A good starting point for anyone who wants to check out of the Heartbreak Hotel.

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HOW TO FIX A BROKEN HEART

A psychologist presents case studies to show that heartbreak may be inevitable, but it need not be terminal.

Too often, writes Winch (Emotional First Aid, 2013, etc.) in the latest addition to the publisher’s TED series, society consigns heartbreak to the early pangs of teenage love and thus trivializes or dismisses it. Yet divorce or death can also leave hearts broken, with pain that is as debilitating as physical injury—and that pain can last a lot longer, and longer than it needs to. The author makes the curious decision here “to focus on two types of heartbreak that have much in common: romantic heartbreak and the heartbreak that ensues from the loss of a cherished pet.” He does so because these are two areas where the support system is likely to be weaker than it would in divorce or the death of a spouse. Friends and bosses too often think that the heartbroken one should get over it and move on, long before the debilitation has lifted. If part of this book aims to underscore the seriousness of heartbreak, so that society at large may take it more seriously and extend more compassion, the self-help component suggests that there is plenty the victim can do to avoid prolonging the agony. Winch finds parallels between heartbreak and addiction, how wallowing in them can be so devastating to our well-being, how we continue to obsess over something that does us no good, how the vicious cycle perpetuates itself. “If your heart is broken, it will definitely take time to heal,” he writes. “But…how much time is up to you.” Winch advises shortening the period of rumination by practicing mindfulness and letting go. The narrative transitions between losing a romantic partner and losing a pet can seem awkward and strained (separate chapters might have been better), but the pain and the cure for both can seem very much the same.

A good starting point for anyone who wants to check out of the Heartbreak Hotel.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2012-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: TED/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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