New popular non-fiction books

Muslims of the World book cover

From immortality to death, our books this time contain a wide range of topics!

The only girl : my life and times on the masthead of Rolling Stone / Green, Robin
“In 1971, Robin Green had an interview with Jann Wenner at the offices Rolling Stone magazine. She had just moved to Berkeley, California, a city that promised “good vibes all-a time.” Those days, job applications asked just one question, “What are your sun, moon and rising signs?” Green thought she was interviewing for a clerical job like the other girls in the office, a “real job.” Instead, she was hired as a journalist. Brutally honest and bold, Green reveals what it was like to be the first woman granted entry into an iconic boys’ club.”(Catalogue (adapted))

The book of extraordinary deaths : true accounts of ill-fated lives / Ruiz, Cecilia
“…The Book of Extraordinary Deaths introduces readers to the bizarre demises of thinkers, writers, monarchs, artists, and notable nobodies throughout history. Beginning in the fifth century BC with the morbidly unusual death of Aeschylus and journeying chronologically to identical twins–who died on the same day–in the present day, readers will learn of people they may or may not have ever heard of, but will forever remember for their memorable final moments…” (Catalogue (adapted))

The future of humanity : terraforming Mars, interstellar travel, immortality, and our destiny beyond Earth / Kaku, Michio
“Having debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best sellers list with 2014’s The Future of the Mind, celebrated CUNY physicist Kaku goes back to the future with this study of how humans might eventually move away from Earth and build a sustainable civilization out there somewhere. …Human civilization is on the verge of spreading beyond Earth. More than a possibility, it is becoming a necessity- whether our hand is forced by climate change and resource depletion or whether future catastrophes compel us to abandon Earth, one day we will make our homes among the stars …and perhaps even achieve immortality.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Melanin monologues : a black British perspective / Adjaye, Natreema A.
Melanin Monologues documents the journey of a Black woman’s struggle to regain her self-esteem and cultural pride in British society. The chronicles provide some insight into the ways that racial classifications and stereotypes have influenced Black British communities. Natreema Adjaye strives to project a voice that has been obscured and ignored for the longest time. The monologues presents an honest account of what it means to be Black and British in a society where African identity has been defined from a Eurocentric standpoint.” (Catalogue)

1,000 books to read before you die : a life-changing list / Mustich, James
“The ultimate book for book lovers: the 1,000 must-read books across genres and eras, each accompanied by a thought-provoking short essay on why the book is so essential. The ultimate book for book lovers: the 1,000 must-read books across genres and eras, each accompanied by a thought-provoking short essay on why the book is so essential.” (Catalogue)

Exploding data : reclaiming our cyber security in the digital age / Chertoff, Michael
“The most dangerous threat we – individually and as a society and country – face today is no longer military, but rather the increasingly pervasive exposure of our personal information; nothing undermines our freedom more than losing control of information about ourselves. And yet, as daily events underscore, we are ever more vulnerable to cyber-attack. In offering his compelling call for action, Chertoff argues that what is at stake is not so much the simple loss of privacy, which is almost impossible to protect, but of individual autonomy – the ability to make personal choices free of manipulation or coercion.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Rise & resist : how to change the world / Press, Clare
Rise & Resist takes a wild trip through the new activism sweeping the world. The political march is back in a big way, as communities rally to build movements for environmental and social justice. Join Press as she tracks the formation of a new counterculture, united by a grand purpose- to rethink how we live today to build a more sustainable tomorrow.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Let’s talk about death over dinner : an invitation and guide to life’s most important conversation / Hebb, Michael
“Of the many critical conversations we will all have throughout our lifetime, few are as important as the ones discussing death – and not just the practical considerations, such as DNRs and wills, but what we fear, what we hope, and how we want to be remembered. Let’s Talk About Death (over Dinner) offers keen practical advice on how to have these same conversations – not just at the dinner table, but anywhere.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Future politics : living together in a world transformed by tech / Susskind, Jamie
Future Politics confronts one of the most important questions of our time: how will digital technology transform politics and society? The great political debate of the last century was about how much of our collective life should be determined by the state and what should be left to the market and civil society. In the future, the question will be how far our lives should be directed and controlled by powerful digital systems – and on what terms?” (adapted from Catalogue)

Hello world : being human in the age of algorithms / Fry, Hannah
“If you were accused of a crime, who would you rather decide your sentence – a mathematically consistent algorithm incapable of empathy or a compassionate human judge prone to bias and error? What if you want to buy a driverless car and must choose between one programmed to save as many lives as possible and another that prioritizes the lives of its own passengers? And would you agree to share your family’s full medical history if you were told that it would help researchers find a cure for cancer? These are just some of the dilemmas that we are beginning to face as we approach the age of the algorithm, when it feels as if the machines reign supreme.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Muslims of the world : portraits and stories of hope, survival, loss, and love / Shah, Sajjad
“We are living in a time of unrest for many members of the Islamic faith around the globe. Enter Muslims of the World, a book based on the popular Instagram account @MuslimsoftheWorld1. Like the account, the book’s mission is to tell the diverse stories of Muslims living in the US and around the world. Whether it is telling a story about a young Syrian refugee who dreams of being a pilot or about a young girl’s decision to not remove her hijab, which in turn saved her family’s life, Muslims of the World aims to unite people of all cultures and faiths by sharing the hopes, trials, and tribulations of Muslims from every walk of life.” (adapted from Catalogue)

People like us : the new wave of candidates knocking at democracy’s door / Bhojwani, Sayu
“The system is rigged: America’s political leadership remains overwhelmingly white, male, moneyed, and Christian. But in People Like Us, political scientist Sayu Bhojwani shares the stories of a diverse and persevering range of local and state politicians from across the country who are challenging the status quo, winning against all odds, and leaving a path for others to follow in their wake. In accessible prose, Bhojwani shines a light on the political, systemic, and cultural roadblocks that prevent government from effectively representing a rapidly changing America, and offers forward-thinking solutions on how to get rid of them.” (adapted from Catalogue)

New popular non-fiction books

Fight Like a Girl book cover

Another small, perfect book from BWB Texts begins our list today, False Divides written by Lana Lopesi.

False divides / Lopesi, Lana
“Te Moana Nui a Kiwa is the great ocean continent. While it is common to understand ocean and seas as something that divides land, for those Indigenous to the Pacific or the Moana, it was traditionally a connector and an ancestor. Imperialism in the Moana, however, created false divides between islands and separated their peoples. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, these connections are becoming visible again, partly through the use of globalising technologies. In this BWB Text, Lana Lopesi argues that while colonisation created divisions across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, the adaptability of Moana peoples is now turning the ocean back into the unifying continent that it once was.” (Catalogue)

That F word : growing up feminist in Aotearoa / Marvelly, Elizabeth
“Lizzie Marvelly tells the story of New Zealand’s feminist roots, then traverses the modern landscape, tearing apart areas of gender imbalance and pervading attitudes to Kiwi women. Lizzie speaks about her own first-hand experiences with sexism and male misconduct, while also offering advice to young girls on how to take full control of their lives…” (Catalogue (adapted))

What to read and why / Prose, Francine
“In an age defined by hyper-connectivity and constant stimulation, Francine Prose makes a compelling case for the solitary act of reading and the great enjoyment it brings. Inspiring and illuminating, What to Read and Why includes selections culled from Prose’s previous essays, reviews, and introductions, combined with new, never-before-published pieces that focus on her favorite works of fiction and nonfiction, on works by masters of the short story, and even on books by photographers like Diane Arbus…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Value of everything : making and taking in the global economy / Mazzucato, Mariana
“A scathing indictment of our current global financial system, The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been accounted and reveals how economic theory has failed to clearly delineate the difference between value creation and value extraction. Mariana Mazzucato argues that the increasingly blurry distinction between the two categories has allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while in reality they are just moving around existing value or, even worse, destroying it…”-Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue (adapted))

The AI delusion / Smith, Gary
“Gary Smith argues that the real danger of artificial intelligence is not that computers are smarter than us, but that we think they are. Through many examples, Smith shows that human reasoning is fundamentally different from artificial intelligence, and it is needed more than ever. …Computers are very good at discovering patterns, but are useless in judging whether the unearthed patterns are sensible because computers do not think the way humans think…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Digital human : the fourth revolution of humanity includes everyone / Skinner, Chris
“This digitalisation of our planet is bringing about a major transformation. Everyone on the planet will soon be included in the network and everyone on the planet will get the chance to talk, trade and transact with everyone in real time. This book offers insight into a number of intriguing topics that stem from the digitalisation of humanity such as how bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are challenging government and control mechanisms and why the Chinese tech giants are more imaginative than their Western counterparts…”-Dust jacket.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Poverty safari : understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass / McGarvey, Darren
“Darren McGarvey has experienced poverty and its devastating effects first-hand. He knows why people from deprived communities all around Britain feel angry and unheard. And he wants to explain… This book takes you inside the experience of poverty to show how the pressures really feel and how hard their legacy is to overcome. Arguing that both the political left and right misunderstand poverty as it is actually lived, McGarvey sets out what everybody – including himself – could do to change things…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Emotional AI : the rise of empathic media / McStay, Andrew
“What happens when media technologies are able to interpret our feelings, emotions, moods, and intentions? In this cutting edge new book, Andrew McStay explores that very question and argues that these abilities result in a form of technological empathy. …Combining established theory with original analysis, this book will change the way students view, use and interact with new technologies. It should be required reading for students and researchers in media, communications, the social sciences and beyond.” (Catalogue (adapted))

The edge of memory : ancient stories, oral tradition and the post-glacial world / Nunn, Patrick D.
“In The Edge of Memory, Patrick Nunn explores the science in folk history. He looks at ancient tales and traditions that may be rooted in scientifically verifiable fact, and can be explored via geological evidence, such as the Biblical Flood. We all know those stories that have been told in our families for generations. The ones that start “Have I ever told you about your great, great Uncle …?” In some cultures these stories have been passed down for thousands of years, and often reveal significant information about how the surrounding environment has changed and the effect it has had on societies–from stories referring to coastal drowning to the devastation caused by meteorite falls. Geologists are now starting to corroborate the tales through study of climatic data, sediments and land forms; the evidence was there in the stories, but until recently, nobody was listening.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Plundering beauty : a history of art crime during war / Tompkins, Arthur
“The roll-call of mankind’s wars down the centuries is paralleled by an equally extensive catalogue of the theft, destruction, plundering, displacement and concealing of some of the greatest works of art. …The works of art involved have fascinating stories to tell, as civilization moves from a simple and brutal ‘winner takes it all’ attitude to the spoils of war, to contemporary understanding, and commitment to, the idea that a society’s artistic heritage truly belongs to all humankind”–Back cover.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Wolf boys : two American teenagers and Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartel / Slater, Dan
“What it like to be an employee of a global drug-trafficking organization? In the border town of Laredo, Texas, Gabriel and his friend Bart abandon promising futures for the allure of the Zetas, a drug cartel with roots in the Mexican military. Mexican-born Detective Robert Garcia has worked hard all his life and is now struggling to raise his family in America. As violence spills over the border, Detective Garcia pursuit of the boys, and their cartel leaders, puts him face to face with the urgent consequences of a war he sees as unwinnable. Slater shows the way in which the border itself is changing, disappearing, and posing new, terrifying, and yet largely unseen threats to American security.” (Catalogue)

Raising Rosie : our story of parenting an intersex child / Lohman, Eric
“When their daughter Rosie was born …intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns. Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. The book looks at how they spoke about the condition to friends and family, to Rosie’s teachers and caregivers, and shows how they plan on explaining it to Rosie when she is older…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Fight Like a Girl book coverFight like a girl / Ford, Clementine
An incendiary debut taking the world by storm, Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world is. Personal and fearless – a call to arms for feminists new, old and as yet unrealised by one of our most outspoken feminist writers.” (Catalogue)

New Non-Fiction arrivals

Prime Movers book cover

A very interesting mix of books this month, including one on Adam Smith, an MI6 spy inside al-Qaeda and ‘The perfectionists : how precision engineers created the modern world’.

Prime movers : from Pericles to Gandhi : twelve great political thinkers and what’s wrong with each of them / Mount, Ferdinand
“The lives of men such as Jesus Christ, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke , and Thomas Jefferson are discussed and comparisons are drawn between the various approaches each figure promoted in their works – whether philosophical, or political theories.” (Syndetics summary, adapted)

Text, lies and cataloging : ethical treatment of deceptive works in the library / Brubaker, Jana
“The library profession values objectivity and accuracy, qualities that can be difficult to reconcile when a work is controversial. This book addresses ethical considerations, particularly for cataloguers, and proposes cataloguing solutions. The approaches suggested are provocative and designed to spark debate. … Deceptive literary works mislead readers and present librarians with a dilemma. Whether making recommendations to patrons or creating catalog records, objectivity and accuracy are crucial–and can be difficult to reconcile when a book’s authorship or veracity is in doubt… (Catalogue (adapted))

Internet celebrity : understanding fame online / Abidin, Crystal
“…The face of internet celebrity is rapidly diversifying and evolving. Online and mainstream celebrity culture are now weaving together, such that breakout stars from one-hit viral videos are able to turn their transient fame into a full-time career. This book presents a framework for thinking about the different forms of internet celebrity that have emerged over the last decade, taking examples from the Global North and South, to consolidate key ideas about cultures of online fame…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Nine lives : my time as MI6’s top spy inside al-Qaeda / Dean, Aimen
“A compelling and invaluable account of life inside al-Qaeda through the eyes of a first-rate spy. As one of al-Qaeda’s most respected scholars and bomb-makers, Aimen Dean rubbed shoulders with the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden himself. His job was already one of the most dangerous in the world. But what the others didn’t know was that he was working undercover for MI6. This is the story of a young Muslim determined to defend his faith, even if it meant dying for the cause, the terrible disillusionment that followed when he realised he was fighting on the wrong side, and the fateful decision to work undercover with his sworn enemy.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Rethinking school : how to take charge of your child’s education / Bauer, Susan Wise
“With boldness, experience, and humor, Susan Wise Bauer turns conventional wisdom on its head. When a serious problem arises at school, the fault is more likely to lie with the school, or the educational system itself, than with the child. In five illuminating sections, Bauer teaches parents how to flex the K-12 system, rather than the child. As the author of the classic book on home-schooling, The Well-Trained Mind, Bauer knows how children learn and how schools work. Her advice here is comprehensive and anecdotal, including material drawn from experience with her own four children and more than twenty years of educational consulting and university teaching.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Politics for the new dark age : staying positive amidst disorder / Skews, Anthony
“Our societies are growing more unequal, more hierarchical, meaner and less human every year. Voters appalled by the direction of current politics respond to leaders that articulate a cohesive and genuine progressivism. This book provides the framework for politicians and activists to deliver that vision, organised around the themes of cooperative solutions to social problem-solving and a social contract centered on rights and the equal dignity of all people.” (Catalogue)

The perfectionists : how precision engineers created the modern world / Winchester, Simon
“New York Times best-selling Winchester charts the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age with an eye to a single factor: precision. Standards of measurement, machines that made machines, the Hadron Collider-all have required and engendered ever greater precision. But are we missing the importance of craft and art and the messy reality of the world? (Catalogue (adapted))

Authentocrats : culture, politics and the new seriousness / Kennedy, Joe
Authentocrats critiques the manner in which post-liberal ideas have been mobilised underhandedly by centrist politicians who, at least notionally, are hostile to the likes of Donald Trump and UKIP. It examines the forms this populism of the centre has taken in the United Kingdom and situates the moderate withdrawal from liberalism within a story which begins in the early 1990s. In this book, we see how this spurious concern for “real people” is part of a broader turn within British culture by which the mainstream withdraws from the openness of the Nineties under the bad-faith supposition that there’s nowhere to go but backwards. Authentocrats charges liberals themselves with fuelling the post-liberal turn, and asks where the space might be found for an alternative.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Fair shot : rethinking inequality and how we earn / Hughes, Chris
“To help people who are struggling, Hughes proposes a simple, bold solution: a guaranteed income for working people, including unpaid caregivers and students, paid for by the one percent. Hughes believes that a guaranteed income is the most powerful tool we have to combat poverty.” (Book jacket)

Adam Smith : what he thought, and why it matters / Norman, Jesse
“This book is not only a biography. It dispels the myths and debunks the caricatures that have grown up around Adam Smith. It explores Smith’s ideas in detail, from ethics to law to economics and government, and the impact of those ideas on thinkers as diverse as Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek. At a time when economics and politics are ever more polarized between left and right, this book, by offering a Smithian analysis of contemporary markets, predatory capitalism and the 2008 financial crash, returns us to first principles and shows how the lost centre of modern public debate can be recreated.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Invisible countries : journeys to the edge of nationhood / Keating, Joshua
“What is a country? While certain basic criteria–borders, a government, and recognition from other countries–seem obvious, journalist Joshua Keating’s book explores exceptions to these rules, including self-proclaimed countries such as Abkhazia, Kurdistan, and Somaliland, a Mohawk reservation straddling the U.S.-Canada border, and an island nation whose very existence is threatened by climate change. Through stories about these would-be countries’ efforts at self-determination, as well as their respective challenges, Keating shows that there is no universal legal authority determining what a country is. He argues that although our current world map appears fairly static, economic, cultural, and environmental forces in the places he describes may spark change.” (Catalogue)

New non-fiction books to browse

Now You're Talking book cover

Have a browse through this month’s non-fiction picks, featuring medicine, budgeting, Marx and more!

Will big business destroy our planet? / Dauvergne, Peter
“Walmart. Coca-Cola. BP. Toyota. The world economy runs on the profits of transnational corporations. Politicians need their backing. Nonprofits rely on their philanthropy. People look to their brands for meaning. And their power continues to rise. Now, facing a mounting global environmental crisis, can big business provide the solutions? Absolutely, the CEOs are responding: big business not only has the global power, in-house guidelines for corporate social responsibility will ensure it happens, voluntarily. Really?” (Adapted from catalogue)

The pastor and the painter / Wockner, Cindy
“At 12.35 a.m. on the 29th April 2015, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were led out in front of firing squad. Strapped to wooden crosses, they prayed and sang, staring straight ahead at their killers. On that day, the Indonesian government did not execute two drug smugglers, they executed a pastor and a painter. …This is the intimate, and untold, story of Andrew and Myuran; of their childhoods and what turned them to drugs.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The culture code : the secrets of highly successful groups / Coyle, Daniel
“In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code, goes inside some of the most effective organisations in the world and reveals their secrets. He not only explains what makes such groups tick, but also identifies the key factors that can generate team cohesion in any walk of life. He offers cautionary tales of toxic cultures and advises how to reform them, above all demonstrating the extraordinary achievements that result when we know how to cooperate effectively.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Shapeshifters : on medicine & human change / Francis, Gavin
“Our minds and bodies change constantly – we dream and laugh, wax and wane, distort and repair, grow taller and shrink, flourish and decay as we make our way through life. Some of these changes we have little choice about – puberty, the menopause, death – others are specific to the individual. And still others are rare, almost magical in their manifestations, such as the sun-sensitivity and facial hair that characterises Porphyria suffers and led to them, once upon a time, to be suspected as werewolves. Mixing case studies with observations about history, art, literature, myth and magic, and viewing with a humane and sensitive eye, Gavin Francis explores the various ways in which change is the very essence of being human.” (Adapted from catalogue)

You need a budget : the proven system for breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, getting out of debt, and living the life you want / Mecham, Jesse
“Experience a life free of financial stress and transform your relationship to money with this indispensable guide-the first book based on You Need A Budget’s proven method that has helped hundreds of thousands of people break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, get out of debt, and live the life they want to live.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Silent invasion : China’s influence in Australia / Hamilton, Clive
“In 2008 Clive Hamilton was at Parliament House in Canberra when the Beijing Olympic torch relay passed through. He watched in bewilderment as a small pro-Tibet protest was overrun by thousands of angry Chinese students. In 2016 it was revealed that wealthy Chinese businessmen linked to the Chinese Communist Party had become the largest donors to both major political parties. Hamilton realised something big was happening, and decided to investigate the Chinese government’s influence in Australia. What he found shocked him. From politics to culture, real estate to agriculture, universities to unions, and even in our primary schools, he uncovered compelling evidence of the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration of Australia.” (Catalogue)

The assault on intelligence : American national security in an age of lies / Hayden, Michael V.
“In the face of a President who lobs accusations without facts, evidence, or logic, truth tellers are under attack. Meanwhile, the world order is teetering on the brink. North Korea is on the verge of having a nuclear weapon that could reach all of the United States, Russians have mastered a new form of information warfare that undercuts democracy, and the role of China in the global community remains unclear.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Now you’re talking : human conversation from the Neanderthals to artificial intelligence / Cox, Trevor J.
“If you’ve ever felt the shock of listening to a recording of your own voice, you realise how important your voice is to your personal identity. We judge others – and whether we trust them – not just by their words but by the way they talk: their intonation, their pitch, their accent. Now You’re Talking explores the full range of our voice – how we speak and how we sing; how our vocal anatomy works; what happens when things go wrong; and how technology enables us to imitate and manipulate the human voice.” (Adapted from catalogue)

What would the great economists do? : how twelve brilliant minds would solve today’s biggest problems / Yueh, Linda Y.
“Acclaimed economist and BBC broadcaster Linda Yueh profiles the great economic minds who focused on the big questions: growth, innovation, and the nature of markets. Most of them have won the Nobel Prize. All of them have had lasting impact on both the development of the discipline and how public policy has been and continues to be shaped. But Dr. Yueh goes a step further: In accessible and clear prose, she will explain the impact their respective research has on combating today’s great economic problems.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A world to win : the life and works of Karl Marx / Liedman, Sven-Eric
“The globalised world of the twenty-first century has many parallels with that of the period running up to the cataclysm of 1914, namely the world predicted by Karl Marx. Despite nearly 200 years having passed since his birth, his burning condemnation of capitalism remains of immediate interest today. The texts he left behind gave rise to what would come to be called Marxism, but that was a term he rejected. Now, more than ever before, these texts can be read for what they truly are.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The middle class : a history / James, Lawrence
“Originally published 2006. This is the story of the great powerhouse of British history – the middle class. The death of feudalism, the advancement of democracy, the spread of literacy, the coming of the industrial and sexual revolutions, the development of mass media – the middle class is never fay away, pushing for change, engaging in philanthropy, while always mindful to protect its own interests.” (Book jacket)

Square eyes : children, screen time and fun / Booker, Emily
“Troubled by what her daughter was watching, and by how this made her feel as a parent, Emily Booker set out to learn more about children and television by listening not only to scholars and experts in the field, but to children themselves. What she found was that the problem of children’s addiction to screens is actually, in part, a grown-ups’ problem. Speaking to children about what they watch and why reveals a steadily consistent response: they love to seek out programs that are ‘fun’. But their choices are often a source of anxiety for parents, and appear to provoke a need to censure and control the child’s enjoyment. At a time when children’s lives are increasingly regulated, and the pressures of parenting are felt ever more keenly, this important book teaches us much about the value of entertainment, not only for children but for adults.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Interesting new non-fiction books

Pops book cover

Two books about women’s suffrage feature in this month’s selections. Other topics include demystifying the blockchain, parenthood, artificial intelligence and much more.

Hearts and minds : the untold story of the great pilgrimage and how women won the vote / Robinson, Jane
“Set against the colourful background of the entire campaign for women to win the vote, Hearts and Minds tells the remarkable and inspiring story of the suffragists’ march on London. 1913: the last long summer before the war. The country is gripped by suffragette fever. These impassioned crusaders have their admirers; some agree with their aims if not their forceful methods, while others are aghast at the thought of giving any female a vote. Meanwhile, hundreds of women are stepping out on to the streets of Britain. They are the suffragists: non-militant campaigners for the vote, on an astonishing six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Rich and poor, young and old, they defy convention, risking jobs, family relationships and even their lives to persuade the country to listen to them. This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change.” (Catalogue)

Marx, capital and the madness of economic reason / Harvey, David
“In Marx and Capital, David Harvey introduces and explains the architecture of capital as expounded by Marx in the three volumes of Capital, published between 1867 and 1883. He places Marx’s observations and arguments in the context of capitalism in the second half of the nineteenth century and considers the degree to which technological, economic and industrial change during the last 150 years means the analysis and its application need to be modified.” (Catalogue)

Brexit and Ireland : the dangers, the opportunities, and the inside story of the Irish response / Connelly, Tony
“Brexit represents potentially the single greatest economic foreign-policy challenge to the Irish state since the Second World War. …Tony Connelly tells the dramatic inside story of the Irish response to this political and economic earthquake and lays out the agenda for the uncertain years ahead.” (Book jacket)

The truth machine : the blockchain and the future of everything / Casey, Michael J.
In The Truth Machine, Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna demystify the blockchain and explain why it can restore personal control over our data, assets, and identities; grant billions of excluded people access to the global economy; and shift the balance of power to revive society’s faith in itself. They reveal the empowerment possible when self-interested middlemen give way to the transparency of the blockchain, while highlighting the job losses, assertion of special interests, and threat to social cohesion that will accompany this shift.” (Catalogue)

Pops : fatherhood in pieces / Chabon, Michael
“At the heart of this essay collection on fatherhood from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Chabon is his GQ piece ‘My Son, the Prince of Fashion,’ explaining how he came to appreciate his 13-year-old son’s singular passion when accompanying him to Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Despite his own indifference, however, what gradually emerged as Chabon ferried his son to and from fashion shows was a deep respect for his son’s passion. With the GQ story as its centerpiece, and featuring six additional essays plus an introduction, Pops illuminates the meaning, magic, and mysteries of fatherhood as only Michael Chabon can.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Feeding my mother : comfort and laughter in the kitchen as my mom lives with memory loss / Arden, Jann
“Based on her hugely popular Facebook posts and Instagram photos, this book is an account of the transformation in Jann Arden’s life that has turned her into the primary ‘parent’ to her mom, who is in the grip of Alzheimer’s.” (Catalogue)

Chernobyl : the history of a tragedy / Plokhy, Serhii
“On 26 April 1986 at 1.23am a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Soviet Ukraine exploded. While the authorities scrambled to understand what was occurring, workers, engineers, firefighters and those living in the area were abandoned to their fate. In Chernobyl, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy draws on recently opened archives to recreate these events in all their drama, telling the stories of the scientists, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear nightmare.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Chasing Hillary : ten years, two presidential campaigns, and one intact glass ceiling / Chozick, Amy
“For nearly a decade, award-winning New York Times journalist Amy Chozick chronicled Hillary Clinton’s pursuit of the presidency. Chozick’s assignments, covering Clinton’s imploding 2008 campaign and then her front-row seat to the 2016 election on ‘The Hillary Beat.’ In this rollicking, hilarious narrative, Chozick takes us through the high- (and low-) lights of the most noxious and dramatic presidential election in American history.” (Adapted from catalogue)

AIQ : how artificial intelligence works and how we can harness its power for a better world / Polson, Nicholas G.
“From leading data scientists Nick Polson and James Scott, what everyone needs to know to understand how artificial intelligence is changing the world and how we can use this knowledge to make better decisions in our own lives. Dozens of times per day, we all interact with intelligent machines that are constantly learning from the wealth of data now available to them. These machines, from smart phones to talking robots to self-driving cars, are remaking the world in the 21st century in the same way that the Industrial Revolution remade the world in the 19th century. AIQ is based on a simple premise: if you want to understand the modern world, then you have to know a little bit of the mathematical language spoken by intelligent machines. AIQ will teach you that language–but in an unconventional way, anchored in stories rather than equations.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Deeds not words : the story of women’s rights, then and now / Pankhurst, Helen
“Despite huge progress since the original suffragette campaigns and wave after wave of new feminism, women are still not equal. On the centenary of one of the greatest steps forward for women – the Vote – Suffragette descendent and campaigner Helen Pankhurst takes the reader on a journey exploring how women’s lives have changed over the last 100 years, and how we can take things even further.” (Catalogue)

New non-fiction books on our shelves

New Power

This time, the focus is on the environment, from people and places to animals and agriculture, plus loads more in-between.

Syndetics book coverGround work : writings on people and places / edited by Tim Dee.
“We are living in the anthropocene – an epoch where everything is being determined by the ruinous activities of just one soft-skinned, warm-blooded, short-lived, pedestrian species. How best to live in the ruins that we have made? This anthology of commissioned work tries to answer this as it explores new and enduring cultural landscapes, here and abroad, in a celebration of local distinctiveness that includes new work from some of our finest writers. Helen Macdonald, in her remarkable piece on growing up in a rented house in a 50-acre walled estate in Camberley, reflects on our failed stewardship of the planet: ‘I take stock,’ she says, ‘During this sixth extinction, we who may not have time to do anything else must write now what we can, to take stock.'” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReckless Opportunists: Elites at the End of the Establishment:
“The Summer of 2016 revealed a crisis in Britain’s political, economic and media elite. Once successful leaders were dropping everywhere. These multiple crises at the top are no coincidence. It’s a structural problem that has developed over decades. The central theme of the book is that: the British elite has lost control. They can earn more than ever before and their decisions have powerful consequences that are widely felt. They are highly skilled when it comes to pursuing their own self-interests. But, they are also rather less able to exert control or predict the consequences of their actions. What is best for them can often be bad for their organisation, their employees or publics. These failings have an increasingly devastating effect on society and the wider public.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe animals among us : the new science of anthrozoology / John Bradshaw.
“Keeping pets is expensive, time-consuming, and seemingly irrational – so why do so many of us have an animal in our lives? Pet-keeping is much more than just a simple pastime. As John Bradshaw reveals in this highly original new work, our connection with animals is one of the very things that makes us human. …Bradshaw reveals how animals have always been an integral part of our lives- indeed, they have shaped the evolution of our minds and our bodies. Now, as increasing numbers of species are under threat, John Bradshaw warns us that if we lose the animals among us, we risk losing an essential part of ourselves.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America
“The past is another country, the old saying goes. The same might be said of the future. But which country? For Europeans and Americans today, the answer is Russia. Today’s Russia is an oligarchy propped up by illusions and repression. But it also represents the fulfilment of tendencies already present in the West. And if Moscow’s drive to dissolve Western states and values succeeds, this could become our reality too. In this visionary work of contemporary history, Timothy Snyder shows how Russia works within the West to destroy the West…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)`

Syndetics book coverYou all grow up and leave me : a memoir of teenage obsession / Piper Weiss.
“Piper Weiss was fourteen years old when her middle-aged tennis coach, Gary Wilensky, one of New York City’s most prestigious private instructors, killed himself after a failed attempt to kidnap one of his teenage students. In the aftermath, authorities discovered that this well-known figure among the Upper East Side tennis crowd was actually a frightening child predator who had built a secret torture chamber–a “Cabin of Horrors”–in his secluded rental in the Adirondacks. Before the shocking scandal broke, Piper had been thrilled to be one of “Gary’s Girls.” As reporters swarmed her private community in the wake of Wilensky’s death, Piper learned that her mentor was a predator with a sordid history of child stalking and sexual fetish. But why did she still feel protective of Gary, and why was she disappointed that he hadn’t chosen her…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEarth at risk : natural capital and the quest for sustainability / Claude Henry and Laurence Tubiana.
“This book maps out the necessary transition to sustainability, detailing the innovations in science and technology, along with law, institutional design, and economics, that can and must be put to use to avert environmental catastrophe… Though formidable obstacles remain to the realization of this significant transition, Henry and Tubiana present the case for collective initiatives and change that build momentum for implementation and action.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSaving Planet Earth : why agriculture and industry must be part of the solution / Dr Duncan A. Rouch ; Dr David F. Smith ; Professor Andrew S. Ball.
“Planet Earth is a minuscule part of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and the only place where we humans can practically live. We all know this, but why are we so slow to fix the major environmental issues which are degrading the quality of life on this one planet? Here Dr Duncan Rouch, Dr David Smith and Professor Andrew Ball answer this question, with an exciting novel response that digs down to explain how we got to this impasse. They also discuss a clear innovative forward strategy, based on a new inclusive definition of environments, that brings in agriculture and industrial companies as key stakeholders for conserving the environment.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHigh-speed empire : Chinese expansion and the future of Southeast Asia / Will Doig.
“Less than a decade ago, China did not have a single high-speed train in service. Today, it owns a network of 14,000 miles of high-speed rail, far more than the rest of the world combined. Now, China is pushing its tracks into Southeast Asia, reviving a century-old colonial fantasy of an imperial railroad stretching to Singapore; and kicking off a key piece of the One Belt One Road initiative, which has a price tag of $1 trillion and, reaches inside the borders of more than 60 countries. Journalist Will Doig traveled to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore to chronicle the dramatic transformations taking place — and to find out whether ordinary people have a voice in this moment of economic, political, and cultural collision.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNew power : how it’s changing the 21st century – and why you need to know / Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms.
“For most of human history the rules of power were clear: power was something to be seized, and then jealously guarded. Under this ‘Old Power’ we lived in a world of rulers and subjects. Now, we all sense that something has changed. From #MeToo to Harvey Weinstein; Corbyn to Trump; from YouTube sensations to darker phenomena such as the emergence of ISIS – in our new hyper-connected world, ideas and movements can spread and flourish with astonishing force and speed. In New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms confront the biggest story of our age and trace how New Power is the key to understanding where we are and will prosper in the 21st Century.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe coal truth : the fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy / David Ritter.
“Since 2012, the fight to stop the opening of the vast Galilee coal basin has emerged as an iconic pivot of the Australian climate and environment movement. The Coal Truth: the fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy provides a timely and colourful contribution to one of the most important struggles in our national history – over the future of the coal industry. Written by an environmental insider with an eye on the world his daughters will inherit, The Coal Truth is told with wit and verve, drawing in other specialist voices to bring to life the contours of a contest that the people of Australia can’t afford to lose.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRainforest: Dispatches From Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines [hardback]
“Rainforests are the lungs of our planet – regulators of the earth’s temperature and weather. They are also home to 50 per cent of the world’s animals and plants – which for centuries have been the source of many of our key medicines. And yet we’ve all heard of their systematic destruction… But this is the full story you’ve never heard: an in depth, wide-ranging, first-hand narrative that not only looks at the state of the world’s tropical rainforests today and the implications arising from their continuing decline, but also at what is being done, and can be done in future, to protect the forests and the 1.6 billion people that depend upon them…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond Manapouri : 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand / Catherine Knight.
Beyond Manapouri is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand why, in spite of the legislation and institutions put in place to improve the stewardship of our environment, we’re now facing more urgent environmental issues than ever before. In this richly illustrated and engagingly written history, Knight also identifies the cultural shifts that will need to take place if we are to live up to the ‘clean, green’ image we have constructed for ourselves in New Zealand.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

A variety of new non-fiction books

Climate Leviathan

This time we have three new books on climate change for you to devour. Other topics are death, debt, and how to make more money.

Syndetics book coverSunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia.
Sunburnt Country pieces together Australia’s climate history for the first time. It uncovers a continent long vulnerable to climate extremes and variability. It gives an unparalleled perspective on how human activities have altered patterns that have been with us for millions of years, and what climate change looks like in our own backyard.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverAll that remains : a life in death / Sue Black.
“Professor Dame Sue Black discusses the subject she grapples with every day–death–bringing her unique perspective to the multitudinous circumstances in which life is lost. From the painful grieving process after losing a loved one, to violence, murder, criminal dismemberment, missing persons, war, natural disasters, unidentified bodies, historical remains — involving investigative agencies, lawyers, justice, criminal sentences, and always sadness and pain, she takes us on a scientific and reflective journey explaining the genetic DNA traits that develop before our birth, and those traits and features we gather in the twists and turns through life, all of which add up to an identity that reveals itself in death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDreamers : how young Indians are changing the world / Snigdha Poonam.
“600 million Indians, more than half the population, are under twenty-five. This generation lives between extremes: more connected and global than ever, but with narrow ideas of Indian identity; raised with the cultural values of their grandparents, but the life goals of American teenagers. These dreamers are the face of a new India. Angry, and frustrated with being marginalised by both globalisation and India’s old politics, they place hope in the Modi government’s exclusionary nationalism and, above all, in their personal truths: shape your own future; exploit, or be exploited.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChina’s great wall of debt : shadow banks, ghost cities, massive loans, and the end of the Chinese miracle / Dinny McMahon.
“Over the course of a decade spent reporting on the ground in China as a financial journalist, Dinny McMahon gradually came to the conclusion that the widely held belief in China’s inevitable economic ascent is dangerously wrong. McMahon shows how, lurking behind the illusion of prosperity, China’s economic growth has been built on a staggering mountain of debt. McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish, and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClimate leviathan : a political theory of our planetary future / Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann.
“Despite the science and the summits, leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adequate level of carbon mitigation. What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this? Where is the overheating world heading? Climate Leviathan provides a radical way of thinking about the intensifying challenges to the global order. Drawing on a wide range of political thought, Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann argue that rapid climate change will transform the world’s political economy and the fundamental political arrangements most people take for granted.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuilding and dwelling : ethics for the city / Richard Sennett.
Building and Dwelling is the definitive statement on cities by the renowned public intellectual Richard Sennett. In this sweeping work, he traces the anguished relation between how cities are built and how people live in them, from ancient Athens to twenty-first-century Shanghai. Through it all, he laments that the “closed city”–segregated, regimented, and controlled–has spread from the global North to the exploding urban agglomerations of the global South. As an alternative, he argues for the “open city,” where citizens actively hash out their differences and planners experiment with urban forms that make it easier for residents to cope.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFuture presence : how virtual reality is changing human connection, intimacy, and the limits of ordinary life / Peter Rubin.
“Heralded as the most significant technological innovation since the smartphone, virtual reality is poised to transform our very notions of life and humanity. Though this tech is still in its infancy, to those on the inside, it is the future. VR will change how we work, how we experience entertainment, how we feel pleasure and other emotions, how we see ourselves, and most importantly, how we relate to each other in the real world. And we will never be the same.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUnprecedented Crime : Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival
Unprecedented Crime first lays out the culpability of corporations, governmental, political and religious bodies, and especially the media through their failure to report or act on the climate emergency. No emergency response has even been contemplated by wealthy high-emitting national governments. Yet, independently of governments, scores of proven zero-carbon game changers have been coming online all over the world. These exciting technologies, described in the book, are now able to power both household electricity and energy-dense heavy industry.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover7 steps to wealth : the vital difference between property & real estate / John L. Fitzgerald.
7 Steps to Wealth is the only real estate book in Australia endorsed by three of Australia’s property billionaires. Most importantly the book exposes the difference between property and real estate, proving that it’s only the land that appreciates and that the buildings that sit on the land actually depreciate. Fitzgerald proves that certain residential land is Australia’s best growth asset–and will continue to be given current record population growth.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRandomistas : how radical researchers changed our world / Andrew Leigh.
“Randomised test are carried out on us every day–by supermarkets, search engines, online dating sites, political parties and direct marketers. But how do these tests work? Are there any ethical issues? And what do they reveal about our choices? In Randomistas, Andrew Leigh tells the stories of radical researchers who overturned conventional wisdom in medicine, politics, business, law enforcement and more. From finding the cure to scurvy to discovering what policies really improve literacy rates, randomistas have shaped life as we know it – but they often had to fight to conduct their trials and have their findings implemented.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Interesting new non-fiction books

Beginning with Why Things Are Better Than You Think, and ending with In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It, the books in between look at the poverty of the working class, the increasing inequality suffered by the middle class, and many others.

Syndetics book coverFactfulness : Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
“When asked simple questions about global trends– what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school –we systematically get the answers wrong. In Factfulness, Hans Rosling offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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. And yet all is not well, Richard Florida argues in The New Urban Crisis. Florida 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. Meanwhile, many more cities still stagnate, and middle-class neighborhoods everywhere are disappearing. Our winner-take-all cities are just one manifestation of a profound crisis in today’s urbanized knowledge economy.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeet the Frugalwoods : achieving financial independence through simple living / Elizabeth Willard Thames.
“In 2014, Liz Thames and her husband, Nate, were conventional young urban professionals working nine-to-five jobs. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day–as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends–they enacted a plan to save as much money as they could. In less than three years, Liz and Nate reached their goal. Today they are financially independent and living out their dream with their young daughters on a sixty-six acre homestead in the woods of Vermont.” (adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverBroke and patriotic : why poor Americans love their country / Francesco Duina.
“Why are poor Americans so patriotic? They have significantly worse social benefits compared to other Western nations, and studies show that the American Dream of upward mobility is, for them, largely a myth. So why do these people love their country? Why have they not risen up to demand more from a system that is failing them? In Broke and Patriotic, Francesco Duina contends that the best way to answer these questions is to speak directly to America’s most impoverished. Spending time in bus stations, Laundromats, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, public libraries, and fast food restaurants, Duina conducted over sixty revealing interviews in which his participants explain how they view themselves and their country.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover“We are all fast-food workers now” : the global uprising against poverty wages / Annelise Orleck.
“Tracing a new labor movement sparked and sustained by low-wage workers from across the globe, We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now is an urgent, illuminating look at globalization as seen through the eyes of workers-activists: small farmers, fast-food servers, retail workers, hotel housekeepers, home-healthcare aides, airport workers, and adjunct professors who are fighting for respect, safety, and a living wage. With original photographs by Liz Cooke and drawing on interviews with activists in many US cities and countries around the world, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mexico, South Africa, and the Philippines, it features stories of resistance and rebellion, as well as reflections on hope and change as it rises from the bottom up.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe patterning instinct : a cultural history of humanity’s search for meaning / Jeremy Lent.
“Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, the author, an entrepreneur and sustainability leader, uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today’s cultural norms. By shining a light on our possible futures, the book foresees a coming struggle between two contrasting views of humanity: one driving to a technological endgame of artificially enhanced humans, the other enabling a sustainable future arising from our intrinsic connectedness with each other and the natural world. This struggle, it concludes, is one in which each of us will play a role through the meaning we choose to forge from the lives we lead.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe line becomes a river / Francisco Cantú.
“Cantú: the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story.” (adapted from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverMicrotrends Squared : The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today
“Ten years after his bestseller Microtrends, Mark Penn identifies the next wave of trends reshaping the future of business, politics, and culture. Mark Penn has boldly argued that the future is not shaped by society’s broad forces but by quiet changes within narrow slices of the population. Ten years ago, he showed how the behavior of one small group can exert an outsized influence over the whole of America. Today, the world is in perplexing upheaval, and microtrends are more influential than ever.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe doomsday machine : confessions of a nuclear war planner / Daniel Ellsberg.
“Here, for the first time, former high level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking first-hand account of America’s nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization–and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration–threatens our very survival.” (adapted from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverHow we met : the ways great love begins… / Michèle A’Court.
How We Met is based on a collection of ‘How We Met’ stories – those lovely stories couples love to tell (and we all love to hear) about how they got together. The author’s theory: that these stories of how couples meet – the romantic, absurd, serendipitous, convoluted, scandalous, breath-taking moments of connection – help to weave their lives together. Partly as ‘proof’ that they were meant to begin this couple-journey, and also because in each retelling they go back to those first falling-in-love feelings and rekindle the passion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn conclusion, don’t worry about it / Lauren Graham.
If you’re kicking yourself for not having accomplished all you should have by now, don’t worry about it. Even without any ‘big’ accomplishments yet to your name, you are enough.
In this expansion of the 2017 commencement speech she gave at her hometown Langley High, Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, reflects on growing up, pursuing your dreams, and living in the here and now.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Pessimists and optimists: New non-fiction

Image from Syndetics

From the pessimist view to the optimistic one, books with all manner of viewpoints appear in this months’ choices.

Syndetics book coverBooks that changed history / contributors, Father Michael Collins with Alexandra Black [and 3 others].
“Turn the pages of the most famous books of all time and marvel at the stories behind them. Over 75 of the world’s most celebrated, rare, and seminal books are examined and explained in this stunning treasury. Books That Changed History is a unique encyclopedia spanning the history of the written word, from 3000 BCE to the modern day. Chronological chapters show the evolution of human knowledge and the changing ways in which books are made…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRevolution / Emmanuel Macron ; translated by Jonathan Goldberg and Juliette Scott.
“In Revolution, Emmanuel Macron, the youngest president in the history of France, reveals his personal story and his inspirations, and discusses his vision of France and its future in a new world that is undergoing a ‘great transformation’ that has not been known since the Renaissance. This is a remarkable book that seeks to lay the foundations for a new society–a compelling testimony and statement of values by an important political leader who has become the flag-bearer for a new kind of politics.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world of the book / Des Cowley and Clare Williamson.
“All earthly existence must ultimately be contained in a book.’French poet Stephane Mallarme understood that books hold the world’s stories. From the earliest known myths and legends to postmodern fictions, books are mirrors of real worlds, windows into imagined worlds and keepers of powerful ideas. Beautifully illustrated, The World of the Book is a celebration of this age-old tradition drawing upon the rare collections of the State Library of Victoria…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDestined for war : can America and China escape Thucydides’s trap? / Graham Allison.
“CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES ARE HEADING TOWARD A WAR NEITHER WANTS. The reason is Thucydides’s Trap, a deadly pattern of structural stress that results when a rising power challenges a ruling one. This phenomenon is as old as history itself. About the Peloponnesian War that devastated ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides explained: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Over the past 500 years, these conditions have occurred sixteen times. War broke out in twelve of them. Today, as an unstoppable China approaches an immovable America and both Xi Jinping and Donald Trump promise to make their countries “great again,” the seventeenth case looks grim…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDo we need economic inequality? / Danny Dorling.
“In this original new book, Danny Dorling critically analyses historical trends and contemporary assumptions in order to question the idea that inequality is an inevitability. What if, he asks, widespread economic inequality is actually just a passing phase, a feature of the capitalist transition from a settled rural way of life to our next highly urban steady-state? Is it really likely that we face a Blade Runner -style dystopian future divided between a tiny elite and an impoverished mass? Dorling shows how a stabilising population, changing gender relations and rising access to education make a more egalitarian alternative to this nightmare vision not only preferable, but realistic. This bold contribution to one of most significant debates of our time will be essential reading for anyone interested in our economic, social and political destiny.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArtificial intelligence : the quest for the ultimate thinking machine / Richard Urwin.
“What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? What can it do and how is it created? In this highly accessible guide to the subject, Richard Urwin bases his assessment of AI on the definition of AI as a tool that is ‘constructed to aid or substitute for human thought’. He explains how AI came about, the importance of the development of the computer and then examines how AI has developed over the years through the construction of computer programs and how the language used to construct these programs has become more and more sophisticated, thus allowing AI to become better and better.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe End of Old Age
“In this revolutionary book, Dr Marc Agronin explores the new reality of old age: that aging is not ‘old age’, but a life force with struggles and triumphs, losses and gifts, and a chance to live well. As one of America’s leading geriatric psychiatrists, Dr Agronin sees both the sickest and healthiest of senior members of society; he observes what makes their lives better and more purposeful, and what doesn’t. The latest scientific research and Dr Agronin’s first-hand experience are brilliantly and often movingly distilled in The End of Old Age…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAutomating Inequality : How High-tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor
“Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems–rather than humans–control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA lab of one’s own : science and suffrage in the First World War / Patricia Fara.
“Understanding the past is crucial for improving the future, and Patricia Fara examines how inherited prejudices continue to limit women’s scientific opportunities. Suffragists aligned themselves with scientific and technological progress. Defying arguments about intellectual inferiority and child-bearing responsibilities, during the War they won support by mobilising women to enter conventionally male domains, including science, industry, medicine, and the military…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe growth delusion : wealth, poverty, and the well-being of nations / David Pilling.
“…Ultimately, it is the perceived health of the economy which determines how much we can spend on our schools, highways, and defense; economists decide how much unemployment is acceptable and whether it is right to print money or bail out profligate banks. The backlash we are currently witnessing suggests that people are turning against the experts and their faulty understanding of our lives. Despite decades of steady economic growth, many citizens feel more pessimistic than ever, and are voting for candidates who voice undisguised contempt for the technocratic elite…” (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverCollusion : secret meetings, dirty money, and how Russia helped Donald Trump win / Luke Harding.
“December 2016. [the author] and former Moscow bureau chief, quietly meets former MI6 officer Christopher Steele in a London pub to discuss President-elect Donald Trump’s Russia connections. A month later, Steele’s now-famous dossier sparks what may be the biggest scandal of the modern era… Drawing on new material and his expert understanding of Moscow and its players, [the author] takes the reader through every bizarre and disquieting detail of the ‘Trump-Russia’ story–an event so huge it involves international espionage, off-shore banks, sketchy real estate deals, the Miss Universe pageant, mobsters, money laundering, poisoned dissidents, computer hacking, and the most shocking election in American history.” (adapted from back cover)

New non-fiction books for interesting reading during the holiday season

Some interesting new books for the holidays, beginning with the whimsical I’d rather be reading.

Syndetics book coverI’d rather be reading : a library of art for book lovers / by Guinevere de la Mare ; with essays by Maura Kelly, Ann Patchett, and Gretchen Rubin.
“In this visual ode to all things bookish, readers will get lost in page after page of contemporary art, photography, and illustrations depicting the pleasures of books. Artwork from the likes of Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall is interwoven with text from essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMythos : a retelling of the myths of Ancient Greece / Stephen Fry.
“The Greek myths are amongst the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney. They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis. Spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTotal cat mojo : the ultimate guide to life with your cat / Jackson Galaxy with Mikel Delgado and Bobby Rock.
“This comprehensive cat care guide from the star of the hit Animal Planet show “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson Galaxy, shows us how to eliminate feline behavioral problems by understanding cats’ instinctive behavior. Cat Mojo is the confidence that cats exhibit when they are at ease in their environment and in touch with their natural instincts–to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, and sleep. Problems such as litter box avoidance and aggression arise when cats lack this confidence. Jackson Galaxy’s number one piece of advice to his clients is to help their cats harness their mojo. This book is his most comprehensive guide yet to cat behavior and basic cat care, rooted in understanding cats better. ” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverThe best of A. A. Gill / A. A. Gill.
“For over twenty years, people turned to A. A. Gill’s columns every Sunday – for his fearlessness, his perception, and the laughter-and-tear-provoking one-liners – but mostly because he was the best. …This is the definitive collection ofa voice that was silenced too early but that can still make us look at the world in new and surprising ways… Wherever he was – at home or abroad – he found the human story, brought it to vivid life, and rendered it with fierce honesty and bracing compassion. And he was just as truthful about himself. …it will be by turns hilarious, uplifting, controversial, unflinching, sad, funny and furious.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA glorious freedom : older women leading extraordinary lives / Lisa Congdon.
“The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves–with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women–including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more–who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAustralian midwives / Paula Heelan.
“Sweet, funny and sometimes sad, these stories share what it is to be an Australian midwife in remote areas where resources are limited. A moving and celebratory collection of tales that brings you close to the drama and wonder of birth. Each of the thirteen midwives in this book work in extreme locations with few resources, but armed with only courage and skill, they regularly save lives and birth babies in difficult circumstances –on an airstrip, a cattle station, a dinghy (knee-deep in water with a wary eye out for the local croc), a troop-carrier or in the face of a cyclone. These stories are a tribute to both the skill of the midwives and the courage of the mothers. For these women, midwifery is not just a job – it’s a committed and passionate way of life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIt’s alive! : artificial intelligence from the logic piano to killer robots / Toby Walsh.
“The development of thinking machines is an adventure as bold and ambitious as any that humans have attempted. And the truth is that Artificial Intelligence is already an indispensable part of our daily lives. Without it, Google wouldn’t find out whatever you need to know. Your smartphone would be… just a phone. In countless ways AI has made the world what it is today. But where will AI technologies take us in the future? We know they will continue to change society, but how? Will AI destroy our jobs? Could it even pose an existential threat? What should we be doing now to prepare for the future?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlibaba’s world : how a remarkable Chinese company is changing the face of global business / Porter Erisman.
“In September 2014, a Chinese company that most Americans had never heard of held the largest IPO in history – bigger than Google, Facebook and Twitter combined. Alibaba, now the world’s largest e-commerce company, mostly escaped Western notice for over ten years, while building a customer base more than twice the size of Amazon’s, and handling the bulk of e-commerce transactions in China. How did it happen? And what was it like to be along for such a revolutionary ride?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow language began : the story of humanity’s greatest invention / Daniel L. Everett.
“Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than seven thousand languages that exist today. Based on nearly forty years of fieldwork, Everett debunks long-held theories by some of history’s greatest thinkers, from Plato to Chomsky. The result is an invaluable study of what makes us human.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChristmas : a biography / Judith Flanders.
“Christmas has always been a magical time. Or has it? Thirty years after the first recorded Christmas, the Pope was already warning that too many people were spending the day, not in worship, but in partying and eating to excess. By 1616, the playwright Ben Jonson was nostalgically remembering Christmas in the old days, certain that it had been better then. Judith Flanders casts a sharp eye on myths, legends and history, deftly moving from the origins of the holiday in the Roman empire, through Christmas trees in central Europe, to what might be the first appearance of Santa Claus – in Switzerland – to draw a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPost-war childhood : growing up in the not-so-friendly “Baby Boomer” years / Simon Webb.
“Many British baby boomers are very nostalgic about a supposed golden age; a vanished world when children were generally freer, happier and healthier than they are now. They wandered about all day; only returning home at teatime when they were hungry. Simon Webb presents a ‘warts and all’ portrait of British childhood in the years following the end of the Second World War. He demonstrates that contrary to popular belief, it was by any measure a far more hazardous and less pleasant time to be a child, than is the case in the twenty-first century.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHighbrow, lowbrow, brilliant, despicable : 50 years of New York / by the editors of New York magazine ; writer & historian, Christopher Bonanos.
“The great story of New York City in the past half-century has been its near collapse and miraculous rebirth. A battered town left for dead, one that almost a million people abandoned and where those who remained had to live behind triple deadbolt locks, was reinvigorated by the twinned energies of starving artists and financial white knights. Since its founding in 1968, New York Magazine has told the story of that city’s constant morphing, week after week. Covering culture high and low, the drama and scandal of politics and finance, through jubilant moments and immense tragedies, the magazine has hit readers where they live, with a sensibility as fast and funny and urbane as New York itself.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)