Mind the Gap - Updated Booklist

Since my first official post on books, I've finished reading five books on very different topics.  They books include:

The Myth of the Spoiled Child

Overview

A book about (American) cultural misconceptions of children, at the base of which is a society that is not friendly toward them.  There's also a significant discussion on the ideas/stereotypes/misconceptions of parenting techniques such as "coddling" and helicopter parenting, as well as grades and rewards.

Commentary

Definitely the most interesting and insightful book I've read in a long time.  A lot of times the book brought up points that I knew at a gut level but always had trouble articulating into words, especially when it came to school/grades, and rewards/feedback.  It's well supported with scientific and psychological studies, and does an excellent job of acknowledging the current cultural mindset and how it can make sense before completely destroying the argument through well-documented research and rational thinking. 


Fast Food Nation

Overview

A history on fast food, and the influence on agriculture, politics, school lunches, and obesity. 

Commentary

This book was not what I was expecting, but it was a good read.  The main setting, outside of the historical anecdotes, is my hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, which is awesome especially considering the book was "One of TIME's 100 BEST Nonfiction Books", as prominently stated on the cover.  In the second chapter he talks about how in 1993, Colorado Springs School District 11, the school district I was in for my entire public education from elementary school through high school, was the first public school district to place fast food ads in hallways and on school buses.  The district was apparently faced revenue shortfalls from increased enrollment and "voter hostility to tax increases for education" (51).  The cool part though, is in 1997, when I was in elementary school, the district made a deal with Coca-Cola to be an exclusive beverage provider for the district.  I remember in middle school how one day I found out I was the recipient of a Coca-Cola scholarship worth a few hundred dollars.  I'd never applied for it, and I had no idea why a Coca-Cola was giving me money.  I was told it was for good grades and good attendance but I was completely confused as to how these factors translated into a scholarship from a very large beverage company.  Now, a decade later, I know why. 

There was also a section on how the olfactory system (sense of smell) works - when you crush food in your mouth, the food releases volatile gases that travel up to the olfactory center in your nose, and these gases combine with the information from the taste buds to create the sensation of taste.  That's why it's hard to taste anything when your nose is stuffed.   Cool, right?


Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

Overview

A set of tips to eat healthier and eat less without consciously thinking about it.  There are sections on what buffet owners can do to reduce the amount people take, how school cafeterias can get children to eat more fruit, and what consumers can do to make better choices.

Commentary

The book was a little bit of a rehash of his previous book, Mindless Eating.  There were, however, a lot of new examples, diagrams, and topics that had not been discussed previously.  The most memorable was when he talks about college dining halls.   He says that a lot of places have tried "going trayless" to decrease the amount of waste, but it doesn't work.  Waste is measured by weight, and the weight difference between a tray and no tray is all beverage weight, so he suggests that schools keep trays but make them smaller.  The best part is, he works at Cornell.  I spent 4 years frequenting the dining halls there, and I can tell you from direct experience that  Cornell is trayless in a few of the dining halls and is still trying to go trayless across the entire campus. 


Consumer.ology: The Market Research Myth, the Truth about Consumers and the Psychology of Shopping

Overview

The book's subtitle tells you everything you need to know.

Commentary

I felt like a huge nerd reading this book because he kept citing other author's whose works I'd already read, namely Daniel Kahneman (who gets cited all the time for his pioneering research in psychology), and Paco Underhill.  The book mentions a fair number of studies I'd read elsewhere, but includes some of his own research as well.  In the end he suggests his own approach to consumer research.  It sounded like standard ethnographic research, but he calls it his AFECT approach and never mentions the ethnography word anywhere.


French Twist

Overview

An American woman living in Brooklyn tries a French parenting approach on her two young children.

Commentary

Many statements invoked the feeling of "this is everything that's wrong with society."  A separate post has been designated to address all of these issues.


Updated List of Completed Books: (new additions in bold + italics)

The Element by Ken Robinson

Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn

100 Things Every Designer Should Know by Susan Weinshenk

Incognito by David Eagleman

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

Consumer.ology by Philip Graves

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

French Twist by Catherine Crawford

The Calorie Myth by Jonathon Bailor

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life by Brian Wansink

Momo by Michael Ende