Mortals - Rachel E Menzies and Ross G Menzies - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Would being reminded of your own mortality make you more likely to buy a lipstick? Defend your government? Take petty revenge on someone who’d wronged you?

You might be surprised.

In Mortals, father-daughter psychologist team Ross and Rachel Menzies present the evidence they’ve gathered that our collective subconscious fear of death has shaped our societies and behaviours over the course of human history. My friends at Allen and Unwin were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

For a book about death (or, at least, the fear of it), Mortals is surprisingly positive and affirming. It’s not so much about the Grim Reaper as it is about how to counteract the negative consequences of fearing death in order to live a better life.

It’s also a springboard to incorporate a lot of fun facts about world history and culture, so you’ll be well supplied for water-cooler conversations for the next little while.

The chapter on suicide (trigger warning, by the way) got a bit off track, I felt, but otherwise this was an interesting and informative read.