HT Picks: Interesting reads
This week’s good reads include an examination of how individuals influence each other, a look at the workings of the Second Networked Age, and a novel on being obsessed with books,books Updated: Nov 03, 2017 19:27 IST
Ever since she could read, Vidya Patel realised that she preferred books to humans. Her family disapproves, but Vidya meanders through life with her nose in a book. When she is 10, she visits the Macmillan, a struggling heritage library in Mumbai. It is in the Macmillan that Vidya truly, finally, feels whole.
Vidya befriends Shekhar Raghavan, the brilliant, eccentric librarian, who becomes her mentor. As soon as she is old enough, she joins the library as a junior librarian, and throws herself into keeping the Macmillan going, with consequences she could never have foreseen. She also learns the destructive power of obsession, and what it does to people. Will Vidya be able to save the Macmillan? and at what cost?
The Librarian is a dark, powerful novel that will appeal to everybody who has ever loved a book, or found happiness in a library.
THE INFLUENTIAL MIND
Part of our daily job as humans is to influence others: we teach our children, guide our patients, advise our clients, help our friends and inform our online followers. But how good are we at this role? It turns out that we systematically fall back on sub-optimal habits when trying to change others’ beliefs and behaviours. Many of these instincts - from trying to scare people into action to insisting the other is wrong or attempting to exert control - are ineffective, because they are incompatible with how the mind operates.
In The Influential Mind Tali Sharot unveils the hidden power of influence, good and bad, and enables us to identify instances in which we fall prey to delusions. Along the way, she searches deep below the surface - drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology - to provide new insight into human behaviour.
THE SQUARE AND THE TOWER
Most history is hierarchical: it’s about popes, presidents and prime ministers. But what if that’s simply because hierarchies create the historical archives? What if we are missing equally powerful but less visible networks - leaving them to the conspiracy theorists, with their dreams of all-powerful Illuminati?
In the Square and the Tower Niall Ferguson argues that social networks are nothing new. From the printers and preachers who made the Reformation to the freemasons who led the American Revolution, it was the networkers who disrupted the old order of popes and kings. Our era is the Second Networked Age, with the personal computer in the role of the printing press. And all networks, past and present, are prone to clustering , contagions and even outages - with the conflicts of the past having unnerving parallels today, in the time of Faceboook, Islamic State and Trumpworld.