Dec. 14 – Alan Jacobs – How To Think [Advent Calendar]

The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2017
Advent Calendar
December 14


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”250″ identifier=”B01MR8V850″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”190″]How to Think:
A Survival Guide
for a World at Odds

Alan Jacobs

Hardback: Currency, 2017
Buy Now:
[ [easyazon_link identifier=”B01MR8V850″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B01MR8V850″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Through much of this book, Jacobs supplies us with the tools and research to do that work, whether it’s understanding the concept of lumping, the value of waiting before responding, or realizing just how far to open (or close) our minds. He also, following David Foster Wallace, spots an example of how to argue critically, persuasively, and—this is critical—humbly. The details and the illustrations, the science and the autobiography, add up to a compelling view. Jacobs remains conversational throughout his writing, but the book remains a starting point (if something with so much reading behind it can be a “starting point”) and it’s easy to wish that Jacobs paused every now and then on his stroll. The book feels spacious but is dense with important ideas; pausing to look at the topics a little longer would likely have reward for both the reader and the applier.

Despite his leisurely style, Jacobs knows there’s actual work to be done, and labor remains central to his concerns. Learning to hear others, to think actual thoughts, and to express yourself doesn’t come without effort. It involves the whole self, from mind to emotions to character. Jacobs says, “You have to be a certain kind of person to make this book work for you: the kind of person who, at least some of the time, cares more about working toward the truth than about one’s current social position (150, emphasis in the original).” Jacobs includes psychology, theology, sociology, and more in his thinking about thinking, but it’s impossible to apply any of this information without key convictions already in place.

  • from our review by Justin Cober-Lake,
    in our Advent 2017 magazine issue
    SUBSCRIBE NOW to the magazine)


LISTEN to a brief audio interview with the author…




Return to the Advent Calendar ]



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