I love this book!  David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times, (which is an oxymoron, but is a verifiable statement), recently wrote the book, The Social Animal, where he tracks the lives of two fictional characters, Harold and Erica, from birth to death.  He uses their lives as the means to illustrate the major principles in academic psychology (as opposed to popular psychology). Everything that you’d remember from an undergraduate degree in Psychology is lumped together in this book.  All the stuff you’d forget probably anyway isn’t in here in the first place.

He discusses leadership, attachment theory, brain development, judgmental heuristics, character development and a host of other topics.  You’ll find all the stuff that is interesting and hardly anything that is dull.  Brooks’ character descriptions are is simply dripping with funny details.  When describing Harold’s father noticing his mother begin her labor pains, Brooks writes, “He could hear Julia doing the sort of breathing exercises one does when one is trying to restrain an impulse to put an ax in another person’s head.  It soon became clear that, in fact, he would not be going to the movies that night.”  Some of his observations of characters will make you laugh out loud.  At least I did.

Quibble: Harold and Erica are childless; therefore, he spends very little time talking about family relationships through the life span.