What We Are Reading Today: The Invisible Gorilla

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Updated 04 March 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Invisible Gorilla

AUTHORS: Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

In The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, creators of one of psychology’s most famous experiments, use remarkable stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate an important truth: Our minds don’t work the way we think they do. We think we see ourselves and the world as they really are, but we’re actually missing a whole lot.

Again and again, we think we experience and understand the world as it is, but our thoughts are beset by everyday illusions. We write traffic laws and build criminal cases on the assumption that people will notice when something unusual happens right in front of them. We’re sure we know where we were on 9/11, falsely believing that vivid memories are seared into our minds with perfect fidelity. We spend billions on devices to train our brains because we’re continually tempted by the lure of quick fixes and effortless self-improvement.

 The Invisible Gorilla reveals the myriad ways that our intuitions can deceive us. Chabris and Simons explain why we succumb to these everyday illusions and what we can do to inoculate ourselves against their effects.


What We Are Reading Today: Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya

Updated 12 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya

This was a beautifully written book that everyone should have on their shelf.

This book invites thought, compassion, reflection, and consideration, both for one’s own life and the lives of those around us.

In this profound and personal book, Kieran Setiya shows how philosophy can help us find our way.

Setiya skillfully gives readers the information and context they need as he goes so they do not have to have a background in philosophy to understand and enjoy this book.

The way he ties it all together is poetry and his humor adds levity to some deceptively deep and heavy topics. He shares his own experience with chronic pain and the consolation that comes from making sense of it.

Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy, as well as fiction, comedy, social science and personal essay, Life is Hard is a book for this moment — a work of solace and compassion.

“This book makes no attempt to sugar coat life,” said a review on Goodreads.com.

“Once we accept the fact that we and others will always have troubles life will become more bearable and enjoyable.”

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What We Are Reading Today: The River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-U

Updated 30 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-U

For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and more democratic Burma only to see an apparent slide toward even harsher dictatorship. What do we really know about Burma and its history?

In “The River of Lost Footsteps,” Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, in part through a telling of his own family’s history, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and appalling, according to a review on goodreads.com.

The book is a work both personal and global, a distinctive contribution that makes Burma accessible and enthralling. Thant Myint-U, educated at Harvard and Cambridge, has served on three United Nations peacekeeping operations, in Cambodia and in the former Yugoslavia, and was more recently the head of policy planning in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs. He lives in New York City.


What We Are Reading Today: On Every Tide by Sean Connolly

Updated 29 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: On Every Tide by Sean Connolly

In On Every Tide, Sean Connolly tells the epic story of Irish migration, showing how emigrants became a force in world politics and religion.

Starting in the 18th century, the Irish fled limited opportunity at home and fanned out across America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

These emigrants helped settle new frontiers, industrialize the West, and spread Catholicism globally.

As the Irish built vibrant communities abroad, they leveraged their newfound power — sometimes becoming oppressors themselves.

Deeply researched and vividly told, On Every Tide is essential reading for understanding how the people of Ireland shaped the world.

Connolly’s writing is lively and light enough on its feet not to get bogged down in the statistics he deploys so effectively, Fiintan O’Toole said in a review for the New York Times.

Connolly has a healthy allergy to sentimental and heroic myth-making, remaining clear-eyed about the capacity of the Irish to inflict on others the oppression and belittlement they themselves suffered at home and abroad.


What We Are Reading Today: Why We Are Restless; On the Modern Quest for Contentment

Updated 27 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Why We Are Restless; On the Modern Quest for Contentment

Edited by Benjamin Storey And Jenna Silber Storey

A compelling exploration of how our pursuit of happiness makes us unhappy. We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, yet everywhere we see signs that our pursuit of happiness has proven fruitless.

Dissatisfied, we seek change for the sake of change—even if it means undermining the foundations of our common life. In Why We Are Restless, Benjamin and Jenna Storey offer a profound and beautiful reflection on the roots of this malaise and examine how we might begin to cure ourselves.

Drawing on the insights of Montaigne, Pascal, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, Why We Are Restless explores the modern vision of happiness that leads us on, and the disquiet that follows it like a lengthening shadow.


What We Are Reading Today: Hard to Break; Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick

Updated 26 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Hard to Break; Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick

Edited by Russell A. Poldrack

We all have habits we’d like to break, but for many of us it can be nearly impossible to do so. There is a good reason for this: The brain is a habit-building machine. In Hard to Break, leading neuroscientist Russell Poldrack provides an engaging and authoritative account of the science of how habits are built in the brain, why they are so hard to break, and how evidence-based strategies may help us change unwanted behaviors.

Hard to Break offers a clear-eyed tour of what neuroscience tells us about habit change and debunks “easy fixes” that aren’t backed by science.