Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop Black Friday Deals Week in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Amazon Fire TV Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Paperwhite Listen in Prime Shop Now Shop now
Start reading Everything Bad is Good for You on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Everything Bad is Good for You: How Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter [Kindle Edition]

Steven Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £11.99
Kindle Price: £8.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £3.00 (25%)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
This price was set by the publisher
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £8.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £11.99  
Get a Free Kindle Book
Between now and 26 February 2016 you can earn a free Kindle Book by simply downloading and registering the free Kindle reading app, buying a Kindle Book, or buying a book. Learn more

Book Description

Tune in, turn on and get smarter ...

The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, The Apprentice, The Sopranos, Grand Theft Auto: We're constantly being told that popular culture is just mindless entertainment. But, as Steven Johnson shows, it's actually making us more intelligent.

Here he puts forward a radical alternative to the endless complaints about reality TV, throwaway movies and violent video games. He shows that mass culture is actually more sophisticated and challenging than ever before. When we focus on what our minds have to do to process its complex, multilayered messages, it becomes clear that it's not dumbing us down - but smartening us up.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Page of Start over
This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

Product Description


'We need never feel guilty about that 96-hour Grand Theft Auto session again’ -- Arena

'Wonderfully entertaining’ -- Malcolm Gladwell

Essential and rather brilliant. -- New Statesman

The championing of popular culture is most welcome ... a vital, lucid exploration of the contemporary mediascape. -- Time Out Book of the Week

This book is a satisfying experience. -- New Statesman

‘A guru for Generation Xbox’ -- Financial Times

‘A must-read’ -- Mark Thompson, head of the BBC

‘Thought-provoking … very persuasive’ -- Sunday Times

New Statesman

This book is a satisfying experience.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1498 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1417797606
  • Publisher: Penguin (6 April 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9XB0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #255,238 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not authoritative 11 July 2005
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
As a keen gamer, I plan to show this book to everyone who tells me I'm wasting time! The book explores a premise called the Sleeper Curve, a term invented by Johnson and used liberally throughout the book, explaining that those forms of mass culture that are most slated for being mindless and simplistic are in fact challenging our brains in ever newer and more complex ways. By examining the changes in television, film and games over the last few decades, and citing results of IQ studies and other publications, Johnson certainly makes a persuasive argument for the complexification of American culture.
However, a major flaw with this book as far as I see it is its concentration on America and American media. Whether older British television is indeed as simple compared to today's shows as Johnson claims American TV is, I cannot say; however, I suspect that at least some of our older television still challenges today's audiences. Equally, results of spurious IQ studies (with Johnson himself mentioning that IQ is not necessarily a good measure of intelligence) are entirely divorced from our culture. Having lived in America, I did understand most of the references to television shows, but there were still some which passed me by, unfortunately.
In terms of style the book is fairly heavy-going (at least initially) since it takes a more academic than casual tone. Certainly the term 'Sleeper Curve' is accurate as I fell asleep reading it a few times, and I felt more like I was ploughing through reams of justification than following a series of eloquent arguments.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Report abuse
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
i'm a big fan of Stephen Johnson's writing. Interface Culture should be on every digital media-related course's reading list and blew my mind at the time. I also think Emergence is a great book, which expands into more scientific areas. that said, i found this book slightly disappointing. it is well written and interesting in parts but there's nothing especially surprising or thought-provoking in it (especially if you've read his other books) and i left feeling it would've been better as a magazine or newspaper article rather than something you have to pay £8 for. ironically (given the commentary on fit for purpose media). there was a fair bit of repetition (at one point i was thinking "if he mentions how gaming improves your cognitive skills one more time i'm gonna scream") and the referencing of Nietszche e.g. just struck me as gratuitous. if you're a fast reader or haven't read his other books then you may enjoy it but is less challenging and less interesting than his other writing. it's less academic and therefore more accessible than his other stuff so would probably buy this for someone that needed persuading, which perhaps is the audience he's aiming for with this one.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting spin 3 Mar. 2013
By giraffe
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great idea of a book to look at new media from a different perspective, although I found it quite repetitive.
Could have been much more concise, I found myself scanning and skipping.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Report abuse
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Elitism Rules! OK? 15 Jun. 2008
This is a provocative book which warrants serious consideration. The author postulates that through the device of the sleeper curve, the various technological developments which pervade popular culture are not dumbing down America, but rather leading to development of a broader range of skills than credited by academic experts.

He sets out his view in sections devoted to video games, film, and very briefly, the internet, and explores the differing skills which are exercised during their consumption.

As someone who has exhibited a preference for aspects of popular culture as opposed to high culture for most of my life, the argument is very attractive at the outset. As one delves deeper into the subject serious questions arise as to whether there is a general case to answer.

Consider video games, where our author testifies to the skills required to play some of the more complex games such as Grand Theft Auto. There is a strong case to be made here but the issue is rather deflated when one considers that the vast majority of game players consume sports and other games which are considerably less complex and demanding.

Film also has a substantial longevity in the popular pantheon of leisure activities. It manages to portray a story and certain sophisticated complexities but still lacks by far the great leap forward that one achieves through reading a novel.

I would reject a notion that the use of the internet provides much of an intellectual challenge, given the degree to which internet consumers access porn sites and where much of the content is clearly aimed at the lower end of the spectrum

Having said all of this, I believe that there is something in the authors argument, but in a more narrow sense.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Report abuse
8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My best non-fiction read in 2005! 14 Jan. 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book at the end of 2005 and found it one of the best eye openers in challenging a lot of my simple misconceptions regarding computer games, TV and the benefits of the internet (as an education/social interaction tool as opposed to a tool I use at work every day).
I no longer look at my children's fascination with playing computer games with such concern; it has not increased my viewing of TV (a medium I actually think too many people view with rose tinted historic spectacles given it formed such a key part of their early lives) but it has helped me appreciate the wider benefits of how TV series now operate and are structured versus the versions I saw as a child; plus the internet and its wider social impact is put into context with the end coverage that IQs are given these changes getting higher in the middle and lower zones of society if not so clearly helping the top intellectual end are well made even if you do not wholly agree everything.
The book is US centric but given the author's life, location and background that seems inevitable and indeed the beauty of the arguments presented for consideration is that you find yourself applying them to local UK TV programmes given the main messages are universal.
While the style is too academic at the start, once the writer warms to his subjects he does present well and in a very creative structure that interlocks across the book. Finally, the end section on summarising areas for further reading on the different topics is one of the best I have seen in such a small book.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Report abuse
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 months ago by Amy Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
For my first non-fiction have enjoyed this much more then I thought, have given it five stars as I went into it thinking I might bore of it fast but it's fresh view has certainly... Read more
Published 16 months ago by LeeM
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product received on time. Thanks
Great product received on time. Thanks
Published on 4 Sept. 2013 by Christine Boshelle
2.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete
Several paragraphs of the preview chapter alone introduce a picture, diagram or other image which is simply absent, apparently not included in the electronic version. Read more
Published on 19 Nov. 2010 by Antbox
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
simply one of the best books i've ever read. it finally gave me valid arguments for things i knew to be true...
Published on 5 July 2010 by ppferraz
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is so good. And it's good for you.
Are you annoyed with classical music and classical literature fans who believe that they are somehow better, nobler, finer than the rest of us, just because everything they like is... Read more
Published on 28 Dec. 2009 by Printul Noptilor
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything Bad is Good for You - Steven Johnson
Very interesting and really sums up the current media debate! going to be really useful when starting by media uni course in september!
Published on 26 April 2009 by Ms. Eilidh White
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything Bad is Good for You is Good for You
Johnson is one of my favourite writers; this might not be his best book, ('Emergence' is) but this is like spending a weekend with a fascinating eccentric, one whose arguments are... Read more
Published on 17 Jun. 2008 by A. Stark
4.0 out of 5 stars Grand Moff Tarkin...why grand Moff Tarkin??
First let me say that this is a truelly inspiring book, after reading it I not only feel entirely justified in my TV and DVD viewing but a little ashamed of myself for not playing... Read more
Published on 25 May 2007 by Pacman
4.0 out of 5 stars This Book Was Good For Me
I value this book immensely because it highlighted that my generation had not wasted away on computer games, formulaic film and TV content. Read more
Published on 17 Jan. 2007 by Simon Drake
Search Customer Reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category