In Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, Dr. Vivek Murthy uses his pulpit as the U.S. Surgeon General to focus not on heart disease or obesity or addiction but on loneliness.
As a person who is lonely (a bad thing) but who enjoys solitude (a good thing), I am a sucker for books that examine isolation and loneliness. I'm always looking for insights into my own existence and what changes, if any, could be made.
Though each individual's social needs are unique, humans generally are hardwired to fear loneliness. Murthy discusses an experiment showing that students, arbitrarily informed they were likely to be lonely as adults, performed poorly on academic tests compared to students informed they were going to have successful marriages and social connections. (A third group, informed they were likely to suffer physical pain from accidents and injuries, did not perform poorly.)
I disliked some of Murthy's assumptions, e.g., that technology is bad because it distracts us from in-person relationships. WHAT in-person relationships? Pray tell, Dr. Murthy.
Also, I get mighty irritated when eye contact is regarded as something virtuous. The neurodivergent folks would like a word. So would the people from cultures where eye contract is construed as aggressive.
Nor was there enough discussion of people with personality disorders. Do they need the same connections? Do they want them? They were barely mentioned in the book.
So at times I found myself snapping at Dr. Murthy as he narrated the audiobook. Still though, I learned some new things, and I don't mind recommending it for people who get lonely at times. In a world that is increasingly fractured, with economic systems that are hostile to community, that would be most of us.
When Covid first hit, I started doing book talks on social media as a way to keep in touch with people. I never got out of the habit. I don't discuss books by my clients, and if I don't like a book, I won't discuss it at all. While I will sometimes focus on craft or offer gentle critical perspectives, as a matter of professional courtesy, I don't trash writers. Unless they're dead. Then the gloves come off.