Take Pride (★★★☆☆)

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Jessica Tracy   *   Houghton Mifflin Harcourt   *   September 20, 2016   *   240 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

The main point of Take Pride is that pride is a complicated, useful, and surprisingly understudied emotion. Author Jessica Tracy argues that there are two kinds of pride: 1) the kind that is self-motivating and makes us want to learn, discover, create, and achieve, and 2) the kind that is arrogant and makes us want to control, manipulate, and deceive in order to attain (and then maintain) power and dominance. (She points out that many other cultures actually have more than one word to describe what we lump into this one, which helps explain why the concept of “pride” can be so tricky and emotionally-charged for English speakers.)

But Tracy claims that both kinds of pride can benefit us. Both help us want to be better (or to be seen as better), and both motivate us to figure out who we are and what gives our lives meaning. In the end, however, Tracy concludes that, though both types of pride will get us some of what we want, feeling the first kind of pride–the more genuine, altruistic one–should be our goal. Be true to yourself and do what feels important to you, she encourages, and the feeling of pride will arise naturally and authentically.

I like the idea of this book, and I certainly enjoyed parts of it. But it didn’t wow me. In fact, it kind of irritated me. The subject matter, structure, and conclusions of the book are all fine. But the whole thing reads like a graduate student’s dissertation–like here is ALL my research and here is how I structured ALL my research studies, and here is why “my graduate school advisor Rick Robbins and I” felt like this culture would prove our hypothesis perfectly.

There’s just too much play-by-play and not enough insight. The information is nicely organized and presented well, and I appreciate that. But I never stopped feeling like Tracy was just regurgitating facts, like she never made this information her own or put her own twist on it. Ultimately, I wanted a wow factor that just wasn’t there.

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