Not I (2013); George Sprott (2009); The Power of Habit (2012)

These are three great books; they work together well:

Not I

Not I: Memoirs of a German Childhood (2013)

“A portrait of an intellectually rigorous German household opposed to the Nazis and how its members suffered for their political stance.”

George Sprott

George Sprott: 1894-1975: A Picture Novella (2009)

“The life of a small-time Canadian TV personality, polar adventurer, and neglectful husband and father is sliced, diced, and examined in this economical graphic-novel expansion of a New York Times Magazine serial.”

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (2012)

“Groundbreaking new research shows that by grabbing hold of the three-step “loop” all habits form in our brains – cue, routine, reward – we can change them, giving us the power to take control over our lives.”


The quotations are excerpts from the respective blurbs, for the books, at the Toronto Public Library website.

Update: Teenage brain

A Nov. 4, 2014 Foreign Policy article is entitled: “Teenage Wasteland: Why do so many efforts to stop young people from joining extremist groups fail?”

Some excerpts:

“As I kept digging, though, a more complex story emerged: Many of Fazlullah’s most ardent supporters were young, upwardly mobile, landless Pashtuns. Unable to earn a living in Swat, many had gone to the Gulf and come home with money in their pockets and dreams of making a difference. But they ran headfirst into rigid feudal barriers that only allow landed elites to have a meaningful economic or political life.”


“Research shows that teenage brains undergo a remarkable transformation that lasts well into the early 20s. The areas of the cortex that are responsible for impulse control and planning are still maturing, and brain scans show that teens respond with a greater sense of urgency and intensity to emotional images and situations than either children or adults. For some young people, this means that if they see injustice, they will act. If they see a wrong, they want to address it, right now, with force if necessary. Outreach efforts can dismiss their dreams as idealistic or dangerous, but then programs will not reach them.”


“A recent finding on adolescent brain development shows that lessons and habits formed during the teen years can have an enduring impact. After an ‘exuberant’ period of growth, young people’s brains undergo a process of synaptic pruning, where the cells and connections that are used survive and flourish, and those that are not wither away. This ‘use it or lose it’ hypothesis means that the less visible consequences of violence – mistrust, short time horizons, zero-sum competition, the primacy of violence as a tool for success – may become hard-wired, making it very difficult, although certainly not impossible, for them to be unlearned.”

[End of excerpts]


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