Book Review -

The Social Animal -
The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement
By David Brooks

Oddly enough, this book has been re-titled "The Social Animal - A Story of How Success Happens" for the paperback version.

Non Fiction. Self Help / Psychology.

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Every now and then a book comes along that actually matters to me. I find myself thinking about it during the day, and hurrying up to bed so I've got time to spend with it. I get an emotional pay-off because I'm actually investing something of myself into reading it. But that pay-off comes at a price, because sooner or later the last chapter will be read and I'll actually feel a little sad.

This book was a great example of that for me. Human enough to be emotionally resonant, clever and scientific enough to teach me something, I was struck again and again by how beautiful the logic was, at the same time as laughing out loud about how true the observations were (especially about the perils of parenting).

This is a cradle-to-grave story about two people told from a psychological / neurological / sociological point of view. It uses a narrative to hold together some fascinating concepts and genuinely well researched science, covering topics as diverse as sexual attraction, religion, motivation, fear, how we learn, death and intelligence.

For me, this was a perfect storm between an entertaining narrative and good popular science. I can imagine hardcore fans of either being impatient with it though. There are MANY digressions and diversions, and quite often the story feels over contrived simply to introduce yet another abstract learning point.

But I learned something. Quite a lot actually! I found myself re-reading quite a few paragraphs. Which in any other book would mean I'd not been taking it in, but in this case, it was because I'd been blown away by something I'd never thought of before.

Money and time well spent.