How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like by Paul Bloom
|How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like by Paul Bloom|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: What we like and why we like it is the theme of this entertaining and enjoyable book that you don't need a degree in Psychology to understand.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: The Bodley Head Ltd|
How much would you pay for a jumper that used to belong to Brad Pitt? What about if I had it dry cleaned for you first? Chances are, if you were considering the first offer, you've just been put off somewhat. But why? The jumper hasn't changed, after all. Do you honestly and rationally, believe that dry cleaning would destroy some of Brad's 'essence', thus making the item less valuable?
Next, I'll give you a jug marked 'Poison'. Watch as I take it to the tap and fill it with water, and then offer it to you to drink. A child might refuse, but you're more sensible than that. You'll take a sip… though it may be tentative and you might hesitate just a fraction first.
The mind works in mysterious ways, and a lot of time we have no idea why. We have gut reactions and learned reactions, but even babies, with no prompting, respond in predictable ways without, we're pretty sure, understanding why.
In this book, Bloom has a clear purpose: to examine How Pleasure Works. He looks at how eating has morphed over time from something necessary for survival to something we do for pleasure and which, in extreme circumstances, can kill. He ponders over why different people get their kicks in different ways, from obscure sexual practices to horror films, and why daydreaming is the number one hobby across the globe. He asks, and even attempts to answer, the question of why people will pay big bucks for a piece of modern art a 2 year old could quite easily replicate, or why acclaimed musicians make next to nothing when busking in the subway, but can tour to sell-out audiences packed into massive arenas every night. In other words, why do context and history matter so much?
Psychology is a fascinating subject, but if you're not careful it can become too obscure or theoretical. This book could not be more different: it is scattered, not just with interesting snippets, but with real, personal examples. It is an easy layman's read, but not in a dumbed-down way. it's not dusty Freudian analyses, but modern, relevant interpretations. Every chapter provides new food for thought on food and thoughts… and lots of other things. The chapters flow but are also nicely contained so you can pick up the book and just read one or two if you're pressed for time.
This is by far the best piece of non-fiction I've read this year. It is wonderfully witty, extremely entertaining, thoroughly thought-proving and remarkable readable. It is an easy read, but not a simple one, and left me wanting more. Highly recommended.
Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book. It was a pleasure to receive.
For more on the topic of all things pleasurable, The Bookbag also recommends Paul Martin's temptingly titled tome Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure.
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You can read more book reviews or buy How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like by Paul Bloom at Amazon.com.
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