Tag Archives: nonfiction

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

From a psychological standpoint, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion earns five stars. The book loses some of its appeal when Jonathan Haidt veers into political philosophy, however – especially when he raises the biased question “why are religious people better neighbors and citizens?”

Let me backtrack. The Righteous Mind is split into three sections. The first focuses on how intuitions come first and are followed by strategic reasoning, the second shows that there are six moral foundations (Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating, Liberty/Oppression, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sanctity/Degradation), and the third hones in on the belief that morality binds and blinds. By the end each part made sense in relation to one another and came together to pack a strong moral philosophy punch. Though the book had some dense sections – like the history and biology of moral philosophy – Haidt included interesting scenarios, research, and anecdotes to alleviate the doldrums. Continue reading

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Quiet by Susain Cain

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

I love reading on Friday nights, writing on Saturday afternoons, and having quiet get-togethers on Sunday. But I also enjoy giving presentations at school, tutoring peers in writing, and interacting with various people online and in real life. I’d describe myself as an introvert (and my Meyers-Briggs personality type agrees), though both introverts and extroverts would enjoy this fascinating book by Susan Cain. She provides an intriguing, in-depth perspective on introversion, its connotation in contrasting cultures, and the psychology behind it.

A profusion of the nonfiction I’ve read has contained too much of something – too many random anecdotes, too much scientific jargon, too many unnecessary statistics or explanations. Continue reading

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Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Eating Disorders, Control, and Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Before I begin my review of this book, I want to share the story of the first and last time I forced myself to throw up. While this doesn’t relate exactly to Unbearable Lightness, it sheds light on why I empathize so much with Portia De Rossi and what she went through. Skip down a few paragraphs if you wish.

In my first few years of adolescence, I always felt lost. I was born gay in a society where the word faggot is tossed around like footballs are thrown on Sunday, born homosexual in a world where my own mother prefers me dead than happy with a man. I couldn’t change any of this – all I thought I could do was struggle through school and maybe make a friend or two.

Couple that with the need to be above average. Continue reading

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Filed under 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books, Personal

How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

I love reading books about books. How to Read Novels Like a Professor has excited me and made me more enthusiastic to start my next novel. For those who do not have much experience in learning about what constitutes a novel – for example, I’m only a high school student – Foster’s book would be a great place to begin. He provides a fantastic list of rules (which you can find in this review) and uses a wide array of examples from novels published decades apart.

However, because I have already read his book How to Read Literature Like a Professor, I felt that I already knew and was rereading some of the sections in this book. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

I won this book through First Reads, woo! Now I am obligated to review it, though I would have anyway.

Jonathan Fields has felt uncertain before. As a lawyer-turned personal trainer who launched a yoga center in NYC the day before 9/11, he must have faced fears and falls. They haven’t stopped him from writing Uncertainty, though. In this book he delves into the damaging effects of doubt and what we can do to defeat it. He draws from many fields, ranging from cognitive neuroscience, lifestyle reorganization, and more – and brings to light how the negative side of uncertainty can be beaten. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

A long book that requires real mental exertion, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a worthwhile read by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. It delves into the two complex systems of the mind. System 1 is impulsive, emotional, and often led astray, while System 2 is rational, thoughtful, and takes more time to makes decisions. He analyzes how humans use (and sometimes fail to use) both systems, and the resulting implications on topics ranging from how we perceive happiness to behavioral economics.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is one of the most in-depth Psychology books I’ve read. Continue reading

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Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Reviews of AP Review Books for United States History, English Language, and Psychology

Hey everyone! This post contains reviews of all the AP review books I used this year. I used three for AP United States History, one for AP English Language and Composition, and one for AP Psychology. I scored 5’s on all of my exams. I hope this is helpful!

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Not a bad review book, but not one that you should use alone. It offers test-taking tips, practice essay prompts, and multiple-choice questions, but no real review of the material that will be on the AP exam. If you have a great and solid grasp of AP United States History and solely need to practice, I recommend this book. If you need more than that, I would recommend using REA or Princeton Review or AMSCO as well.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, were the two practice tests. I took both of them and annotated every question I answered incorrectly. This helped me majorly in the long run, as the questions that appeared in this book were of a similar difficulty to those that showed up on the actual exam.

I contribute a slight portion of my 5 to this book, specifically the practice exams. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 stars, 4 stars, 5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrichs

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

In his book Thank You for Arguing Jay Heinrichs teaches readers about the art of argument. He details the tools and techniques necessary for persuasion, and branches out into the overall importance of rhetoric in contemporary society and in our daily lives.

Thank You for Arguing served as a great guide to the many terms, tips, and tricks of argument. Continue reading

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

Cover via sequoits.com.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

EVERYTHING IS A SYMBOL.

Okay, not really. But more things than not, at least when it comes to literature. I was hesitant to read How to Read Literature Like a Professor because I felt that I had not read enough classics to understand what Thomas Foster would be talking about – but then I realized that maybe it was a good idea to read the book before embarking on my literature quest, so I would have some background knowledge heading in. After all, knowledge is power.

And I was right. Though a myriad of the book titles went over my head and some of the examples were consequently confusing, for the most part I feel like I’ve learned a lot from reading this book. Granted, I’m a high school student, so I didn’t know much to begin with, but I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves English, literature, or is interested in reading a book about books. As a bibliophile and self-proclaimed future English major, I loved learning about irony, allusions, and everything else Foster shared using his casual yet sophisticated writing style.

Not a bad book to start out 2012 with. Now to move on to an actual novel…

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Filed under 4 stars, Book Reviews, Books

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Rating: 3/5 stars.

My summer assignment for my AP US History class was to read and annotate The Devil in the White City. If I hadn’t had to take extensive notes on the historical aspects of this novel I might’ve liked it more, but, oh well.

Not to say that the history was trivial or erroneous. Rather, it was how Erik Larson conveyed the historical facts that bored me. The book is literally split into two stories: a group of architects building Chicago’s World Fair, and a serial killer that goes by the name of Holmes who murders women and children as they come to see the fair. The chapters alternate between following Daniel Burnham, the man in charge of the fair’s construction, and Holmes. The separated structure didn’t sell the story well as I trudged through the parts pertaining to the fair while looking forward to reading more about Holmes. This book would have benefited from intertwining the two plots – which it did toward the end, briefly.

I liked The Devil in the White City, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t like learning about history.

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Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books