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Book of the Month - February 2020

Our Book of the Month for February is the multidisciplinary tour de force Pretty Ugly: Why We Like Some Songs, Faces, Foods, Plays, Pictures, Poems, etc., and Dislike Others by Charles and Daphne Maurer. The study is available to purchase throughout February at a 60% discount when using the code ‘BOMFEB20’ at the checkout on our website.

The book attempts to understand human aesthetic perception in a way far more expansive than any yet before it. Where conventional studies of aesthetics tend to draw their conclusions from a spatio-temporal-cultural perspective, the Maurers take a more broadly scientific approach, expanding the scope of aesthetic study to fields including psychology, physics, anthropology, physiology, philosophy, and even mathematics, in order to deconstruct the phenomenon of aesthetic beauty, pleasure and, in equal measure, revulsion, and what this means for the way we perceive the reality around us.


The book has been roundly praised for its ambitious scope and comprehensive scientific analysis, with the University of Toronto’s Timothy McGee calling it “one of the most enlightening books I have ever read”, while Janet F. Werker of the University of British Columbia described the study as “fascinating” and a “vast intellectual journey”.

Pretty Ugly may well prove to be a new foundational text for aesthetic studies, which until now has existed almost exclusively in the realms of art and philosophy.

Scientific in its scope and methodologies, yet tempered and enhanced by a deep admiration for the arts, this accessible, broadly appealing and jargon-free study is sure to open up new debates into the subject while at the same time delighting and fascinating academics, scientists, and artists in equal measure.


Charles Maurer is a freelance writer who specializes in science and technology. He reads academic literature in many areas, and has professional skills in graphic design and commercial photography.

Daphne Maurer is an experimental psychologist who studies the development of vision. She is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University, Canada, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Their previous book, The World of the Newborn, won the Book Award of the American Psychological Association.

To read an extract of Pretty Ugly or to get your hands on a copy, you can visit its page at our website.


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