Popular non-fiction in January

A book of beautifully drawn city maps tops our list this month. It’s followed by the New York Times bestseller, longlisted for the National Book Award, Between the world and me. There is a light note too, with the reprint of Bill Bryson’s Made in America.

Syndetics book coverMetropolis : mapping the city / Jeremy Black ; contributing editor, Christopher Westhorp.
“The city: a place of hopes and dreams, destruction and conflict, vision and order. The first city atlas, the Civitates Orbis Terrarum , was published by Braun and Hogenburg in 1572 for the armchair traveller interested in a world that was opening up around him. Since then our fascination with foreign cities has not abated. This sumptuous volume looks at the development of the mapping and representation of the city revealing how we organize the urban space.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween the world and me / Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men–bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBig world, small planet : abundance within planetary boundaries / Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum ; with Peter Miller.
“Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum reject the notion that economic growth and human prosperity can only be achieved at the expense of the environment. They contend that we have unprecedented opportunities to navigate a “good Anthropocene.” By embracing a deep mind-shift, humanity can reconnect to Earth, discover universal values, and take on the essential role of planetary steward. With eloquence and profound optimism, Rockström and Klum envision a future of abundance within planetary boundaries–a revolutionary future that is at once necessary, possible, and sustainable for coming generations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDon’t even think about it : why our brains are wired to ignore climate change / George Marshall.
“Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share… Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. In the end, Don’t Even Think About It is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Bloomsbury reader on Islam in the West / edited by Edward E. Curtis IV.
“For more than a millennium, Islam has been a vital part of Western civilization. Today, however, it is sometimes assumed that Islam is a foreign element inside the West, and even that Islam and the West are doomed to be in perpetual conflict… The Reader explores not only the presence of Muslim religious practitioners in Europe and the Americas but also the impact of Islamic ideas and Muslims on Western politics, societies, and cultures. It is ideal for use in the university classroom, with an extensive introduction by Edward E. Curtis IV and a timeline of key events in the history of Islam in the West…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMade in America : an informal history of the English language in the United States / Bill Bryson.
“Bill Bryson, bestselling author of The Mother Tongue, now celebrates its magnificent offspring in the book that reveals once and for all how a dusty western hamlet with neither woods nor holly came to be known as Hollywood . . . and exactly why Mr. Yankee Doodle called his befeathered cap “Macaroni.” (Syndetics summary) (Reprint)

Syndetics book coverPostCapitalism : a guide to our future / Paul Mason.
“Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change – economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust – and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason wonders whether today we are on the brink of a change so big, so profound, that this time capitalism itself, the immensely complex system by which entire societies function, has reached its limits and is changing into something wholly new…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy are we waiting? : the logic, urgency, and promise of tackling climate change / Nicholas Stern.
“The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. Stern argues that the risks and costs of climate change are worse than estimated in the landmark Stern Review in 2006 — and far worse than implied by standard economic models. The science warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy we think the things we think : philosophy in a nutshell / Alain Stephen.
“Have you ever found yourself alone with your thoughts? Have you ever been asked if the glass is half full or half empty? Do you wonder what true happiness is or how to attain it? Or maybe nothing really matters if everything is just an illusion or a dream? Author Alain Stephen seeks to explore some of these key questions by tracing their origins in the writings of prominent thinkers through the ages, from the colonnades of ancient Greece to the intellectual salons of twentieth-century France, and show how these ideas and concepts have developed over time…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKilling the host : how financial parasites and debt bondage destroy the global economy / Michael Hudson.
KILLING THE HOST exposes how finance, insurance and real estate (the FIRE sector) have gained control of the global economy at the expense of industrial capitalism and governments. The FIRE sector is responsible for todays economic polarization (the 1% vs. the 99%) via favored tax status that inflates real estate prices while deflating the real economy of labor and production. The Great 2008 Bailout saved the banks but not the economy. This book describes how the phenomenon of debt deflation imposes austerity on the U.S. and European economies, siphoning wealth and income upward to the financial sector while impoverishing the middle class.” (Syndetics summary)