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Us and Our World

These nonfiction books take us all across the globe and inside our own minds to show us how the world works.

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Everybody

- by Olivia Laing

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"Astute and consistently surprising critic" (NPR) Olivia Laing investigates the body and its discontents through the great freedom movements of the twentieth century.
The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. In her ambitious, brilliant sixth book, Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to explore gay rights and sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement. Drawing on her own experiences in protest and alternative medicine, and traveling from Weimar Berlin to the prisons of McCarthy-era America, Laing grapples with some of the most significant and complicated figures of the past century--among them Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag, and Malcolm X. Despite its many burdens, the body remains a source of power, even in an era as technologized and automated as our own. Arriving at a moment in which basic bodily rights are once again imperiled, Everybody is an investigation into the forces arranged against freedom and a celebration of how ordinary human bodies can resist oppression and reshape the world.

Effortless

- by Greg Mckeown

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From the New York Times bestselling author of the million-copy bestseller Essentialism comes an empowering guide to achieving your goals. It all starts with a simple principle: Not everything has to be so hard.

"In a world beset by burnout, Greg McKeown's work is essential."--Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human 

"At a time when fear, uncertainty, and our ever-growing list of responsibilities have come to feel like much too much to handle, Effortless couldn't be timelier, or more necessary."--Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play

Do you ever feel like:

o You're teetering right on the edge of burnout?
o You want to make a higher contribution, but lack the energy?  
o You're running faster but not moving closer to your goals?
o Everything is so much harder than it used to be?

As high achievers, we've been conditioned to believe that the path to success is paved with relentless work. That if we want to overachieve, we have to overexert, overthink, and overdo. That if we aren't perpetually exhausted, we're not doing enough.

But lately, working hard is more exhausting than ever. And the more depleted we get, the more effort it takes to make progress. Stuck in an endless loop of "Zoom, eat, sleep, repeat," we're often working twice as hard to achieve half as much.

Getting ahead doesn't have to be as hard as we make it. No matter what challenges or obstacles we face, there is a better way: instead of pushing ourselves harder, we can find an easier path. 

Effortless offers actionable advice for making the most essential activities the easiest ones, so you can achieve the results you want, without burning out.  

Effortless teaches you how to:
o Turn tedious tasks into enjoyable rituals
o Prevent frustration by solving problems before they arise  
o Set a sustainable pace instead of powering through
o Make one-time choices that eliminate many future decisions
o Simplify your processes by removing unnecessary steps
o Make relationships easier to maintain and manage
o And much more   

The effortless way isn't the lazy way. It's the smart way. It may even be the only way. 

Not every hard thing in life can be made easy. But we can make it easier to do more of what matters most.

Range

- by David Epstein

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The #1 New York Times bestseller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more.

"Fascinating. . . . If you're a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you." --Bill Gates


"The most important business--and parenting--book of the year." --Forbes

"Urgent and important. . . an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance." --Daniel H. Pink  

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world's top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.    

David Epstein examined the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields--especially those that are complex and unpredictable--generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They're also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

Mom Genes

- by Abigail Tucker

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"For anyone who is a mother, or who has a mother, [Mom Genes] is an eye-opening tour through the biology and psychology of a role that is at once utterly ordinary and wondrously strange." --Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room comes a fascinating and provocative exploration of the biology of motherhood.

Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as whether a new mom's brain ever really bounces back, why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), and how maternal aggression makes females the world's most formidable creatures.

Part scientific odyssey, part memoir, Mom Genes weaves the latest research with Abigail Tucker's personal experiences to create a delightful, surprising, and poignant portrait of motherhood. It's vital reading for anyone who has ever wondered what rocks the hand that rocks the cradle.

The Book of Eels

- by Patrik Svensson

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Los Angeles Times Bestseller

IndieBound Bestseller

One of USA Today's "5 Books Not to Miss"

One of Forbes' "Best Summer Reads" One of the LA Times' "21 New and Classic Books to Keep You in Touch with the Natural World"

Part H Is for Hawk, part The Soul of an OctopusThe Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world's most elusive fish--the eel--and a reflection on the human condition

Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the "eel question": Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don't understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery.

Drawing on a breadth of research about eels in literature, history, and modern marine biology, as well as his own experience fishing for eels with his father, Patrik Svensson crafts a mesmerizing portrait of an unusual, utterly misunderstood, and completely captivating animal. In The Book of Eels, we meet renowned historical thinkers, from Aristotle to Sigmund Freud to Rachel Carson, for whom the eel was a singular obsession. And we meet the scientists who spearheaded the search for the eel's point of origin, including Danish marine biologist Johannes Schmidt, who led research efforts in the early twentieth century, catching thousands upon thousands of eels, in the hopes of proving their birthing grounds in the Sargasso Sea.

Blending memoir and nature writing at its best, Svensson's journey to understand the eel becomes an exploration of the human condition that delves into overarching issues about our roots and destiny, both as humans and as animals, and, ultimately, how to handle the biggest question of all: death. The result is a gripping and slippery narrative that will surprise and enchant.

Entangled Life

- by Merlin Sheldrake

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER o "Merlin Sheldrake's marvelous tour of these diverse and extraordinary life forms is eye-opening on why humans should consider fungi among the greatest of earth's marvels. . . . Wondrous."--Time 

A mind-bending journey into the hidden universe of fungi, "one of those rare books that can truly change the way you see the world around you" (Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk).


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time o BBC Science Focus o The Daily Mail o Geographical o The Times o The Telegraph New Statesman o London Evening Standard o Science Friday

When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave.

In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake's vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the "Wood Wide Web,"  to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision.

Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life's processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms--and our relationships with them--are changing our understanding of how life works.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BRITISH BOOK AWARD o LONGLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE

"Entangled Life is a gorgeous book of literary nature writing in the tradition of [Robert] Macfarlane and John Fowles, ripe with insight and erudition. . . . Food for the soul."--Eugenia Bone, Wall Street Journal

"[An] ebullient and ambitious exploration . . . This book may not be a psychedelic--and unlike Sheldrake, I haven't dared to consume my copy (yet)--but reading it left me not just moved but altered, eager to disseminate its message of what fungi can do."--Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

The Climate Diet

- by Paul Greenberg

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A celebrated writer on food and sustainability offers fifty straightforward, impactful rules for climate-friendly living

"Some strong and rational suggestions for reducing your personal impact here--and when you're eating smart, you'll have the energy to do the movement building we need to change systems too! This book integrates the individual and the societal in a powerful way."--Bill McKibben


We all understand just how dire the circumstances facing our planet are and that we all need to do our part to stem the tide of climate change. When we look in the mirror, we can admit that we desperately need to go on a climate diet. But the task of cutting down our carbon emissions feels overwhelming and the discipline required hard to summon. With The Climate Diet, award-winning food and environmental writer Paul Greenberg offers us the practical, accessible guide we all need. It contains fifty achievable steps we can take to live our daily lives in a way that's friendlier to the planet--from what we eat, how we live at home, how we travel, and how we lobby businesses and elected officials to do the right thing. Chock-full of simple yet revelatory guidance, The Climate Diet empowers us to cast aside feelings of helplessness and start making positive changes for the good of our planet.

The God Equation

- by Michio Kaku

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
The epic story of the greatest quest in all of science--the holy grail of physics that would explain the creation of the universe--from renowned theoretical physicist and author of The Future of the Mind and The Future of Humanity
 


When Newton discovered the law of gravity, he unified the rules governing the heavens and the Earth. Since then, physicists have been placing new forces into ever-grander theories.
 
But perhaps the ultimate challenge is achieving a monumental synthesis of the two remaining theories--relativity and the quantum theory. This would be the crowning achievement of science, a profound merging of all the forces of nature into one beautiful, magnificent equation to unlock the deepest mysteries in science: What happened before the Big Bang? What lies on the other side of a black hole? Are there other universes and dimensions? Is time travel possible? Why are we here?
 
Kaku also explains the intense controversy swirling around this theory, with Nobel laureates taking opposite sides on this vital question. It is a captivating, gripping story; what's at stake is nothing less than our conception of the universe.
 
Written with Kaku's trademark enthusiasm and clarity, this epic and engaging journey is the story of The God Equation.

Until the End of Time

- by Brian Greene

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Instant New York Times Bestseller

A captivating exploration of deep time and humanity's search for purpose, from the world-renowned physicist and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe.


"Few humans share Greene's mastery of both the latest cosmological science and English prose."
--The New York Times (A Notable Book of 2020)

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene's breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to find meaning in the face of this vast expanse. Greene takes us on a journey from the big bang to the end of time, exploring how lasting structures formed, how life and mind emerged, and how we grapple with our existence through narrative, myth, religion, creative expression, science, the quest for truth, and a deep longing for the eternal. From particles to planets, consciousness to creativity, matter to meaning--Brian Greene allows us all to grasp and appreciate our fleeting but utterly exquisite moment in the cosmos.

Square Haunting

- by Francesca Wade

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A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE o LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE o "A beautiful and deeply moving book."--Sally Rooney, author of Normal People

An engrossing group portrait of five women writers, including Virginia Woolf, who moved to London's Mecklenburgh Square in search of new freedom in their lives and work.


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY POPMATTERS

"I like this London life . . . the street-sauntering and square-haunting."--Virginia Woolf, diary, 1925

In the early twentieth century, Mecklenburgh Square--a hidden architectural gem in the heart of London--was a radical address. On the outskirts of Bloomsbury known for the eponymous group who "lived in squares, painted in circles, and loved in triangles," the square was home to students, struggling artists, and revolutionaries.

In the pivotal era between the two world wars, the lives of five remarkable women intertwined at this one address: modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and author and publisher Virginia Woolf. In an era when women's freedoms were fast expanding, they each sought a space where they could live, love, and--above all--work independently.

With sparkling insight and a novelistic style, Francesca Wade sheds new light on a group of artists and thinkers whose pioneering work would enrich the possibilities of women's lives for generations to come.

Praise for Square Haunting

"A fascinating voyage through the lives of five remarkable women . . . moving and immersive."--Edmund Gordon, author of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

"Elegant, erudite, and absorbing, Square Haunting is a startlingly original debut, and Francesca Wade is an author to watch."--Frances Wilson, author of Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

"Outstanding . . . I'll be recommending this all year."--Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Café

"I much enjoyed Francesca Wade's book. It almost made me wish I belonged to the pioneering generation of women spoiling eggs on the gas ring and breaking taboos."--Sue Prideaux, author of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche

Park Bagger

- by BUTCHER

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An inspiring collection of thrilling personal adventures and stunning photographs sharing the incredible diversity and profound beauty of Canada's national parks.

Distributed across the second-largest country in the world, the Canadian national parks can be challenging to get to. Many of them are so remote that they have no road access or infrastructure of any kind, but they are not impossible to visit. Although much of the vast Canadian wilderness is fraught with challenging terrain, unpredictable weather, and sometimes threatening wildlife, there are also pleasant beaches, waterfalls, and places to kick back and relax in.

Explorer Marlis Butcher has "bagged" all of the Canadian national parks. In her quest to visit and get to know the parks, Marlis canoed, kayaked, mountain biked, backpacked, hiked, snowshoed, snorkelled, and trekked by whatever means of travel she could devise. During her park explorations she's encountered grizzly and black bears, polar bears, wolves, and wolverines. She's survived incredible storms, falls off mountainsides, and sinking boats. Marlis has investigated uncharted lands and travelled down quaint country roads. In Park Bagger, she shares her adventures, with the objective to encourage others to explore the national parks and to protect Canada's vast wilderness.

Dirt

- by Bill Buford

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A highly obsessive, hilariously self-deprecating account of the world of French haute cuisine, from the author of the best-selling modern classic, Heat.


In Dirt, Bill Buford--author of the bestselling, now-classic, Heat--moves his attention from Italian cuisine to the food of France. Baffled by the language, determined that he can master the art of French cooking--or at least get to the bottom of why it is so revered--Buford begins what will become a five-year odyssey by shadowing the revered French chef Michel Richard in Washington, D.C. He soon realizes, however, that a stage in France is necessary, and so he goes--this time with his wife and three-year-old twin sons in tow--to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France. Studying at l'Institut Bocuse, cooking at the storied, Michelin-starred Mère Brazier, Buford becomes a man obsessed--to prove that French cooking actually derives from the Italian, to prove himself on the line, to prove that he is worthy of these gastronomic secrets. With his signature humor, sense of adventure, and masterful ability to immerse himself in his surroundings, Bill Buford has written what is sure to be the food-lover's book of the year.

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You

- by Janelle Shane

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"A deft, informative, and often screamingly funny primer on the ways that machine learning can (and often does) go wrong." --Margaret Harris, Physics World
"You look like a thing and I love you" is one of the best pickup lines ever...according to an artificial intelligence trained by the scientist Janelle Shane, creator of the popular blog AI Weirdness. Shane creates silly AIs that learn how to name colors of paint, create the best recipes, and even flirt (badly) with humans--all to understand the technology that governs so much of our human lives.
We rely on AI every day, trusting it for matters both big and small, from unlocking our phones to hospital care. But how smart is AI really...? Shane delivers the answer to every AI question you've ever asked, and some you definitely haven't--such as: How can a computer design the perfect sandwich? What does robot-generated Harry Potter fan fiction sound like? And is the world's best Halloween costume really "vampire hog bride"?

In this smart, often hilarious introduction to the most interesting science of our time, Shane shows how these machines learn, fail, and adapt--and how they reflect both the best and worst of humanity.

"I can't think of a better way to learn about artificial intelligence, and I've never had so much fun along the way." --Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals

Values

- by Mark Carney

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
A bold and urgent argument by economist and former bank governor Mark Carney on the radical, foundational change that is required if we are to build an economy and society based not on market values but on human values.


Our world is full of fault lines--growing inequality in income and opportunity; systemic racism; health and economic crises from a global pandemic; mistrust of experts; the existential threat of climate change; deep threats to employment in a digital economy with robotics on the rise. These fundamental problems and others like them, argues Mark Carney, stem from a common crisis in values. Drawing on the turmoil of the past decade, Mark Carney shows how "market economies" have evolved into "market societies" where price determines the value of everything.
     When we think about what we, as individuals, value most highly, we might list fairness, health, the protection of our rights, economic security from poverty, the preservation of natural diversity, resources, and beauty. The tragedy is, these things that we hold dearest are too often the casualties of our twenty-first century world, where they ought to be our bedrock.
     In this profoundly important new book, Mark Carney offers a vision of a more humane society and a practical manifesto for getting there. How we reform our infrastructure to make things better and fairer is at the heart of every chapter, with outlines of wholly new ideas that can restructure society and enshrine our human values at the core of all that we build for our children and grandchildren.

On Time and Water

- by Andri Snae Magnason

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Finalist for the 2021 Nordic Council Literature Prize Asked by a leading climate scientist why he wasn't writing about the greatest crisis mankind has faced, Andri Snær Magnason, one of Iceland's most beloved writers and public intellectuals, protested: he wasn't a specialist, he said. It wasn't his field. But the scientist persisted: "If you cannot understand our scientific findings and present them in an emotional, psychological, poetic or mythological context," he told him, "then no one will really understand the issue, and the world will end." Based on interviews and advice from leading glacial, ocean, climate, and geographical scientists, and interwoven with personal, historical, and mythological stories, Magnason's resulting response is a rich and compelling work of narrative nonfiction that illustrates the reality of climate change and offers hope in the face of an uncertain future. Moving from reflections on how one writes an obituary for a glacier to exhortation for a heightened understanding of human time and our obligations to one another, throughout history and across the globe, On Time and Water is both deeply personal and globally minded: a travel story, a world history, a desperate plea to live in harmony with future generations--and is unlike anything that has yet been published on the current climate emergency.

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