Whether it's calling in sick when we fancy a day off, or telling someone we love them when we don't, all of us have sought to deceive. Deception is as woven into the texture of human life as death and taxes and, in a world where face-to-face conversations are being replaced by email and text messaging, the opportunities to deceive are now greater than ever. Our capacity for self deception is just as alarming -- most of us think we are cleverer, nicer, more attractive and better drivers than others think we are. But why do we deceive ourselves and others, and is it something we have the ability to control? If we wanted to, could we live a truly honest life? In this thought-provoking and entertaining book, Ziyad Marar throws a revealing light on these questions and shows how, by being more honest about our inevitable dishonesty, we might achieve a more fulfilling life. Drawing on philosophy, psychology and literature, Marar explores the workings of human nature and how our wiring has left us easily suckered by persuasive illusions, while our contradictory desires (for sex and honesty, money and kindness, cake and losing weight) force us to cook up self-serving stories. This need to deny the complexity of the world and the conflicts of our beliefs and desires is necessary, says Marar, simply to get by. Sellers and buyers, parents and children, friends and lovers must conceal from each other the unutterable truth that they don't believe or want the same things. Deception, it appears, is so deeply embedded in our lives that most of the time we don't even realise we are guilty of it. While recognising that it is impossible to live without deception, Marar believes that there are benefits from resisting its lure as much as we can bear. To understand our proneness to self-serving distortions is to help avoid some of their harmful consequences. But there should be limits to this aim since our mixed motives conjure up harmless as well as harmful deceptions, even beneficial ones. Being less deceptive is to understand this difference; to be more accepting of the awkward fact that kindness can be more important than truth. By honestly recognising that true honesty is a hopeless quest, we can rid ourselves of some of the anxieties that modern society presents us and, in turn, discover how to live well.