“The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement” by David Brooks


If I were to say David Brooks’s The Social Animal is one of the most insightful, illuminating books I’ve read this year, I’d be selling it far short. It’s one of the most insightful, illuminating books I’ve ever read.

Mr. Brooks is best known as a political pundit (PBS News Hour, The New York Times), where his civil, dialectical discourse and insight elevate him above the fray of today’s intellectually monochromatic verbal bullies. Among the many realms upon which he focuses in his work (and which he masterly illuminates) is that of the unconscious mind and its disproportionate influence on our behavior. The leitmotif of The Social Animal is presented in the following from the “Introduction”:

“We are living in the middle of a revolution of consciousness . . . And a core finding of [neuroscientists, psychologists, etc.] is that we are not primarily the products of our conscious thinking. We are primarily the products of thinking that happens below the level of awareness.”

Using the fictional characters of Erica and Harold (who eventually meet and marry), Mr. Brooks takes us through the major stages of life (infancy, teen years, first job, later career, middle age, retirement, death), shedding light, at each stage, on how the vortex of culture, sociology, and unconscious cognition combine to direct a life. In a Western culture largely predicated on the preeminence and dominance of Reason (or so we like to think), this is—pardon the pun—heady stuff.

I could go on and on about this book (and have, to my friends, bless their hearts!), but I’ll end with one summarizing statement: Once in a great while, a book comes along that is so eye-opening that it alters how you see the world forever. This is such a book.

For more information, please visit:

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:


Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.



Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew


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