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on May 20, 2014
The Social Animal by David Brooks, a Kindle book I began reading on July 28th when my mom and I were flying home from a trip to New York. So engrossing, I barely noticed the turbulence.

This book is very much written in the style of a BBC documentary having to do with the human body, ala "Here we see Jane waking up in the morning and bumbling to her bathroom to take a shower; little does she know, but millions of cells and nerves have been awake and busy all while she's been asleep," then the camera focuses in on her arm or face where a graphic or animation of internal activity takes place, demonstrating action at a cellular level. This book does the same with a cast of four characters who fall in love, marry, have children and those children then grow up, all while the narrator of the book interprets these activities, choices, and traits as sociological decisions which can go one way or another or a myriad of different ways.

I loved this book and was riveted by its simple yet easily empathic writing style. It seemed like the best kind of reference book, one that you find yourself happily quoting often. Super ultra thumbs up!
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on March 17, 2017
I love it. Brooks is a voice of reason in a maddening world, especially among conservatives in America. This text is a wonderful insight on how we tick and why we do what we do, presented in a story of individuals as they go through their lives and interact with a complicated world.
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on January 31, 2016
I had to buy this book for class as it was required reading, but it is not just a boring textbook or nonfiction book. David Brooks writing makes the information about society's role in a person's life easy to read and digestible. He includes many facts and research about how people's outcomes can be determined in life and the chances of success, why some succeed and others plateau. Yet, it is written in a story way most of the time, following a few main characters on how they meet, get married, have a son, and how their decisions affect their overall outcome in life. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in psychology and nonfiction books that are relevant to our lives. It was a good read. The book is paperback and came in time for class.
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on March 25, 2012
I find that some of the most enlightening and enjoyable books come when an intelligent author that I trust studies a topic extensively and delivers facts, thoughts, and practical applications. That is what this book is to me. If you have interest in the topic of how the subconscious and conscious mind combine to create the perceptions and thoughts that define your world and how people behave in it, then this book may be for you. I personally came into this book with relatively little knowledge on the topic, though it is something that I have recently been thinking about quite a bit. It seems as if this is a topic that Brooks has spent many years studying and pondering. Whatever you may think of David Brooks or his politics, you would be hard pressed to describe him as anything short of a very intelligent man and, as much as one can trust a writer from merely reading their work and watching their commentary, I trust Brooks as an honest and forthright man so, though I cannot speak to the accuracy of his interpretations of the research, I am inclined to trust it. If you are an expert in this field, maybe you would find significant misinterpretations or omissions in Brooks use of technical aspects of this book, but that is not something that I, as a layman, can determine. Unless I read any specific complaints from an expert, I am willing to highly recommend this book to both friends and the Amazon community.

Let me make one point to ensure you are getting what you expect: This book contains the life stories of two fictional characters, but that part of the book only exists as a method for Brooks to deliver his message. This book is not about the characters but rather it is about what Brooks has learned from his study of research on the human brain. Thought I think this format allows Brooks to reach a broader audience, I didn't find the fiction to be the strength of the book. You shouldn't be buying this book for the value or quality of the fictional aspects.

This book is though provoking, and I genuinely feel that it changed my view of how my own mind works. I expect that I will consider things that this book introduced me to on a regular basis and sometimes in practical aspects of my life. When a book is an interesting read and genuinely changes ones view of themselves and how their body and mind function, then how can one give it less than 5 stars?
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on January 25, 2017
This book was suggested to me by a coworker . I found it very insightful in how we grow and develop and change as well as interact with the world around us. It was also quick a read not bogged down with jargon. Brooks did a phenomenal job consolidating study after study after study so that anyone could understand them.
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on August 11, 2013
David Brooks does a great job weaving numerous concepts from social sciences, particularly psychology and sociology. I found some of the strongest sections to be on:
(1)Impact of parenting and environment on character formation
(2)Conscious vs. Subconscious processes (System 1 & System 2 thinking)
(3)What contributes to individual success

I found the book somewhat easier to read than other books dealing with similar topics, particularly "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. While some readers note that the fictional characters Harold and Erica are "a bit flat", I found the "story-telling" narrative useful in helping me absorb the otherwise somewhat dense material.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and got a few pearls of wisdom out of it. The only aspect that I found lacking is a clearer message of key takeaways. I think that the main principle that David Brooks is operating under is that life and human beings are complex and there aren't simple answers. However, I did feel myself asking "so what?" when I got to the end of the book and find it difficult to succinctly summarize what central message the book was intending to convey.
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on May 9, 2014
David Brooks weaves a narrative with some of the latest research in psychology and other sciences. He provides what might be fairly "dry" information in a much more compelling way. As I began reading the book, I wasn't at all sure I would like the approach. I found the storyline hard to follow when he would interject current research findings (why I rated 4 stars instead of 5). But once I got used to his unorthodox format, I found his approach to be creative and refreshing. Honestly, I think the storyline is a bit weak (again, why 4 stars instead of 5), but I think that's because it must meander in certain ways to make the research the author wants to present relevant. I do think the storyline is strong enough to keep the overall book flowing. For me, the presentation of research findings was at the core of this book, and much of what is presented is compelling!
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on January 13, 2018
I like books that contribute to the understanding of the human condition. This does that. The use of a couple's development worked for me to understand resilience and the change process across the lifespan.
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on April 3, 2015
Excellently researched and informative, Brooks' Social Animal has something for everyone distributed throughout. The narrative is kept interesting by these sidelights while the main story is, by design, pretty mainstream and devoid of action, scintillating dialogue or gratuitous sex scenes. A good gift for any life-long learner type or those who appreciate what's below the surface in human interaction.
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on January 24, 2012
David Brooks' The Social Animal is a very well written tour of the last 50 years of social science research. He presents this material in an interesting almost novel like manner by tracing the lives of two fictious people. The end notes provide a useful tool for further reading. If your spouse, sibling, or running partner has an interest in this sort of material, you can have a most interesting discussion/interaction by reading this book, one chapter at a time, and discussing the chapter you have just read. There is so much material to think about that you should not read several chapters and then discuss these all at once.

Much of the research reveals "facts" that appear to be obvious, but many of the "facts" are surprising. In only one instance, concerning whether or not more homework leads to better school performance, I found that the backup research lacked validity. This book is a great vehicle for learning about the progress made in social science over the last 50 years. I recommend this book without reservation.
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