Monday, December 2, 2013

November Books

Front CoverThe Big NecessityThe Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters

Acclaimed as “extraordinary” (The New York Times) and “a classic” (Los Angeles Times), The Big Necessity is on its way to removing the taboo on bodily waste—something common to all and as natural as breathing. We prefer not to talk about it, but we should—even those of us who take care of our business in pristine, sanitary conditions. Disease spread by waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death. Even in America, nearly two million people have no access to an indoor toilet. Yet the subject remains unmentionable.
Moving from the underground sewers of Paris, London, and New York (an infrastructure disaster waiting to happen) to an Indian slum where ten toilets are shared by 60,000 people, The Big Necessity breaks the silence, revealing everything that matters about how people do—and don’t—deal with their own waste. With razor-sharp wit and crusading urgency, mixing levity with gravity, Rose George has turned the subject we like to avoid into a cause with the most serious of consequences.
Note; Enjoyable look at the cultural and scientific aspects of the production and disposal of human waste. Interesting throughout.

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike's deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World's Largest Lobster Cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

Note; Fresh and beautiful writing about random topics in everyday life. A pleasure to read.

Front Cover


In the sixth century b.c.-twenty-five hundred years before Einstein-Heraclitus of Ephesus declared that energy is the essence of matter, that everything becomes energy in flux, in relativity. His great book, On Nature, the world's first coherent philosophical treatise and touchstone for Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius, has long been lost to history-but its surviving fragments have for thousands of years tantalized our greatest thinkers, from Montaigne to Nietzsche, Heidegger to Jung. Now, acclaimed poet Brooks Haxton presents a powerful free-verse translation of all 130 surviving fragments of the teachings of Heraclitus, with the ancient Greek originals beautifully reproduced en face.

Note; Really short. Deep though. Like life.

From opium dens to the Bowery's suicide saloons, this lively, learned work of outlaw urban history ushers readers through the dark heart of New York City in the years between 1840 and 1919. "A systematic, well-researched historical account of . . . corruption, vice, and miscellaneous mayhem . . . well-crafted and tightly written. 

Note: Fascinating account of New York in the 19th Century. Unbelievably chaotic, corrupt and violent.

Front Cover

Sleights of MindWhat the neuroscience of magic reveals about our brains

What can magic tell us about ourselves and our daily lives? If you subtly change the subject during an uncomfortable conversation, did you know you're using attentional 'misdirection', a core technique of magic? And if you've ever bought an expensive item you'd sworn never to buy, you were probably unaware that the salesperson was, like an accomplished magician, a master at creating the 'illusion of choice'. Leading neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde meet with magicians from all over the world to explain how the magician's art sheds light on consciousness, memory, attention, and belief. As the founders of the new discipline of NeuroMagic, they combine cutting-edge scientific research with startling insights into the tricks of the magic trade. By understanding how magic manipulates the processes in our brains, we can better understand how we work - in fields from law and education to marketing, health and psychology - for good and for ill.

Note: We are easily duped; and hard-wired for it, too.

Front CoverDear Life

Alice Munro captures the essence of life in her brilliant new collection of stories. Moments of change, chance encounters, the twist of fate that leads a person to a new way of thinking or being: the stories in Dear Life build to form a radiant, indelible portrait of just how dangerous and strange ordinary life can be.

Note: Deceptively simple; always surprising.

No comments:

Post a Comment