You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself

David McRaney. Gotham, $22.50 (288p) ISBN 978-1-592-40805-4

McRaney’s newest, a follow-up to 2012’s You Are Not So Smart, explores the ways in which the brain “cheats and edits and alters reality.” The Mississippi-based journalist and blogger ranges far and wide in his explication of various theories of individual and social psychology, in the process shedding light on the personal blind spots that skew reality while also allowing us to navigate it. In a section on “ego depletion,” the author walks readers through a recent study that tested the relationship between feelings of being excluded and eating habits. Turns out those in the ostracized test group, when presented with a bowl of cookies, just kept “mushing [them] into their sad faces.” From there he goes on to discuss Freud’s theory of the ego and Henry David Thoreau’s decision to willfully exclude himself from society. That fusion of wry prose and enlightening minilessons is what makes this book so special—page after page, readers will be laughing, learning, and looking at themselves in new ways. McRaney is a fine stylist, easily balancing anecdote, analysis, and witty asides. Despite a flippant and self-helpy title, this book is seriously informative. (Aug.)