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Back in early January, I was just about to publish a list of some of my favorite books of 2014 when the free speech world exploded due to the horrible murders in Paris. I wrote a little bit about my thoughts on the issue for The Huffington Post about a week later, pointing out that the decision not to publish the Mohammed cartoons almost a decade ago may have been a fateful error. I decided to put off my review of books 2014 until today.
As you can see, like I do all my book reviews, I try to focus on how the book’s arguments or findings relate to my work defending free speech on campus and in the larger world. In this case I focused on The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self—Not Just Your “Good” Self—Drives Success and Fulfillment. The book is fascinating, as it argues for the psychological benefits of “negative” emotional states. It took me 2000+ words to do the book justice, but I thought Ricochet readers might like this excerpt:
Campuses for most of my career have been signaling to students that you need a thorough college education to be able to effectively talk to people different than you. I’ve always rejected this. It’s elitist, for one, but further I find it classist in the same way the old Victorian censors were classist, seeming to think that the solution to “indecency” was for everyone to talk like the upper-class (or, more accurately, how the upper class likes to think it talks). It’s simply hard to imagine people communicating honestly and effectively with each other when there are so many rules–both overt and implicit–about what you can and can’t say.
I also discussed books by John Tierney, Steven Pinker, and several others as among my favorites.
As I am always looking for suggestions on what to read next, what were some of your favorite books of 2014?