Saturday, October 8, 2016

Choice or design

Lately I've been reading memoir and nonfiction. About people thinking, and re-thinking the forces that shape our lives. On reflection I see another common thread, of choice: why and how we make choices, and how important those choices are. We aren't always choosing consciously or even aware of the choices we make, but they shape every day of our lives.

Sugar, Fat, Salt: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss
A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist investigates the food industry, and along the way we learn about addiction, food science, marketing, and the men and women that concocted processed foods. This was Nicolette's pick for book club this month. During our discussion, we talked about how some of the information may not be new but there were definitely interesting reveals, such as secret meetings between food giants, bliss points for sugar and human biology's insatiable desire for fat.

this is happy, by Camilla Gibb
The writer talks about living with mental illness, finding love and getting married to another woman, trying to conceive, her miscarriage, being left by the love of her life while she is still pregnant with their second child, deep despair, and then trying to build a life as a single parent. But it is also about renewing ties with a brother, forging a deep friendship, redefining family, and realizing 'happy' isn't always elsewhere.

A Good Death, by Sandra Martin
Recent legislation in Canada has made physician-assisted death easier to access, so this book is indeed timely. The author spoke passionately at the Heliconian about the right to die with dignity and the fact that we'll need to work a lot harder as individuals and as a society if we are to make a "good death" a reality. Now I have a signed copy on my bookshelf.

Misbehaving: The Story of Behaviour Economics, by Richard Thaler
This is an intellectual memoir by the author that inspired choice architects with the idea that people could be nudged into good behaviour to improve society and maximize wellbeing. There's an interesting interview with the author about the book here. Not sure I will finish the memoir, but I do want to read Nudge.

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