SLEEP THIEVES

AN EYE-OPENING EXPLORATION INTO THE SCIENCE AND MYSTERIES OF SLEEP

Forget that early-to-rise myth; getting too little sleep is unhealthful, costly, and downright unproductive, according to this lively, anecdote-laden report on the perils of sleep deprivation. Coren, a Canadian neuropsychologist whose previous work had wide appeal among dog lovers (The Intelligence of Dogs, 1994), will win the kudos of sleep lovers with this one. After a brief look at sleep in the rest of the animal kingdom, he focuses on what happens to the human mind and body when deprived of sleep. Citing research and using notes from a diary he kept while systematically cutting back on his own sleep, he demonstrates that reducing sleep decreases the quality and quantity of one's work. Furthermore, to ignore our biological clocks is to court disaster, for Coren notes that sleep deprivation weakens the immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to infection and illness, even death. He looks specifically at the effects of sleep deprivation on truck drivers, airline pilots, air traffic controllers, hospital interns and residents, and shift workers such as police and firefighters. The statistics and anecdotes he provides are certainly eye-opening. A 1988 figure he cites gives the cost of sleep-related accidents in the US that year as $56.02 billion, and he presents persuasive evidence that the major disasters of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and the Exxon Valdez were all caused by human beings with too little sleep. Tucked in among the sobering data are several charts and tables, quizzes to help one analyze one's own sleep habits and needs, and some tips on overcoming jet lag and getting a good night's sleep. All the justification one needs for turning off the alarm and catching another 40 winks.

Pub Date: April 9, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-82304-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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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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The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION

The creator and host of the titular podcast recounts his lifelong struggles with depression.

With the increasing success of his podcast, Moe, a longtime radio personality and author whose books include The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015), was encouraged to open up further about his own battles with depression and delve deeper into characteristics of the disease itself. Moe writes about how he has struggled with depression throughout his life, and he recounts similar experiences from the various people he has interviewed in the past, many of whom are high-profile entertainers and writers—e.g. Dick Cavett and Andy Richter, novelist John Green. The narrative unfolds in a fairly linear fashion, and the author relates his family’s long history with depression and substance abuse. His father was an alcoholic, and one of his brothers was a drug addict. Moe tracks how he came to recognize his own signs of depression while in middle school, as he experienced the travails of OCD and social anxiety. These early chapters alternate with brief thematic “According to THWoD” sections that expand on his experiences, providing relevant anecdotal stories from some of his podcast guests. In this early section of the book, the author sometimes rambles. Though his experiences as an adolescent are accessible, he provides too many long examples, overstating his message, and some of the humor feels forced. What may sound naturally breezy in his podcast interviews doesn’t always strike the same note on the written page. The narrative gains considerable momentum when Moe shifts into his adult years and the challenges of balancing family and career while also confronting the devastating loss of his brother from suicide. As he grieved, he writes, his depression caused him to experience “a salad of regret, anger, confusion, and horror.” Here, the author focuses more attention on the origins and evolution of his series, stories that prove compelling as well.

The book would have benefited from a tighter structure, but it’s inspiring and relatable for readers with depression.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20928-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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