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June List : Summer Reading Project

It's June 1st, and I'm excited to share my "Summer Reading List" for this month. I chose two work related books and one non-fiction book (mostly unrelated but kind of related to everything, as you'll see!), in the hopes that my reading this month will inspire me to be more creative and to think outside the box a little more.

1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Honestly, who doesn't love this man? I'm really excited for this one, it's a relatively new purchase, and I have no doubt it will be a really interesting read. Here's the description from Amazon:

The #1 New York Times Bestseller: The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

2. The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Stephen Sloman and Philip Fernbach

I’ve had this book languishing on my “to read” list for a while, which is why it made this month’s selections. Collective and societal wisdom have always been interesting to me, and I’m hoping to gain a greater understanding of how community knowledge contributes not only to a productive society but also to individual productivity, and how we can use that to our advantage. See the Amazon description below:

“The Knowledge Illusion is filled with insights on how we should deal with our individual ignorance and collective wisdom.” —Steven Pinker

We all think we know more than we actually do.

Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the community with which we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

The human mind is both brilliant and pathetic. We have mastered fire, created democratic institutions, stood on the moon, and sequenced our genome. And yet each of us is error prone, sometimes irrational, and often ignorant. The fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge explains why we often assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individually oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. But our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things. This book contends that true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the world around us.

3. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger

I find the concept of this book interesting both on a personal and professional level. Personally, I like to think that I’m fairly self aware, but any marketing student knows that clearly our opinions are influenced daily by countless sources. Professionally, the concept of influence grows increasingly fraught and complicated as the age of “social media influencers” waxes and, perhaps, wanes. I’m hopeful that this book will offer a lot of insight into how social influences cause to choose, and equally important to NOT choose, certain things. Here’s what Amazon has to say:

The New York Times bestselling author of Contagious explores the subtle, secret influences that affect the decisions we make—from what we buy, to the careers we choose, to what we eat—in this fascinating and groundbreaking work.

If you’re like most people, you think that your choices and behaviors are driven by your individual, personal tastes, and opinions. You wear a certain jacket because you liked the way it looked. You picked a particular career because you found it interesting. The notion that our choices are driven by our own personal thoughts and opinions is patently obvious. Right? Wrong.

Without our realizing it, other people’s behavior has a huge influence on everything we do at every moment of our lives, from the mundane to the momentous occasion. Even strangers have a startling impact on our judgments and decisions: our attitudes toward a welfare policy shift if we’re told it is supported by Democrats versus Republicans (even though the policy is the same in both cases).

But social influence doesn’t just lead us to do the same things as others. In some cases we conform, or imitate others around us. But in other cases we diverge, or avoid particular choices or behaviors because other people are doing them. We stop listening to a band because they go mainstream. We skip buying the minivan because we don’t want to look like a soccer mom.

In his surprising and compelling Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger integrates research and thinking from business, psychology, and social science to focus on the subtle, invisible influences behind our choices as individuals. By understanding how social influence works, we can decide when to resist and when to embrace it—and how we can use this knowledge to make better-informed decisions and exercise more control over our own behavior.

So that’s it, the three books for June! I hope you find some of them interesting, and if there’s anything you’d really like to see on the next list, let me know. Check back at the end of the month for my reviews.



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