• Must-read books: popular psychology edition

    Megan van der Ham

    Of course we are all tired of having to read tons of books and articles for our study and having to concentrate on every little part. However, reading educative books in your free time could be really fun, you just have to find your genre of interest. For people who have an interest in psychology and human behaviour, reading these books is a must! They will give you insights into why people do what they do and are perfect for a little self-development as well. Who doesn’t want that?

    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    This is quite a theoretical book and therefore, not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to reading for fun. Even though, I would still advise you to read this book if you are interested in how the mind works, since it clearly explains how the mind uses two different systems. System 1 is fast, automatic and intuitive and system 2 is slower, more logical and effortful. These two systems influence the way you make a choice. When a choice is made automatically, such as the turns you make when driving home, your system 1 is in control. However, when it took some effort to make a choice, such as solving a mathematical equation, your system 2 is in control. With his book, Kahneman demonstrates that even though we think we are rational thinking human beings, in fact we are mostly irrational. However, this is a positive thing since it is our surviving mechanism. He explains how these two systems lead to different outcomes in the same situation and how, even though your system 1 wants to protect your system 2, it cannot always be possible to avoid pitfalls. To conclude, this book changes the way you think about thinking.

    The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    The magazine The Economist quoted that this book is “just the right balance of intellectual seriousness and practical advice on how to break our bad habits” and I could not agree more. It also is such an easy book to read through. To build upon the knowledge gained from Kahneman’s book, habits are part of your system 1 and help you take action without putting effort in the thinking process behind it. This book explains precisely how habits work with the help of various stories of people whose lives are impacted by their habits, both positively and negatively. These stories reach from the habits of athletes to the habits of gamblers, CEO’s and even mentally ill people. It also discusses how companies can predict habits and use it in their advantage. In addition, Duhigg provides understanding in how habits in society led to the Civil Rights movement in the United States. This book gives an interesting understanding in how habits work, demonstrates it with real life experiences and also learns you to understand your own habits, how they were created and if wanted, how to change them in a way that proves successful. 

    Master Your Mindset by Michael Pilarczyk
    Pilarczyk became very successful as DJ on the radio and then lost all his assets on the stock market leaving him with a loss of two million. That is when he changed his mindset and ultimately became a business man who set up a company that achieved a turnover of 20 million within two years. Therefore, it can be trusted that this book is no nonsense. Unfortunately, it is only for the Dutch readers among us. In this book Pilarczyk explains that you are the one who has to explore your own potential and he helps you by asking questions which you probably would not ask yourself. In addition to answering these questions and thinking about it, he motivates you to take action as well. All his stories are based on his own past, his clients and his masterclasses. This book truly educates you on how to master your mindset and become as successful as you can possibly be.

    HersenHack by Margriet Sitskoorn
    This book is quite interactive and again for the Dutch readers only. Sitskoorn provided several small tests in the book which make it possible for you to test yourself on the current topic. The book is split up into two parts. The first part proves that no matter how intelligent you are, you often unconsciously change to an easier, negligent thinking mode, which can lead to you making mistakes. The second part explains that us being idle combined with the provision of information in this day and age, could make you an easy prey for influences from outside. She proves this by Trump’s provision of fake news, but also by how you perceive unsafety in the current era, the way your enjoyment system has been hacked leading to social media, alcohol and game addictions, and group formation and how this creates unconscious associations and sometimes even leads to discrimination. Sitskoorn covers a lot in this book and thereby uses and also explains substantial professional jargon which is something I really liked.

    Nowadays, self-development and reading for fun is becoming more interesting among young people. Luckily, many writers are publishing popular psychology books that are easy to read and do not require you to have previous knowledge. Most of them link their findings to everyday situations, but also to the development of human beings and society, leading to the possibility of expanding your knowledge in various fields. The four books discussed in this book review are a few of many interesting books that I have read and hopefully, I inspired you enough to read them all as well!