Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Situations Matter : Understanding How Context Transforms Your World ~Sam Sommers

Situations Matter

Reading Situations Matter was pure pleasure.  I savored every section and idea and wondered who would ever think a book about the mundane moments of living, those that we take for granted, would have such a profound effect on our lives and outcomes of our actions?  It was similar to taking a camera outside on a sunny winter’s day and finding the most common item, snapping the picture only to discover that the tiniest details emerged and were revealed to your delight. This image stimulated the mind to make a change in perception that would forever be imprinted.  One would certainly know themselves better.

This is a psychology book or self-help book that was written by an award- winning professor at Tufts University – Sam Sommers.   As much as I enjoyed reading Situations Matter, I am sure I would have enjoyed being in the lecture hall and participating in the seminars even more.   I like reading about studies done and how an author interprets them for us to understand, but when it is entertaining as well that corners my enthusiasm.    I completed the exercises shared in the book, guessed at what the process was going to present to me and  was pleased when I added the author’s interpretation and analysis. I always like to feel like I learned something which would assist me in becoming a better person.  I found myself wanting to tell others about what I was reading and enjoying.

“Research shows that context impacts even the most intimate aspects of our lives, and this conclusion offers to those who embrace it insight as well as competitive advantage.”

The author’s style of writing, conveying information, and storytelling was indeed a part of my attraction for this book. Sommers was definitely asking one to be responsible to what they gained by the experience and to pay attention.  I am sure his humor and entertaining style is a boon to contemporary college students who seem to crave the easy hook.  The author was able to cajole the reader and I am certain the student into making a deeper connection and stimulating some more follow through.  He included lessons gleaned from newborns and 4 year olds that truly puts perspective plainly on the table and opens the eyes to the greater context.   The analysis of some Seinfeld episodes  were as noteworthy as the revelations about why in large urban centers people do not come to the aid of others in crisis and why that is an important survival technique.  City planners need to design this information into their  concepts and expectations processes.   Situations do Matter.

The chapters on Love and Hate I had to read several times.

“When you assume that there’s a true core self waiting to be discovered, that’s when your potential seems limited and the world around you is full of threats to be rationalized away….”

“…you should train yourself to view intellect as a muscle that grows with effort and atrophies with neglect.”

“The self is flexible”

I can highly recommend this book to each one of you and give Situations Matter a 5 ladybug rating.

I want to thank TLC book tours for asking me to review this book and Riverhead Books  part of Penguin for sending me a draft copy early on so I could enjoy the book over several months.

tlclogoThe most amazing fact I learned from this book is that our minds develop US and THEM situational thinking in less time that it takes to sneeze!     Did you read a book recently that helped you change your mind?  Please share it with us in the comments or how about a new fact that made a difference to you?

Looking forward to what you would like to say:

Want to talk about your fact, book or this book review?  Join me at Wise Ears  and we will set up an opportunity.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Related Reading:
Shiny Objects
You Are Not Your Brain
The Social Animal
Sam Sommers Website

Tags: , , , , , , ,

24 Responses to “Situations Matter : Understanding How Context Transforms Your World ~Sam Sommers”

  1. rob white Says:

    What an interesting premise, Patricia. This is one I’d be interested in reading. So much emphasis has been put on personality and the author seems to play a thought provoking gadfly. The personality is the vehicle through which we express our highly charged opinions about ourselves. The purpose of having a personality is to express the ‘ME’ I have chosen to be. So, now the inquiry becomes, “Which self is my personality serving – the authentic me or the false version of me?” One serves me, the other harms me.
    rob white recently posted..When Two Hands on the Clock Meet on TwelveMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    rob white,
    I think you would enjoy this book very much – it is a powerful well thought out message and just adds creativity to the thinking tools.

    I think the author would say we have a vast array of “self” to chose from and help us survive…but we have shut down many of the options open to us to understand and use what we know when we do not include the situation within the premise

  2. Talon Says:

    Even more evidence that the little things in life are truly important – especially those relating to our views of ourselves. Sounds like a fascinating read, Patricia. Thank you for your review. I’ll be looking up this book with one of Christmas gifts – a gift card for my favorite bookstore :)

    Happy New Year!

    Patricia Reply:

    I think with your keen eye and perspective this would be an interesting book and would add to your story telling…I so liked how he included children in this book and think there is power for educators within the covers.

    I just love getting gift cards to bookstores!
    Thank you for your vote of confidence :) in my option.

    I have truly been fortunate to read some amazing books in 2011 and they have nourished me

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “The author’s style of writing, conveying information, and storytelling was indeed a part of my attraction for this book.”

    I love your enthusiasm — it’s contagious!

    Patricia Reply:

    I liked this book so much, besides encouraging my friends to read it, I think I will read it again soon.

    Sam Sommers Reply:

    Patricia, glad you liked the book so much! Thanks for the great review. I wish Amazon.com had used you as one of their early reviewers!

    In any case, thanks again for sharing the book with your reader and friends.


    patricia Reply:

    Sam Sommers,
    Yes! I did like the book very much and I only do reviews of books that I like – and my readers are very loyal to my reviews and I have sold quite a few copies …

    Yes! I think Amazon and some of these other folks should get me early copies to review, I quite agree!

    My readers will greatly appreciate that you dropped in and shared a few words also… I wish you well in the new year.


  4. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia! Sounds very interesting! Your reviews are always top-notch!

    Having some snafu and tech difficulties with Blogger – they transitioned into a new dashboard format and lost a blog I wrote then sent out in email to you one I wrote in July. Totally nuts. Not a smooth start to 2012 blog-wise but hopefully all will settle down and I will adjust to the new format once I accept the old one is gone :( Maybe more yoga and add libations to my tea today!
    susan recently posted..Natural Alternatives – Housekeeping Like GrandmaMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your kind words….

    I am so sorry you are having troubles with the computer…hope a fix will happen soon…I find those things hard to deal with.

    Today, I am unable to get my plus feed or my Linkedin to open up…and IT Girl girl is back to work after a week off…so I am going to be patient.
    I hope others will read, tweet, Facebook, like, plus and Link….because it is a good book to get connected with…

  5. Sara Says:


    You did again:~) Your review and the video made me very interested in this book. I’m still reading Shiny Objects (btw thank you!).

    However, like Talon, I have a bookstore gift certificate (my favorite type of gift)! I will check this book out, given your review.

    In the meantime, I hope you have a very prosperous and healthy new year:~)
    Sara recently posted..Happy New Year: SharingMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    I have read so many wonderful books this year it would be hard to pick a favorite….but I certainly want to share Shiny Objects and Situation Matters with all the people I care about….glad you are enjoying the book…
    I spend all my spending money on books…so I love those gift certificates too!

    Wishing you a wonder full new year also…

  6. J.D. Meier Says:

    >The self is flexible.
    I like that and I find it’s the key to both surviving and thriving.

    Patricia Reply:

    Hey JD
    I was wondering if you decided to review this book too?
    I would add not only does the self need to be flexible but for me food needs to be flexible too!

    Thank you for coming by and your good words – always appreciated
    Patricia recently posted..Situations Matter : Understanding How Context Transforms Your World ~Sam SommersMy Profile

  7. Jannie Funster Says:

    Well, howdy young lady, as i write with my left hand and dry my hair with the right…

    newborns and 4 year-olds indeed do teach us love lessons. i would add husbands high on that list too — their often independant ways offer constant lessons in making ourselves better people. at least mine does. smiley face here.

    i’ve been re-reading the bolded parts of

    there, done my hair now.

    Been reading the bolded sections of Liara Covert’s “Self Disclosure” again lately. I always get a lot out of that book. This time changing my mind about how it’s just fine to say no to many of the requests asked of us. A nice reminder for folks who tend to want to give and give, but forget sometimes how that time can add up, and we end up neglecting our time to sing and dance freely in our hearts.

    You sure do tell us about some wonderful books! maybe one day I’ll read this one too!


    patricia Reply:

    I am sure your hair must look fabulous.

    Yes Liara’s book is good and a nice refresher for the new year and thinking about things to come.

    I am reading a book about Awareness right now and that is very bold about what to say yes and no too….and the concepts of being selfish…
    we definitely need our time to freely sing and dance…I am with you there

  8. Some Thoughts On New Years | The Biking Architect Says:

    […] now that I am thankful was referred to me along with Steve Jobs biography.   I think the book Situations Matter will make a difference in assisting me in planning and making my work more effective to my […]

  9. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I’m glad to see that you found this readable and enjoyable! Thanks for being a part of the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

    patricia Reply:

    Thanks Heather…I will look for it on fb…It is a great book and fun

  10. Sam Juliano Says:

    Ah, Patricia, my wife Lucille would be better equipped to respond to this particular query, as she spent nearly twenty years teaching special education before becoming a district principal. Sam Summer’s work is no doubt superlative in every sense and well worth the read.

    patricia Reply:

    this is a very good read and I would hope that educators and city planners would take a look…. I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to review this book

  11. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. Very interesting book – and well worth knowing about … one I will almost certainly get in due time. Situations do matter – but as Jannie mentions above – we need to say ‘no’ sometimes or keep on walking because we don’t need to be there.

    Yes – I agree we walk away from situations we should have got stuck into .. because we’re afraid to put our heads above the parapet …

    on the other hand – we don’t need to waste precious time being part of the herd …

    I usually have lots of options kicking around and so don’t get so agitated as another process can kick in … and I’m extremely independent so can join in – but also walk on and get on with my life.

    Situations do matter – thanks so much for highlighting the book – good to know about.

    Cheers – Hilary

    patricia Reply:

    I was fascinated by how other cultures take in the situation and those of us in the USA truly try to ignore the situation to remain individualized… I think we are have great influence on the rest of the world imitating us in this area ( and materialism) and we will be totally lost and unable to communicate if the western world does not work at least at achieving the understanding of cultural awareness.

    It is a great book

  12. Get Out of Your Head – WiseEars Says:

    […] In Other Words Basic Communications Model You Are Not Your Brain Situations Matter […]