Book Review: How We Decide

A good book always pairs well with a good glass of wine!

A good book always pairs well with a good glass of wine!

 

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer was an impulsive choice of reading for me. In college, I greatly enjoyed my Psychology courses and actually found them fun, (as opposed to classes I had to take for my major such as Metabolism and Survey of Organic Chemistry). I would hardly ever miss a class and during lectures, I sat and listened intently, wanting to observe every morsel of information that was taught. Though I finished the requirement for Psychology classes to earn a minor way before my senior year, my interest in the subject never disappeared. That is probably why books that have these simple yet clearly-stated titles seem to catch my eye. Oh, and the three ice cream cones on the cover of Lehrer’s book probably helped to sway me to pick it up as well.

The main premise of the book is emotion vs. rational thought. The author gives many detailed examples and references historical events, scientific experiments and even major football games to outline his findings. He explores the role of emotion in our decisions and opens the readers’ eyes to how deeply involved they are in practically every single decision that we make–from what brand of strawberry jam we prefer to what type of stocks we are persuaded to invest in.

If you are intrigued at the thought of exploring the inner workings of the brains of airplane pilots, NFL quarterbacks and serial killers, as well as everyday people such and you or myself, then you should definitely give this book a try. You might find that a light bulb illuminates above your head at certain points and by the time you reach the back cover, you will reassess the entire process of human thinking, especially in the way that it relates to your emotions.

This book earns 8 out of 10 stars in my eyes. It was a fun read that was possibly overwhelming at times, because of the abundance of information and well-researched evidence that Lehrer can pile on the reader at any given moment. It’s a book that I would probably have to give a second spin, in order to properly digest some of the minor details that I might not have pieced together so completely the first time around. It wasn’t a difficult read, but certainly one that should be focused on entirely so as not to miss the complete and clever picture that is illustrated for us in each experience and story that is shared. I would highly recommend this book to anyone for has appreciation and awe for the brain, its complexities and how all of the body’s systems tie together to form a unique circuit of interacting and simultaneously working parts.

 

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2 comments

  1. The book has just been pulled for sale because of unspecified “problems” following an internal review by its publisher: http://allaboutwork.org/2013/03/01/jonah-lehrers-2nd-book-pulled-by-publisher/

  2. Wow! I had no idea. That’s a little disappointing. From the link you gave me, it says he plagiarized some quotes that he’d supposedly gotten from an exclusive interview. I’m surprised he wouldn’t have just provided a legitimate source instead of lying about it. I wonder what the other unspecified “problems” are. Well, I guess I will refrain from reading from this author in the future. Thanks for the tip!

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