New Nonfiction Coming in February 2020

 

Here are some nonfiction books to take a look at! Whether you’re looking for a new memoir, a WWII history title or an interesting new science book, we have something        for you!

 

02/04: Brother & Sister: A Memoir by Diane Keaton – The Academy Award-winning film star and best-selling author of Then Again presents a memoir of her complicated relationship with a beloved younger brother, who transitioned from a close sibling into a troubled and reclusive alcoholic.

02/04: Open Book by Jessica Simpson – An unstinting memoir by the pop artist and fashion icon traces the story of her life before and after fame, the role of faith in her achievements and her difficult decision to step out of the limelight. Guided by the journals she’s kept since age fifteen, and brimming with her unique humor and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

 

 

02/11: Hold On, but Don’t Hold Still: Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life by Kristina Kuzmic – A popular speaker on family and parenting tells her story of ditching her fairytale dreams and falling in love with her unpredictable, chaotic, imperfect life. Delivering inspiration and “parenting comedy at its finest,” here is one woman’s story of ditching her fairytale dreams and falling in love with her unpredictable, chaotic, imperfect life.

02/11: Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons by Cara Natterson – Citing the less-recognized behavioral tendencies of male adolescence that complicate communications between parents and children, a guide to raising teen boys shares strategic guidelines on effective parenting, managing screen time and understanding the sources of negative behavior. By the bestselling author of The Care and Keeping of You series and Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys.

 

 

02/11: In the Land of Men by Adrienne Miller – The author of The Coast of Akron traces her coming of age in the male-dominated 1990’s literary world, discussing her relationship with David Foster Wallace and her achievements as the first female literary editor of Esquire.

02/18: Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction by David Enrich – The New York Times finance editor and award-winning author of The Spider Network presents a journalistic exposé of the scandalous activities of Deutsche Bank and its shadowy ties to Donald Trump’s business empire. Darkly fascinating and yet all too real, it’s a tale that will keep you up at night.

 

 

02/25: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz  by Erik Larson – The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake draws on personal diaries, archival documents and declassified intelligence in a portrait of Winston Churchill that explores his day-to-day experiences during the Blitz and his role in uniting England.

02/25: Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet–one Bite at a Time   by Mark Hyman – The best-selling author of The Blood Sugar Solution explains how today’s agricultural policies have been compromised by corrupt influences, sharing insights into how everyday food choices shape chronic disease, climate change, poverty and other global crises.

 

~Semanur

New Nonfiction Coming in January 2020

Check out this selection of nonfiction books for your reading list in the new year.

 

01/07: Martha Stewart’s Organizing: The Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home & Routines by Martha Stewart – The ultimate guide to getting your life in order&;with hundreds of practical and empowering ideas, projects, and tips&;from America&;s most trusted lifestyle authority.

01/07: Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries About Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion by Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone – The founder and president of PETA and a bestselling author pair their tour of the astounding lives of animals with a guide to the exciting new tools that allow humans to avoid using or abusing animals as we once did. Animalkind is a fascinating study of why our fellow living beings deserve our respect, and moreover, the steps every reader can take to put this new understanding into action.

01/07:The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition by Elizabeth Kendall & Molly Kendall – An updated, expanded edition of the author’s 1981 memoir detailing her six-year relationship with serial killer Ted Bundy, which was the basis for the Amazon Original docuseries, includes a new introduction and a new afterword by the author, never-before-seen photos, and a startling new chapter from the author’s daughter.

01/07: Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives by Daniel J. Levitin – A leading neuroscientist and best-selling author examines how to make the most of our post-60 years by examining those who age joyously and discussing resilience strategies and practical, cognitive enhancing tricks. Levitin turns his keen insights to what happens in our brains as we age, what you can do to make the most of your seventies, eighties, and nineties today no matter how old you are now.

 

 

01/14: Elemental Knits: A Perennial Knitwear Collection by Courtney Spainhower – This book is for women who aspire to be ever stylish, more comfortable, and less wasteful. A collection of 20 customizable knitting patterns counsels do-it-yourself crafters on how to select practical patterns and fibers while creating wardrobe-enhancing fashions for different times of the year.

01/14: Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness by David Perlmutter & Austin Perlmutter – The #1 New York Times best-selling author of Grain Brain and his son, also a medical doctor, explore how modern culture threatens to rewire our brains and damage our health, offering a practical plan for healing.

 

 

01/21: Murder Your Darlings: And other gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser by Roy Peter Clark – From an influential American writing teacher comes a collection of 50 of the best writing strategies distilled from 50 writing and language books—from Aristotle to Strunk and White.

01/28: A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II by Simon Parkin – Tells the triumphant story of a group of young women who helped devised a winning strategy to defeat the Nazi U-boats and deliver a decisive victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.

 

~Semanur

 

 

 

Thinking About Thinking

One of the joys of reading is that it gives you new templates for thinking.  (I realize this might sound strange, but rather than explain it up front, let me try to define it in a more indirect way.  That way when we do define it, we will have a more robust explanation.)  I think reading can provide us with new templates for thinking in both fiction and non-fiction.  In fiction, we might be confronted with a character who has to make an important ethical decision, and the decision might be something that we strongly agree with or intensely disagree with.  We are thrown back upon ourselves and our own ideas and experiences about what is right and/or wrong, and this forces us to use our own moral reasoning to come to a conclusion about the character.  Or we might meet a character that defies our expectations, that goes against the grain – and then we are surprised, our eyes widen, we are in disbelief, and we think about this character in a new way.

I bring this up because recently my thinking has changed from reading (appropriately) a book about thinking, a wonderful book, called Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  I’m not finished yet, but I have already noticed that the book has made me think differently, or more deeply, or even more realistically, about how our minds actually work.  In that sense, it has given me a new template for thinking about how we think and experience the world.  Kanheman, an Israeli-American psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002, argues that there are two kinds of thinking – fast thinking (which he attributes to what he calls, metaphorically, System 1), and slow thinking (which he attributes to System 2).  But when I say Kahneman “argues,” I mean that he uses a lot of fascinating and important evidence from strong psychological studies to make his argument, so it’s not an opinion-piece.  Anyhow, System 1, fast thinking, is that part of our mind that is intuitive, automatic, and impressionable.  For example, if we see a photograph of a man with his eyes narrowed and his mouth turned up into a frown, we know immediately, automatically that this man is unhappy or even angry.  This conclusion on our part, if we can call it a conclusion, is involuntary.  We do not slowly reason it out over time – we simply know, instantaneously, from the photograph, that the man is angry.  That’s System 1.  System 1 also picks up subliminal messages that we are not even aware of consciously (it’s pretty amazing in this way).  For example, if people are looking at a computer screen, engaged in an activity on the screen, and a word flashes instantaneously and so quickly on the screen that they don’t notice it at all consciously, that word is still somehow seen by System 1, and it changes their thought and behavior.  (This process is called “priming,” and if it interests you, I”d really suggest you read the book!)  If this process sounds crazy, scary, wild and/or outrageous, I felt that way, too.  But Kahneman makes a sound argument with good evidence that we are often primed and we’re not even aware of it – for example, voters who are undecided before they vote are more likely to vote for school levees if the voting happens in a school.  He has so many examples like this that are kind of shocking, because it suggests the power of context, contexts that we don’t even think about.

System 2 is our slow thinking.  When we meet with something like

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and we have to reason it out, slowly and deliberately, then we are using System 2.  It is the part of our mind that is slow and rational and logical, as well as able to be skeptical and not believe everything that is said.

But the most interesting thing about this model of the mind is the way the two systems interact.  For example, if we are presented with an image frequently over time, System 1 is likely to like that image, because it is familiar, and because it doesn’t cause cognitive strain.  This might explain how people can be happy with authoritarian leaders, because they are exposed to images of these leaders frequently over time.  But it takes System 2 to come in and question the legitimacy of the image, to be skeptical about it, and therefore to kind of reroute System 1 into a more logical frame of mind.  (But often, as Kahneman points out, System 2 is lazy, and it takes effort to think slowly and deliberately.)  We often make important decisions using System 1, and often they are correct, though sometimes we could benefit from using System 2.

I’m not quite done with the book, but it has been such a fascinating read so far.  Kahneman is a really good and lucid writer, and he’s able to make difficult concepts understandable – he’s a great communicator.  He also says, at the beginning of the book, that System 1 is the hero of the book, so I hope I haven’t made it sound that System 1 is only gullible and likely to be duped.  System 1 also is the part of the mind that sees coherence and causality in things (even if the coherence or causality is not really there!).  So for anyone looking for a really great book on psychology, that provides new ways of thinking about thought, and therefore new ways of thinking about how our minds work, I heartily recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow.  It has the power to give us new templates for thinking because it gives us a strong and evidence-based framework for conceptualizing the mind.

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Daniel Kahneman