12 Books to Start a Smarter New Year

From a Wall Street Journal story headlined “12 Books to Start a Smart New Year”:

Starting 2022 with the desire for renewal? Whether it’s a better way of ordering your thoughts, your diet or your inbox, these books—all reviewed in The Wall Street Journal in the past year—have ideas to get you started.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
By Adam Grant / Viking
The psychologist and author of “Originals” pushes us to be humble in our convictions, curious about the alternatives—and open to discovery. His aim is to “explore how rethinking happens,” how we change our minds, how we persuade others, and how we build cultures of lifelong learning. Read the review

You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence
By Jon Levy /
Harper Business
Trust and a sense of community are essential for individuals and businesses who want to cultivate influence. If you want to live a long and enjoyable life, the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with people and develop meaningful relationships. Read the review

The Scout Mindset: See Things Cleearlyand Others Don’t
By Julia Salef /
Portfolio
Admitting our beliefs are false can feel like a failure, a sign of weakness. Instead, we should look at changing our minds as an “update.” Leaving behind the defensive “soldier” mindset for the viewpoint of a “scout” leads to a more accurate map of reality—the motivation to see things as they are, not as we wish they were. Read the review

The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Out Social Ills
By Jesse Singal / Farrar, Straus & Giroux
The study of human behavior has led to real insights from scientists—and, too often, to simplistic, reductive “solutions” to complex problems. “The Quick Fix” takes on both the allure of fad psychology and the ways in which individuals and institutions can do a better job of resisting it. Read the review

Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion
By Wendy Suzuki / Atria
Stress can cloud thinking, but anxieties can give us “hidden superpowers”—from resilience to compassion, creativity and more. “Good Anxiety” is a practical, science-backed guidebook on how to channel this potent but challenging aspect of our internal lives into a means for becoming our best selves. Read the review

Smarter Tomorrow: How 15 Minutes of Neurohacking Can Help You Work Better, Think Faster, and Get More Done
By Elizabeth Ricker / Little, Brown Spark
If you’re familiar with “life hacks,” the small shortcuts that can neutralize everyday difficulties, you might be ready for the concept of “neurohacking.” Techniques including light exposure, exercise and neurofeedback offer the chance to run experiments on your own cognitive wiring. Read the review

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals
By Oliver Burkeman / Farrar, Straus & Giroux
The average human lifespan is “absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short.” Unlike traditional time-management books, which turn on an unrealistic promise of doing it all, ”Four Thousand Weeks” makes the case that we need to rid ourselves of the “limit-denying fantasy of getting it all done” and instead devote our precious days to the things that matter. Read the review

The Deadline Effect: How  to Work Like It’s the Last Minute—Before the Last Minute
By Christopher Cox / Avid Reader
Rushed work can be shoddy, yet we dally and delay until the last minute, when a deadline suddenly concentrates the mind. The good news, according to the author—who studied high-end restaurants, theatrical productions and ski resorts for ideas about how the pros get ready for big openings—is that we can make deadlines work for us instead of the other way around.
Read the review

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It
By Ethan Kross / Crown
The voices in our heads are sometimes among our biggest obstacles. Commanding yourself to feel happy may get you nowhere, but psychological studies suggest that with the right techniques, we can alter our perspectives, interactions and environments so that good vibes ensue. Read the review

A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload
By Cal Newport / Portfolio
The hyperactive hive mind that email enabled has been a disaster for overall productivity. Is it time, wonders a computer scientist and longtime user of the medium, to try something else? Chucking email entirely might be hard, but less drastic habit adjustments, at least, are doable. Read the review

The End of Craving: Recovering the Lost Wisdom of Eating Well
By Mark Schatzker / Avid Reader
We consume foods that are designed to fool the brain into believing it has received nutrition when it hasn’t. Then we consume more of them. If today’s foods and beverages manipulate the brain and wreak havoc on the body, the first step to regaining control is understanding how we lost it. Read the review

Forgetting the Benefits of Not Remembering
By Scott A. Small / Crown
It turns out that mentally misplacing facts and details is not only healthy but psychologically necessary. When we draw a blank or stumble over a mislaid word, we are merely evidencing a “cognitive gift” that allows us to adapt to the tumult of our lives. The key to using it might be found in a good night’s sleep. Read the review

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