Humans Behaving Blog

Santa Brought Books (and Cake)!

Posted on December 5, 2016 by Paul Silvia

Santa knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, even when you’re a grown-up. The psychology professors have been especially nice this year, I suspect, because Santa came early to the Eberhart Building.

What is this mysterious box? And why is Santa shipping under an alias?


Because this is the Internet, I can’t simply say what is in this box. We must have a dramatic “unboxing.”


This box is full of brown paper, apparently. Disaster!

Could crumpled paper be Santa’s new Earth-friendly, recyclable alternative to lumps of coal? Maybe I took too long to post grades on Canvas or didn’t get students their papers back quickly enough…

But after careful excavation, I espy books. Thanks, Santa!


I’ve written half-a-dozen or so books, and I’ve learned something new from writing each one. From my first book, I learned Be careful cutting the tape on the box—you might slice the books inside! I’ve also learned that people assume that authors get a huge pallet of free copies, but nope: I got 5 in the box.

These are the “author copies” of a book that Peter Delaney, Stuart Marcovitch, and I wrote together. It’s called What Psychology Majors Could (and Should) Be Doing: A Guide to Research Experience, Professional Skills, and Your Options After College.

This book is the revised, expanded, and much improved “second edition.” I haven’t written a 2/e before. It’s nearly as painful as writing a book from scratch, it turns out.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of new and old. You can tell that this new edition is definitely much better than the old one because it is much bigger, Piagetian stages of cognitive development to the contrary.


Actually, the book is bigger because it is 50% longer. We added a lot of chapters. Your humble blogger spent many vexed and caffeine-fueled mornings in Beansboro developing those new chapters.


The book grew out of our teaching and research mentorship here in PSY, and later posts will dig into the book’s ideas.


Santa doesn’t play favorites, of course, and he surely believes in the benefits of a broad-based liberal arts curriculum. I recently learned that he visited the Department of Religious Studies, dropping off four books written or edited by professors there.

The Department of Religious Studies knows a thing or two about ritual and ceremony, so they celebrate new books in high style. Each year, they have a ceremony with “book cake.” Naif that I am, I thought that book cake was cake you eat to celebrate the book stork delivering your new book.

But it turns out that book cake is more literal and impressive. It’s a cake that looks like your book.

This year, Religious Studies was celebrating four books, so the book cake was a thick multi-volume set roughly the size of like Carl Sandburg’s epic biography of Abraham Lincoln.


I think we in the Psychology Department should learn some lessons about celebrating books in a manner both high in style and in refined carbohydrates. Book Cake is already taken, though, so we’d need a new twist.

Perhaps Book Buccellato? Monograph Madeleines? Folio Fondant? Publication Pastry? Scholarship Streuselkuchen? The mind recoils at the possibilities.

“Humans Behaving” is an informal blog run by the UNCG Department of Psychology devoted to matters large and small, from humble happenings to departmental history to our students’ many stories and successes. Have an idea for a story? Are you one of our graduates with a story to tell? Contact Paul Silvia at

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