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Finished You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney (3/5). Usually when I say that a book by a blogger reads like the author just moved the blog to paper, I mean that as a bad thing. This book is quite heavily based on the blog of the same name, but the book manages to be like the blog in a way that is mostly positive. 

First the good. If you're like me and have read a few books about the brain and its shortcomings, you've probably seen a lot of the materials covered in this book. What makes this book special is how easy it makes it to find information again. Usually books about the brain intersperse the discussion of various mental failings within a greater narrative. That's great for reading but not so great when you're trying to remember what that one fallacy about whatever is called. What McRaney's book gives us is interesting content that is presented in an engaging and easy to recall manner (interesting especially compared, say, to reading Wikipedia articles on logical fallacies, although that is also fun).

The not so good is fairly minor but contextually important. This book has no overarching narrative flow. Each chapter is a short independent piece focused on a particular topic. This is great if you are reading in on a bus ride or while waiting for something. However, it does make it somewhat tedious to read for longer than about an hour at a time. Thus, as I found out the hard way, it's not a great book for taking on a transatlantic flight.

But overall, quite good. I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn't read any books about the limitations of mental processing and moderately recommend it for those familiar with the area.

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Erika RS

May 2012

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