What We Are Reading Today: Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

What We Are Reading Today: Stolen Focus by Johann Hari
Short Url
Updated 13 February 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

What We Are Reading Today: Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

Johann Hari’s book Stolen Focus discusses how technology and modernity are negatively and chronically affecting our brains and behavior.

It focuses on the individual experience of living in this moment, and how modern technology is limiting our choices and personal notions of freedom and consciousness.

This well-researched survey draws attention to important concerns while avoiding simplistic self-improvement recommendations.

Stolen Focus :addresses a wider range of causes but for a single target of concern: namely, how we are losing focus,” said a review in The New York Times.

It said Hari breaks down the many causes of our lack of attention into two categories: Too much and too little. Too much information, stress, surveillance and manipulation, and ADHD diagnoses. Not enough sleep, novel reading, navel gazing and nutritious food. He doesn’t declare algorithms or even digital technology as the single culprit, since “information overload” has been creeping up on us and impairing our focus for some time.

Each potential cause is interrogated in its own chapter, and they all contain interviews with researchers in the chosen topic.


What We Are Reading Today: The Urban Brain

What We Are Reading Today: The Urban Brain
Updated 31 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The Urban Brain

What We Are Reading Today: The Urban Brain

Edited by Nikolas Rose & Des Fitzgerald

Most of the world’s people now live in cities and millions have moved from the countryside to the rapidly growing megacities of the global south.

How does the urban experience shape the mental lives of those living in and moving to cities today? Sociologists study cities as centers of personal progress and social innovation, but also exclusion, racism, and inequality. Psychiatrists try to explain the high rates of mental disorders among urban dwellers, especially migrants.

But the split between the social and life sciences has hindered understanding of how urban experience is written into the bodies and brains of urbanites.


What We Are Reading Today: Policing the Black Man

What We Are Reading Today: Policing the Black Man
Updated 30 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Policing the Black Man

What We Are Reading Today: Policing the Black Man

Author: Angela J. Davis

A comprehensive, readable analysis of the key issues of the Black Lives Matter movement, this thought-provoking and compelling anthology features essays by some of the nation’s most influential and respected criminal justice experts and legal scholars.

The book explores and critiques the many ways the criminal justice system impacts the lives of African American boys and men at every stage of the criminal process from arrest through sentencing.

Essays range from an explication of the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system to an examination of modern-day police killings of unarmed black men, according to a review on goodreads.com.

The co-authors discuss and explain racial profiling, the power and discretion of police and prosecutors, the role of implicit bias, the racial impact of police and prosecutorial decisions, and the disproportionate imprisonment of black men.


What We Are Reading Today: What Happened To You?

What We Are Reading Today: What Happened To You?
Updated 30 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: What Happened To You?

What We Are Reading Today: What Happened To You?

Edited by Bruce D. Perry, Oprah Winfrey

“What Happened to You?” provides powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns which many of us struggle to understand. This book is going to change the way you see your life.

When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. The book tells us that it’s time we started asking a different question.

Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves.


What We Are Reading Today: Talking Cure; An Essay on the Civilizing Power of Conversation

What We Are Reading Today: Talking Cure; An Essay on the Civilizing Power of Conversation
Updated 28 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Talking Cure; An Essay on the Civilizing Power of Conversation

What We Are Reading Today: Talking Cure; An Essay on the Civilizing Power of Conversation

Edited by Paula Marantz Cohen

“Talking Cure” is a timely and enticing excursion into the art of good conversation. Paula Marantz Cohen reveals how conversation connects us in ways that social media never can and explains why simply talking to each other freely and without guile may be the cure to what ails our troubled society. 

Drawing on her lifelong immersion in literature and culture and her decades of experience as a teacher and critic, Cohen argues that we learn to converse in our families and then carry that knowledge into a broader world where we encounter diverse opinions and sensibilities.


What We Are Reading Today: Three Roads Back

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 28 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Three Roads Back

Photo/Supplied

Author: Robert D. Richardson

In “Three Roads Back,” Robert Richardson, the author of magisterial biographies of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and William James, tells the connected stories of how these foundational American writers and thinkers dealt with personal tragedies early in their careers. For Emerson, it was the death of his young wife and, 11 years later, his five-year-old son; for Thoreau, it was the death of his brother; and for James, it was the death of his beloved cousin Minnie Temple.

Filled with rich biographical detail and unforgettable passages from the journals and letters of Emerson, Thoreau, and James, these vivid and moving stories of loss and hard-fought resilience show how the writers’ responses to these deaths helped spur them on to their greatest work, influencing the birth and course of American literature and philosophy. In reaction to his traumatic loss, Emerson lost his Unitarian faith and found solace in nature.

Thoreau, too, leaned on nature and its regenerative power, discovering that “death is the law of new life,” an insight that would find expression in Walden. And James, following a period of panic and despair, experienced a redemptive conversion and new ideas that would drive his work as a psychologist and philosopher.