Reading with... Sean Young

photo: Christopher Kern

Sean Young is a professor at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founder and executive director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior and the UC Institute for Prediction Technology. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and Master's in health services research from Stanford University. His book Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life--for Good was published by Harper on June 20, 2017.

On your nightstand now:

Science! I'm reading scientific manuscripts of studies testing whether we can use social media data like Tweets to predict disease outbreaks. It's an area of informatics we study at our institute.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I grew up loving animals and still do. What animal-loving kid wouldn't like a story about a boy and his love for his dogs that save his life? That set a high bar for my lazy dogs.

Your top five authors:

I loved Russian literature when I was in high school and college. I haven't gone back and reread them in a while, but remember that I spent hours in high school nerding out at the library on the literary critiques of Dostoyevsky and Lermontov.

Book you've faked reading:

Every book I was assigned in eighth grade. Great Expectations comes to mind, along with stories from religious school.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Market Wizards by Jack Schwager. This is an amazing book of interviews with hedge fund and financial wizards about their history and success. The financial education is only a small part of my excitement for the book. It's so psychological. They describe their hardships and how their own psychology used to psych them out and had them lose money year after year, but they gradually learned to master their psychology and it's demonstrated by their financial success. I think the lessons in the book can be applied across areas of life and behavior change.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A book of stamps.

Book you hid from your parents:

The book of letters from a girlfriend at the time.

Book that changed your life:

My health psychology course reader from my college health psych professor, Traci Mann. That's how I wound up studying psychology. But it wasn't really about the reader, it was the teacher.

Favorite line from a book:

My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!
--from "Smart," in Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends

Five books you'll never part with:

The ultimate book: The Pentateuch

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

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