What We Are Reading Today: Hard to Break; Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick

What We Are Reading Today: Hard to Break; Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick
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Updated 26 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Hard to Break; Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick

What We Are Reading Today: Hard to Break; Why Our Brains Make Habits Stick

Edited by Russell A. Poldrack

We all have habits we’d like to break, but for many of us it can be nearly impossible to do so. There is a good reason for this: The brain is a habit-building machine. In Hard to Break, leading neuroscientist Russell Poldrack provides an engaging and authoritative account of the science of how habits are built in the brain, why they are so hard to break, and how evidence-based strategies may help us change unwanted behaviors.

Hard to Break offers a clear-eyed tour of what neuroscience tells us about habit change and debunks “easy fixes” that aren’t backed by science.


What We Are Reading Today: Three Roads Back

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Updated 28 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Three Roads Back

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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.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Empire of Ice and Stone

What We Are Reading Today: Empire of Ice and Stone
Updated 26 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Empire of Ice and Stone

What We Are Reading Today: Empire of Ice and Stone

Author: Buddy Levy

In the summer of 1913, the wooden-hulled brigantine Karluk departed Canada for the Arctic Ocean. At the helm was Captain Bob Bartlett, considered the world’s greatest living ice navigator. 

The expedition’s visionary leader was a flamboyant impresario named Vilhjalmur Stefansson hungry for fame.

Set against the backdrop of the Titanic disaster and World War I, filled with heroism, tragedy, and scientific discovery, Buddy Levy’s “Empire of Ice and Stone” tells the story of two men and two distinctively different brands of leadership: one selfless, one self-serving, and how they would forever be bound by one of the most audacious and disastrous expeditions in polar history.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Nine Things Successful People Do Differently’

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Updated 25 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Nine Things Successful People Do Differently’

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Author: Heidi Grant Halvorson

“Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” is a self-help book written by Heidi Grant Halvorson.

An easy read, the book highlights the key attributes of high achievers in helping them to achieve their goals.

It cites research showing that people achieve things not because of who they are, but because of what they do, and identifies nine strategies used by successful people to hit their targets.

They include being specific, seizing the moment, being a realistic optimist, focusing on getting better rather than getting good, showing determination, and focusing only on what needs to be done.

Halvorson explains the importance of knowing exactly what must be accomplished and keeping track of every action toward that set goal.

On being a realistic optimist, she points out the need to aim high, have a clear plan, and stay motivated.

And thoughts and ideas should be written down and acted upon as soon as possible.

A psychologist, researcher, and author, Halvorson has written for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and was one of Thinkers50 most influential management thinkers.

She is director of research and development for EY Americas Learning, and associate director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Land Beneath the Ice by David J. Drewry

What We Are Reading Today: The Land Beneath the Ice by David J. Drewry
Updated 24 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The Land Beneath the Ice by David J. Drewry

What We Are Reading Today: The Land Beneath the Ice by David J. Drewry

From the moment explorers set foot on the ice of Antarctica in the early nineteenth century, they desired to learn what lay beneath.

David J. Drewry provides an insider’s account of the ambitious and often hazardous radar mapping expeditions that he and fellow glaciologists undertook during the height of the Cold War, when concerns about global climate change were first emerging and scientists were finally able to peer into the Antarctic ice and take its measure.


What We Are Reading Today: The Scythian Empire

What We Are Reading Today: The Scythian Empire
Updated 23 January 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The Scythian Empire

What We Are Reading Today: The Scythian Empire

Author: Christopher I. Beckwith 

In the late 8th and early 7th centuries BCE, Scythian warriors conquered and unified most of the vast Eurasian continent, creating an innovative empire that would give birth to the age of philosophy and the Classical age across the ancient world - in the West, the Near East, India, and China.

Mobile horse herders who lived with their cats in wheeled felt tents, the Scythians made stunning contributions to world civilization - from capital cities and strikingly elegant dress to political organization and the world-changing ideas of Buddha, Zoroaster, and Laotzu-Scythians all.

In “The Scythian Empire,” Christopher I. Beckwith presents a major new history of a fascinating but often forgotten empire that changed the course of history.

At its height, the Scythian Empire stretched west from Mongolia and ancient northeast China to northwest Iran and the Danube River, and in Central Asia reached as far south as the Arabian Sea. The Scythians also ruled Media and Chao, crucial frontier states of ancient Iran and China.

By ruling over and marrying the local peoples, the Scythians created new cultures that were creole Scythian in their speech, dress, weaponry, and feudal socio-political structure.