Forty titles to open your eyes, expand your mind, and rock your world

20 of the books that rocked my world

In 2020, I read 174 nonfiction books (and 4 novels). Nearly all were excellent, because as I’ve said before in my how to read more books article, life’s too short to read crappy books.

To that end, I present to you a list of titles that stood out even amongst this exalted cohort. Some were written with dazzling beauty. Some had such stupendous explanatory power as to give you an extra pair of eyes. Some were a tour de force of research and storytelling. Some introduced breakthrough science almost too hard to believe if the authors themselves weren’t behind it.


1. Normalizes lying to kids. For YEARS. Parents — this is how future Trumpkins are manufactured.

2. Directly counter to meritocracy. Kids think they’re getting presents commensurate with how naughty or nice they’ve been, but actually it’s only a measure of how rich their parents are.

3. It’s the precursor to the surveillance state. “He knows when you’ve been sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” — who is this guy, Mark Zuckerberg and the NSA rolled into one? Fuck that.

4. You’re allowed to have a Santa Clara, Santa Theresa, or Santa Monica. What do they all have in common…


Three ways the COVID-19 pandemic is reducing your stress and self-inflicted misery unbeknownst to you

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the planet, Americans were already experiencing record rates of anxiety and depression. Loneliness was also at epidemic rates. Add to that income loss, the resultant economic uncertainty, chronic deprivation from meaningful social contact, and the possibility that you might die every time you step outside your house, and you’ve got yourself one seriously bummed-out species.

But even in the midst of the turmoil and contagion, there are aspects of the pandemic that have surreptitiously been adding to your storehouses of happiness — or at the very least, not subtracting from them. …


Your social creative faculties are hardwired by evolution to make you happy. Here’s how to use them

I’m standing at the edge of a prehistoric forest clad in a Flintstone-style bearskin, minding my own business, when I see a mastodon approaching me. This one looks like he’s in a bad mood — slow wi-fi day?— and starts to charge. I pick up some stones and start pelting him, but that just makes him madder. As he runs at me faster, I have two thoughts: this is the end, and gee I really hope this is a dream. At that moment, ten copies of myself rise out of the ground, and the full soccer squad of us pelt…


A treasury of books to help you stay sane and thrive during the coronavirus pandemic

So you’re cooped up at home. Hopefully with people you like, but more likely with family members. You can’t go anywhere, including work, which means you may or may not be making money. Your gym is closed, so there goes that stress-management outlet. On top of that, stores seem to be chronically out of toilet paper.

Oh, and there’s this pandemic raging outside that has already infected people you know. And is out to get you, too.

If you’re feeling distressed, lonely, confused, bewildered, angry…


Have you ever played poker?

If so, one of the first things you learn is that the strength of your own hand depends on the strength of your adversary’s hand. In other words, it’s not enough to know what your hand is. You also need to know what kind of hand your adversary is holding.

Now let’s say you’re thinking about dating a guy. What’s his hand, metaphorically speaking? This would entail asking yourself questions like: How many relationships has he had? How long did they last? Is he any good in the sack? Is he any good with women…


When I first moved to Los Angeles from Iran at 13, I was a scrawny little punk. This changed soon after I discovered Big Macs, Double Cheese Whoppers, one-pound bags of peanut M&Ms, Pringles potato chips, and boxes of Twinkies, scarfing them down in front of Knight Rider reruns. Soon, I was chubby — for the first time in my life. And, fortunately, for the last.

Then I read a magazine article that listed the amount of calories and fat in the junk I was devouring: for a Double Cheese Whopper from Burger King, it was something like 800 calories…


I have a mini-confession for you: I love bookstores.
Actually, that is not entirely true. I am crazy for bookstores.

They exert a gravitational pull on me like a black hole pulls in a photon and obliterates all signs of its existence, putting a stop to time. I see all the shiny new books and browse all the little treasures as my brain goes ooooh preciooous. I vanish into a sea of stimulus, novelty, and discovery.

But with the ecstasy there also came the agony of not being able to read all of these insanely cool books. When would I…


Hey there, ladies! Your reactions to the “Bad Boys & Addictions” article was swift and enthusiastic. Turns out that almost every woman has had some kind of experience with bad boys, not all of them healthy. Most gratifying were the responses from some of you saying, “Omigod, this is happening to me right now! Thanks for opening my eyes. Time to take out the trash!”

Here’s one from Theresa:

This post really hit me. I’m in a similar situation; however, I believe he’s the first man I’ve ever truly loved. He has commitment issues and will never really settle down…


One man’s account of his disappearances

Here’s a most excellent letter about a question that every woman has asked at some point:

“Why is it that a guy fiercely pursues a woman at first, and then when he finds out she is actually interested he is not so sure if he is interested anymore? And then his interest wanes and he starts treating her like an option instead of a priority? When can you let a guy know you are interested! At what stage? Is dating just one big game? How do you get a guy to treat you like priority instead of an option? For…

Ali Binazir, MD MPhil

Happiness Engineer bringing you the best science & wisdom for a happier, healthier life. Author, “Tao of Dating”, #1-rated women’s dating book on Amazon

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