How Pleasure Works

  • by Paul Bloom
  • Narrated by Jeremy Johnson
  • 7 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom presents a striking new vision of the pleasures of everyday life. The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing for many men. The average American spends over four hours a day watching television. Abstract art can sell for millions of dollars. Young children enjoy playing with imaginary friends and can be comforted by security blankets. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents and go to movies that make them cry.
In this fascinating and witty account, Paul Bloom examines the science behind these curious desires, attractions, and tastes, covering everything from the animal instincts of sex and food to the uniquely human taste for art, music, and stories. Drawing on insights from child development, philosophy, neuroscience, and behavioral economics, How Pleasure Works shows how certain universal habits of the human mind explain what we like and why we like it.


Audible Editor Reviews

Paul Bloom is a very down-to-earth guy for a professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale. In How Pleasure Works, his third book about what makes humans do what they do, he explores why we like what we like with clear language and a plethora of humorous examples. Jeremy Johnson gives voice to the book in the straightforward manner common to nonfiction narrations, committing to the scientific gravitas of this study in a way that remains engaging, and ultimately elevating the many funny bits by delivering them with a professional tone. It's not unlike one of the many informational videos seen on The Simpsons that begin with, "Hi, I'm Troy McClure..."
You'll wonder how Johnson avoids cracking up as he relates the evidence Bloom has collected over the years. Among so many delightful morsels of food for thought is the consideration of why people don't want to eat chocolate shaped like a turd, why granny has been sleeping with the same pillow for 86 years, why nobody tips an internationally famous violinist when he plays a free concert in the subway, why your significant other's identical twin isn't sexy, and why people watch movies that make them cry. Regaling us with oh-so-practical psychological information concerning the taboos of cannibalism and incest, Johnson does a terrific job of keeping one foot on the ground as he relates Bloom's amusing take on what makes us tick.
This book is a must-listen for anybody who eats, has sex, wonders what to save when the house burns down, goes to a museum, or has any imagination whatsoever. Bloom's plainspoken inquiry and Johnson's uncomplicated delivery are a winning combination, keeping this terrifically witty look at our everyday lives both easy to follow and engaging from start to finish. It is, as Bloom would say, mental cheesecake. —Megan Volpert


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Easy to understand, well read.

Though most of the content isn't new for those exposed to the recent wave of mass market books on cognitive neuroscience, this is the clearest and easiest to understand. Bloom did a terrific job organizing the material and illustrating concepts with good examples. All in all, this is very accessible to the average reader.
Johnson's narration is well-paced and enjoyable.
The credits listed were many, but that's the way it is for academics -- everyone involved in the research deserves acknowledgment. Bloom is essentially a primary source for much of the material, so this understandable.
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- Robert

More philosophy than scientific rigor

With "new science" in the title, I was expecting more from this book. Although a few research studies are mentioned here and there this is more of a philosophical discussion resolving around an essentialist theory of pleasure than something based on scientific research. The author frequently cites works of fiction (e.g. Shakespeare) and passages from the bible to support his arguments. He also often resorts to hearsay with statements such as "some say that..." for support. The book also contains outdated information, for example that female estrus is hidden from males to promote pair bonding, which has since been dis-proven in laboratory tests that indicate that males can detect estrus. Generally his presentation of conventional model of human sexuality and inequality is outdated.
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- Lars

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-14-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios