The Social Animal – 2 lives like one of yours
I started reading The Social Animal (author David Brooks) long time ago with a ‘meh’ attitude (attitude which can be translated into – I read this book only because I don’t want to think anymore about writing my dissertation).
The book tells the story of Erica and Harold two Americans that meet and start a family. She is a hard-working somehow ‘corporatist-style person and he’s a writer.
The story watched them from their adolescence to all stages of their life. With ups and downs. Victories and failures. Sad and happy moments. But what David Brooks does to make The Social Animal a pleasant lecture is the insertion of studies (from science, politics, socials, psychology etc) related to different punctual moments from the lives of Erica and Harlod.
One of my favorite parts is at the beginning of the book, when Erica finds herself caught in the middle of her family differences. She has Mexican and Asian grandparents and each of them are trying to impose their point of view regarding Erica’s college.
I liked also the final (which one do you think dies first – Erica or Harold?) but I won’t say more about it.
The Social Animal comes with passages like these ones:
Words are the fuel of courtship. Other species win their mate through a series if escalating dances, but humans use conversation. Geoffrey miller notes that most adults have a vocabulary of about sixty thousand words. To build that vocabulary, children must learn ten to twenty words a day between the ages of eighteen months and eighteen years. And yet the most frequent one hundred words account for 60 percent of all conversations.
It’s important to fail productively. First, you should seek out new ideas and new projects, Then you should try new things on a small scale so that their failure is survivable. You should make sure each of your projects is insulated from the others so the failure of one doesn’t pull down the whole lot. Then you have to find a feedback mechanism so you can tell which new thing is failing and which is succeeding. Fight your natural tendency to loss aversion and kill the failing projects.
Bonus: at the end of the book, David Brooks puts a list of references to all the articles and studies mentioned in The Social Animal.