Best psychology books of 2012

The best psychology books of 2012 as chosen by the Guardian:

Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life

In this elegant, compassionate, and absorbing book, Phillips draws deeply on his own clinical experience as well as on the works of Shakespeare and Freud, of D. W. Winnicott and William James, to suggest that frustration, not getting it, and and getting away with it are all chapters in our unlived lives—and may be essential to the one fully lived.

The Shrink and the Sage

Philosopher Julian Baggini and his psychotherapist partner Antonia Macaro offer intriguing answers to life’s questions. Can infidelity be good for you? What does it mean to stay true to yourself? Must we fulfil our potential? Self-help with a distinctly cerebral edge.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking

Burkeman’s new book is a witty, fascinating, and counterintuitive read that turns decades of self-help advice on its head and forces us to rethink completely our attitudes toward failure, uncertainty, and death.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation

Sennett contends that cooperation is a craft, and the foundations for skillful cooperation lie in learning to listen well and discuss rather than debate. In Together he explores how people can cooperate online, on street corners, in schools, at work, and in local politics. He traces the evolution of cooperative rituals from medieval times to today, and in situations as diverse as slave communities, socialist groups in Paris, and workers on Wall Street.

The Better Angels of Our Nature

In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.

Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Mind

In this passionate corrective to the idea that DNA is destiny, Jesse Prinz focuses on the most extraordinary aspect of human nature: that nurture can supplement and supplant nature, allowing our minds to be profoundly influenced by experience and culture.

Science of Love and Betrayal

Basing his arguments on new and experimental scientific research, Robin Dunbar explores the psychology and ethology of romantic love and how our evolutionary programming still affects our behaviour. Fascinating and illuminating, witty and accessible, “The Science of Love and Betrayal” is essential reading for anyone who’s ever wondered why we fall in love and what on earth is going on when we do.

Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

If you want the complexities of love in a family story that comes in bold graphic form and contains a host of psy-knowledge and Winnicottian lore, then Alison Bechdel’s comic drama Are You My Mother? is pure bliss.

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