The Social Animal by David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks’ The Social Animal works on the pretense that it’s a story. Picking apart the lives of Erica and Harold bit by bit, Brooks manages to weave stackloads of textbook psychology and sociology theory into what would otherwise be an unremarkable tale. The book contains some great insight into what could a successful person. It carefully balances years contrasting research and  opinion, and by the end your left with a nice overview of the consensus of thought. The device works; more often than not the reader forgets they’re reading the synopsis of some hefty academic research. Occasionally when the story wanes, you do realise what exactly your being fed – the sections on the different schools of rational thought in particular were heavy going. I still enjoyed the book though and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anybody that is thinking of reading it. While being a slightly odd, I found The Social Animal fascinating. I’m not sure what life lessons I’ll be taking from the book (there are some early sections parents may find interesting though), but it did what every good book should; it made me think.

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