It’s Not All Bad: The Search for Rational Optimism in a World Saturated with Sensational Pessimism

Sometimes the world can be a worrisome, scary place. But maybe it is not as bad as politicians, pundits and news networks make it seem.

Good News

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Here’s a quick list of books that highlight to good things, both in the world as it is right now and into the future that we will all be making and experiencing together.

Read and feel better about things.

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Thursday Ditto

For fans of history, royal dynasties, court intrigue and politics.

The Romanovs Shelf End Ditto

Best Sellers List: July Update

NYT BEST SELLERS: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. SUMMER OF ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand (NEW)

42283286Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha’s Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

  1. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  2. THE RECKONING by John Grisham
  3. CITY OF GIRLS by Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. EVERYTHING by Jennifer Weiner
  5. BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate
  6. UNSOLVED by James Patterson and David Ellis
  7. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng
  8. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris
  9. GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  10. TOM CLANCY: ENEMY CONTACT by Mike Maden
  11. THE ORACLE by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell
  12. COTTAGE BY THE SEA by Debbie Macomber
  13. THERE GOES MY HEART by Bella Andre (NEW)
  14. PAST TENSE by Lee Child

What Else We Found…

What We Find Shelf End Ditto.jpg

Want more recommendations about what to read, watch or listen to based upon what you have already liked? Click here to get a list of personalized recommendations.

Books to Film: Summer Break Edition

Shaft by Ernest Tidyman

12466775Shaft (2019) film poster.pngMovie: Shaft
When it comes out: June 14
What the book is about: Shaft has no prejudices. He’ll kill anyone- black or white. Who is John Shaft? A black Bogart who says the Revolution is a new way to chase chicks…the Mafia is a meatball…and life is going to screw you if you don’t screw it. John Shaft is a private eye. John Shaft is a black man made of muscle and ice.

American Woman by Susan Choi

285086American WomanMovie: American Woman
When it comes out: June 14
What the book is about: When 25-year-old Jenny Shimada steps out of the Rhinecliff train station in New York’s Hudson Valley, the last person she expects to see is Rob Frazer, a shadowy figure from her previous life. On the lam for an act of violence against the American government, Jenny agrees to take on the job of caring for three younger fugitives whom Frazer has spirited out of California. One of them, the granddaughter of a wealthy newspaper magnate in San Francisco, has become a national celebrity. Kidnapped by a homegrown revolutionary group, Pauline shocked America when she embraced her captors’ ideology, denouncing family and class to enlist in their radical cell.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

1325218Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark film logo.jpgMovie: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
When it comes out: August 9
What the book is about: This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz’s popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright. There is a story here for everyone—skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney. Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories—and even scary songs—all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark.

The Kitchen by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle

25241732The Kitchen poster.jpeg

Movie: The Kitchen
When it comes out: August 9
What the book is about: The Irish gangs of Hell’s Kitchen rule the neighborhood, bringing terror to the streets and doing the dirty work for the Italian Mafia. Jimmy Brennan and his crew were the hardest bastards in the Kitchen, but after they’re all put in prison, their wives—Kath, Raven and Angie—decide to keep running their rackets. And once they get a taste of the fast life and easy money, it won’t be easy to stop.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

3153910The Art of Racing in the Rain.jpgMovie: The Art of Racing in the Rain
When it comes out:
August 9
What the book is about:
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

13526165Where'd You Go Bernadette (film poster).pngMovie: Where’d You Go
When it comes out:
August 16
What the book is about:
Bernadette Fox has vanished. When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

 

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström

9292518click for larger (if applicable) Movie: The Informer
When it comes out:
August 16
What the book is about:
Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he’s become a key player in their attempt to take over amphetamine distribution inside Sweden’s prisons. To stop them from succeeding, he will have to go deep cover, posing as a prisoner inside the country’s most notorious jail. But when a botched drug deal involving Hoffman results in a murder, the investigation is assigned to the brilliant but haunted Detective Inspector Ewert Grens–a man who never gives up until he’s cracked the case. Grens’s determination to find the killer not only threatens to expose Hoffman’s true identity-it may reveal even bigger crimes involving the highest levels of power. And there are people who will do anything to stop him from discovering the truth.

 

The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War by Marcia & Thomas Mitchell

4578102Official Secrets PosterMovie: Official Secrets
When it comes out:
August 23
What the book is about:
British secret service officer Katharine Gun’s only crime was telling the truth, but she paid a steep price when she exposed a U.S.-U.K. spy operation to secure UN authorization for the Iraq invasion. Thoroughly researched and engagingly written, this book tells the story of the young woman Sean Penn describes as “a hero of the human spirit.”

Best Sellers Update: June

New York Times Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens

36809135For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

  1. A GAME OF THRONES by George R.R. Martin
  2. THE 18TH ABDUCTION by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  3. CARI MORA by Thomas Harris (NEW)
  4. PAST TENSE by Lee Child
  5. REDEMPTION by David Baldacci
  6. BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate
  7. SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews
  8. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng
  9. THE MISTER by E L James
  10. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris
  11. THE GUEST BOOK by Sarah Blake
  12. A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles
  13. SECURING SIDNEY by Susan Stoker (NEW)
  14. FIRE AND BLOOD by George R.R. Martin