Books & Stuff

Hi Folks

The ‘book of the blog’ is out later this month (May 2018) – ‘Working With Troubled Children & Teenagers” – here’s a sample of what’s in it: a five minute video summary of chapter 1…

Enjoy! Cheers,

Image courtesy of ©Allen Lane Publishers

Title: The Undoing Project – A Friendship That Changed our Minds

Author: Michael Lewis

Jonny’s view: One of the most important books I’ve read in a looong time! Here’s why…

If you’re interested in psychology, this book is for you. It summarises the lives and work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky – two Israeli psychologists who changed the way we think about human decision-making.

Made me think a lot about how biased we can be in our decisions about troubled children and families. And about how we need to be very careful and reflective about the judgments we make that effect people’s lives.

Strengths
  • Unpacks a complex subject – decision-making, judgments, biases, etc. – in a very palatable and accessible way.
  • Interesting to see how two completely different people with opposing characteristics, can hit it off and change the world!
  • Gives a great summary of how Kahneman and Tversky’s thinking developed and the opposition they faced (and faced down!).
  • Is a very provocative read. It left me thinking hard about the way we quickly jump to conclusions which are, often, irrational. Objectivity is a struggle to be grappled with and something that doesn’t come easily – but can be achieved with effort.
  • I’ve always been committed to learning and reflecting on what I do. But this book sent me back to the drawing board, asking myself whether I’m too quick to make assessments and judgments, and whether I rely too much on my own perceived expertise…
  • Raises the idea of heuristics – those rules of thumb by which we all-too-easily make decisions – and provokes thought about the assumptions we make about the meaning and implications of things we see in the service users we work with.
  • It’s a sobering read, but in a really good way. We are all biased and the sooner we admit and face up to this, the quicker we’ll become the objective, fair and rational professionals we need to be…
Weaknesses
  • The first few chapters – all the stuff about the NBA and the use of statistics in sport – is unnecessary and, to my mind, very boring. I didn’t need it and it didn’t add anything to the story of Kahneman and Tversky. I read this book twice over to get the juice out of it, but just skipped over these chapters second time around – the book was better for it!
  • Spends a little too much time on the life stories of both men. Whilst some of this is interesting and sets the scene for what comes later in their working relationship, it could have been shorter. This would have allowed more time for the fascinating psychological stuff that follows.
Having said all that, this is one of the most important books I’ve read in a good while. I’ve just finished the second reading and really need to go through it again – it’s so rich with ideas and things to think about…

Image courtesy of ©Canongate Books

Title: How Not To Be A Boy

Author: Robert Webb

Jonny’s view: This book is very funny. In fact, it’s laugh out loud funny. But it’s also a very poignant treatment of commonly held masculinities and gender biases which boys inherit as they grow up.

Very well worth a read!

Strengths
  • Very funny book, basically about growing up as a boy.
  • He negotiates all kinds of issues, not least a very non-PC family setting with all kinds of challenges where a marriage is struggling.
  • He deals with the loss of mother to illness and the response of his Dad and the rest of the family.
  • Lastly, and best of all, he does a great job of puberty. This is VERY funny in places – hilarious, in fact, and in itself is a good reason to read this book.
  • I got immense pleasure reading about the normal stuff of growing up, written by someone with such an entertaining and erudite writing style – a great read.
  • Get it here
Weaknesses
  • I found this easy to read and very entertaining. But he swears a lot, which some folk might struggle with (to be honest, it made me laugh, as it emphasises his struggles and frustrations and really helped me to tune into the adolescent mindset he’s evoking through the story)
“Sometimes we overlook our own well-being when we are immersed in working with children to improve their lives. There are times when practitioners get tired, frustrated or refer to having experienced “burn out’ as if this is the norm.

“Of course this should not be the norm and what Jonny, the author, has done here is give everyone a very easy to read book wth some top tips on how we should be mindful of protecting our own well-being. After all a poorly functioning practitioner is not going to be that helpful to any child.

“The strength of this book is the way in which Jonny links in his own experience with an openness and honesty that gives his ideas and tips an authenticity that resonates strongly and leaves you reflecting on your own experience.

“If you ever wondered what good supervision should be all about this book will help you. And if you are working with children and young people in a professional capacity this quick read will leave you with much to think on as you develop your own practice whilst remembering to protect your physical and mental well-being.

“It’s a top read from a top practitioner.” Keith Towler

Former Children's Commissioner, Youth Justice Board Member