The Social Animal

The Social Animal Summary


With unequaled insight and brio, New York Times columnist David Brooks has long explored and explained the way we live. Now Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life. This is the story of how success happens, told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica. Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to old age, illustrating a fundamental new understanding of human nature along the way: The unconscious mind, it turns out, is not a dark, vestigial place, but a creative one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made—the natural habitat of The Social Animal. Brooks reveals the deeply social aspect of our minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. He demolishes conventional definitions of success and looks toward a culture based on trust and humility. The Social Animal is a moving intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. It is an essential book for our time—one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.

Book Reviews


This will taunt And Joy5 star

This will so put your social hoarding and acumen to the test. Possibly at any level. It’s empowered me on the biggest part of media confidence and sociology. Bringing in creative talks, idea generation about values vs what’s being used by someone else’s class. It’s always a go too bible for a apple fan or someone always typing and sharing and listing new things on social media and their mobile Phones. This is somewhere a challenging read since from the time of purchase was self driven by a need to understand how to socialize as an introvert. Using social media and messaging and internet communications. David Brooks Social Animal taunts you and puts you out there in a pretty good pedestal and says it’s okay to be socially challenging and annoying at some other points. Celebrity and creative people alike would also benefit from this book. Especially when seeking to gain more traction in understanding how people socialize and sustain social momentum.55

curmudgeon larry

Nonfiction fiction5 star

Now I have to reread it as self-assigned homework. Maybe one page a day, read slowly?55


One of the best books I've ever read5 star

I never wanted to finish it55


Astonishing in its erudition...brilliant5 star

I don't remember enjoying a book as much as I did this in the recent past. More insight and wisdom per square inch than any other book.55

My wx

The Social Animal5 star

It's hard to believe that this is the same person who writes about politics for The Times. What depth of spirit David Brroks has.55


Stunning5 star

Wow! I wish I was better with words, because, David Brooks has created such a wonderful story, and has also included an amazing amount of information in a very thoughtful way. Thank you.55


Incredible5 star

David Brooks conveys a nearly unique insight into the human condition. His diagnosis of the problem of being human is matched by and informs his solutions- which carry a humility that is consistent with the social beings he describes. I can't recommend this book highly enough.55

Fr. Guido

The Social Animal5 star

I'm not any sort of professional reviewer so my offering is only of the enjoyment I received from reading David Brooks book. Here is a gifted man who can paint with words the things we cannot put into words and he affirms and examines an entire area of our lives (our character makeup) that is often thought not to exist. The spirit and soul and those areas of our being that really are the things that shape us but, since not directly measurable and visible, are relegated to being nonexistent or inconsequential. This book should give you insight into yourself, others and allow you to give the credit your unconscious mind deserves. You may learn to better access and listen to this part of your mind and derive both pleasure and wisdom from the knowledge it has tucked away. The mind, and indeed life, is built on relationships and, to my thinking, are the only things that remain in the end ... and that we take with us to the next life. David Brooks, thank you for introducing me to the rest of me that I have always suspected was there but was never brave enough or smart enough to recognize. Here endeth the review. Fr. Guido55


Wonderful5 star

Great breadth of information presented in a engaging and effect means.55


Mr. Brooks5 star

I still don't know how I feel about Mr. Brooks, the man behind the in-your-face Republican Op-Ed column in the New York Times. Being a Democrat, I posses a skewed desire to identify and critique his attempts to use his column to push forth his own political agenda. Being a Democrat, I have an unconscious desire to associate myself with Democrats like Gail Collins and disassociate myself from Republicans like Mr. Brooks. Despite all of these unconscious prejudices, constant desires to shriek "Eureka - I have spotted his political agenda!," and affirm my own biases about Mr. Brooks, I cannot help but admit - no, proclaim: This book is brilliant. In a word, it is incredible. In another: Illuminating. Life-changing. Brooks combines the life-defining scientific findings of our era to craft the fictional, science-shaped tale of Harold and Erica from Harold's parents' first date to the end of Harold and Erica's lives. It's all relatable because it's all set in the present tense. Brooks' proves that he can jump from romance to parenting, elite to impoverished, classroom to living room, college to job hopping, work to worldview, leadership to persuasion, politics to people, and even (gulp!) Republicans to Democrats... without a flinch. The all-present construct is brilliant; the depth of exploration is unbiased and intriguing; the point - that we are social animals who must stop socialize to survive - life-changing. Brooks' book has taught me to appreciate the beauty of the unconscious. Unlike Brooks' Op-Ed columns, The Social Animal doesn't have a political agenda - it just has a life agenda. This is one of the best books that I have ever read.55

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