Bookshelf: Monkeys with iPhones
Language makes us human. Technology makes us crazy.
By Alison DeNisco, Becca Weinstein and Mary Diduch published March 13, 2012 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
Games Primates Play
by Dario Maestripieri
Read This If... You want to understand the parallels between all primate societies. Maestripieri illustrates that the behavior of Tony Soprano's family mirrors that of macaque monkeys and explains how to figure out celebrity breakups by studying the mating practices of apes.—Alison DeNisco
Language: The Cultural Tool
by Daniel L. Everett
Read This If... You want to learn about the connection between language and culture and understand why languages differ. Everett's explication of life deep in the jungle among the Pirahã people reveals a language that doesn't rely on basic concepts like numbers, past, and future. —Alison DeNisco
by Larry D. Rosen
Read This If... You want to feel better and worse. Your harmless Words with Friends addiction may seem minor next to the author's descriptions of severe social withdrawal and anxiety. But Rosen also has tips for "iDiagnoses" that are not quite as dire. —Becca Weinstein
Kick some sense into your body, one finger at a time.
A.J. Jacobs, Esquire's Editor at Large, thought his body was just "something to carry my brain around"—until he set out to transform himself into the healthiest physical specimen in the world. Drop Dead Healthy details his adventures following wellness fads from laughing clubs to caveman diets, but tricks will get you only so far. Jacobs' lifestyle changes began with a chocolate binge and a treadmill desk; you can start by bringing all five senses on board.
SMELL Certain scents boost mood—if you can detect them. Jacobs, whose nose wasn't quite up to snuff, trained his nostrils to distinguish aromas by sniffing spices. Now he carries around sweet-smelling almond oil to relax.
TASTE "The radical pro-chewers are crazy," says Jacobs, but they did convince him to reform his "chewism." To savor taste and stay lean, Jacobs doubled his chomping from six times per bite to twelve or more.
SEE Working toward a health goal? Visual cues can help you stay on track. Jacobs kept a memento mori next to his desk as a reminder of how short life is. A digitally aged photo of himself offered another kick in the pants.
TOUCH Jacobs regularly exercises his digits and calls the hand the "unsung hero of the body." The science supporting finger lifts is scant, but "it's better than smoking cigarettes," he says. "It can't hurt, right?"—Mary Diduch