Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Great Read 2011 - January

This year I've set a goal to read 90 books this year. That's 7 1/2 books a month. Who knows if I'll make it since my life seems to be getting busier by the day, but having a goal gives me something to aim for :)

Anyway, I figured I would feature my favorite book or two here each month to help keep track of the ones I love.

So...for January, my favorite book by far was A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. This book was exquisitely written. A definite must-read for those working with people (therapists, social workers, etc.) or for anyone who hasn't found quite what they are looking for in the self-help section of the bookstore. This IS NOT a self-help book, but it explains why people can't find the answers in them and provides a fantastic explanation of how our brains function, change, and grow and why it is we need other people in order to become truly independent, satisfied beings.

Review from
The Beatles may have sounded naive when they assured us that "all you need is love," but they may not have been far off the mark. New research in brain function has proven that love is a human necessity; its absence damages not only individuals, but our whole society. In this stimulating work, psychiatrists Lewis, Amini and Lannon explain how and why our brains have evolved to require consistent bonding and nurturing. They contend that close emotional connections actually change neural patterns in those who engage in them, affecting our sense of self and making empathy and socialization possible. Indeed, the authors insist, "in some important ways, people cannot be stable on their own." Yet American society is structured to frustrate emotional health, they contend: self-sufficiency and materialistic goals are seen as great virtues, while emotional dependence is considered a weakness. Because our culture does not sufficiently value interpersonal relationships, we are plagued by anxiety and depression, narcissism and superficiality, which can lead to violence and self-destructive behaviors. It is futile to try to think our way out of such behaviors, the authors believe, because emotions are not within the intellect's domain. What is needed is healthy bonding from infancy; when this does not occur, the therapist must model it. The authors' utopian vision of emotional health may strike some as vague or conservative to a fault, and the clarity of their thesis is marred by indirect and precious writing. Yet their claim that "what we do inside relationships matters more than any other aspect of human life" is a powerful one.

Although my "to read" list is already much longer than 90 books, I'm always looking for more. Read any good books lately?