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How Pleasure Works

The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

Paul Bloom (Author, Yale University)

Overview | Formats

“Engaging, evocative. . . . [Bloom] is a supple, clear writer, and his parade of counterintuitive claims about pleasure is beguiling.”—NPR

Why is an artistic masterpiece worth millions more than a convincing forgery? Pleasure works in mysterious ways, as Paul Bloom reveals in this investigation of what we desire and why. Drawing on a wealth of surprising studies, Bloom investigates pleasures noble and seamy, lofty and mundane, to reveal that our enjoyment of a given thing is determined not by what we can see and touch but by our beliefs about that thing’s history, origin, and deeper nature.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • June 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34000-6
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 304 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverHow Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like


Endorsements & Reviews

“A book that is different from the slew already out there on the general subject of happiness. No advice here about how to become happier by organizing your closest; Bloom is after something deeper than the mere stuff of feeling good.” — The New York Times Book Review

Should stoke your neurons into a frenzy and leave you wanting more.” — Mary Carmichael,

“Sigmund Freud, Mr. Pleasure Principle himself, would have approved.” — Time

“Scholarly yet spy…. Bloom salts the book with all manner of pungent, apposite points…. A heartening, well-developed argument.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A gracefully written book and a lot of fun.” — Peter D. Kramer, Slate

“Drawing on his own research as well as studies in neuroscience, behavioral economics, and philosophy, [Bloom] makes a powerful argument for essentialism at the crux of human pleasure.” — Maywa Montenegro, Seed Magazine

“In this eloquent and provocative book, Paul Bloom takes us inside the paradoxes of pleasure, exploring everything from cannibalism to Picasso to IKEA furniture. The quirks of delight, it turns out, are a delightful way to learn about the human mind.” — Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

“This book is not just a pleasure, but a revelation, by one of psychology’s deepest thinkers and best writers. Lucid and fascinating, you’ll want to read it slowly and savor the experience.” — Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

How Pleasure Works has one of the best discussions I’ve read of why art is pleasurable, why it matters to us, and why it moves us so.” — Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

“This book is a pearl, a work of great beauty and value, built up around a simple truth: that we are essentialists, tuned in to unseen order.” — Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

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