Redirect — Timothy Wilson

Redirect lays out a set of techniques for achieving real, lasting change in our behaviour and improving our lives. Actually, this book doesn’t really tell you what to do — it isn’t a self-help book — instead, it describes why these techniques work so well (and also points out that many other ideas don’t).

Story-editing is a way to change behaviour indirectly, by changing the narratives we all have about the kinds of people we are, and the way we interpret the thing that happen to us. This is important because flawed concepts of ourselves and others leads us to all kinds of damaging cognitive errors (see also, for example, Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) and Blind Spots). All of us fall prey to these errors. Yes, that includes you. (Also, me.) Wilson also talks about story-prompting, subtle ways to influence behaviour for the better (or otherwise, as the advertising industry has discovered). This is covered thoroughly by another book, Nudge, which I have read but somehow forgot to write about.

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Life After Life — Kate Atkinson

Life After Life

“What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” This plot micro-summary was enough to make me pick up this book. That and Kate Atkinson’s reputation. I had planned to … Continue reading

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Blind Spots — Bazerman & Tenbrunsel

Blind Spots

This book is all about the field of Behavioural Ethics — how what we do is affected by the way we think about what we do. And vice versa. (Perhaps I could have explained that better.) Probably the most important … Continue reading

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The Meaning of Things — A. C. Grayling

The Meaning of Things

This book of thoughtful mini-essays on life’s big topics is a pleasure to read. But maybe I only think that because I agree with a lot of what Grayling has to say. But maybe I only agree with him because … Continue reading

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Thinking, fast and slow — Daniel Kahneman

Thinking fast and slow

My friend David lent me this book after telling me that it had been blowing his mind. I’m not sure if it has blown my mind, but it definitely helped me to understand it a bit better. Kahneman suggests thinking … Continue reading

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A Technique for Producing Ideas — James Webb Young

A Technique for Producing Ideas

This classic book lays out, as you might expect, a technique for producing ideas. It’s very short and simple. In a nutshell, you must maintain a good supply of general knowledge, steep yourself in specialist knowledge about your problem, and … Continue reading

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The Fall — Albert Camus

The Fall

This short, intense monologue offers an unblinking view of the hypocrisy at the root of all human existence. Its protagonist is perhaps the most genuinely cynical character I have ever come across. The Guardian called The Fall “the most perfect … Continue reading

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Fight Club — Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club

The characters in Fight Club have a cruel self-destructiveness that I would hate to encounter in real life, but seems strangely appealing on the page. It’s the only way they can exert control over their lives, and it grows into … Continue reading

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The Torchlight List — Jim Flynn

The Torchlight List

Some books are so good that you can’t put them down — you have to keep reading them, even if it means reading by torchlight in the middle of the night. Jim Flynn has read a lot of good books … Continue reading

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The Broken Book — Fiona Farrell

I love this book. Fiona Farrell started out writing a travel book about walking in different countries and places, but the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-11 imposed themselves on the writing. As she says, “The quake sent a jagged tear right … Continue reading

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