February Books

I’m calling these February books, but it took me four months to finish Self-Determination Theory

Mediocre — I found Ijeoma Oluo’s book pretty frustrating. Her main thesis is that structural racism creates white male privilege. Tick, yes, I agree. But a lot of her arguments for that theses are of the form, ‘racism and/or white/male privilege is a plausible explanation for X,’ without much evidence that it actually is the explanation. E.g., maybe the board of trustees at the University of Missouri leaked the news of the coach’s planned retirement in retribution for the protest (seems plausible!), but I think you actually have to present some data points in support of that assertion, not just float it as a possible interpretation. It all felt very circular to me, and it’s not a rhetorical style I care for. That said, it was very readable prose, and I thought the conclusion was great.

Self-Determination Theory — This is a 650-page academic text, providing a comprehensive survey of the Deci and Ryan’s theory of psychological needs. I read it cover-to-cover, and it took me the best part of four months. It probably wasn’t sensible to devote so much time to such a dense book, but I got a lot out of the depth and breadth, and feel like less of dilettante applying self-determination theory.

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