Review (Non-Fiction): The Inner Level

The Inner Level - Richard Wilkinson , Kate Pickett

Apologies for the lengthy review/ramble. Wealth Inequality has long been a special interest (pet hate?) of mine, and Pickett and Wilkinson’s first piece on the matter – The Spirit Level – was a hugely influential book on my thinking.

To be honest I was slow to pick up Inner Level though, as I kinda thought that the thorough and robust Spirit Level hardly left anything more to present.

I was completely wrong.

The Inner level focusses much more on the personal effects of wealth inequality and expands the detail into how inequality impacts mental health, through status anxiety and mistrust. Where Spirit Level was much more statistical and aimed at a societal level, Inner Level is much more individual, and much more accessible and relevant to all people. In some regards Inner Level isn’t so much a sequal or follow-up but an advanced expansion that would be totally appropriate to pick up first if desired.

Furthermore where Inner Level expands on solutions and possible positive change, which while not a lot different to the Spirit Levels findings did feel much more productively and hopefully presented.

For anyone concerned that the issue is just the far left of politics I would emplore a reconsideration. Wealth inequality, while obviously tied deeply to politics is much deeper and more concerning. There isn’t any hopefuly communist or marxist sentiment in this book – although there is a little longing for egalitarian times of hunter gatherers (a different topic I have much interest in).

To me the issue of wealth inequality isn’t so much about fairness or rescuing the poor (although both are good things) wealth inequality is in fact harmful for all people, even the ultra-wealthy whose positions are much more unstable and let’s face it no matter how rich you are you still have to live in a world filled with the 99% and if 99% of people are miserable, times are not going to be great.

My final thought NOT from the Inner Level, but a thesis I have myself, that addressing wealth inquality will in fact financially and ecomocially benefit the 1% anyway – I don’t think its a question of spreading the currently wealth around but rather organizing ourselves in a way that generates wealth more equally – which would in fact create more wealth to go to the top 1% right? (this is at the very least what I would say to some hugely weathly individual who was concerned)

In summary this is a super accessible and super important book. Wealth inequality has impacts on almost all elements of human experience, from climate change, prejudice, mental and physical health, yet its an area not often (although more often than 10 years ago) spoken of when trying to solve all the problems of the world.

Highly recommended.

How “Start With Why” is vital for Writing

Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4418020019

While Sinek’s book is very much focussed on business or organisational leadership I feel like understanding your Why is really important in Writing. I remember myself (what seems like a ridiculously long period ago) getting started in actually writing and basically having a silly amount of ‘Whys’:

  • Wanting to not need a dayjob
  • Being famous and influencial
  • Being a Best-Selling writer
  • Having screen adaptations of my work
  • Blah blah blah

Actually I don’t want to hassle my younger self or the very many writers which I know are out there (thanks internet) with similar lofy goals.

What I do think is important thought is fully understanding the Why. My point being that a lot of writers don’t just want success x 100 they also want to create original works, or stay staunch to their visions and feel threatened by feedback or edits. At some point these goals do start to contradict each other and can create a lot of tension. For example if one wishes to be comerically successful there are a lot of sacrifices that one will have to make, usually in persistence and compromize. In the converse if the ‘Why’ is to get your personal vision for a story out in the word, this path will be a lot more fufilling if you’re not trying to get your work picked up by Netflix too.

Personally I think Starting with Why, helps a writer to focus on whats important to them which if anything else allows them to much more enjoy the journey rather than despair (let’s face it writing is a bit of bittersour activity at the best of times).

Original Simon Sinek TeD Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Given that we are rounding out another tough year with a very uncertain 2022 ahead of us, its a good time to rather than set stressful or guilty goals for the new year, to maybe consider your ‘Why’ and then worry about ‘What, and How’…

Take Care, Nga Mihi Nui

Book Review: Mort (Discworld re-read)

Mort-i-fying

Book Review: Mort / Terry Pratchett / Teen / Adult | Sue ...

So I have a bit of an odd soft-spot for Mort. Odd, because its not the first Discworld Novel that I’ve read, but it is the first graphic-novel of the Discworld I picked up when I was quite young. Funnily I didn’t really ‘get’ the Discworld a the time, I did not understand why the MC was not heroic and him and the love interest(?) where busy insulting each other constantly.

Nonetheless it was a strange pleasure going back to read Mort, something I am finding going through the Discworld Novels with an older lens is there is a much different feel to the books. Probably the most surprising is that once you connect with more of the humour the stories do seem less serious, it is satire afterall.

As a bit of an aside I find it interesting that most people see the Discworld series as quite ‘wacky’ and fun but I think due to reading them at an early age and missing much of the jokes I do find myself tapping into the darker elements of the novels (in a good way).

Speaking of – back to Mort itself, the story is the first of the Death novels, and interesting doesn’t continue with its two main/side? characters Mort and Yssabel. I wonder if perhaps Mort as a character is a little too close to Rincewind (who incidently features briefly in Mort, most main characters do not cross paths in Discworld Novels however they do appear quite frequently).

Something intriguing with Mort is Prachett has refined his plotting with this novel, messing with ideas about how timelines/fate and choices collide, branching out into a story which is more about the consequences of the characters’ actions rather than a typical fantasy magical threat of some kind.

All of Prachett’s Discworld Characters are ‘the best’ but the Death series is particularly fascinating thread that I’m looking forward to recounting the rest of.

Non-Fiction Review: Psycho-Logical

A Logical Choice!

Psycho-Logical : Why Mental Health Goes Wrong - and How to Make Sense of It - Dean Burnett

I am getting seriously behind in my book reviews…

I picked up Psycho-Logical a few months back with interest both general and professional. I think the first thing that I was most pleasantly surprised by was the balanced, sensitive, and accessible way Burnett introduced the book. The topic being possibly one of the most challenging to manage to avoid controvesy this was probably the least worrisome take you’ll ever read.

In terms of level Psycho-Logical is fairly technical especially as Brunett is more of a neuroscientist so there is a wealth of material on brain science. That said its a straightforward read that I wouldn’t image being too dense for anyone interested in picking it up.

As a behavioural professional I found the book really helpful for fleshing out an area of less proficency of mine and is highly recommended for anyone in a similar boat.

Probably my only beef, and a totally unfair one – is that I simply wish the book could have continued and covered even more areas of mental health. Given the breath of the topic the book fairly covers the most common mental disorders (depression, anxiety etc, and addiction) but I would jump at the chance to read more in the same vein on other challenges/vulnerabilities.

5 stars.