59 Seconds, By Professor Richard Wiseman

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The Independent Culture

Wiseman is a brilliant name for a psychologist, and this book proves the professor is not misnamed. All the self-help tips here are backed by scientific studies, and take less than a minute to implement (or to explain – there's a slight ambiguity about that). Want to persuade someone to do you a favour – or to fancy you? Touch them on the upper arm. Want your child to do well in exams? Give them a name beginning with A. Want your wallet to be returned, should you lose it? Put a picture of a baby in it. Want to be happier? Perform acts of kindness.

Some of the advice is common-sensical (incidentally, one self-help guru who comes out of this well is Dale Carnegie – many of his insights were subsequently validated by studies), and the frequent summarising gets a bit repetitive; but this contains dozens of fascinating nuggets. Is the thought of Christmas stressing you out? Then go online and spend a minute watching a video of a cute animal...