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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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On Animals

- by Susan Orlean

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Susan Orlean--the beloved New Yorker staff writer hailed as "a national treasure" by The Washington Post and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Library Book--gathers a lifetime of musings, meditations, and in-depth profiles about animals.

"How we interact with animals has preoccupied philosophers, poets, and naturalists for ages," writes Susan Orlean. Since the age of six, when Orlean wrote and illustrated a book called Herbert the Near-Sighted Pigeon, she's been drawn to stories about how we live with animals, and how they abide by us. Now, in On Animals, she examines animal-human relationships through the compelling tales she has written over the course of her celebrated career.

These stories consider a range of creatures--the household pets we dote on, the animals we raise to end up as meat on our plates, the creatures who could eat us for dinner, the various tamed and untamed animals we share our planet with who are central to human life. In her own backyard, Orlean discovers the delights of keeping chickens. In a different backyard, in New Jersey, she meets a woman who has twenty-three pet tigers--something none of her neighbors knew about until one of the tigers escapes. In Iceland, the world's most famous whale resists the efforts to set him free; in Morocco, the world's hardest-working donkeys find respite at a special clinic. We meet a show dog and a lost dog and a pigeon who knows exactly how to get home.

Equal parts delightful and profound, enriched by Orlean's stylish prose and precise research, these stories celebrate the meaningful cross-species connections that grace our collective existence.

The Book of Hope

- by Jane Goodall

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In a world that seems so troubled, how do we hold on to hope?

Looking at the headlines--the worsening climate crisis, a global pandemic, loss of biodiversity, political upheaval--it can be hard to feel optimistic. And yet hope has never been more desperately needed.

In this urgent book, Jane Goodall, the world's most famous living naturalist, and Douglas Abrams, the internationally bestselling co-author of The Book of Joy, explore through intimate and thought-provoking dialogue one of the most sought after and least understood elements of human nature: hope. In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her "Four Reasons for Hope": The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit.

Drawing on decades of work that has helped expand our understanding of what it means to be human and what we all need to do to help build a better world, The Book of Hope touches on vital questions, including: How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? How do we cultivate hope in our children? What is the relationship between hope and action? Filled with moving and inspirational stories and photographs from Jane's remarkable career, The Book of Hope is a deeply personal conversation with one of the most beloved figures in the world today.

While discussing the experiences that shaped her discoveries and beliefs, Jane tells the story of how she became a messenger of hope, from living through World War II to her years in Gombe to realizing she had to leave the forest to travel the world in her role as an advocate for environmental justice. And for the first time, she shares her profound revelations about her next, and perhaps final, adventure.

The second book in the Global Icons Series--which launched with the instant classic The Book of Joy with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu--The Book of Hope is a rare and intimate look not only at the nature of hope but also into the heart and mind of a woman who revolutionized how we view the world around us and has spent a lifetime fighting for our future.

There is still hope, and this book will help guide us to it.

The Daily Laws

- by Robert Greene

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From the world's foremost expert on power and strategy comes a daily devotional designed to help you seize your destiny.

Robert Greene, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, has been the consigliere to millions for more than two decades. Now, with entries that are drawn from his five books, plus never-before-published works, The Daily Laws offers a page of refined and concise wisdom for each day of the year, in an easy-to-digest lesson that will only take a few minutes to absorb. Each day features a Daily Law as well--a prescription that readers cannot afford to ignore in the battle of life. Each month centers around a major theme: power, seduction, persuasion, strategy, human nature, toxic people, self-control, mastery, psychology, leadership, adversity, or creativity.
 
Who doesn't want to be more powerful? More in control? The best at what they do? The secret: Read this book every day.
 
"Daily study," Leo Tolstoy wrote in 1884, is "necessary for all people." More than just an introduction for new fans, this book is a Rosetta stone for internalizing the many lessons that fill Greene's books and will reward a lifetime of reading and rereading.

I'll Take Your Questions Now

- by Stephanie Grisham

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THE EXPLOSIVE TELL-ALL THE TRUMPS DON'T WANT YOU TO READ 

"Salacious and score-settling." --The Guardian

"Part giddy travelogue, part belated apologia, part petty payback, all personal-therapy session." --The New York Times

Stephanie Grisham rose from being a junior press wrangler on the Trump campaign in 2016 to assuming top positions in the administration as White House press secretary and communications director, while at the same time acting as First Lady Melania Trump's communications director and eventually chief of staff. Few members of the Trump inner circle served longer or were as close to the first family as Stephanie Grisham, and few have her unique insight into the turbulent four years of the administration, especially the personalities behind the headlines.

 I'll Take Your Questions Now is a White House memoir like no other, written by someone no longer bound by the codes of spin, denial, and twisted loyalty that the Trump administration imposed on all its members. Here is a brutally honest, frequently funny, and always perceptive look behind the scenes of a White House that was in turmoil from day one.

After an early stint in the White House press office, Grisham moved to the East Wing to work for First Lady Melania Trump. This introduced Grisham to a whole new perspective on Trump World, and she soon became a devoted adviser to the first lady, privy to Melania Trump's most candid thoughts on every imaginable topic and noteworthy events: Jared and Ivanka, Stormy Daniels, the first lady's infamous jacket that read "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" and much more.

Grisham's work for the first lady would lead to her appointment as the White House press secretary in 2019. As one of the few figures in the Trump White House to last all four years, Grisham shares her unfiltered view of the whole experience--from the early days when she was seduced by the glamour and power of Trump World to her quickly ascending career in a frequently toxic, dog-eat-dog workplace, to the pinnacles of her profession, where she soon faced the harshest lessons of flying too close to the sun.

Grisham's memoir is also a personal reckoning from someone who was a true believer, tracing her dawning awareness of how the administration began to lose sight of its mission--serving the people--in its constant battles with the press and other politicians and, above all, in the unending internal drama that consumed a rowdy cast of advisers, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and the president and first lady themselves. It is a story that ends in tragedy with the events of January 6, 2021, the day on which Grisham was the first administration official to quit, a long-overdue severing of ties with the people who had brought her to the job of a lifetime but at enormous cost. It is an account in which Grisham spares no one, not even herself.

I'll Take Your Questions Now is not just about politics or the White House. It is about loyalty and family, learning and screwing up, proud moments and monumental regrets, narcissism and humility, love and heartbreak, friendships and loss, and, of course, falling down and trying your damnedest to get back up.

A Carnival of Snackery

- by David Sedaris

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There's no right way to keep a diary, but if there's an entertaining way, David Sedaris seems to have mas­tered it.
 
If it's navel-gazing you're after, you've come to the wrong place; ditto treacly self-examination. Rather, his observations turn outward: a fight between two men on a bus, a fight between two men on the street, pedestrians being whacked over the head or gathering to watch as a man considers leap­ing to his death. There's a dirty joke shared at a book signing, then a dirtier one told at a dinner party--lots of jokes here. Plenty of laughs.
 
These diaries remind you that you once really hated George W. Bush, and that not too long ago, Donald Trump was just a harm­less laughingstock, at least on French TV. Time marches on, and Sedaris, at his desk or on planes, in hotel dining rooms and odd Japanese inns, records it. The entries here reflect an ever-changing background--new administrations, new restrictions on speech and conduct. What you can say at the start of the book, you can't by the end. At its best, A Carnival of Snackery is a sort of sampler: the bitter and the sweet. Some entries are just what you wanted. Others you might want to spit discreetly into a napkin.

Lonely Planet Armchair Explorer 1 1st Ed.

- by LONELY PLANET

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Calling culture lovers: sample music, films and books from 120 countries without leaving your armchair. Perfect preparation for travellers or simply a satisfying journey into the unknown, this book lists the five most interesting books and movies from each country, plus its top ten tunes. Be introduced to American jazz, French new wave cinema, Irish poetry and more. Discover a little of each countries' life and soul through each recommendation by Lonely Planet's experts.

In-depth double page spread features examine iconic genres, artists and movements from a variety of countries:Belgium: TintinEngland: The BeatlesFrance: New Wave CinemaGermany: Love ParadePortugal: FadoRepublic of Ireland: James JoyceCuba: Cuban SonMexico: New Mexican CinemaUSA: JazzNew Zealand: Maori RenaissanceJapan: AnimeSouth Korea: K-PopWith coverage of countries that range from Argentina to Zimbabwe, this hardcover book is suited to travellers and culture enthusiasts, or as a great gift to a loved one to inspire them to dream of their next journey.

About Lonely Planet:Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and phrasebooks for 120 languages, and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, videos, 14 languages, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more, enabling you to explore every day.

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

Gastro Obscura

- by Cecily Wong

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Taste the World!

It's truly a feast of wonder: Created by the ever-curious minds behind Atlas Obscura, this breathtaking guide transforms our sense of what people around the world eat and drink. Covering all seven continents, Gastro Obscura serves up a loaded plate of incredible ingredients, food adventures, and edible wonders. Ready for a beer made from fog in Chile? Sardinia's "Threads of God" pasta? Egypt's 2000-year-old egg ovens? But far more than a menu of curious minds delicacies and unexpected dishes, Gastro Obscura reveals food's central place in our lives as well as our bellies, touching on history-trace the network of ancient Roman fish sauce factories. Culture-picture four million women gathering to make rice pudding. Travel-scale China's sacred Mount Hua to reach a tea house. Festivals-feed wild macaques pyramid of fruit at Thailand's Monkey Buffet Festival. And hidden gems that might be right around the corner, like the vending machine in Texas dispensing full sized pecan pies. Dig in and feed your sense of wonder.
"Like a great tapas meal, Gastro Obscura is deep yet snackable, and full of surprises. This is the book for anyone interested in eating, adventure and the human condition." -Tom Colicchio, chef and activist
"This exquisite guide kept me at the breakfast table until dinner time." -Kyle Maclachlan, actor and vintner
 

Rationality

- by Steven Pinker

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"In our uncertain age, which can so often feel so dark and disturbing, Steven Pinker has distinguished himself as a voice of positivity." - New York Times


Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help us understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now (Bill Gates's "new favorite book of all time") answers all the questions here


Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding--and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?
 
Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational--cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself.  We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we've discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book--until now.
  
Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.
  
Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with Pinker's customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.

Talking to Strangers

- by Malcolm Gladwell

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Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangersand why they often go wrong--now with a new afterword by the author.

A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Press

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to one another that isn't true?
 
Talking to Strangers is a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. In it, Malcolm Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, and the death of Sandra Bland--throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt.
 
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know, and the resulting conflict and misunderstanding have a profound effect on our lives and our world. Now, with Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell brings us a gripping guidebook for troubled times.

The Whisper on the Night Wind

- by Adam Shoalts

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

 

Spellbinding adventure from Canada's most beloved modern-day explorer.


Traverspine is not a place you will find on most maps. A century ago, it stood near the foothills of the remote Mealy Mountains in central Labrador. Today it is an abandoned ghost town, almost all trace of it swallowed up by dark spruce woods that cloak millions of acres.

In the early 1900s, this isolated little settlement was the scene of an extraordinary haunting by large creatures none could identify. Strange tracks were found in the woods. Unearthly cries were heard in the night. Sled dogs went missing. Children reported being stalked by a terrifying grinning animal. Families slept with cabin doors barred and axes and guns at their bedsides.

Tales of things that "go bump in the night" are part of the folklore of the wilderness, told and retold around countless campfires down through the ages. Most are easily dismissed by skeptics. But what happened at Traverspine a hundred years ago was different. The eye-witness accounts were detailed, and those who reported them included no less than three medical doctors and a wildlife biologist.

Something really did emerge from the wilderness to haunt the little settlement of Traverspine. Adam Shoalts, decorated modern-day explorer and an expert on wilderness folklore, picks up the trail from a century ago and sets off into the Labrador wild to investigate the tale. It is a spine-tingling adventure, straight from a land steeped in legends and lore, where Vikings wandered a thousand years ago and wolves and bears still roam free.

In delving into the dark corners of Canada's wild, The Whisper on the Night Wind combines folklore, history, and adventure into a fascinating saga of exploration.

Special Topics in Being a Human

- by S.bear Bergman

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S. Bear Bergman's illustrated guide to practical advice for the modern age, filtered through a queer lens. As an author, educator, and public speaker, S. Bear Bergman has documented his experience as, among other things, a trans parent, with wit and aplomb. He also writes the advice column "Asking Bear," in which he answers crucial questions about how best to make our collective way through the world. Featuring disarming illustrations by Saul Freedman-Lawson, Special Topics in Being a Human elaborates on "Asking Bear"'s premise: a gentle, witty, and insightful book of practical advice for the modern age. It offers Dad advice and Jewish bubbe wisdom, all filtered through a queer lens, to help you navigate some of the complexities of life - from how to make big decisions or make a good apology, to how to get someone's new name and pronouns right as quickly as possible, to how to gracefully navigate a breakup. With warmth and candor, Special Topics in Being a Human calls out social inequities and injustices in traditional advice-giving, validates your feelings, asks a lot of questions, and tries to help you be your best possible self with kindness, compassion, and humour.

The Plague Cycle

- by Charles Kenny

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A vivid, sweeping, and "fact-filled" (Booklist, starred review) history of mankind's battles with infectious disease that "contextualizes the COVID-19 pandemic" (Publishers Weekly)--for readers of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Yuval Harari's Sapiens and John Barry's The Great Influenza.

For four thousand years, the size and vitality of cities, economies, and empires were heavily determined by infection. Striking humanity in waves, the cycle of plagues set the tempo of civilizational growth and decline, since common response to the threat was exclusion--quarantining the sick or keeping them out. But the unprecedented hygiene and medical revolutions of the past two centuries have allowed humanity to free itself from the hold of epidemic cycles--resulting in an urbanized, globalized, and unimaginably wealthy world.

However, our development has lately become precarious. Climate and population fluctuations and factors such as global trade have left us more vulnerable than ever to newly emerging plagues. Greater global cooperation toward sustainable health is urgently required--such as the international efforts to manufacture and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine--with millions of lives and trillions of dollars at stake.

"A timely, lucid look at the role of pandemics in history" (Kirkus Reviews), The Plague Cycle reveals the relationship between civilization, globalization, prosperity, and infectious disease over the past five millennia. It harnesses history, economics, and public health, and charts humanity's remarkable progress, providing a fascinating and astute look at the cyclical nature of infectious disease.

Brave Leadership

- by Kimberly Davis

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This book will help readers be brave.

While we may think that we need to follow some kind of prescription to get results, the most amazing leaders are those who dare to be their true selves, powerfully. People want to give them their best. But in a business world that's so competitive and uncertain, how do you connect with others more authentically to tap into their illusive want? 

Brave Leadership is the essential guide for leaders in today's ever-shifting world. Wherever you are in your leadership journey--new, seasoned, young, or old--if you aspire to be the best leader you can be, then this book is for you. It will help you

o Uncover your barriers to brave
o Escape overwhelm and frustration and learn to manage stress and anxiety
o Prepare for high-stakes meetings and conversations
o Have the influence you want to have
o Set the direction of your career
o Connect powerfully 
o Feel more confident, courageous, satisfied, and purposeful
o Tap into the want of the people you lead to get the results you need

On a quest to make these powerful conversations more accessible, professional-actress-turned-leadership-educator Kimberly Davis shares the transformative tools she uses in her workshops to help thousands of leaders worldwide. Drawing from years of working with leaders of all experience levels and industries and the latest research in psychology, sociology, business, and the arts, this provocative and inspiring book bridges traditional business how-to with a personal development approach to demystify what it takes to be the brave leader you were born to be.

A Year in the Woods

- by Torbjorn Ekelund

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From the acclaimed author of In Praise of Paths comes a humorous and modest Walden for modern times.

As nature becomes ever more precious, we all want to spend more time appreciating it. But time is often hard to come by. And how do we appreciate nature without disruption? In this sensitively-written book, Torbjørn Ekelund, an acclaimed Norwegian nature writer, shares a creative and non-intrusive method for immersing oneself in nature. And the result is nothing short of transformative.

Evoking Henry David Thoreau and the four-season structure of Walden, Ekelundwrites about communing with nature by repeating a small, simple ritual and engaging in quiet reflection. At the start of the book, he hatches a plan: to leave the city after work one day per month, camp near the same tiny pond in the forest, and return to work the next day. He keeps this up for a year.

His ritual is far from rigorous and it is never perfect. One evening, he grows so cold in his tent that he hikes out before daybreak. But as Ekelund inevitably greets the same trees and boulders each month, he appreciates the banality of their sameness alongside their quiet beauty. He wonders how long they have stood silently in this place--and reflects on his own short existence among them.

A Year in the Woods asks us to reconsider our relationship with the natural world. Are we anxious wanderers or mindful observers? Do we honor the seasons or let them pass us by? At once beautifully written, accessible, and engaging, A Year in the Woods is the perfect book for anyone who longs for a deeper connection with their environment, but is realistic about time and ambition.

Out of the Sun

- by Esi Edugyan

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An insightful exploration and moving meditation on identity, art, and belonging from one of the most celebrated writers of the last decade.  What happens when we begin to consider stories at the margins, when we grant them centrality? How does that complicate our certainties about who we are, as individuals, as nations, as human beings? Through the lens of visual art, literature, film, and the author's lived experience, Out of the Sun examines Black histories in art, offering new perspectives to challenge us. In this groundbreaking, reflective, and erudite book, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and internationally bestselling author Esi Edugyan illuminates myriad varieties of Black experience in global culture and history. Edugyan combines storytelling with analyses of contemporary events and her own personal story in this dazzling first major work of non-fiction.

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