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The Art of Risk: The New Science of Courage, Caution, and Chance

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Are risk-takers born or made? Why are some more willing to go out on a limb (so to speak) than others? How do we weigh the value of opportunities large or small that may have the potential to change the course of our lives?

These are just a few of the questions that author Kayt Sukel tackles, applying the latest research in neuroscience and psychology to compelling real-wor
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by National Geographic (first published February 2nd 2016)
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Amy Neftzger
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Art of Risk is a nonfiction book that takes a body of research and organizes the findings into a palatable read for the average person. The topic is addressed scientifically but not pretentiously, as the author takes us through a combination of her personal experience and interviews with current experts in the field of risk taking. The final chapter in the book is filled with advice on how to be a better risk taker. After all, good risks leads to success and bad risks can lead to demise - bu ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksiveread
I am the most risk-averse person I know. I don't gamble, I ride my bike only if I can avoid busy streets, I avoid the stock market, I hesitate trying anything new and different, and so on. One of the biggest risks I've taken in recent years was deciding to become self-employed, and even that came after many hours of deliberation and with all kinds of safety nets built in (already was making an income on the side while working full time and a husband with a good job that would cover the bills and ...more
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Risks are unavoidable. The risks we take as kids and teens train our brains to respond to threats in those precious milliseconds. But we face new risks and important decisions many times as adults. The author distills lessons learned from the information about the most important variables involved in assessing risks.

Reading academic research can be boring. It is not a thrilling page turner nor a fantasy world of Harry Potter. Let's face it, pouring over statistical data and inferences from resea
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can't stop thinking about this book since I read it. Every time I make a choice or feel fear about doing something new, I re-evaluate my own fears based on what I read within. It applies in so many situations. From when I write editors (I'm a writer, too) to whether or not my family will pick up and travel for six months.

I was also glad the book included a look into gender differences and how we define risk.

A really wonderful read. I'll be referencing it in a book of my own.
Nina Yu
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I was excited to read a book that spoke about risk-taking through an empirical lens. Unfortunately, it felt like a waste of time as I was reading it.

Most of the studies discussed were ones that captured insights that're neither novel nor entirely insightful in 2016.

Granted, there were a few good points, but only that. A few good points, constructed into a 200+ pages book.

Maybe I came in with too much expectation. Maybe I put too much weight on the "new" in the title.
William Schram
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even though you might be a milquetoast husband and father or a suburban housewife everyone still engages in risky behavior every day. It might not be mountain climbing or BASE Jumping or Scuba diving, but it still has inherent risks.

With that, this book was well done. It covers the science of decision making and tries to find out how different factors contribute to our overall perceptions and assessments of risk. Different brain modules and structures all chip in to give you gut feelings, intuit
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
While the author fulfills her goal of exploring the many factors that go into our decisions to take risks, the meandering style of the prose made this book feel much longer than it actually was. Sukel gives the reader the latest research on the areas of the brain involved in risk assessment, the hormones that influence our decisions as well as the societal context in which we choose to take them. She also gives you several life stories, including her own, with unnecessary levels of detail. I can ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall, it was interesting. However there were moments where I felt that the author was including personal aspects of her life that I felt was irrelevant.
Sometimes, the book could come off as a bit preachy as well.
Conclusion: the topic is interesting and there is a good balance of interviews, personal experiences and the science aspect that is very well researched.
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Velmi hezká publikace, která přináší zajímavá fakta z oblasti psychologie a neurovědy, jež jsou pak aplikované v rámci praktického života na skutečných případech. Nenaučí vás sice úplně, jak riskovat, ale za to se naučíte mnoho o tom, jak se o to alespoň pokusit.
Jean-Philippe Borel
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Risk management is an important dimension of my day to day job as a project manager in the IT business.
This book has given me new insights on how to look at risks with great support of brain scientific facts and nice stories of different kinds of people and how they handle risks.
Barbara Hall
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very insightful!

As an avid reader, I relish books that keep my interest while imparting something of value. I not only enjoyed this book I came away with a different perspective on what true risk is and how to confront it in positive ways.
Poornima Vijayashanker
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I liked how Sukel defined risk from the beginning. It's not about throwing caution to the wind, but really about pushing beyond our comfort zone. About 3/4 of the book focuses on the science behind risk. I know for some folks that can be a lot, but I found it refreshing.

Sukel uses the science to show us how our brain reacts to risk taking, but goes on to talk about how e can still nurture our risk taking capabilities. She also dives into common misconceptions around people who take risks e.g. w
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
One of the biggest takeaways this book left me with was the need to go out, explore, and take more risks, because everything is cyclic and the only way to be a better risk taker by nature is to be willing to endure new experiences, make the necessary mistakes, and learn from them so that the adopted wisdom can better prepare us for future scenarios. Knowledge is half the battle, and since risk is ubiquitous and unavoidable, it is crucial to become a smarter risk taker.

Most of the studies and an
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Science writing that explores the brain and body mechanics behind risk-taking. Written in a way that is fairly accessible, and weaves lots of personal anecdotes from interesting risk-taking characters (mad entrepreneurs, a brain surgeon, a firefighter). Occasionally got a little bit dense for me, but this book comes at a time when I'm weighing some big decisions and this helped me to frame those decisions as calculated risks. ...more
Kevin Demel
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
Mostly a story book about some people who are taking risks. Very little info about how to evaluate or use risk to improve my life. She did say that all of life is a risk. Also a lot of people that are doing what I call risky behaviors are really extraordinary preparers for the event they are trying to perform.
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
To be perfectly honest, I bought this book based on the author, not the topic. She did not let me down :)
A great read, combining interesting individual stories with psychology, sociology, and neuroscience (all things I enjoy).
I look forward to the next book.
... as long as it isn't Twilight-y
Dion Casey
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
***I had an advance copy of this book***

I enjoyed this book tremendously. I thought it had a great way of explaining the brain science to lay people--as well as actionable advice on how to better understand risk in life. I'd highly recommend it.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
**obtained through giveaway** This book felt like it was written for simpletons. The first chapter was a joke and I'm surprised I got past it. The perspective of this book is quite amusing and I would have preferred a more rigorous scientific approach. I'm glad I didn't pay. Sorry. ...more
J Crossley
Aug 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This book focuses on recent studies of the mind and uses that information to help you step out of your fear-zone.
May 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was interesting but still just a little too dry. However, there were some interesting take home stats, so that made it worth the read.
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Stevo Brock
rated it it was amazing
May 22, 2016
rated it it was ok
Apr 05, 2016
Charles Toh
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Jun 04, 2020
Henry Williams
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Feb 05, 2018
Kayt Sukel
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Mar 20, 2021
Nick Jensen
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Feb 25, 2017
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May 25, 2017
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Jan 30, 2016
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A passionate traveler and science writer, Kayt Sukel has no problem tackling interesting (and often taboo) subjects spanning love, sex, neuroscience, travel, technology, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Scientist, USA Today, Pacific Standard, the Washington Post, ISLANDS, Parenting, the Bark, American Baby, National Geographic Traveler, and the AARP Bulletin. Sh ...more

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8 likes · 2 comments
“Preparation. Because of their consistent and often intense training, successful risk-takers are prepared for any contingency. And that’s because they have the requisite education to recognize exactly what the contingencies are. They are aware of the best way to respond to different risky situations. They understand how even the smallest change in the environment can change the entire risk-taking equation. They spend an inordinate amount of time training and practicing so what they do feels like second nature. All that learning—and deliberate practice—syncs up their fast- and slow-thinking systems, which leads to smarter decision-making.” 0 likes
“Failure, when it comes to future risk-taking, is a gift. Successful risk-takers are often motivated by failure—it’s what tells them that they aren’t done preparing yet. It’s inspiration to work harder, to train better, and to learn more.” 0 likes
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