Book Reviews #53

Book Reviews

Book reviews from the past month.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

year: 2016 | pages: 340 | rating: 4/5

Frans de Waal is a world-renowned biologist and primatologist providing groundbreaking work on animal intelligence in the book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. As humans we have a tendency to believe we are smarter than all other animals and our studies reflect those beliefs; Frans de Waal proves there are flaws with our logic (and our experiments) and animals are smarter than we give them credit for. Animals are able to use tools, plan ahead, recognise faces, and keep track of time De Waal argues they only learn what they need to learn, which has caused issues for the human observers. De Waal's work shows us we need to rethink everything we believe we know about animal and human intelligence.

"Instead of making humanity the measure of all things, we need to evaluate other species by what they are." I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was amazed but also stunned by how intelligent animals are and how ignorant humans have been when it comes to judging that intelligence. Humans have always used the excuse of superior intelligence over animals as a way of justifying the abuse and killing of fellow animals, this book shows us how wrong we are.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

year: 2015 | pages: 209 | rating: 3/5

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck parodies Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up but instead of decluttering your home, Sarah Knight teaches you how to declutter your obligations, shame, and guilt. Despite being a parody, this book does a remarkable job at providing common sense advice that will have to slapping your forehead at how obvious it all is. Knight wants to break your old habits of putting other first and doing things you really don't want to do. It's a self-help book for mental clutter and it works.

"It's not about the socks is it?" This is the sentence that won me over. As much as I love decluttering my home and simplifying my life, I've long since realised "it's not about the socks." What's more important is mental health. As terrible as the title is and as cliche as some of the advice gets, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck is about not caring so much about what other people think of you or trying to please everyone else at the expense of your own health. The "NotSorry Method" is about caring about the things that really matter, and that's a method I can always get behind.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

year: 2016 | pages: 288 | rating: 3/5

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, provides an introduction to "the culture of hygge" explaining what it is, what it looks like, and why it's so important to the Danish lifestyle. Hygge is as much about the right lighting, dinner with friends, cosy evenings, and good food, as it is about the "untranslatable" magic ingredient. Wiking explains what hygge is and how you can achieve it, which (despite what some people say) is possible. Although hygge is a term that doesn't have a literal translation it's a concept everyone is familiar with and can relate to: the sense of warmth, comfort, cosiness, belongings, and safety. It's a lovely concept you'd be hard pushed to find something not to like about it.

I wish a lot of people hating on hygge and claiming "it can never be translated" had read this book so they could see how wrong they were. Hygge is a crucial part of Danish life but it can be translated into very clear terms we can all understand. That sense of wanting to feel loved, the cosy comfort of a warm home with good company and mood lighting, and the sense of belonging and safety are all concepts we understand, enjoy, and seek in life - we just don't have a single word to describe it like the Danish do. The Little Book of Hygge is a pretty little book and while a little reptitive it's a short and enjoyable read that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees

year: 2016 | pages: 272 | rating: 3/5

If you're unsure about what your personal style is or want to make your clothing options match your lifestyle, Anuschka Rees provides the tools you need to build a wardrobe you can be proud of. The Curated Closet sets out achievable methods for identifying, refining, and building your ideal wardrobe with clothing that expresses your personal style. If you're new to "style and minimalism," this book (and Rees blog, Into Mind) is a great place to start.

This is a beautifully designed coffee table book with practical tips, shopping strategies, and achievable methods for curating your style. The book is packed with beautifully designed pages, full-colour fashion photography, infographics and worksheets, which cumulates into a useful guide covering all the capsule wardrobe basics. I'm not a fan of worksheets or overly complicated exercises, and the lack of diverse models or even clothing style is quite off-putting. If you're new to capsule wardrobes there is a lot of information packed between the pages to get you started with minimalist style. It's a lovely book especially for fashion enthusiasts and bloggers, but you could just read the blog.