David Brooks

Wisdom, politics, and the choreography of neighborhoods.



Known to readers of the New York Times and to public television viewers as a measured voice in an era of tumultuous political and cultural antagonisms, David Brooks has now written three books that display a droll, venturesome, and surprisingly quirky intelligence. In his bestselling work of "comic sociology," Bobos in Paradise, he suggested the union of two previously disparate strands of society—economically successful bourgeois and artistically creative bohemians—to define the new elite, while On Paradise Drive examined the power of the future-centric perspective that urges forward otherwise dissimilar facets of the American populace. His new book, The Social Animal, uses recent advances in brain science to explore a new framework for understanding the way we learn, live, and interact with the world around us. He shared with us three of his favorite books.



Books by David Brooks




The Hedgehog and the Fox

By Isaiah Berlin


"In this essay the British philosopher makes his famous distinction between those people whose lives are oriented around one big idea and those who know a lot of little things. Beyond that, the essay contains a profound meditation on wisdom. It is not scientific or technical knowledge, Berlin argues, but a special sensitivity to the contours of reality, an intuitive sense of what will go together and what will not, what is likely to happen and what will never happen."



All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren


"This is one of the great political novels in American history. Among other things it explores the difference between those who succeed in politics—who are vain, garrulous, narcissistic but also crusaders—and those of us who write about them, who are often reserved, reflective, idealistic but less vital."




The Death and Life of Great American Cities

By Jane Jacobs


"There was a golden age of American non-fiction between 1950 and 1965, led by people like Daniel Bell, Digby Baltzell and Jacobs. In this book she shows us a new way of seeing the world. She views her neighborhood in New York as a ballet, as an organic set of interrelationships between the grocers, the kids, the parents and the cops. She shows how their movements and greetings intertwine over the course of the day. We're not rugged individuals, she shows, but living in a social environment that gives our lives shape and meaning."


July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).