Science fiction and fantasy
59 Seconds: Think A Little, Change A Lot
by Richard Wiseman
The main lesson seems to be that self-help is a topic where science has made good progress recently, and anything less rigorous isn't good enough.
The "59 seconds" is because the book is all about quickly and accessibly giving out useful, actionable tips. So there is a summary at the end of the book of a number of the tips, whilst most of the chapters go into more depth about why an approach works or doesn't and what the evidence is. It's self-help for the busy. As such it's a little bit short, and it's certainly a very quick read. But that's not a bad thing: it's shorter because it misses out the padding and wordiness that make some books hard to digest. This is a case of Richard Wiseman practising what he preaches. In the chapter on persuasion he discusses the problem of using over-complicated vocabulary: not only is it harder to understand, it also makes people thing the speaker or writer is less intelligent.
Although this book is fairly short (and it perhaps seems shorter than it is) it is quite good value, especially if you pick up something that will improve your life. Some of the revelations are old news, but I think only the most avid followers of psychology would find nothing new.
20th December 2015
If you like this, try:The Upside Of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
Stress is commonly thought of as an entirely negative condition that makes us sick. Kelly McGonigal reveals the evidence that challenges that view, and explains how to use stress to improve our lives.
The Organised Mind by Daniel Levitin
The modern world can bombard us with information, making it exhausting to try to keep organised. Daniel Levitin examines the neuroscience behind keeping order and remembering what we need to.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
The neurologist Oliver Sacks examines the varied reasons why people may sense things that aren't there.
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