New non-fiction: a biography of Elizabeth Warren, race and racism in Britain, & more

This month we have a wide range of titles in our new non-fiction, from a biography of rising American academic and politician Elizabeth Warren, to climate change and the future of the planet, as well as a look at the CIA, and issues of race and racism in Britain.

Syndetics book coverThis fight is our fight : the battle to save working people / Elizabeth Warren.
“Senator Elizabeth Warren has long been an outspoken champion of working people, and by the time the people of Massachusetts elected her in 2012, she had become one of the country’s leading progressive voices. Warren grew up in Oklahoma, and she’s never forgotten how difficult it was for her mother and father to hold on at the ragged edge of the lower middle class. An educational system that offered opportunities for all made it possible for her to achieve her dream of going to college, becoming a teacher, and, later, attending law school. But now, for many, these kinds of opportunities are gone, and a government that once looked out for working families is instead captive to the rich and powerful…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe CIA as organized crime : how illegal operations corrupt America and the world / by Douglas Valentine.
“Author of three books on CIA operations, Valentine’s research into CIA activities began when CIA Director William Colby gave him free access to interview CIA officials who had been involved in various aspects of the Phoenix program in South Vietnam. It was a permission Colby was to regret. The CIA would rescind it, making every effort to impede publication of The Phoenix Program, which documented the CIA’s elaborate system of population surveillance, control, entrapment, imprisonment, torture and assassination in Vietnam. While researching Phoenix, Valentine learned that the CIA allowed opium and heroin to flow from its secret bases in Laos, to generals and politicians on its payroll in South Vietnam…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy I’m no longer talking to white people about race / Reni Eddo-Lodge.
“In 2014, award-wining journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote on her blog about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge has written a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary examination of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverToo late : how we lost the battle with climate change / Geoffrey Maslen.
“In Too late, Geoffrey Maslen paints a sobering picture of the state of our planet and discusses how successive governments have failed to initiate change. Drawing on the work of leading climate scientists, this book is an urgent reminder that we have reached the point of no return. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about our planet’s future and what we leave for the generations to come”–Back cover.

Syndetics book coverI was toId to come alone : my journey behind the lines of Jihad / Souad Mekhennet.
“For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for the Washington Post who was born and educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing – Muslim and Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other. In this compelling and evocative memoir, we accompany Mekhennet as she journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighbourhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalised and the Iraqi neighbourhoods where Sunnis and Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo free lunch : can New Zealand feed the world sustainably? / volume editor: Barbara Burlingame ; series editor: Claire Massey.
“The world needs nutrition-driven agriculture that operates within planetary boundaries. But how do we engage the agriculture, health and environment sectors to address the pressing local and global problems that have taken us to the edge of — and beyond — the planet’s limits to growth? What are the solutions? Do they involve short-term hardship in order to not put future generations in peril? Twenty experts give their view on how New Zealand can lead the way with robust policies and best practice for sustainable food consumption and production.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe IRA / Tim Pat Coogan.
“This updated edition of the best-selling history of the IRA now includes behind-the-scenes information on the recent advances made in the peace process. With clarity and objectivity, Coogan examines the IRA’s origins, its foreign links, bombing campaigns, hunger strikes and sectarian violence and its role in the latest attempts to bring peace to Northern Ireland. Meticulously researched and featuring interviews with past and present members of the organization, this is a compelling account of modern Irish history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPost-truth : why we have reached peak bullshit and what we can do about it / Evan Davis.
“Low-level dishonesty is rife everywhere, in the form of exaggeration, selective use of facts, economy with the truth, careful drafting – from Trump and the Brexit debate to companies that tell us ‘your call is important to us’. How did we get to a place where bullshit is not just rife but apparently so effective that it’s become the communications strategy of our times? This brilliantly insightful book steps inside the panoply of deception employed in all walks of life and assesses how it has come to this. It sets out the surprising logic which explains why bullshit is both pervasive and persistent. Why are company annual reports often nonsense? Why should you not trust estate agents? And above all, why has political campaigning become the art of stretching the truth? Drawing on behavioural science, economics, psychology and of course his knowledge of the media, Evan ends by providing readers with a tool-kit to handle the kinds of deceptions we encounter every day, and charts a route through the muddy waters of the post-truth age.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSugar : the world corrupted, from slavery to obesity / James Walvin.
“The story of mankind’s love of sweetness – the need to consume honey, cane sugar, beet sugar and chemical sweeteners – has important historical origins. To take a simple example, two centuries ago, cane sugar was vital to the burgeoning European domestic and colonial economies. For all its recent origins, today’s obesity epidemic – if that is what it is – did not emerge overnight, but instead evolved from a complexity of historical forces which stretch back centuries…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPedagogy of the oppressed / Paulo Freire ; translated by Myra Bergman Ramos
“This text argues that the perceived passivity of the poor is the direct result of economic, social and political domination. The book suggests that in some countries the oppressors use the ‘piggy bank’ system – treating students as passive, empty vessels – to preserve their authority and maintain a culture of silence. Through cooperation and dialogue, Freire suggests, the authoritarian teacher-pupil model can be replaced with critical thinking so that the student becomes co-creator of knowledge. Crucial to Freire’s argument is the belief that every human being, no matter how impoverished or illiterate, can develop an awareness of self, and the right to be heard.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRadicals : outsiders changing the world / Jamie Bartlett.
“…From dawn raids into open mines to the darkest recesses of the internet, Radicals introduces us to some of the most secretive and influential movements today: techno-futurists questing for immortality, far-right groups seeking to close borders, militant environmentalists striving to save the planet’s natural reserves by any means possible, libertarian movements founding new countries, autonomous cooperatives in self-sustaining micro-societies, and psychedelic pioneers attempting to heal society with the help of powerful hallucinogens…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJournalism and climate crisis : public engagement, media alternatives / edited by Robert A. Hackett, Susan Forde, Shane Gunster, Kerrie Foxwell-Norton.
Journalism and Climate Crisis: Public Engagement, Media Alternatives recognizes that climate change is more than an environmental crisis. This book enquires into which approaches to journalism, as a particularly important form of public communication, can best enable humanity to productively address climate crisis. Bringing together perspectives from the fields of environmental communication and journalism studies, the authors argue for forms of journalism that can encourage public engagement and mobilization to challenge the powerful interests vested in a high-carbon economy… Ultimately, the book argues for a fundamental rethinking of relationships between journalism, publics, democracy and climate crisis.” (Syndetics summary)

New non-fiction books this month

The days are getting longer but there is still plenty of time to keep up your bedtime reading. Hunker down with the latest books on the future global energy and where it is heading or if your next tablet computer may start having feelings. Otherwise if you’re wavering between hope and hopelessness there are some great political titles that look at the future of government and our economy.

Syndetics book coverIn search of good government : great expectations & political amnesia / Laura Tingle.
“What has happened to good government? Can Malcolm Turnbull apply the lessons of the past to put things right? When leaders surf the wave of discontentment all the way to power, how do they deal with our great expectations? In her crisp, profound and witty essays, Laura Tingle seeks answers to these questions. In Political Amnesia, she ranges from ancient Rome to the demoralised state of the once-great Australian public service, from the jingoism of the past to the tabloid scandals of the internet age.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe courage of hopelessness : chronicles of a year of acting dangerously / Slavoj Žižek.
“In these troubled times, even the most pessimistic diagnosis of our future ends with an uplifting hint that things might not be as bad as all that… Yet, argues Slavoj Zizek, it is only when we have admitted to ourselves that our situation is completely hopeless that fundamental change can be brought about. …Today, he proposes, the only true question is, or should be, this- do we endorse the predominant acceptance of capitalism as a fact of human nature, or does today’s capitalism contain strong enough antagonisms to prevent its infinite reproduction? Can we, he asks, move beyond the failure of socialism, and beyond the current wave of populist rage, and initiate radical change before the train hits?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe story of be : a verb’s-eye view of the English language / David Crystal.
“The verb be has a remarkable history, and a wider range of meanings, uses, and forms than any other English word. In this book, David Crystal explores the intriguing story of this verb over 26 chapters, each linked to a particular usage. Chapters explore, for instance, circumstantial be (‘how are you?’), numerical be (‘two and two is four’), quotative be (‘so I was like, “wow”‘), and ludic be (‘oh no he isn’t!’). The discussion is accompanied by examples from a whole host of sources, literary and otherwise, such as Beowulf, Jane Austen, pantomime, and Star Wars, and further illustrated by cartoons including several from late nineteenth- and earlytwentieth-century issues of Punch.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRadical hope : letters of love and dissent in dangerous times / edited by Carolina De Robertis.
RADICAL HOPE is a collection of inspiring letters – to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in supermarket queues, to any and all who feel discouraged by contemporary politics – written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists in reaction to Trump’s election.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHeart of the machine : our future in a world of artificial emotional intelligence / Richard Yonck.
“Futurist Richard Yonck argues that instilling emotions, the first, most basic, and most natural form of communication, into computers is the next leap in our centuries-old obsession with creating machines that replicate humans. But for every benefit this progress may bring to our lives, there is a possible pitfall. Emotion recognition could lead to advanced surveillance, and the same technology that can manipulate our feelings could become a method of mass control…”–Amazon.com. (adapted)

Syndetics book coverBurn out : the endgame for fossil fuels / Dieter Helm.
“An energy revolution is under way with far-reaching consequences for nations, companies, and the way we address climate change. Low oil prices are sending shockwaves through the global economy, and longtime industry observer Dieter Helm explains how this and other shifts are the harbingers of a coming energy revolution and how the fossil fuel age will come to an end. …Timely and controversial, this book concludes by offering advice on what governments and businesses can and should do now to prepare for a radically different energy future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCritical perspectives on fossil fuels vs. renewable energy / edited by Anne C. Cunningham.
“Renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the global economy as climate scientists and environmentalists give voice to the detrimental effects of fossil fuels. But how far have we gotten in developing efficient and sustainable energy, including solar, wind, and geothermal power, and what are the benefits of these renewable energy sources compared to fossil fuels? This text examines the issue from diverse viewpoints, allowing students to analyze key ideas in energy production through primary source evidence” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverToxic inequality : how America’s wealth gap destroys mobility, deepens the racial divide, & threatens our future / Thomas M. Shapiro.
“Since the Great Recession, most Americans’ standard of living has stagnated or declined. Economic inequality is at historic highs. But inequality’s impact differs by race; African Americans’ net wealth is just a tenth that of white Americans, and over recent decades, white families have accumulated wealth at three times the rate of black families. In our increasingly diverse nation, sociologist Thomas M. Shapiro argues, wealth disparities must be understood in tandem with racial inequities–a dangerous combination he terms “toxic inequality.” In Toxic Inequality, Shapiro reveals how these forces combine to trap families in place…”–Publisher’s description.

Syndetics book coverAgainst doom : a climate insurgency manual / Jeremy Brecher.
“Late in 2015, nearly two hundred countries signed the Paris Agreement acknowledging their individual and collective duty to protect the earth s climate and willfully refused to perform that duty. They unanimously agreed to the goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But they did not agree to a single legally binding requirement about how, or how much, they would cut emissions. In response to this institutional failure and to growing climate destruction, we are witnessing the birth of a global nonviolent constitutional insurgency…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCool : style, sound, and subversion / Greg Foley, Andrew Luecke.
COOL: Style, Sound, and Subversion is equal parts historical chronicle and handbook of the myriad subcultures–most unknown to mainstream culture–that have influenced style. Authors Greg Foley and Andrew Luecke have compiled a comprehensive list of subcultures that have evolved over more than one hundred years, taking a look at the fashion, the art, the films, the books, the music, and historical context of these style movements, many of which came to influence conventional culture and eventually became a norm. Lavish with original illustrations, COOL references a wealth of ephemera to give the reader a thoroughly vibrant picture of each movement and their sub-movements.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRemember the ladies : celebrating those who fought for freedom at the ballot box / Angela P. Dodson.
“2017 begins the centennial celebrations of women first winning the right to vote, culminating in national suffrage three years later. This book documents the milestones in that hard won struggle and reflects on women’s impact on politics since. From the birth of our nation to the recent crushing defeat of the first female presidential candidate, this book highlights women’s impact on United States politics and government…” (adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverThe vanishing American adult : our coming-of-age crisis–and how to rebuild a culture of self-reliance / Ben Sasse.
“In an era of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and an unprecedented election, the country’s youth are in crisis. Senator Ben Sasse warns the nation about the existential threat to America’s future… Raised by well-meaning but overprotective parents and coddled by well-meaning but misbegotten government programs, America’s youth are ill-equipped to survive in our highly-competitive global economy…”– From the publisher. (adapted)

Syndetics book coverToo fat, too slutty, too loud : the rise and reign of the unruly woman / Anne Helen Petersen.
“From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an “acceptable” woman. You know the type: the woman who won’t shut up, who’s too brazen, too opinionated–too much. She’s the unruly woman, and she embodies one of the most provocative and powerful forms of womanhood today. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of “unruliness” to explore the ascension of pop culture powerhouses like Lena Dunham, Nicki Minaj, and Kim Kardashian, exploring why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New non-fiction books

This time we have some books about politics, some books on economics, the anthropocene, and a cold war spy story for your reading pleasure!

Syndetics book coverWell, you did ask : why the UK voted to leave the EU / Michael Ashcroft & Kevin Culwick.
“The UK’s vote to leave the European Union shocked the world – not to mention many people in Britain. What it revealed about our country is at least as significant for the future of politics as Brexit itself. Drawing on more than two years of intensive research by Lord Ashcroft Polls, Well, You Did Ask explains how voters came to make the most momentous political decision of our time – how they saw the choice before them, what they made of the campaign, its personalities, claims and counterclaims – and why they ultimately chose to take the UK out of the EU. To think clearly about what the referendum result means, we first need to understand how it came about. The answers are in this book.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMove fast and break things : how Facebook, Google, and Amazon have cornered culture and what it means for all of us / Jonathan Taplin.
“Google. Amazon. Facebook. The modern world is defined by vast digital monopolies turning ever-larger profits. Those of us who consume the content that feeds them are farmed for the purposes of being sold ever more products and advertising. Those that create the content – the artists, writers and musicians – are finding they can no longer survive in this unforgiving economic landscape. But it didn’t have to be this way.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScale : the universal laws of growth, innovation, sustainability, and the pace of life in organisms, cities, economies, and companies / Geoffrey West.
“Visionary physicist Geoffrey West is a pioneer in the field of complexity science, the science of emergent systems and networks… Fascinated by issues of aging and mortality, West applied the rigor of a physicist to the biological question of why we live as long as we do and no longer. The result was astonishing, and changed science, creating a new understanding of energy use and metabolism: West found that despite the riotous diversity in the sizes of mammals, they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of each other… West’s work has been game changing for biologists, but then he made the even bolder move of exploring his work’s applicability…and applied…[it] to the business and social world.” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverRevolting! : how the establishment are undermining democracy and what they’re afraid of / Mick Hume.
“We live in strange days in the history of democracy. Every serious politician in the Western world supports it. Yet when the EU referendum and American election both delivered the ‘wrong’ result, elites changed the merit of the people’s will, and some even tried to block it. …And yet the answer will never be to impose limitations. Popular democracy must offer better choices, rather than removing choice altogether. It’s time to defend democracy and fight for more of it, with no ifs, buts or backtracks.” (adapted from book jacket)

Defiant Earth : the fate of humans in the anthropocene / Clive Hamilton.
“Humans have become so powerful that we are disrupting the functioning of the earth, to the point where scientists now consider we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Clive Hamilton argues this forces us to rethink what kind of creature we humans are, and to acknowledge the power we still have to change the world for good.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover$uperhubs : how the financial elite and their networks rule our world / Sandra Navidi.
$UPERHUBS is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how the world’s most powerful titans, the -superhubs- pull the levers of our global financial system. Combining insider’s knowledge with principles of network science, Sandra Navidi offers a startling new perspective on how superhubs build their powerful networks and how their decisions impact all our lives. $UPERHUBS reveals what happens at the exclusive, invitation-only platforms – The World Economic Forum in Davos, the meetings of the International Monetary Fund, think-tank gatherings and exclusive galas…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAdults in the room : my battle with Europe’s deep establishment / Yanis Varoufakis
“Varoufakis sparked one of the most spectacular and controversial battles in recent political history when, as finance minister of Greece, he attempted to re-negotiate his country’s relationship with the EU. Despite the mass support of the Greek people and the simple logic of his arguments, he succeeded only in provoking the fury of Europe’s political, financial and media elite. But the true story of what happened is almost entirely unknown. In this fearless account, Varoufakis reveals all: an extraordinary tale of brinkmanship, hypocrisy, collusion and betrayal that will shake the deep establishment to its foundations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA little history of economics / Niall Kishtainy.
“What causes poverty? Are economic crises inevitable under capitalism? Is government intervention in an economy a helpful approach or a disastrous idea? The answers to such basic economic questions matter to everyone, yet the unfamiliar jargon and math of economics can seem daunting. This clear, accessible, and even humorous book is ideal for young readers new to economics and for all readers who seek a better understanding of the full sweep of economic history and ideas.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn the long run we are all dead : Keynesianism, political economy, and revolution / Geoff Mann.
“A groundbreaking debunking of moderate attempts to resolve financial crises. If, in liberal capitalism, political economy is the science of government, what is it for? Is it distributional, to realize the revolution without revolutionaries? Or is it to figure out how to forestall the revolution, to teach the masses to consent to remain poor? Keynesianism is the political economy that answers ‘yes’ on both counts: the solution to crisis-induced liberal anxiety since the French Revolution, an anxiety for which “political economy” seemed a cure. If the financial crisis of 2007-2008 briefly resurrected a Keynesian sensibility long declared dead, its reluctant radicalism finds itself renewed not because ‘Keynesian economics’ is palatable once more, but because the risks to “civilization” have posed themselves so aggressively it seems no one can afford not to listen”– Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverThe new urban crisis : how our cities are increasing inequality, deepening segregation, and failing the middle class– and what we can do about it / Richard Florida.
“In recent years, the young, educated, and affluent have surged back into cities, reversing decades of suburban flight and urban decline… Florida, one of the first scholars to anticipate this back-to-the-city movement …demonstrates how the same forces that power the growth of the world’s superstar cities also generate their vexing challenges: gentrification, unaffordability, segregation, and inequality. …A bracingly original work of research and analysis, The New Urban Crisis offers a compelling diagnosis of our economic ills and a bold prescription for more inclusive cities capable of ensuring growth and prosperity for all.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man with the poison gun : a Cold War spy story / Serhii Plokhy.
“In 1961, a KGB agent defected to West Germany. The 30-year-old man in police custody had papers in the name of an East German, Josef Lehmann, but claimed his real name was Bogdan Stashinsky, a citizen of the Soviet Union. On the orders of his KGB bosses, he had traveled on numerous occasions to Munich, where he singlehandedly tracked down and killed two enemies of the communist regime. He used a new, specially designed secret weapon–a spray pistol delivering liquid poison that, if fired into the victim’s face, killed without leaving any trace. In 1962, after spilling his secrets to the CIA, Stashinsky was put on trial in what would be the most publicized assassination case in Cold War history.” (Adapted from publisher’s description)

New Popular non-fiction books

Our first book this month follows a currently hot topic, that of gender bias in the workplace. Then follow some books on politics, including a wry take on the recent USA election, by author P. J. O’Rourke. We end with a good old fashioned Cold War spy story.

Syndetics book coverProgrammed inequality : how Britain discarded women technologists and lost its edge in computing / Marie Hicks.
“In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. What happened in the intervening thirty years holds lessons for all post-industrial superpowers. In Programmed Inequality, Marie Hicks explores the story of labor feminization and gendered technocracy that undercut British efforts to computerize. That failure sprang from the government’s systematic neglect of its largest trained technical workforce simply because they were women. Hicks explains why, even today, possessing technical skill is not enough to ensure that women will rise to the top in science and technology fields.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow the hell did this happen? : the election of 2016 / P.J. O’Rourke.
“This election cycle was so absurd that celebrated political satirist, journalist, and die-hard Republican P. J. O’Rourke endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. As P.J. put it, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692. So why not put Hillary on the dunking stool?” In How the Hell Did This Happen?, P.J. brings his critical eye and inimitable voice to some seriously risky business. Following his come-to-Satan moment with Hillary and the Beginning of End Times in November, P.J. reckons with a new age: “America is experiencing a change in the nature of leadership. We’re getting rid of our leaders. And we’re starting at the top.”” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDemocracy for realists : why elections do not produce responsive government / Christopher H. Achen, Larry M. Bartels.
Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens. Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents’ control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat we do now : standing up for your values in Trump’s America / edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians.
“This collection of essays by progressive leaders suggest actual strategies on how to move forward in resistance to a Trump administration.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUtopia for realists : how we can build the ideal world / Rutger Bregman ; translated from the Dutch by Elizabeth Manton.
“From one of Europe’s leading young thinkers, a brief history of utopia and a pragmatic manifesto for how to improve the lives of the 99 percent today. A majority of Americans report that they would take two extra weeks of vacation above two extra weeks of salary, half of all business professionals say that their work offers no meaning or significance, and nearly half of all American jobs are at a high risk of being usurped by machines. Meanwhile, after working all day at jobs we often dislike, we buy things we don’t need. Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, reminds us it needn’t be this way-and in some places it isn’t.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover“Curbing catastrophe : natural hazards and risk reduction in the modern world / Timothy H. Dixon.
“What does Japan’s 2011 nuclear accident have in common with the 2005 flooding of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina? This thought-provoking book presents a compelling account of recent and historical disasters, both natural and human-caused, drawing out common themes and providing a holistic understanding of hazards, disasters and mitigation. The book shows how billions of dollars and countless lives could be saved by adopting longer-term thinking for infrastructure planning and building, and argues that better communication is vital in reducing global risks and preventing future catastrophes.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTo be a machine : adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death / Mark O’Connell.
“Transhumanism is a movement pushing the limits of our biology–of our senses, intelligence, and life spans. It has been quietly exerting its influence on technology for decades, but in the last few years it has achieved critical mass, finding support among some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and beyond. In To Be a Machine, journalist Mark O’Connell explores the staggering (and terrifying) possibilities that present themselves when you think of your body as an outmoded device. In investigating what it means to be a machine, he offers a surprising meditation of what it means to be human.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Times companion to 2016 / [edited by Ian Brunskill].
“… brings together some of the best articles – and photographs and graphics – published by The Times between September 2015 and August 2016. … a lively mix of news features and reportage, profiles and interviews, opinion columns and expert analysis.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConnected world : from automated work to virtual wars : the future, by those who are shaping it / Philip Larrey.
“The world as we know it is changing. Driverless cars, drone deliveries and autonomous weapon systems are no longer the stuff of science fiction. But what’s next for technology and business, and what impact will it have on our society? In Connected World. Philip Larrey of the Pontifical Lateran University explores the consequences of the new digital age in conversation with an unparalleled set of global thought-leaders…..” (adapted from Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe man with the poison gun : a Cold War spy story / Serhii Plokhy.
“In the fall of 1961, KGB assassin Bogdan Stashinsky defected to West Germany. After spilling his secrets to the CIA, Stashinsky was put on trial in what would be the most publicized assassination case of the entire Cold War. The publicity stirred up by the Stashinsky case forced the KGB to change its modus operandi abroad and helped end the career of Aleksandr Shelepin, one of the most ambitious and dangerous Soviet leaders. Stashinsky’s story would inspire films, plays, and books–including Ian Fleming’s last James Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun. A thrilling tale of Soviet spy craft, complete with exploding parcels, elaborately staged coverups, double agents, and double crosses…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Some popular new non-fiction books for your reading pleasure

Some ‘better news’ books this time, beginning with The Fix. “Just when it looks like the world’s problems couldn’t get much worse, The Fix cuts through the gloom like a ray of sunshine” says Adam Grant. Find it, and more, in this month’s selections.

Syndetics book coverThe fix : how nations survive and thrive in a world in decline / Jonathan Tepperman.
“From immigration reform to energy resources, from political paralysis to inequality and extremism, we are beset by a raft of huge and seemingly insurmountable issues… What goes under-reported are the success stories. Here, taking ten of the most knotty issues we face today, Jonathan Tepperman examines unsung individuals’ bold and innovative attempts against all odds and expectations to solve some of the important problems governments have struggled with for decades. The solutions described in the book aren’t speculative: they’ve all already been tried, and they work. Controversial, provocative but always stimulating, Tepperman here offers a powerful, data-driven case for optimism.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAge is just a number : what a 97-year-old record-breaker can teach us about growing older / Charles Eugster with Matt Whyman.
“Retired dental surgeon Charles Eugster rekindled a love of competitive rowing he’d neglected for most of his adult life at the age of 63. He took up bodybuilding at the age of 87. And at the age of 95 he started sprinting for the first time in his life, becoming World Champion at 200m indoor and 400m outdoor. He is a world record holder for his age group in a number of sports, and has 40 Gold Medals for World Masters Rowing. In this book, Charles shares his journey and his passionate belief that growing older needn’t slow you down. And he shows his readers how taking on new challenges, learning new things, and improving your body as it ages is not only fun, but rewarding for the individual, and beneficial to society.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProgress : ten reasons to look forward to the future / Johan Norberg.
“It’s on the televisions, in the papers and in our minds. Every day were bludgeoned by news of how bad everything is. Financial collapse, unemployment, growing poverty, environmental disasters, disease, hunger, war. But the rarely acknowledged reality is that the economic and social progress of the past few decades has been unprecedented and that by almost any index you care to identify, things are markedly better now than they have ever been for almost everyone alive. Examining official data from the worlds most trusted institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, political commentator Johan Norberg traces just how far we have come in tackling the greatest global problems.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHalf the sky : how to change the world / Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
“Two Pulitzer Prize winners issue a call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women in the developing world. They show that a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad and that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAttack of the 50 ft. women : how gender equality can save the world! / Catherine Mayer.
“Not a single country anywhere in the world has achieved gender equality. In more than a few countries, progress for women has stalled or is reversing. Voters in the United States chose a misogynist over a female candidate for President. Yet in many of these countries, the majority of politicians and business leaders profess to believe in gender equality-as well they might. One report predicts a boost to global GDP of GBP8.3 trillion by 2025 simply by making faster progress towards narrowing the gender gap…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe four-dimensional human : ways of being in the digital world / Laurence Scott.
“A constellation of everyday digital phenomena is rewiring our inner lives. We are increasingly coaxed from the three-dimensional containment of our pre-digital selves into a wonderful and eerie fourth dimension, a world of ceaseless communication, instant information and global connection. Our portals to this new world have been wedged open, and the silhouette of a figure is slowly taking shape. But what does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public, with these recoded private lives?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWe do things differently : the outsiders rebooting our world / Mark Stevenson.
“Our systems are failing. Old models – for education, healthcare and government, food production, energy supply – are creaking under the weight of modern challenges. As the world’s population heads towards 10 billion, it’s clear we need new approaches. Futurologist Mark Stevenson sets out to find them, across four continents. From Brazilian favelas to high tech Boston, from rural India to a shed inventor in England’s home counties, ‘We Do Things Differently’ travels the world to find the advance guard re-imagining our future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMan of iron : Thomas Telford and the building of Britain / Julian Glover.
“The enthralling biography of the shepherd boy who changed the world with his revolutionary engineering and whose genius we still benefit from today… With his revolutionary vision, Telford invented the modern road and created the backbone of our national road network, tying England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales together, resulting in his being dubbed ‘The Colossus of Roads’. His elegant bridges are the greatest of the pre-twentieth century, the Menai Bridge a wonder of its time and our own while the famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales with its dramatic and alarming exposed heights is a UNESCO world heritage site and still a huge draw for tourists…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe master algorithm : how the quest for the ultimate learning machine will remake our world / Pedro Domingos.
Algorithms increasingly run our lives. They find books, movies, jobs, and dates for us, manage our investments, and discover new drugs. And in the world’s top research labs and universities, the race is on to invent the ultimate learning algorithm: one capable of discovering any knowledge from data, and doing anything we want, before we even ask. Pedro Domingos, one of the field’s leading lights, lifts the veil for the first time to give us a peek inside the learning machines that power Google, Amazon, and your smartphone. Step by step, he assembles a blueprint for the future universal learner – the Master Algorithm – and discusses what it means for you, and for the future of business, science, and society… (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe brain defense : murder in Manhattan and the dawn of neuroscience in America’s courtrooms / Kevin Davis.
“In 1991, the police were called to East 72nd St. in Manhattan, where a woman’s body had fallen from a twelfth-story window. The woman’s husband, Herbert Weinstein, soon confessed to having hit and strangled his wife after an argument, then dropping her body out of their apartment window to make it look like a suicide. Shortly after Weinstein was arrested, an MRI revealed a cyst the size of an orange on his brain’s frontal lobe, the part of the brain that governs judgment and impulse control. The Weinstein case marked the dawn of a new era in America’s courtrooms.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe kingdom of women : life, love and death in China’s hidden mountains / Choo WaiHong.
“This is one of the last matriarchal societies on earth, where the women hold power. They make the major decisions, control household finances, have rightful ownership of land and property and full rights to the children born to them. Most notably, the Mosuo practice something called ‘walking marriage’ where, from the age of 13, women can choose to take lovers – as many or as few as they wish – from men within the tribe. Choo Waihong discovered the Mosuo several years ago and lived with them for six years, becoming part of a Mosuo family and of the wider community – the only non-Mosuo to have ever done so. The story of her time in the remote mountains of China is both poignant and compelling: a vibrant glimpse into a way of life that teeters on the knife-edge of extinction.” (Syndetics summary)

Popular Non-Fiction books in March

Featured this month is From Bacteria to Bach and Back, a controversial, thought-provoking book about a new theory of the evolution of minds.

Syndetics book coverFrom bacteria to Bach and back : the evolution of minds / Daniel C. Dennett.
“A leading philosopher offers a major new account of the origins of the conscious mind that explores the deep interactions of evolution, brains, and human culture, demonstrating the role of culture in installing memes, including language, in the mind.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Brexit club : the inside story of the Leave campaign’s shock victory / Owen Bennett.
“From Boris Johnson to Nigel Farage; George Galloway to Michael Gove, the campaign to get the UK out of the EU brought together some of the most colourful characters in British politics. This once-in-a-generation opportunity to free the UK from the grip of Brussels saw egos put to one side and rivalries put on hold to push for a Leave vote in the EU referendum… Or did it?”

Syndetics book coverWhy I am not a feminist : a feminist manifesto. / Jessa Crispin.
“Are you a feminist? Do you believe women are human beings and that they deserve all the same rights as men? If so, then you are a feminist… Or are you? Is it really that simple? Outspoken cultural critic Jessa Crispin says somewhere along the way, the movement for female liberation sacrificed meaning for acceptance, and left us with a banal, polite, ineffectual pose that barely challenges the status quo. In this bracing, fiercely intelligent manifesto, she demands more- nothing less than the total dismantling of the system of oppression-and of what people currently think of as feminism.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEconomism : bad economics and the rise of inequality / James Kwak ; foreword by Simon Johnson.
“Outlines a deconstruction of the framework for understanding the world of classroom economics, clarifying assumptions and misleading teachings while sharing historical insights into how economism became a prevalent influence in the U.S.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Trump survival guide : everything you need to know about what you hoped would never happen / Gene Stone, with Nicholas Bromley, Tetsuhiko Endo, Mark Langley, Michael Otterman, Kendra Pierre-Louise, Carl Pritzkat, Miranda Spencer.
“The stunning election of Donald J. Trump rocked an already divided America and left scores of citizens feeling bereft and powerless. Now, Gene Stone …offers invaluable guidance and concrete solutions they can use to make a difference in this serious call-to-arms–showing them how to move from anger and despair to activism as the Trump presidency is in full swing and he signs one executive order after another. Before we can successfully engage, we need to be clear about the battles ahead. Stone outlines political and social concepts …providing a brief history of each, a refresher on Obama’s policies, and an analysis of what Trump’s administration might do. Stone then provides an invaluable guide for fighting back…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFive ideas to fight for : how our freedom is under threat and why it matters / Anthony Lester.
“Human Rights – Equality – Free Speech – Privacy – The Rule of Law. These five ideas are vitally important to the way of life we enjoy today. The battle to establish them in law was long and difficult, and Anthony Lester was at the heart of the thirty-year campaign that resulted in the Human Rights Act, as well as the struggle for race and gender equality that culminated in the Equality Act of 2010. A fierce argument for why we must act now to ensure the survival of the ideals which enable us to live freely, Five Ideas to Fight For is a revealing account of what we need to protect our hard-won rights and freedoms.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpymaster : the life of Britain’s most decorated cold war spy and head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield / Martin Pearce.
“The extraordinary story of the most highly decorated British spymaster of the Cold War, Sir Maurice Oldfield. Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (commonly known as the SIS or MI6), he was the first Chief to be named and pictured in the press. He was the first Chief of MI6 that hadn’t come from an upper-class background or studied at Eton or Oxbridge. Rather, he was a farmer’s son from a provincial grammar school who found himself accidentally plunged into the world of espionage by the outbreak of the Second World War. This is the fascinating life story of Maurice Oldfield, written by his nephew Martin Pearce, who remembers asking his uncle what he did for a job. ‘Oh it’s quite boring really, dear boy. I’m a kind of security guard at embassies,’ was the reply…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great leveler : violence and the history of inequality from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century / Walter Scheidel.
“Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInsane clown president : dispatches from the 2016 circus / Matt Taibbi.
“…In twenty-four pieces from Rolling Stone–plus two original essays–Taibbi tells the full story the campaign, from its tragi-comic beginnings to its apocalyptic conclusion, through sharp, on-the-ground reporting, incisive analysis, and gallows humor. This isn’t simply a blow-by-blow recounting of this uniquely bizarre and disturbing election season, but the wider story of the seeming collapse of American democracy.”– Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverWhen we are no more : how digital memory is shaping our future / Abby Smith Rumsey.
“In When We Are No More Abby Smith Rumsey explores human memory from pre-history to the present to shed light on the grand challenge facing our world–the abundance of information and scarcity of human attention. Tracing the story from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls, to movable type, books, and the birth of the Library of Congress, Rumsey weaves a compelling narrative that explores how humans have dealt with the problem of too much information throughout our history, and indeed how we might begin solve the same problem for our digital future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Popular non-fiction books

The highlight of this months’ books is The Machine Stops, in which 12 artists write to E.M. Forster’s imaginary Machine. The story “The Machine Stops” is included, and the book makes for fascinating reading. Also important at the moment is What is a Refugee?, a very timely book, a touch of comedy in The Revenge of Anguished English, and a new edition of the well praised Prosperity without Growth rounds up our selection.

Syndetics book coverHow change happens / Duncan Green.
“Human society is full of would-be “change agents”, a restless mix of campaigners, lobbyists, and officials, both individuals and organizations, set on transforming the world. Striking then, that not many universities have a Department of Change Studies, to which social activists can turn for advice and inspiration. Instead, scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, rarely making it onto the radars of those actively seeking change. This book bridges the gap between academia and practice, bringing together the best research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists to explore the topic of social and political change…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTerrorism : a history / Randall D. Law.
“We live in an era dominated by terrorism but struggle to understand its meaning and the real nature of the threat. In this new edition of his widely acclaimed survey of the topic, Randall Law makes sense of the history of terrorism by examining it within its broad political, religious and social contexts and tracing its development from the ancient world to the 21st century. In Terrorism: A History, Law reveals how the very definition of the word has changed, how the tactics and strategies of terrorism have evolved, and how those who have used it adapted to revolutions in technology, communications, and political ideologies.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe machine stops / E.M. Forster; with contributions by Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström and R. Lyon … [et. al.] ; edited by Erik Wysocan.
“In 1909 E.M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote his one work of dystopian science fiction, The Machine Stops, which imagines the world in the aftermath of an ecological crisis, where humans live in underground chambers without physical contact. Here, 12 artists–Julieta Aranda, Fia Backstrom and R. Lyon, Ed Atkins, Ian Cheng, Melanie Gilligan, Pedro Neves Marques, Tobias Madison, Jeff Nagy, Rachel Rose, Bea Schlingelhoff and Mariana Silva–contribute texts addressing culture in the networked age.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreating freedom : power, control and the fight for our future / Raoul Martinez.
“The ideal of freedom is at the heart of our political and economic system. It is foundational to our sense of justice, our way of life, our conception of what it is to be human. But are we free in the way that we think we are? In Creating Freedom, Raoul Martinez brings together a torrent of mind-expanding ideas, facts and arguments to dismantle sacred myths central to our society – myths about free will, free markets, free media and free elections. From the lottery of our birth to the consent-manufacturing influence of concentrated wealth and power, this far-reaching manifesto lifts the veil on the mechanisms of control that pervade our lives.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack and British : a forgotten history / David Olusoga.
“In Black and British, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga offers readers a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. It reveals that behind the South Sea Bubble was Britain’s global slave-trading empire and that much of the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery. …Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe singular universe and the reality of time : a proposal in natural philosophy / Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin.
“Cosmology is in crisis. The more we discover, the more puzzling the universe appears to be. To keep cosmology scientific, we must replace the old view in which the universe is governed by immutable laws by a new one in which laws evolve. Then we can hope to explain them. The revolution that Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin propose relies on three central ideas. The argument is readily accessible to non-scientists as well as to the physicists and cosmologists whom it challenges.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat is a refugee? / William Maley.
“Arguing that Western states are now reaping the consequences of policies aimed at blocking safe and ‘legal’ access to asylum, What is a Refugee? shows why many proposed solutions to the refugee ‘problem’ will exacerbate tension and risk fuelling the growth of extremism among people who have been denied all hope. This lucid book also tells of the families and individuals who have sought refuge, highlighting the suffering, separation and dislocation on their perilous journeys to safety.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe revenge of anguished English : super duper bloopers, botches, and blunders / Richard Lederer ; illustrated by Jim McLean.
“Fourth in the Anguished English series, this updated collection of verbal bloopers will have word nerds in stitches. From the gas station sign stating “Eat Here and Get Gas” to the church bulletin that reads “Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a health lunch,” hundreds of linguistic blunders are gathered from every layer of society and presented in this jocular assemblage, extracted exactly as they were originally presented.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuyer beware : a New Zealand home buyer’s guide / Maria Slade.
“How to negotiate the minefield of buying a home in New Zealand today. Property prices going through the stratosphere, leaky buildings, P contamination, bullying body corporates – purchasing a house today can feel akin to entering a minefield. Written by a news journalist who has covered many of the horror stories, this book takes a no-holds-barred look at the challenges facing home buyers and offers savvy advice on how to navigate that minefield. It will appeal to all home buyers, from first-timers hoping for a small apartment to older people looking to downsize and everyone in between.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProsperity without growth : foundations for the economy of tomorrow / Tim Jackson.
“The publication of Prosperity without Growth was a landmark in the sustainability debate. Tim Jackson’s piercing challenge to conventional economics openly questioned the most highly-prized goal of politicians and economists alike: the continued pursuit of exponential economic growth. Its findings provoked controversy, inspired debate and led to a new wave of research building on its arguments and conclusions. This substantially revised and re-written edition updates those arguments and considerably expands upon them. Seven years after it was first published, Prosperity without Growth is an essential vision of social progress in a post-crisis world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Popular non-fiction books in January

From books about making money to books about making war: economics, the human condition and rearing teenagers, there’s something for everyone in this month’s collection of new non-fiction books!

Syndetics book coverThe spies of winter : the GCHQ codebreakers who fought the Cold War / by Sinclair McKay.
“…Fascinating and insightful revelations from deep within the archives of this secret organisation reveal the story of the tumultuous early years of GCHQ as it navigated its way through an era of double agents, deception and betrayals. From the defection of the Cambridge Five and the treachery of the atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs, to the collapse of the British Empire, the ascension of Chairman Mao and the emergence of the US as a superpower, McKay deftly explores the impact these events had on the fledgling organisation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDefeating Jihad : the winnable war / Dr. Sebastian Gorka.
“Since September 11, 2001, America has been at war. And that’s about all anyone can say with certainty about a conflict that has cost 7,000 American lives and almost $2 trillion. As long as the most basic strategic questions–Who is the enemy? Why are we fighting?–remain unanswered, victory is impossible. Yet this war is eminently winnable if we remove our ideological blinders, accurately name our enemy, and draw up a strategy to defeat him. So says Dr. Sebastian Gorka, one of the most experienced and sought-after authorities on counterterrorism…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDo humankind’s best days lie ahead? / Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley, Alain de Botton, Malcolm Gladwell ; edited by Rudyard Griffiths.
“From the Enlightenment onwards, the West has had an enduring belief that through the evolution of institutions, innovations, and ideas, the human condition is improving… But is progress inevitable? What is seen as a breakthrough or innovation in one period becomes a setback or limitation in another. In short, progress is an ideology not a fact; a way of thinking about the world as opposed to a description of reality. So is the cup half full or half empty? As part of the Munk Debates series, held in Toronto biannually, pioneering cognitive scientist Steven Pinker and bestselling author Matt Ridley squared off against noted philosopher Alain de Botton and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, giving us an entertaining and thought-provoking face-off between four of the world’s most renowned thinkers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe econocracy : the perils of leaving economics to the experts / Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins.
“One hundred years ago the idea of ‘the economy’ didn’t exist. Now, improving the economy has come to be seen as perhaps the most important task facing modern societies. Politics and policymaking are conducted in the language of economics and economic logic shapes how political issues are thought about and addressed. The result is that the majority of citizens, who cannot speak this language, are locked out of politics while political decisions are increasingly devolved to experts. The econocracy explains how economics came to be seen this way – and the damaging consequences. It opens up the discipline and demonstrates its inner workings to the wider public so that the task of reclaiming democracy can begin.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSex, likes and social media : talking to our teens in the digital age / Allison Harvey and Deana Puccio.
“Welcome to the world of the Digital Native, where self-esteem is measured in Likes, everyone is sexting and ‘Pimps and Hoes’ is an acceptable party theme. Dates have been replaced with swipes, rape jokes are hilarious and ‘No’ means ‘Yes’. For most parents, the digital landscape that our kids and teens are growing up in is uncharted territory. How do we know if they’re happy? How do we talk to them about sex and relationships? How do we give them the new tools they need when we don’t have them ourselves? This book is here to help. Based on their professional work with young people, parents and teachers – and their experiences with their own children – Deana Puccio and Allison Havey give you the tools.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProperty entrepreneur : the wealth dragon way to build a successful property business / Vincent Wong.
“…Author Vincent Wong is one of the UK’s most dynamic and respected property entrepreneurs, and this book outlines his approach to creating wealth through property investing for both seasoned and aspiring investors. Emphasising the importance of treating property investing as a business, the author shares the wisdom of his first-hand experience and his investment techniques to help you navigate the ever-shifting property market and become a true property entrepreneur…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMolecular red : theory for the Anthropocene / McKenzie Wark.
“In Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark creates philosophical tools for the Anthropocene, our new planetary epoch, in which human and natural forces are so entwined that the future of one determines that of the other. …From the scientific pioneers who were trying to transform science during the Russia Revolution, to visionaries contemplating cyborg possibilities and science fiction dreams in late twentieth-century California, Molecular Red not only looks at the crisis of climate change that we face but also how we might be able to understand it, and how we might salvage some hope out of the wreckage.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUtopia is creepy : and other provocations / Nicholas Carr.
“With a razor wit, Nicholas Carr cuts through Silicon Valley’s unsettlingly cheery vision of the technological future to ask a hard question: Have we been seduced by a lie? Gathering a decade’s worth of posts from his blog, Rough Type, as well as his seminal essays, Utopia Is Creepy offers an alternative history of the digital age, chronicling its roller-coaster crazes and crashes, its blind triumphs, and its unintended consequences. …In famous essays including “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Privacy,” Carr dissects the logic behind Silicon Valley’s “liberation mythology,” showing how technology has both enriched and imprisoned us–often at the same time…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe unnatural world : the race to remake civilization in Earth’s newest age / David Biello.
“A Science Friday and Smithsonian Magazine Best Science Book of the Year. With the historical perspective of ‘The Song of the Dodo’ and the urgency of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, a brilliant young environmental journalist argues that we must innovate and adapt to save planet Earth. Civilization is in crisis, facing disasters of our own making on the only planet known to bear life in the vast void of the universe. We have become unwitting gardeners of the Earth, not in control, but setting the conditions under which all of life flourishes–or not. Truly, it’s survival of the innovators.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRe-imagining capitalism / edited by Dominic Barton, Dezsö Horváth, and Matthias Kipping.
“Capitalism has been an unprecedented engine of wealth creation for many centuries, leading to sustained productivity gains and long-term growth and lifting an increasing part of humanity out of poverty and subsistence. But its effects, and hence its future, have come increasingly under question: Is capitalism still improving the wealth and well-being for the many? Or, has it become destructive for the economy, where long-term value creation is being sacrificed to the pressures of short-termism; for society, where the gap between rich and poor has increased and opportunities to lift oneself out of poverty have dwindled; and for the natural environment, which seems increasingly under threat with unforeseen consequences for prosperity and global order? This volume reflects both the urgency of the needed action and the opportunity to achieve a wide-ranging agreement and lasting movement towards a more responsible, equitable, and sustainable model of capitalism in order to ensure its very survival. ” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Popular Non-fiction books for holiday reading

Some more substantial reading just in time for your holidays.

Syndetics book coverRebel crossings : new women, free lovers, and radicals in Britain and America / Sheila Rowbotham.
Rebel Crossings relates the interweaving lives of four women and two men as they journey from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, from Britain to America, and from Old World conventions toward New World utopias. Radicalised by the rise of socialism, Helena Born, Miriam Daniell, Gertrude Dix, Robert Nicol and William Bailie cross the Atlantic dreaming of liberty and equality. …offers fascinating perspectives on the historical interaction of feminism, socialism, and anarchism and on the incipient consciousness of a new sense of self, so vital for women seeking emancipation.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFour futures : visions of the world after capitalism / Peter Frase.
“Capitalism is going to end: Peter Frase argues that increasing automation and a growing scarcity of resources, thanks to climate change, will bring it all tumbling down. In Four Futures, Frase imagines how this post-capitalist world might look, deploying the tools of both social science and speculative fiction to explore what communism, rentism, socialism and exterminism might actually entail. A whirlwind tour through science fiction, social theory and the new technologies already shaping our lives, Four Futures is a balance sheet of the socialisms we may reach if a resurgent Left is successful, and the barbarisms we may be consigned to if those movements fail.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe optician of Lampedusa / Emma Jane Kirby.
“From an award-winning BBC journalist, this moving book turns the testimony of an accidental hero into a timeless story about the awakening of human courage and conscience. Emma-Jane Kirby has reported extensively on the reality of mass migration today. In The Optician of Lampedusa she brings to life the moving testimony of an ordinary man whose late summer boat trip off a Sicilian island unexpectedly turns into a tragic rescue mission.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNorth Korea’s hidden revolution : how the information underground is transforming a closed society / Jieun Baek.
“One of the least understood countries in the world, North Korea has long been known for its repressive regime. Yet it is far from being an impenetrable black box. Media flows covertly into the country, and fault lines are appearing in the government’s sealed informational borders. Drawing on deeply personal interviews with North Korean defectors from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, Jieun Baek tells the story of North Korea’s information underground–the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo place to hide : climate change : a short introduction for New Zealanders / Jim Flynn.
“Millions of educated people all over the world feel powerless in the face of climate change and its consequences, partially because the literature on the environment is so vast it is difficult to know where to begin. This short book is intended to make their search for truth manageable. …Its strongest claim is that there are really two kinds of sceptics we must rebut: not just climate change deniers but also climate engineering deniers. …we must face the fact that climate engineering is necessary to buy the time to achieve carbon-free energy, and unless this is implemented soon, we will pass the point of no return.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThe master plan : ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Jihadi strategy for final victory / Brian H. Fishman.
“An incisive narrative history of the Islamic State, from the 2005 master plan to reestablish the Caliphate to its quest for Final Victory in 2020. Given how quickly its operations have achieved global impact, it may seem that the Islamic State materialized suddenly. In fact, al-Qaeda’s operations chief, Sayf al-Adl, devised a seven-stage plan for jihadis to conquer the world by 2020 that included reestablishing the Caliphate in Syria between 2013 and 2016. Despite a massive schism between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, al-Adl’s plan has proved remarkably prescient. In summer 2014, ISIS declared itself the Caliphate after capturing Mosul, Iraq–part of stage five in al-Adl’s plan… Only by understanding the Islamic State’s full history–and the strategy that drove it–can we understand the contradictions that may ultimately tear it apart.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhiplash : how to survive our faster future / Joi Ito and Jeff Howe.
“The world is more complex and volatile today than at any other time in our history. The tools of our modern existence are getting faster, cheaper, and smaller at an exponential rate, just as billions of strangers around the world are suddenly just one click or tweet or post away from each other… The logic of a faster future oversets the received wisdom of the past, and the people who succeed will be the ones who learn to think differently. In WHIPLASH, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe distill that logic into nine organizing principles for navigating and surviving this tumultuous period.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe social organism : a radical understanding of social media to transform your business and life / Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey.
“In barely a decade, social media has positioned itself at the centre of twenty-first-century life. The combined power of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine have helped topple dictators and turned anonymous teenagers into celebrities overnight. How did this happen? The scope and pace of these changes have left traditional businesses — and their old-guard marketing gatekeepers — bewildered. We simply do not comprehend social media’s form, function, and possibilities. It’s time we did.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverThank you for being late : an optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations / Thomas L. Friedman.
“We all sense it – something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your children. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are speeding up – and it is dizzying. Friedman’s thesis is that to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces – Moore’s law (technology), the market (globalization) and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss) – are all accelerating at once, transforming the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics and community.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks.

It’s all about creativity and style. This month’s pick features vertical garden, best soil, and personalised design for your garden, as well as decoration and desserts for your party!

Syndetics book coverDomino : your guide to a stylish home : discovering your personal style and creating a space you love / by Domino editors, Jessica Romm Perez, Shani Silver.
“From the editors of domino magazine comes the essential guide to discovering your personal style at home. Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home will help readers to: Identify your personal decorating style. Find inspiration from hundreds of beautiful, inspiring photos of real homes. Style the major and minor components of your home, from textiles to table settings to art. Shop for quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Learn from domino editors and tastemakers about how to style magazine-quality looks at home…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe good dirt / Xanthe White.
“As the title suggests, this book is all about the soil we find in our garden and more particularly how we can maximize its growing potential. If you’ve ever wondered why some plants thrive in one location but struggle in your own backyard you’ll be likely to find explanations in the soil below. Xanthe White examines the five main soil types found in New Zealand and offers advice on how to get the best from each one by working in harmony with nature. Complete with ingredients guides for each soil type and ideas and design features to enhance its fertility, this is an essential companion for anyone looking to establish a new garden or improve their existing one.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood Housekeeping simple household wisdom : 425 easy ways to clean & organize your home / edited by Sara Lyle Bow.
“Your home is the place where you’re free to relax, entertain, and express your personality. Filled with fabulous photographs of every room, plus genius tips, savvy shortcuts, and quick fixes for tidying, decluttering, organizing, adding style, and more, Good Housekeeping Simple Household Wisdom is your go-to guide for turning a house into the home you’ll love even more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverModern potluck : beautiful food to share / Kristin Donnelly.
Modern Potluck is a cookbook and guide for today’s potluckers that delivers Instagram-worthy dishes packed with exciting, bold flavors. These 100 make-ahead recipes are perfect for a crowd and navigate carnivore, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan preferences gracefully. With beautiful color photographs and lots of practical information such as how to pack foods to travel, Modern Potluck is the ultimate book for gathering friends and family around an abundant, delicious meal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVertical gardens / Leigh Clapp & Hattie Klotz.
“Vertical gardening is a fun, creative way to grow plants in urban spaces. As long as you’ve got a blank wall or bare fence that needs beautifying, you can tend edibles, annuals, even perennials with vertical garden products. Vertical gardens will turn your bare spaces into gorgeous living walls indoors and out.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverSimple tailoring & alterations : hems, waistbands, seams, sleeves, pockets, cuffs, darts, tucks, fastenings, necklines, linings / J. François-Campbell.
“Revamp your wardrobe with advice from acclaimed costumer and expert tailor J. Francois-Campbell in this comprehensive guide to maintaining and altering men’s and women’s clothing. Simple Tailoring & Alterations offers concise instructions covering all tailoring and alteration techniques from replacing buttons to changing a garment’s shape for a better fit. Guided by easy to follow instructions, you will enjoy projects on skirts, dresses, pants, jackets, shirts, coats, sweaters, vests, ties, and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWell played : the ultimate guide to awakening your family’s playful spirit / Meredith Sinclair.
“From Today Show contributor, Meredith Sinclair, comes this ultimate resource for awakening your playful spirit, jumpstarting your relationships, and upping your happiness quotient. In our age of digital addiction, many of us have lost our ability to be spontaneous. More parents are complaining that they no longer even remember how to play…with their children, their spouse, and even with their own friends. Don’t fret! In Well Played, expert Meredith Sinclair helps families relearn what used to come naturally and shows how to find happiness through play. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElbows off the table, please : recipes to make any occasion special / Jo Seagar ; photography by Jae Frew.
“Delicious, effortless recipes along with wise advice on how to navigate any social occasion. A home-cooked meal or gift of baking is still one of the best ways to show your appreciation. …Jo Seagar shares her favourite dishes for simple gatherings, special celebrations and those times when a home-made offering saves the day. Accompanied by useful tips to help you be a generous host and gracious guest, this is an indispensable kitchen-to-table companion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe finer things : timeless furniture, textiles, and details / Christiane Lemieux ; foreword by Miles Redd.
“Quality matters. Just as a home’s foundation should be built to stand the test of time, so, too, should the furniture, objects, and elements of our rooms speak to an enduring sense of beauty and comfort. They should outlast trends and our loving day-to-day use. …Weaving together the insights and guidance of dozens of wallpaper and paint specialists, textile fabricators, accessories artisans, and interior designers, Lemieux has curated an unparalleled education in recognizing the hallmarks of timeless, heirloom-quality pieces.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecorate for a party : stylish and simple ideas for meaningful gatherings / Holly Becker + Leslie Shewring.
Decorate for a Party is a stunning sourcebook packed with decorating tips and techniques that will ignite your creativity. Whether you are planning a significant celebration or a simple dinner with friends, this book delivers creative ideas for every occasion.” (Amazon.co.uk)