time, and I couldn’t put it down. Who technically owns digital media once you hit the “buy” button? Who own’s the space around a seat on a plane? The recliner or the person with the leg room? Who owns intellectual property and for how long and is it fair? Most of all, who profits from how ownership works? These are all questions asked in this book as well as much more. Heller and Salzman had me hooked by covering a wide range of topics regarding ownership that really had me thinking, and if you want to get your wheels turning, you need to get this book.
What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael Sandel
I’ve lived in Las Vegas for most of my life, and we’re a bit more sex-positive and open-minded than most (even though there is a large Mormon population here). In terms of sex, I’m what they’d call “vanilla”, but I live by the philosophy of, “If you’re not hurting anyone, do your thing.” I have dated sex workers and have friends who are sex workers, and I’ve been curious about the psychology of those who society deems “sexual deviants”. So, after reading two of his other books, I had to grab this one from one my favorite psychology authors, Jesse Bering.
In Perv, Jesse Bering dives into every nook and cranny of sex that you can imagine, and once again, I’m impressed by his knowledge and love his writing style. Bering explains the evolutionary psychology behind sex, the history of sex shaming and the insane medical practices that were done to the sexually active. But I really came to learn more about the psychology of people who have different kinks such as S&M, and I learned a lot more than I could expect. Bering discusses what the research says and what we still don’t know, and it was extremely insightful. I also respected the hell out of this book because Bering dives into uncomfortable topics such as how we deal with “pedophiles” (if you read his book, you’ll now why I put that in quotes). If you’re sex positive and want to learn more about some psychology and history, get this book.
Similar books and more from Jesse Bering:
Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves by Jesse Bering
Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of Relationships by Brian Earp and Julian Savulescu
What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? by John Corvino
For my entire life, I’ve been a person with a billion ideas, and that’s why I love being an entrepreneur and working alone. I can test ideas, analyze outcomes, and come back with more tests. What I’ve learned in the last year working at a company again is that collaboration on ideas can really make them take off. Unfortunately, I sometimes have a difficult time selling others on my ideas. That’s why I had to pick up this book from Suneel Gupta. I had it on my calendar months before it came out and bought it on launch day.
I’m all about scientific testing and data analysis, but sometimes I just need a book that hypes me up with ideas and inspiring stories. That’s exactly what this book is. Gupta has a great philosophy around what it takes to make your ideas backable, and although this will be beneficial for many startups looking for investors, I found a ton of value in it. As I read this book, I implemented a few of the strategies at my job and it actually worked. I was able to get people to back my ideas and take a chance on some things I wanted to try. This is a great book for anyone who has ideas and knows how beneficial collaboration is.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Ayal
The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath
I love reading books about how people are influenced. I work in marketing, and I’m a social media influencer, but I’m more interested in the subject because I’m fascinated by human behavior. This is the second book from Tali Sharot I’ve read, and she did an amazing job once again. In this book, she breaks down the psychology behind how people are influenced, but she provides a fresh perspective. I’ve read many books on this subject, but Sharot has personally conducted research, so it was interesting reading about what she found.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini
Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger
Conformity: The Power of Social Influences by Cass Sunstein
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.