I have a pretty solid educational background. I can't relate to test phobia or general insecurity around math. I even competed on math team in high scI have a pretty solid educational background. I can't relate to test phobia or general insecurity around math. I even competed on math team in high school.
Despite all of this, I felt like I never really understood some of my math courses and almost all of my natural science courses. I stumbled my way through chemistry and physics requirements by being good with equations. Unfortunately, I didn't see this as much of a problem until after I finished school and realized how important it is to be able to sift through a bunch of junky claims when you're deciding what to eat, how to assess health risks in everyday life, and so on.
I read this book hoping to shed some light on why I struggled with science classes, and I don't feel like I got that. The book is largely about how the brain stores information and why we procrastinate and things like that. Almost everything is applicable to studying other subjects too, not STEM subjects in particular.
Admittedly, I didn't actually follow the book's instructions to review concepts and answer questions at the end of each chapter. I probably would have gotten more out of it that way.
Side note: the Kindle edition is pretty annoying because of the way the book incorporates distracting little stories. Since there isn't that much text per screen and the stories don't show up as sidebars but take up the main area, the narrative jumps around a lot in a way that's hard to skim through when reading ahead to get a sense of the "shape" of the chapter....more
I had attended a few different types of weddings before, but I never gave much thought to how the ceremony was structured. Reynolds does a great job oI had attended a few different types of weddings before, but I never gave much thought to how the ceremony was structured. Reynolds does a great job of telling the whys without being long-winded. He also describes exactly what to expect on the day of the big event and provides sample passages and checklists that are easy to reference. This was a great little handbook for a first-time officiant. I'll definitely be referring to it in the future if I'm ever lucky enough to play this role again....more
Eddie Huang and I share a name and some memories of a hometown and college town, but not a whole lot else. I've been watching the show that started ouEddie Huang and I share a name and some memories of a hometown and college town, but not a whole lot else. I've been watching the show that started out loosely adapted from this memoir but ended up being a family-friendly sitcom that Huang hates. I'm the type of ABC that Huang hates, who bought into the model-minority myth for most of my life and grew up doing almost everything my parents told me to do.
Unlike Huang, I do feel thoroughly American. It took me a long time, but I've come to realize that my identity is something I enjoy because of the people who've treated me well. In his memoir, Huang describes a lot of painful memories that I find thankfully unrelatable, including being whipped with belts and being called a ch*nk at school. His childhood isn't just fascinating and heartbreaking; it explains his unconventional career path and his passions for hip hop and food....more
I wanted to like this book, but I didn't find this book to be a compelling straight-through read at all. I wish I had skipped to the end of each chaptI wanted to like this book, but I didn't find this book to be a compelling straight-through read at all. I wish I had skipped to the end of each chapter to see the bullet-pointed summary and just skipped over the chapters where I was pretty familiar with the material.
If you haven't read Dan Ariely's very accessible books on behavioral economics and haven't read about how companies like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram gained traction with users, maybe you'll get more out of it.
I also found the Twitter examples to be somewhat weak. Yes, a lot of the product decisions described in this book were made by running experiments and analyzing user metrics in aggregate, but the book makes the journey sound far smoother than it actually was....more
Extremely readable and depressing. I guess I've been living under a rock, because I had no idea that so many parents were opting their kids out of manExtremely readable and depressing. I guess I've been living under a rock, because I had no idea that so many parents were opting their kids out of mandatory vaccines until I saw a bunch of tweets about it maybe a year ago. I decided that I needed to learn more about the movement when I found out that Marin County, some of the wealthy suburbs outside of SF, had one of the highest opt-out rates.
Mnookin explains public health history and why some people grew to distrust the federal government and the AMA. He tells personal accounts of parents who blame their child's autism on vaccines, but also of parents of autistic children who are very critical of the anti-vax movement. Ultimately he indicts the media for amplifying unreliable voices in an attempt to "provide a balanced view," a grossly irresponsible thing to do when 100% of the available evidence falls on one side....more
I read a lot of other people's reviews before picking this book up from the library, and it sounded quite polarizing, so I expected to feel more stronI read a lot of other people's reviews before picking this book up from the library, and it sounded quite polarizing, so I expected to feel more strongly than I actually did. I personally didn't find this life-changing, but I also didn't find it enraging or irrelevant. It's a thoroughly-researched easy read that alternates between conversational anecdotes and recaps of scientific studies. I've tried reading books written by actual young people about quarter-life crises and young adulthood before, and despite some of my misgivings, I do think this is a better take.
Dr. Jay acknowledges that she has lots of opinions, both in private practice and in writing this book. From her research and her practice as a therapist, she concludes that twentysomethings (millennials right now, and gen-Xers before us) are told that we have all the time in the world to discover who we want to be and what we want to do. This belief has implications for a lot of lifestyle choices, such as assuming that fertility will continue for a very long time and that serious careers can be started at any time. In discussing the risks involved in these assumptions, Dr. Jay can certainly be condescending towards people who don't pursue the things that she thinks they should pursue. However, the audience that she's trying to address is the set of people (which is supposedly most of us, according to a Pew survey) who DO want to get married and have kids and have prestigious careers, and yet act ambivalent about actually working towards any of these things.
My main complaint about this book is the way Dr. Jay handles bad workplace experiences. The passages about bosses who seem to be abusive towards their employees are incredibly frustrating, and Dr. Jay's advice to her client is something along the lines of, "Life is terrible sometimes and you deal with terrible people, so just suck it up and work harder, and it'll eventually be okay." It's a little too Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and doesn't bother to acknowledge that "just work harder" isn't an equally effective strategy for everyone. However, she does have a lot of useful things to say about lack of confidence at work, and the core idea that confidence is a product of success, not a prerequisite for it, is really important.
I did find it frustrating that Dr. Jay's conception of the world is so firmly heterocentric and monogamist and focused on giving birth to kids, but I don't think that undermines the whole book, just the sections about relationships and about choosing a family.
If you're feeling stuck and want an opinionated, in-depth perspective on how to define adulthood for yourself, this is a pretty good starting point. I don't recommend reading it as gospel, but I do recommend reading it. However, if the drawbacks I've described are dealbreakers for you, I'd recommend Mindset: The New Psychology of Success instead. It focuses on one of the ideas that Dr. Jay cites in The Defining Decade and explores it in much more detail, addressing both career and personal life along the way....more
This book made me wonder why I've wasted so much time reading article-length advice on negotiation. Lots of the truisms out there don't apply to everyThis book made me wonder why I've wasted so much time reading article-length advice on negotiation. Lots of the truisms out there don't apply to every situation, and articles don't usually equip you with enough fundamental understanding to know when to make exceptions and why. Not only does this book explain the concepts so that you can see exceptions for yourself, it also tailors the advice to different personality dispositions.
The most valuable part of this book for me was the quadrant of high- and low-stakes negotiations where relationships do and don't matter -- which, yes, is a little cliched in a business-y way. But the chapter on ethics reassured me that I was reading the right book. The author explains ethics as a personal framework for articulating limits, and discloses that he falls firmly in the camp of idealism (as opposed to the "poker" end of the spectrum), but acknowledges that there are different legitimate conclusions that a reasonable person can draw and describes strategies that work well for both idealists and pragmatists.
This mission statement by the author sums up why I'm glad I read this book: "Many reasonable people have a nagging, uneasy feeling about negotiation. They are anxious about it. The interpersonal conflicts, the possibility of 'leaving money on the table,' the chance they could be 'taken,' and even the thought that they have done 'too well' are all unsettling. Knowledge about the negotiation process and bargaining strategy helps reduce this anxiety and puts you on the road to improved negotiation results."
In the preface, the author acknowledges that gender and race, among other things, can greatly affect how we approach negotiation and which strategies are most effective for each of us to use in the real world. I don't think that he does a very good job of addressing this, but I think the rest of the book is solid enough that I'm willing to look to other books for more socially conscious guidance on those topics....more
For some reason, I assumed this book encouraged women to walk around holding their keys as weapons and always look over their shoulders for random attFor some reason, I assumed this book encouraged women to walk around holding their keys as weapons and always look over their shoulders for random attackers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The author actually dedicates a chapter towards the end of the book to why misinformed, always-heightened worry makes us less safe, and on top of that, undermines the parts of our lives that are safe and happy. I don't know where my assumptions came from, if I had read something misleading or if I was just dismissing the book based on the title, but I'm really glad that Amy Poehler talked about The Gift of Fear in Yes Please, because that's the only reason I finally picked it up.
In order to teach people how to make themselves safer in the face of a violent society, de Becker explains the role of fear in our survival instincts. The premise is that our brains do a ton of work to process signals that we aren't consciously thinking about. Sometimes this processing produces fear, which can protect us from harm if we avoid training our instincts with bad data (e.g., 24-hour cable news that hypes up something remote) and if we listen to it instead of dismissing it out of embarrassment or self-doubt.
While I'm sure that my own instincts could use some tuning, practical changes like that didn't motivate me to read the book. I read this for the same reason I read Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. Unless you have firsthand experience or training in psychology, people who assault other people may seem inscrutable. Popular narratives tend to characterize violent people as monsters who think completely differently from everyone else. What makes both books so powerful and also uncomfortable to read is that Gavin de Becker and Lundy Bancroft explain that it isn't true at all: that many people who assault others aren't mentally ill at all, and that everyone is ultimately motivated by the same simple things, like wanting to feel in control of your own life and wanting to avoid ridicule by others. Sometimes mental illness does play a role, but all commonplace violence comes from broken mindsets where a person feels like they're entitled to outcomes and that their actions are accordingly justified....more
Equal parts inspiring and hilarious. I don't know much of Poehler's work, to be honest; I never really watched SNL and I've never seen Parks and RecreEqual parts inspiring and hilarious. I don't know much of Poehler's work, to be honest; I never really watched SNL and I've never seen Parks and Recreation. I can't actually remember whether I watched Baby Mama. I just read it because I love memoir and I love comedy that isn't cruel, and this book delivers on both counts.
One anecdote hit uncomfortably close to home. Poehler talks about a situation where somebody's asking her to solve a problem that she didn't cause, and she admits that she struggled with not taking on someone else's guilt. She also said that the person commented on her distress and asked whether he could hug her, and she didn't feel comfortable saying no to him because she thought that going along with the hug would make *him* feel better and therefore leave her alone sooner. That story is why one of my next reads is going to be The Gift of Fear, which seems to have been Poehler's agenda all along....more