10 books like Amusing Ourselves to Death

By Neil Postman,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Amusing Ourselves to Death. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Stumbling on Happiness

By Daniel Gilbert,

Book cover of Stumbling on Happiness

This book argues that humans do not know what makes them happy because we inaccurately perceive our unconscious emotional states. Gilbert makes the case that we consistently habituate to our circumstances and our happiness bounces around a genetically-drive set point. Over our lives, we stumble toward accepting that to thrive, we must seek out small moments of wonder and surprise. This book directly inspired my research on the neuroscience of happiness. My research extended Gilbert's book by showing that peak immersion experiences not only make us happy in the moment, but can train our brains to experience greater happiness throughout our lives.  

Stumbling on Happiness

By Daniel Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Stumbling on Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bringing to life scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, this bestselling book reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. 

• Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?

• Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight?

• Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they…

The Coddling of the American Mind

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Book cover of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

This book is so different from the other books on my list. I just finished reading this book recently. I found it completely fascinating. It talks about how our newer generation has changed how we listen, talk and feel. I find that this is happening in relationships as well. This book is a weave of communication, how we take things way too personally and how this affects how we interact with others in life and how we relate to our feelings. I think this book can help how we listen, share and have internal boundaries. While reading this book I didn’t realize how much I needed it. I wish all teachers, administration of all schools, and parents would read this book. 

The Coddling of the American Mind

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Coddling of the American Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller * Finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction * A New York Times Notable Book * Bloomberg Best Book of 2018

"Their distinctive contribution to the higher-education debate is to meet safetyism on its own, psychological turf . . . Lukianoff and Haidt tell us that safetyism undermines the freedom of inquiry and speech that are indispensable to universities." -Jonathan Marks, Commentary

"The remedies the book outlines should be considered on college campuses, among parents of current and future students, and by anyone longing for a more sane society." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Something…

Life After Life

By Kate Atkinson,

Book cover of Life After Life

This story is about an upper-middle-class English family who is caught up in the events of WW2. The domestic details are fascinating including the kinds of puddings served. (I love puddings). Where this story differs is that Ursula, the heroine, has to keep reliving parts of her life until she ‘gets it right’. I could not stop thinking about Ursula for a long time. I was so impressed by how the story did not follow any normal pattern but demonstrated the power and flexibility wielded by the author. Kate Atkinson also attached a Pinterest page to her website. The visuals made a huge impact upon me so I added a Pinterest page to my stories.  

Life After Life

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Life After Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula's apparently infinite number…

Challenging the News

By Susan Forde,

Book cover of Challenging the News: The Journalism of Alternative and Community Media

Journalism takes many forms, and this readable study by a journalist-turned-academic examines some of the more alternative styles and outlets that operate beyond the corporate mainstream media industries. Alternative they may be, but the projects studied by Forde produce proper journalism rather than the uninformed commentary or aggressive shouting adopted by some who like to style themselves as ‘alternative media.’ None of the journalists she interviews would see themselves as heroes but, by defying the odds to produce independent reporting in the cause of social justice around the world, they engage in countless small acts of heroism every day. 

Challenging the News

By Susan Forde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Challenging the News as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Community media journalists are, in essence, 'filling in the gaps' left by mainstream news outlets. Forde's extensive 10 year study now develops an understanding of the journalistic practices at work in independent and community news organisations. Alternative media has never been so widely written about until now.

The Opinion Makers

By David W. Moore,

Book cover of The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls

Early in my career I was responsible for running the UK brand tracking and customer experience studies of a global brand. I was constantly battling to reconcile what the research told me with what the real data from the business showed was actually going on. This book, written by someone who was a senior editor at the Gallup market research company for years, helped me appreciate some of the reasons that survey results are inaccurate. It also reveals how opinion polls can be used to distort elections and manipulate people – scary stuff.

The Opinion Makers

By David W. Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Opinion Makers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a new afterword by the author

Drawing on over a decade's experience at the Gallup Poll and a distinguished academic career in survey research, David W. Moore—praised as a "scholarly crusader" by the New York Times—reveals that pollsters don't report public opinion, they manufacture it. In this highly critical book, he describes the questionable tactics pollsters use to create poll-driven news stories-including force-feeding respondents, slanting the wording of questions, and ignoring public ignorance on even the most arcane issues. More than proof that the numbers do lie, The Opinion Makers clearly and convincingly spells out how urgent it is…

Fall

By John Preston,

Book cover of Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell

The best true crime books are similar to any good biography, in that they are crafted, powerfully-researched lives of unusual people. With true crime, the life of the subject usually goes awry, however, by degrees from childhood, culminating in disaster, which affects others. Crime takes different forms. This gripping book charts the downfall of the brilliant but unscrupulous media baron Robert Maxwell, ending in his mysterious death in 1991. Had he lived, he may well have gone to jail, like his daughter, Ghislaine. Author John Peston has an eye for grotesques and a nice sense of humour. 

Fall

By John Preston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the UK’s 2022 Costa Prize for Biography

“A portrait of one of the most enigmatic figures in the annals of white-collar crime. . . . A well-researched, compelling book that uncovers many mysteries about a media tycoon.”—Kirkus Reviews

From the acclaimed author of A Very English Scandal, a thrilling and dramatic true-life account of the rise and fall of one of the most notorious media moguls of all time: Robert Maxwell.

In February 1991, Robert Maxwell triumphantly sailed into Manhattan harbor on his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, to buy the ailing New York Daily News. Taxi drivers stopped…


Myth, Media, and the Southern Mind

By Stephen A. Smith,

Book cover of Myth, Media, and the Southern Mind

Smith, professor of communications at the University of Arkansas, examines the stories that Southerners have told about themselves—the “myths” of the South. The Old South/Lost Cause/New South myths “controlled Southern culture and Southern rhetoric for one hundred fifty years,” he argues, but by the mid-twentieth century, the strain between myth and reality finally became too great and “a period of mythic confusion,” ensued. By the 1970s, however, Southern artists, scholars, journalists, politicians, and preachers—both Black and white—had forged a new myth, based on the themes of distinctiveness, racial civility, and community. When Smith wrote, he was confident that there will always be some myth of the South, that it won’t become a mere quadrant of the U.S. with a "dysfunctional amythic culture." We shall see.

Myth, Media, and the Southern Mind

By Stephen A. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Myth, Media, and the Southern Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Smith, Stephen A.

The Age of American Unreason

By Susan Jacoby,

Book cover of The Age of American Unreason

If you’ve ever wondered if people today are dumber than people in the past, you should watch Idiocracy. And then read this book. It shows how we’ve devolved into people who look at lists of the best five books and never actually read those books. In 2008, for a column for the L.A. Times, I had her take a quiz from the author of the book How Dumb Are You?: The Great American Stupidity Quiz and she got two wrong. I got 11 wrong. The point is: Read her book instead of mine.

The Age of American Unreason

By Susan Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of American Unreason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreasonfocuses on the convergence of social forces—usually treated as separate entities—that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.


Re-Understanding Media

By Sarah Sharma (editor), Rianka Singh (editor),

Book cover of Re-Understanding Media: Feminist Extensions of Marshall McLuhan

Using McLuhan’s classic Understanding Media as a point of reference, the editors have assembled an impressive collection of essays that succeed in critically extending his ideas into a range of new directions. These include the biases of contemporary urban planning, transport (from a race perspective), gendered domestic and office space, and Black feminist activism. While remaining true to the exploratory spirit of McLuhan’s “probes,” the essays demonstrate both the shortcomings and potentialities of his body of work.

Re-Understanding Media

By Sarah Sharma (editor), Rianka Singh (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Re-Understanding Media as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The contributors to Re-Understanding Media advance a feminist version of Marshall McLuhan's key text, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, repurposing his insight that "the medium is the message" for feminist ends. They argue that while McLuhan's theory provides a falsely universalizing conception of the technological as a structuring form of power, feminist critics can take it up to show how technologies alter and determine the social experiences of race, gender, class, and sexuality. This volume showcases essays, experimental writings, and interviews from media studies scholars, artists, activists, and those who work with and create technology. Among other topics, the…

Information Anxiety

By Richard Saul Wurman,

Book cover of Information Anxiety

This book took me and the business world by storm. Wurman truly nailed a feeling that was widely experienced but had not yet been named. He explained how information anxiety resulted from constant overstimulation, especially when we don't have the time or opportunity to make an orderly transition from one idea to the next.

He explained how no one functions well when figuratively gasping for breath. Learning, he said, requires ‘way-stations’ where we have the chance to stop and think about an idea or subject matter before moving on to the next. So true! I particularly like his analogy that basing your view of the world on isolated events is like basing you knowledge of music on what you hear in an elevator.

Most important to me are the five ways to organize information as laid out in the book. If you're wondering, they include by category, time, location,…

Information Anxiety

By Richard Saul Wurman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Information Anxiety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tackling the problem of the ever widening gap between "what we understand - and what we think we should understand", the book offers tools to sort through daily data and offers suggestions for print media, meaningful charts, graphics and statistics. From the author of the "Access" guides.

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