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How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like Hardcover – June 14, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Engaging, evocative… Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, is a supple, clear writer, and his parade of counter-intuitive claims about pleasure is beguiling.” (Michael Washburn - NPR)
“Is there anyone who could resist a book about sex, food, art, and fun? Didn’t think so. This book is about all those things, but what turns it from a guilty pleasure into a guiltless one is its deep understanding of philosophy, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory… How Pleasure Works should stoke your neurons into a frenzy and leave you wanting more.” (Mary Carmichael - Newsweek.com)
“Bloom covers food, sex and art at length and touches on much more in this accessible compendium of experiments, quotes, philosophical nuggets and anecdotes. Sigmund Freud, Mr. Pleasure Principle himself, would have approved.” (Katy Steinmetz - Time)
“Scholarly yet spy…. Bloom salts the book with all manner of pungent, apposite points…. A heartening, well-developed argument.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A gracefully written book and a lot of fun.” (Peter D. Kramer - Slate)
“Drawing on his own research as well as studies in neuroscience, behavioral economics, and philosophy, [Bloom] makes a powerful argument for essentialism at the crux of human pleasure.” (Maywa Montenegro - Seed Magazine)
“In this eloquent and provocative book, Paul Bloom takes us inside the paradoxes of pleasure, exploring everything from cannibalism to Picasso to IKEA furniture. The quirks of delight, it turns out, are a delightful way to learn about the human mind.” (Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide)
“This book is not just a pleasure, but a revelation, by one of psychology’s deepest thinkers and best writers. Lucid and fascinating, you’ll want to read it slowly and savor the experience.” (Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness)
“How Pleasure Works has one of the best discussions I’ve read of why art is pleasurable, why it matters to us, and why it moves us so.” (Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession)
“This book is a pearl, a work of great beauty and value, built up around a simple truth: that we are essentialists, tuned in to unseen order.” (Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom)
Top Customer Reviews
I like dangerous books that make you think. Paul Bloom from Yale in his How Pleasure Works has written a such a book. It's a frightful thought to pause, as he suggests, and take in just why one likes what one likes; loves what one loves.
I was intrigued to track here the science of why I am passionate about certain topics or people or ideas and bored with others. Yes, it was fun pondering here why it is that certain thoughts and acts stir me; and why and when the reverse emotions are stirred in me, to; such as disgust or fear or dread. I enjoyed his questions on why it is we love or hate the idea of God. And just what is this thing we call awe?
It's three in the morning and this professor has got me up reading about science. Takes a good writer and strong storyteller to involve the reader like this. His work reads like you're taking in a novel when what you are really doing is reading about basic science on the mind and the human condition of how we think and feel and why.
The good developmental psychologist Dr. Bloom might be an ivory tower professor in some eyes; but for me in this work he was more an observant student of two year olds. I liked how he seemed unashamed as an academic to be listed as one more philosopher awed by mystery in the universe. I liked this book. A science page turner is rare; maybe he's giving Mary Roach a run for her spot as top science writer?
The hedonist in me also loved his focus on pleasure. And I loved how my bone doctor specialist last week paused when I went to see him about my ailing elbow and I watched him grab this paperback from my lap for a quick jacket read--How Pleasure Works--before dealing with my pains.Read more ›
The author also tends to be a bit hit and miss in narrative abilities. At times he's engaging and the style is not unlike "Freakonomics". However, where that book typically took time to really dig apart some of the cited examplesor experiments, this book tends to just reference studies or examples in a passing fashion.
Another minor issue I have with the book is that the author tends to try and explain things as having a REASON or a PURPOSE too much. For example, in a chapter about art, he seemed to get hung up on their needing to be an evolutionary reason for this element of humanity. However the author has either forgotten or doesn't know that there are many examples of evolution not doing away with adaptions that are no longer relevant but are not overtly harmful. For example, male nipples (a remnant of the fact we are all conceived female), 3rd molars (largely redundant based on how heavily our food is processed now and how little chewing we do, relatively speaking), the appendix (again, largely irrelevant due to not having to eat raw vegetatian all the time), or a set of muscles in the shoulders that are largely useless now that we don't spend our days hanging in trees.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Paul Bloom’s book is about why we take pleasure in peculiar actions, proclivities, and objects. These are the pleasures that aren’t readily or directly explained by our... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bernie Gourley
Great book, all of us should read this book as it provides a great Psychological insight into human desires and emotions.Published 6 months ago by Ehsan Tonmoy
very clear and well presented. a must read for every adult human!Published 9 months ago by Keith Herrick
very interesting, great insights, well constructed ideas and a fun way to really dive deep into the subjects at hand... Loved it!Published 10 months ago by Debora Fuentes
It's not bad. Just repetitive, droning. There's three or four good ideas here. But the rest is fluff. "How pleasure works"--not through reading this book, apparently.Published 18 months ago by Bun Bo Hue
This book is about pleasure, but equally it is about essentialism. I would even argue that this book is more about essentialism than pleasure (guess the title would not have been... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Neuron
Sorry, just can't get into it. I will definitely try again later as I have heard good things about this book.Published on May 31, 2014 by Donna Jones
I saw Professor Bloom speak at a "One Day University" and out of the 5 speakers my husband and I saw, he was the best. Read morePublished on March 31, 2014 by Christine Casper