The Social Animal: special Mumsnet offer
The Social Animal is a fascinating scientific, psychological and political exploration of the lives of two fictional characters - Harold and Erica. They come from vastly different social backgrounds, their lives cross, they fall in love, they marry, and both achieve phenomenal success. So how did they do it?
Author David Brooks takes us through Harold and Erica's lives stage by stage to examine what it is that makes for a successful life. He weaves sociology, psychology, politics, behavioural economics, anthropology and literary criticism into a hugely entertaining story which enacts his central idea: learning to direct our unconscious thoughts, to empathise with others and form strong, lasting and meaningful relationships is likely to lead to much greater happiness and life success than academic brilliance and IQ, or material wealth.
Much of the book explores how the human mind develops throughout childhood, and how parents can influence the course their child's life will take.
Brooks shows that though vast, sprawling, incomprehensible and veiled, our unconscious mind is actually something we can control, or at least influence to a startling degree.
The biases and structures of perception that come to form our unconscious mind - which, Brooks suggests, is also what we call our character, our soul - are created by the relationships we sustain from birth onwards, and the social networks we find ourselves in.
He argues that governments need to move away from an individualist approach to policy-making, and towards an awareness of the fact that we're all deeply interconnected; that we're not rational animals, we're not material animals - we're social animals.
About the author
David Brooks has millions of readers worldwide from his New York Times column. His influence has grown since his book Bobos In Paradise. In a recent profile, New York magazine called him "the essential columnist of our time". He lives with his family in Washington DC.
Want to read more?
Publishers Short Books are offering Mumsnetters The Social Animal at a discounted price of £8.50 inc p&p. Just call 01206 255800 and quote 'Social Animal'. Offer runs until the end of May 2011.
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Last updated: about 3 years ago