9 Books That Bridge the Gap Between Faith and Science

Photo by Bill Williams on Unsplash

Nominally, religious faith and science are viewed as opponents in a grand rhetorical debate. And yet, there’s plenty of interesting debate to be witnessed by those authors who’ve set out to examine the grey areas in which science and belief overlap. In some cases, these are scientists seeking a common ground with the theologians who ponder some of the same questions, albeit from a very different angle. In others, these authors have one foot in each camp, blending a deeply held faith with a background in the scientific method and a rigorous logic to boot.

These books offer a host of perspectives on the places where faith, logic, science, and religion all converge. Regardless of your perspective on the cosmos and the world around us, you may well find plenty to ponder and debate within these pages.

The cover of the book Searching for Stars on an Island in MaineSearching for Stars on an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman

Alan Lightman’s own background is in theoretical physics; he’s also written a host of books exploring the ways in which science interacts with our daily lives and overlap with the ineffable. In Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, Lightman ponders questions of mortality, the nature of the universe, and the inexplicable questions that the universe poses. The result is a charming, candid, thought-provoking book.

 

The cover of the book The CreationThe Creation by Edward O. Wilson

In Lightman’s book, he explores the ways in which science and religion converge and diverge on some of the grand questions that humanity asks the universe. That isn’t the only way in which scientists and theologians can find common ground, however: in Edward O. Wilson’s The Creation, Wilson makes an argument for environmental preservation designed to encompass both the deeply religious and the scientifically rigorous.

 

The cover of the book Buddhism and Science: A Guide For the PerplexedBuddhism and Science: A Guide For the Perplexed by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

Discussions of the debate between science and religion frequently focus on science’s relationship to the Abrahamic religions. It’s important to not overlook the way that other belief systems can relate to science as well–and thus, this 2008 book from Donald S. Lopez Jr., which explores the numerous ways in which Buddhism and science each approach some of the same questions, and how the two have inspired one another.

 

The cover of the book AgnosticAgnostic: A Spirited Manifesto by Lesley Hazleton

Lesley Hazleton’s Agnostic is a rigorously-written look at (and case for) skepticism in all things, which does a fine job of establishing agnosticism as a distinct system for interacting with the world. Many of the qualities that Hazleton cites as inherent for agnosticism play a large role in science as well–and the end result is a holistic means of examining and interrogating the world, from the physical to the metaphysical.

 

The cover of the book The Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and GodThe Big Question: Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Science, Faith and God by Alister McGrath

For some writers and thinkers, science and religion are wholly incompatible; for others, they inform one another, leading to a greater understanding of both. Alister McGrath, who has doctorates in molecular biology and theology, falls firmly in the latter camp, and has lectured extensively on the ways in which science and religion can coincide. The Big Question offers many of his thoughts on these ongoing debates, and an examination of the interconnectedness of the two.

 

The cover of the book Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the MultiverseWorlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse by Mary-Jane Rubenstein

As humans study the universe, questions can appear about its nature–including whether our universe is the only one in existence or part of something much larger. Mary-Jane Rubenstein’s Worlds Without End explores several of the questions that arise when pondering the multiverse–along with the religious and philosophical questions that arise when considering a potentially infinite array of distinct universes.

 

The cover of the book Einstein and ReligionEinstein and Religion by Max JammerIn

Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, Lightman returns to questions of Albert Einstein’s own beliefs regarding the universe, which makes for a fascinating counterpoint to Lightman’s musings on the same. Max Jammer’s book offers a more in-depth look at Einstein’s feelings on religion, which defied easy explanation and provide an interesting means by which to consider his scientific discoveries.

 

The cover of the book Faith, Science and UnderstandingFaith, Science and Understanding by John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne is both a scientist and a theologian, and he’s been writing about the overlap of the two for several decades now. As its title suggests, Faith, Science, and Understanding is a book that seeks to bring together the two intellectual traditions with which Polkinghorne is most familiar, finding ways in which a belief in God and an understanding of science are fundamentally compatible.

 

The cover of the book The SparrowThe Sparrow: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

Unlike the rest of the books on this list, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow is fiction. Specifically, it’s science fiction–telling the archetypal story of humanity’s first contact with an extraterrestrial species. But given that a Jesuit priest is involved, this is a narrative in which science and religion are inexorably entangled. That blend of ways of seeing the world has made for several gripping narratives over the decades – see also Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things and James Blish’s A Case of Conscience.

Advertisements

Romance Writers on How the Genre Empowers Women

Romance novels get a bad rap. Most people judge them without even reading them, and accuse those who enjoy the genre of not reading “real” books.

We gathered together six well-known romance authors to help dispel stereotypes about the genre, and discuss how their stories are especially meaningful to women. Tune in to the video below to see what they had to say.

Transcription of romance authors discussing the importance of the genre for women.

Chanel Cleeton: You know romance gets a bad rap a lot, and we all know that.

Kate Bateman: I mean, people just think it’s literally trashy novels.

Shayla Black: And I grew up in the era of reading romance when it was his love lance and his man root. Let’s just call it what it is, and move on.

Kate Bateman: But as a genre, it’s literally the most feminist literature you can get. It’s like mainly for women.

Tamsen Parker: By women, about women.

Kate Bateman: The entire purpose is to make women feel empowered and feel good about themselves.

Sarina Bowen: The women are always their own savior, alongside with finding somebody to spend their lives with.

Tamsen Parker: In a lot of popular culture media, it’s harder to find really multi-dimensional characters, where I feel like that’s really common in romance. People have families. They have careers. And they have a love interest.

Kate Bateman: I like the fact that my women are kick-asses in corsets. My girls will have cool jobs. So they’re like thieves or they are counterfeiters.

Milly Taiden: I always felt that curvier women, there weren’t enough of them. So that’s why I started writing them. I loved the stories. They were fantastic and the romance was great. But I was like, well, that’s not like a girl like me.

Sarina Bowen: I have actually a female character in one of my books who comes down with a sexually transmitted infection. And it’s a huge disaster and a blow to her ego and her sense of self. And I did once get a letter from somebody who thanked me for writing that story, because that happened to her and she was horrified and embarrassed and felt a lot of shame. But she really loved the portrayal of that event in this book, and that it’s not the end of the world.

Shayla Black: I think there’s so many facets to women. And I don’t think we should have just any one sort of heroine. I’ve written the really shy, come out of your shell types. I’ve written ones that just kick ass from start to finish. We went through a phase in romance, I feel like, where we had nothing but what everybody said was kick-ass heroines. I’m like, that’s great, but for the girls who are super shy? Sometimes even I couldn’t relate. I want to relate to this girl.

Tamsen Parker: You see it in a lot of mainstream, popular culture that FF or lesbian relationships, it’s like this is for the pleasure of somebody else to watch. When you’re looking at the romance genre, you’re talking about women’s pleasure. And that’s really powerful. You don’t see it a lot.

Sarina Bowen: I grew up in a kind of conservative part of the country, where girls my age didn’t talk about sex or sexuality.

Shayla Black: I get a lot of email about this, too, where people feel as if they didn’t really understand themselves, or they didn’t understand that something was OK.

Sarina Bowen: So it’s been a real journey for me to portray women in a positive sexual light.

Shayla Black: This is a way for them to get information, and see it processed through a character’s eyes, and understand how it functions, and how it might function for them.

 

Check out the books:

The cover of the book Next Year in HavanaNext Year in Havana
Chanel Cleeton
After the death of her beloved grandmother, Marisol Ferrera – a Cuban-American woman – travels to Havana, where she discovers her true identity and family secrets that have been hidden since the revolution. Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast between Cuba’s beauty and its perilous political climate. When Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

 

The cover of the book A Counterfeit HeartA Counterfeit Heart
K. C. Bateman
Counterfeiter Sabine de la Tour has decided to bid a reluctant farewell to her double life as a notorious criminal, but leaving won’t be easy – she and her business partner must escape France soon, or face certain death. Her only hope of surviving is to strike a deal with the very spy she’s spent her career outrunning. Now after meeting the arrogant operative in the flesh, Sabine longs to throw herself upon his mercy – and into his arms.

 

The cover of the book Devoted to PleasureDevoted to Pleasure
Shayla Black
When a a blackmailer starts watching her every move, television star Shealyn West hires Cutter to keep her safe, never imagining their attraction will be too powerful to contain. As Shealyn and Cutter navigate the scintillating line between business and pleasure, they unravel a web of secrets that threaten their relationship and their lives. When danger strikes, Cutter must decide whether to follow his heart or lose Shealyn forever.

 

The cover of the book His CustodyHis Custody
Tamsen Parker
Keyne O’Connell leads a good life – she has a great family, a loving boyfriend, and a promising future. But one dark summer night changes everything for Kenye, forcing her into the care of her boyfriend’s intimidating, much older brother, Jasper. Jasper isn’t a good man. He’s a womanizer and a casual drug user with no interest in becoming Keyne’s guardian. But living in close quarters soon stirs up feelings inside them both that are far from platonic. Keyne needs a firm hand to keep her in line, but what she desires could lead Jasper into trouble.

 

The cover of the book Pipe DreamsPipe Dreams
Sarina Bowen
Mike Beacon, a hockey player, widower, and a single father, has never forgotten Lauren Williams, an ex-lover who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers’ office during the play-offs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right. But Lauren’s focused on her plans for the future and won’t let a man get in the way of that. Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie.

 

The cover of the book Fearless MatingFearless Mating
Milly Taiden
Sergeant Major Candace Obermier has arrived at Alpha League Federal Agency headquarters to shut it down. Though A.L.F.A. pledged to protect humans from paranormal threats, they’ve caused nothing but mayhem. Candace thinks the problem lies with the agency’s director, Josh Tumbel. But when A.L.F.A. headquarters is taken in a hostage situation, Josh demonstrates the critical nature of the agency’s existence, and proves his worth to Candy as a protector and lover.

8 Books to Help You Navigate Modern Technology

Photo by Giu Vicente on Unsplash

Do you feel behind on today’s tech? Do you feel lost in our hyper-connected, fast-paced world?

Have no fear, we’re here to help. The eight books below will help you to catch up with everyone around you, utilize technology to get ahead, and achieve your goals in an efficient and timely manner.
The cover of the book Hit MakersHit Makers
Derek Thompson
In this national bestseller, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson explains the psychology behind our interests and the economics of the cultural markets that shape our lives. He deconstructs the myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, shows that quality does not equal success, and demonstrates how to appeal to the consumer based on their needs and wants. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to start a business or promote themselves, and stand out from the countless others trying to make it to the top.

 

The cover of the book How to Break Up with Your PhoneHow to Break Up with Your Phone
Catherine Price
This book is essential for everyone that’s addicted to their phone. How do you know if you fall into this category? If you reach for your phone when you first wake up, constantly throughout the day, and then before you sleep, you are guilty of having an addiction to it. Award-winning journalist Catherine Price presents an easy-to-follow guide to breaking up – and making up – with your phone.

 

The cover of the book The Square and the TowerThe Square and the Tower
Niall Ferguson
This instant New York Times bestseller documents the pivotal points in world history, including the one we’re currently living through, where old power is fading and new social networks are dominating everything we do. In The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson argues that networks – like the social network we currently have – have always been with us, from the structure of the brain to the food chain, from the family tree to freemasonry. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below.

 

The cover of the book IrresistibleIrresistible
Adam Alter
We live in an age of behavioral addiction. Half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior – whether it be our phones, our social media, our TV shows, or our work. In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why we can’t help but be addicted to certain things. Adam explains how we can use our addictions to improve ourselves and help others, and minimize the damaging effects on our well-being and our society.

 

The cover of the book Zen CameraZen Camera
David Ulrich
In this beautifully illustrated book, David Ulrich draws on the principles of Zen practice and his forty years of photography experience to offer six life-changing lessons for developing self-expression. Zen Camera is a never-before-seen photography practice that helps artists to channel their inner creativity using nothing more than their vision and a camera – even a phone camera will do. Containing eighty-three photographs, this book will allow readers to achieve clarity in an age of distraction, and create photographs that are breathtaking and unique.

 

The cover of the book Build Your Dream NetworkBuild Your Dream Network
J. Kelly Hoey
One thing that we hear constantly in the workplace today is “networking is very important.” But how do you make valuable connections and stand out from the crowd in our increasingly digital world? Acclaimed business columnist and networking expert J. Kelly Hoey offers advice for mastering this old skill in a world where posting, liking, and friending has taken over the way we do things. J. Kelly shows how making small changes in your daily routine, generosity, and goal-focused efforts are all it takes to set you apart from others and make meaningful connections that will lead to opportunity and success.

 

The cover of the book Blockchain RevolutionBlockchain Revolution
Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
Blockchain technology is the revolutionary protocol that allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a tamperproof public ledger of value, and it’s powering our future (it’s best known as the technology that drives bitcoin and other digital cur­rencies). Don Tapscott, the bestselling author of Wikinomics, and his son, blockchain expert Alex Tapscott, bring us a highly researched and easy-to-understand book about the blockchain technology that is driving our future, and explain where it can lead us in the next decade and beyond.

 

The cover of the book New PowerNew Power
Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms
In this informative guide to navigating the twenty-first century, two visionary thinkers – Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms – reveal that the rules of power have changed in our society, and are reshaping politics, business, and life. They tackle the rise of huge companies like Facebook, Uber, and AirBnB, the unexpected outcomes of our presidential elections, and the emergence of movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. New Power sheds light on the cultural phenomena of our day, revealing the new power that contributed to their success. This groundbreaking book offers us a new way to understand the world around us and our role in it.

Unexpected Classics: 10 Overlooked Novels Finding Life in New Editions

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Not every novel finds its audience right away; in some cases, the ideal reader for a book may not have been born at the time that said book was first published. And while keeping up-to-date on new books is a good thing, it can also be deeply rewarding to delve into a book published several years – or several decades – ago. Sometimes an author’s style or approach will be ahead of their time; sometimes there may be unexpected resonances with events that have occurred since the book was first published.

What follows is a list of ten novels, released in new editions (or, in some cases, new translations) over the last few years. They range in style from comic to tragic, from realistic to uncanny, and their settings cover everything from the familiar confines of suburbia to a surreal Arctic landscape. Perhaps one of these books will be exactly what you were looking to read at this very moment.

The cover of the book IceIce
Anna Kavan
Classifying Anna Kavan’s Ice isn’t easy. It’s set in a near future where society has taken a turn for the violent and the climate has dropped precipitously; the novel’s narrator is searching for a woman, but his perceptions of the world are not exactly reliable. The result makes for a haunting and unpredictable read. Among the admirers of this novel are Jonathan Lethem and Kate Zambreno, both of whom contribute writings to this new edition.

 

The cover of the book Mrs. CalibanMrs. Caliban
Rachel Ingalls
Rachel Ingalls’s short novel details the unfulfilled life of a suburban woman: her husband is enmeshed in an affair, her ambitions are frustrated, and her friendships are flawed. Then a giant frog-man escapes from a local science facility, takes refuge in her home, and changes the course of her life. The novel shifts from philosophical to tragic to drolly funny at a moment’s notice; between this and the novella collection Three Masquerades, Ingalls’s fiction is getting a newfound appreciation as of late.

 

The cover of the book The GraveyardThe Graveyard
Marek Hlasko
The protagonist of Marek Hłasko’s novel, set in Cold War-era Poland, lives a normal life: a solid job, a family, and memories of his time fighting the Nazis during World War II. A chance encounter causes him to fall out with the Communist Party, which sets his life on a sudden downward trajectory, with horrifying results. The novel is meticulously structured, with a mounting sense of dread that gradually suffuses the entirety of the page.

 

The cover of the book Dark ReflectionsDark Reflections
Samuel R. Delany
Samuel R. Delany is best-known for his visionary, surreal visions of strange landscapes and potential futures. He’s just as talented when it comes to charting the course of the frustrations and compromises of more quotidian existence: Dark Reflections chronicles several decades in the life of a talented but largely obscure poet, a singular voice who never entirely connects with an audience.

 

The cover of the book Appointment in SamarraAppointment in Samarra
John O’Hara
John O’Hara’s first novel is a searing portrait of marital, financial, and spiritual discontent. It begins innocuously enough, with the novel’s protagonist Julian English throwing a drink in the face of another man. The events that arise from that reveal the tensions and anguish found just below the surface in his community, along with the prejudices and isolation of the people around him.

 

The cover of the book After ClaudeAfter Claude
Iris Owens
The narrator of this novel by Iris Owens is acerbic, caustic, and – potentially – not entirely reliable in all matters. Set in early-1970s New York City, After Claude chronicles the end of the narrator’s relationship, and how this causes her to reimagine her life. It’s a bleakly funny look at city life, told through a memorable voice.

 

The cover of the book VolcanoVolcano
Shusaku Endo
Shusaku Endo’s novel Volcano tells two stories that parallel one another: one about a newly-retired man settling into a new phase of life and grappling with health issues, and the other about a defrocked priest pondering his own isolation and questions of corruption. Above the city where they live can be found a seemingly dormant volcano, a potent metaphor for the dangers of the unspoken.

 

The cover of the book The First WifeThe First Wife
Paulina Chiziane
The protagonist of Paulina Chiziane’s novel The First Wifediscovers an unsettling fact about her husband: namely, that he’s married to several women located around the city of Maputo in Mozambique. Her discovery of this, and her subsequent actions, creates a powerful portrait of a nation in the midst of change, and the harrowing legacy of a long civil war.

 

The cover of the book Reasons of StateReasons of State
Alejo Carpentier
At the center of Alejo Carpentier’s Reasons of State is the dictator of a nation in Latin America – an aging man still convinced of the rightness of his cause, and willing to endorse horrible things in order to maintain his power. The gulf between his belief in his own righteousness and how the people around him perceive him sparks one of the many conflicts that propels this novel, a precise case study of the delusions and abuses of power.

 

The cover of the book BlackwaterBlackwater
Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell’s sprawling novel Blackwater is many things: a family saga covering several decades of life in an affluent Southern family; a portrait of the growth of a small town over the course of much of the 20th century; and an exploration of the cost of progress. Threaded through with a substantial dose of the supernatural, McDowell’s novel features nuance and horror in equal measure.

By 

They Don’t Just Act: 18 Celebrities With Books That Are Worth a Read

True talent is rare – we’re lucky to have a knack for just one thing in this world. But these celebrities seem to have won the talent lottery because not only are they kick-ass actors and actresses, but they also write, and they do it well.

From Tom Hanks to Mindy Kaling, the celebrities listed below have all written fantastic books. Spanning fiction and nonfiction, there’s a book here for every kind of reader.

The cover of the book Like BrothersLike Brothers
Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
In this delightful memoir, Mark and Jay Duplass – the writers, directors, producers, and actors as seen on “The League,” “Transparent,” and “The Mindy Project“ – share the secrets of their success, their experiences in working together, and the lessons they’ve learned through it all. The two brothers take us on their life journey from their childhood in the suburbs of New Orleans to their years at the University of Texas, the rise of their career, and beyond.

 

The cover of the book Uncommon TypeUncommon Type
Tom Hanks
A short story collection written by Tom Hanks – need we say more? The beloved, two-time Oscar-winning actor has written his first fiction collection, with seventeen short stories that are poignant, relevant, and thought-provoking, proving that he’s just as good with pen and paper as he is on screen. His writing will capture the hearts of all readers, and with this book, his die-hard fans will get more than they could’ve ever hoped for.

 

The cover of the book UnqualifiedUnqualified
Anna Faris; Foreword by Chris Pratt
Anna Faris fans are in for a treat – her comic memoir, Unqualified, contains everything there is to know about her life. Anna’s humor is strong throughout the pages as she explores the stages of her life in full detail, from her embarrassing elementary school days, to entering the entertainment industry, and struggling with marriage and parenthood. Anna offers timely advice on how to take charge of your life, be optimistic, and reap the rewards of the crazy world of love. Unqualified is perfect for anyone looking to laugh, smile, and maybe even shed a tear or two.

 

The cover of the book The Actor’s LifeThe Actor’s Life
Jenna Fischer
In The Actor’s Life, Jenna Fischer, best known for playing the Pam Beesly to John Krasinksi’s Jim Halpert on “The Office,” draws upon her own experience climbing the rungs of the entertainment business to help aspiring actors and actresses on their own journeys. She opens up about the (often hilarious) pitfalls she encountered on her way to success, and if you yourself aren’t looking to learn from them practically, Fischer’s writing has got an air of worldly wisdom to it that just about anyone can benefit from.

 

The cover of the book Good Clean FunGood Clean Fun
Nick Offerman
You probably know him as Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation,” but the man behind the meat-loving Director of Pawnee’s City Parks and Recreation Department is actually quite the prolific author. In Good Clean Fun, Offerman takes readers behind the scenes of his woodshop, formally known as the Offerman Woodshop. In his woodshop, he crafts everything from fine furniture to ukuleles. Whether you’re a fan of woodwork or Offerman himself, you’ll enjoy this book.

 

The cover of the book Handbook for an Unpredictable LifeHandbook for an Unpredictable Life
Rosie Perez
Oscar-nominated actress and star of new musical drama “Rise,” Rosie Perez recounts her remarkable and troubled young years in Handbook for an Unpredictable Life. When she was just three years old, Rosie was sent away to live in a Catholic children’s home in New York’s Westchester County, where she and countless other children suffered abuse at the hands of nuns. Rosie stayed strong throughout her childhood, eventually paving a life for herself in the world of the arts, New York City, and L.A., but the journey was not easy. Here, she opens up for the first time about just how hard it was, and how she made it through.

 

The cover of the book BonfireBonfire
Krysten Ritter
From actress, producer, and writer Krysten Ritter, Bonfireseeks to answer the age-old question: Can you ever really forget your past? Abby Williams left her small hometown of Barrens, Indiana years ago, desperate to shed painful memories she made there. Now she’s an environmental lawyer in Chicago, with a thriving career and a promising future. But a new case takes her back home to investigate one of the biggest scandals the town has ever seen, and Abby’s burned-away past ignites once again. Bonfire is a dark exploration of what can happen when your past and present collide.

 

The cover of the book The Bassoon KingThe Bassoon King
Rainn Wilson
The man behind the legendary Dwight Schrute of “The Office” tells his personal story in The Bassoon King, from his days as a high school drama geek to “The Office” and beyond. He made it out of high school in one piece, but it would be many years (most spent as a starving artist in New York City) before he’d land the role of the beloved Dwight Schrute. Wilson takes us through these years and beyond the finale of “The Office” to his life today.

 

The cover of the book A Load of HoneyA Load of Honey
Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk is perhaps currently best known as Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” though his comedic acting work reaches far and wide. A Load of Hooey is Odenkirk’s debut, and its contents run the gamut from free-verse poetry to absurdist monologues. It’s best read aloud, but perhaps in the privacy of your home, where no one can hear you.

 

The cover of the book OtherworldOtherworld
Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
In this YA novel, Jason Segel, perhaps best known for his role as Marshall Eriksen in the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” creates a futuristic world that tests the dangerous possibilities of technology. Otherworld is a highly-addictive virtual reality game that indulges every desire – it gives everyone what they want. The problem? You’ll never want to leave.

 

The cover of the book A Life in PartsA Life in Parts
Bryan Cranston
Before “Breaking Bad” there was “Malcom in the Middle,” and before “Malcom in the Middle” there were countless other parts. In A Life in Parts, Bryan Cranston takes us through the many roles he’s played in his life, from the 5thgrade school play to today, and why he almost gave up on acting entirely somewhere in-between.

 

The cover of the book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Mindy Kaling
In her first memoir, Mindy Kaling, creator and star of “The Mindy Project” (also known for her role as Kelly on “The Office”), takes readers on a journey through her eventful life, from being a child of immigrant professionals to becoming a comedy writer and actress who speaks her mind. Mindy lets readers up close and personal as she shares her very unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood in a completely hilarious and unforgettable way.

 

The cover of the book In Conclusion, Don't Worry About ItIn Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It
Lauren Graham
Fans of “Gilmore Girls” will want to get their hands on this book by Lauren Graham, who played the famous Lorelai Gilmore on the show. This book is an expansion on a graduation speech Lauren gave at her hometown high school, Langley High. In it, she offers advice for graduates and reveals the importance of staying true to yourself, no matter where life takes you. It’s hilarious, yet touching, which is what we love most about Lauren Graham.

 

The cover of the book Why Not Me?Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling
You might be thinking to yourself, “another book by Mindy Kaling?” Yes, another book by Mindy Kaling – she’s that good. This time around, it’s a collection of essays that are as hilarious and insightful as they are deeply personal. In Why Not Me?, Mindy shares her meditations on contentment and adulthood, and how they’re related to each other. She gives us an inside look on her life and experiences in Hollywood, and describes how they’ve made her who she is today.

 

The cover of the book I Can't Make This UpI Can’t Make This Up
Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart is one of the biggest comedians in the world, with tours that sell out football stadiums and films that have collectively grossed over $3.5 billion. In his book, I Can’t Make This Up, Kevin lets readers take an in-depth look at his life, from his extremely difficult childhood to his path to success, and his life advice for overcoming even the most difficult challenges. It’s hysterical (obviously), but also deeply personal and inspirational.

 

The cover of the book Yes PleaseYes Please
Amy Poehler
Best known for her role as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” Amy Poehler is a comedian and actress that’s loved by many. This book is filled with stories, photographs, life advice, lists, and even some poetry. Yes Pleaseis inspirational, informative, and hilarious – definitely a must-have for all of Amy’s fans.

 

The cover of the book This Is Just My Face: Try Not to StareThis Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare
Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe, or “Gabby” to fans, achieved international fame when she played the leading role in the acclaimed movie, “Precious.” In this memoir, Gabby shares her life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen. With humor and honesty, Sidibe paints a portrait of her difficult family life when she was growing up, and shares her unconventional journey to becoming a movie star in a world that worked against her. This book is perfect for anyone who has ever felt like a misfit – it will inspire people to dream big, and reach for their goals, no matter what.

 

The cover of the book I'm Fine...And Other LiesI’m Fine…And Other Lies
Whitney Cummings
Creator and star of “Whitney” and co-creator of “2 Broke Girls,” comedian Whitney Cummings lays bare her most catastrophically embarrassing moments in I’m Fine and Other Lies. In what Cummings describes as a collection of “stories and mistakes I’ve made that were way too embarrassing to tell on stage in front of an actual audience,” she frankly discusses things about herself and her life that most people would probably take with them to their graves. But thankfully, Whitney Cummings is not like most people.

How We Got Here: 9 Books on the Science of Culture

Photo by claire jones on Unsplash

If you’re trying to understand why our culture is the way it is, or how we got to be this way, look no further. The nine books below will allow you to take a deep dive into our past, our present, and our potential future to learn more about how our culture developed and evolved, and where we’re headed from here.

The cover of the book The Efficiency ParadoxThe Efficiency Paradox
Edward Tenner
Our culture today can’t get enough of efficiency – it’s everywhere we turn. From algorithms to multitasking, the sharing economy, and life hacks, we are always looking for ways to maximize our productivity in less time, in both our professional and personal lives. But is this the right path for our future? The Efficiency Paradox questions our ingrained assumptions about efficiency and offers us new ways to learn from the random and unexpected.

 

The cover of the book The Wizard and the ProphetThe Wizard and the Prophet
Charles C. Mann
From the bestselling, award-winning author of 1491 and 1493, The Wizard and the Prophet is a clever portrait of two lesser-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, whose opposing views shaped our understanding of the world. In forty years, Earth’s population will reach ten billion. Borlaug and Vogt had different solutions to this problem – Charles C. Mann describes them here, and provides an insightful analysis on how we can continue to thrive on an increasingly crowded Earth.

 

The cover of the book The Evolution of BeautyThe Evolution of Beauty
Richard O. Prum
Named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, the Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal, The Evolution of Beauty is a stunning re-imagining of Darwin’s theory of Evolution. Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum makes the argument that adaptation by natural selection is not the only factor that plays a role in what we see in nature. Richard makes the case for the theory of sexual selection, stating that it is a driving force behind evolutionary change and the reason we are the way we are today.

 

The cover of the book The Strange Order of ThingsThe Strange Order of Things
Antonio Damasio
In The Strange Order of Things, Antonio Damasio takes a look at homeostasis – the condition of equilibrium that regulates human physiology – to prove that we descend biologically, psychologically, and even socially from a long lineage that begins with single living cells and other primitive life-forms. The Strange Order of Things gives us a new way of comprehending the world and our place in it.

 

The cover of the book Enlightenment NowEnlightenment Now
Steven Pinker
This instant New York Times bestseller is a fascinating read that assesses the human condition today. Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, takes a step back from the popular notion that the world is doomed to show that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are actually on the rise. Pinker argues that by using the Enlightenment ideals of reason and science, we can further enhance our culture, and humanity as a whole.

 

The cover of the book The Culture CodeThe Culture Code
Daniel Coyle
How do you build a great culture? What sustains it? In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle attempts to answer these questions by examining some of the world’s most successful organizations, including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs. Daniel curates a culture-building process by identifying the three key skills that are necessary for cohesion and cooperation. This book is essential for anyone looking to learn the principles of cultural chemistry to create teams of people that can accomplish amazing things together.

 

The cover of the book 12 Rules for Life12 Rules for Life
Jordan B. Peterson
In this book, renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson combines the tested truths of ancient tradition with cutting-edge scientific research to answer the question: What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Jordan discusses discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility with humor and wit, breaking down the wisdom of the world into 12 practical and profound rules. Readers will experience a transformation of mind and spirit with each turn of the page.

 

The cover of the book Win BiglyWin Bigly
Scott Adams
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, takes a look at the persuasion strategies Donald Trump used during the recent election, and reveals how to use these methods in your own life to win against all odds. Win Bigly isn’t about Trump being good or evil, or right or wrong- it’s about the power of persuasion in any setting, especially when the audience responds to emotion, not reason.

 

The cover of the book Searching for Stars on an Island in MaineSearching for Stars on an Island in Maine
Alan Lightman
Alan Lightman, acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams and theoretical physicist, has always seen the world scientifically. He found comfort in the logic and materiality of a universe governed by a small number of disembodied forces and laws. But one summer night, he felt connected to something larger than himself – something that couldn’t be explained. This sparked Alan’s desire to look further into the human desire for truth and meaning, and the role that religion and science play in that quest.

19 Shorts Every American Should Read to Understand Politics Today

These 19 Vintage Shorts Political Selections should be essential reading for every American, especially considering the state of our country today. Each short is informative, eye-opening, inspiring, and perhaps best of all, easy to incorporate into any busy schedule. Ranging from ten to thirty pages long, these political shorts cover important material with no fluff, making them accessible to every reader.

In crucial times like these, we need more stimulating writing that prompts us to make informed decisions – ones that impact our present and our future. So as midterm elections approach, be sure to dive in to these eBook shorts and share them with everyone you know.

The cover of the book Istanbul Letters“Istanbul Letters”
Elliot Ackerman
“Why do some forms of violence—the beheading of journalists by the Islamic State, a bombing in Ankara, or the attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando—make us feel so threatened, while other forms—the 372 separate mass shootings in America in 2015 or the 4,219 Syrians killed that same September—do little to challenge our sense of safety?”

From his base in Istanbul, Elliot Ackerman has written letters and essays that explore how global and seemingly remote issues like terrorism, US foreign policy, and other geopolitical forces play out and wreak distress upon the quotidian lives of civilians. Here assembled into a haunting piece, the fragments of a year’s notes open a window into life under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s oppressive and nationalistic right-wing regime, the civil war in Syria, and the disintegration of the old order in the Middle-East.

Exposing how a pervasive rhetoric of fear can shape a society and written with intimacy and a tremendous amount of compassion, this is an astute political commentary and first-person travel narrative par excellence.

 

The cover of the book Thirteen Tactics for Realistic Radicals“Thirteen Tactics for Realistic Radicals”
from Rules for Radicals
Saul Alinsky
From the founder of modern radical activism in America, Saul Alinsky, whose the bestselling classic Rules for Radicals has reinvigorated the political left in America. “Organizational genius” Alinsky lays out the thirteen rules that all have-nots must follow to wage a successful campaign against the haves. Wielding tremendous influence to this day, and used as a bible by leading organizers since it was first published almost fifty years ago, these vital words of wisdom are written with humor, wit and unassailable power.

Crucially impactful on both President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s political philosophies and dedicated to the American political tradition—Alinsky’s thirteen tactics will remain powerful and relevant, a must-read, for anyone interested in how to enact constructive social change for years to come.

 

The cover of the book A Young Woman on Her Own“A Young Woman on Her Own”
from A Woman in Charge
Carl Bernstein
From the definitive, humanizing biography of one of the most powerful and widely misunderstood women of our time: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Carl Bernstein sheds light on Hillary’s political development during her four years as an impressionable but fierce undergraduate at Wellesley.

In thick, Coke-bottle glasses, here is an ambitious young student—galvanized by the assassination of Martin Luther King and the women’s liberation movement—fighting to be recognized by the East coast elite. Bernstein reveals a side of Hillary not often seen in a tender, heartening, and measured depiction of her even-keeled transformation from a Barry Goldwater conservative raised in a staunchly anti-communist household in Illinois into an “agnostic intellectual liberal” and an impassioned progressive dedicated to peaceful and pragmatic reform.

 

The cover of the book Insider Baseball“Insider Baseball”
from Political Fictions
Joan Didion
Almost three decades ago, iconic and incomparable American essayist Joan Didion’s now-classic report from the Dukakis campaign trail exposed, in no uncertain terms, the complete sham that is the modern American presidential run.

Writing with bite and some humor too, Didion betrays “the process”—the way in which power is exchanged and the status quo is maintained. All insiders—politicians, journalists, spin doctors—participate in a political narrative that is “designed as it is to maintain the illusion of consensus by obscuring rather than addressing actual issues.” The optics of presidential campaigns have grown ever more farcical and remote from the needs and issues most relevant to Americans’ lives, and Didion’s elegant, shrewd, and prescient commentary has never been more urgent than it is right now.

 

The cover of the book The Real Costs of American Health Care“The Real Costs of American Health Care”
David Goldhill
Despite all attempts to make it otherwise, the American health care system remains arcane, bloated, inefficient, and damaging to our health. We pay high premiums, endure exorbitant out-of-pocket costs, see little to no information about treatment options, and suffer often meager and sloppy care. The Affordable Care Act was an unambitious reform not likely to have an impact on these fundamental problems. But, politics aside, health care doesn’t have to be this complicated. And, its costs don’t have to be this high.

In this provocative and convincing essay, David Goldhill outlines the myriad misconceptions that plague American health care, and makes a radical case for reform. There is no panacea, but if we want to preserve our health and our pocketbooks, we need to normalize health care and enable a competitive, dynamic and diverse exchange where providers will be held accountable to the Americans they care for.

 

The cover of the book Can't We All Disagree More Constructively?“Can’t We All Disagree More Constructively?”
from The Righteous Mind
Jonathan Haidt
As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible—he has explained the origins of morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum.

Drawing on twenty-five years of groundbreaking research, Haidt shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and why we need the insights of each if we are to flourish as a nation. Here is the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation and the eternal curse of moralistic aggression, across the political divide and around the world.

 

The cover of the book The Paranoid Style in American Politics: An Essay“The Paranoid Style in American Politics: An Essay”
from The Paranoid Style in American Politics
Richard Hofstadter
A timely reissue of acclaimed historian Richard Hofstadter’s authoritative and unforgettable essay. First published in 1964 and no less relevant half a century later, The Paranoid Style in American Politics scrutinizes the conditions that gave rise to the extreme right of the 1950s and the 1960s, and presages the ascendancy of the Tea Party movement and, now, Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Fringe groups can and do both influence and derail American politics, and Hofstadter remains indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand why paranoia, a persistent psychic phenomenon with an outsize role in American public life, refuses to abate.

 

The cover of the book The Obama White House and the Supreme Court“The Obama White House and the Supreme Court”
from The Oath
Jeffrey Toobin
The bestselling and prizewinning author of The Nine and American Heiress tells the dramatic and gripping insider’s story of the momentous ideological war fought between the Obama White House and the Supreme Court.

President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts could not be more different. Obama, a legal conservative grappling with the second amendment among other issues, believes in the close interpretation of the Constitution, incremental change, and pragmatism over ideology. But, for Roberts the law is all about winning. And, from the moment he botched Obama’s oath of office in 2009, the relationship between the Court and the White House has been fraught.

This is essential history that unravels the forces that have shaped the Roberts Court over the last eight years. The nation is preparing to vote for its next president, and it bears remembering that the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.

 

The cover of the book The Way We Live Now“The Way We Live Now”
from The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies
Susan Jacoby
In this selection from her searing cultural history of the last half century, Susan Jacoby chronicles the menacing surge of anti-rationalism in contemporary American life and the degradation of public speech in presidential rhetoric, radio broadcast, television, and internet media where homogenized language and thought reinforce each other in circular fashion.

At today’s critical political juncture, in which boastful ignorance has infected public discourse at the highest levels of government and throughout ordinary social media, this impassioned, tough-minded work challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what the flight from intellectualism, facts, and truth have cost us as individuals and as a nation.

 

The cover of the book On the Border of Truth“On the Border of Truth”
from Lies, Incorporated
Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters
In a post-truth political landscape, there is a carefully concealed but ever-growing industry of organized misinformation that exists to create and disseminate lies in the service of political agendas. This is especially true today for immigration reform, which has become severely limited under President Trump’s first term in office and affecting millions of people’s lives. livelihoods and families. Scrutinizing the dangerous misinformation purveyed by organizations like John Tanton’s The Center of Immigration Studies and others, On the Border of Truth is a powerful look at the organizations and people that have been pushing a coordinated assault on truth for years before the 2016 election.

 

The cover of the book The End of History Not“The End of History Not”
from Collusion
Luke Harding
In December 2016, the Guardian reporter and former Moscow bureau chief Luke Harding, quietly met Christopher Steele, who’s infamous dossier sparked one of the most sensational scandals to rock modern political and the biggest threats to the Trump campaign and presidency.

In the explosive first pages of the #1 New York Times bestseller Collusion, Harding chronicles Steele’s incredible background as an MI6 officer on the Moscow desk and the secret sources behind one the most incendiary and devastating reports in American and Russian political history.

 

The cover of the book The Bad News“The Bad News”
from Moral Disorder
Margaret Atwood
“We don’t like bad news, but we need it. We need to know about it in case it’s coming our way.”

This delicious, contemptuous and poignant micro-story is the first in the acclaimed collection, Moral Disorder, from towering author and #1 New York Times Bestseller, Margaret Atwood.

The bad news arrives in the form of a paper, which Tig carries up the stairs to Nell who is wallowing in bed. A year from now, they won’t remember the details, but for now, the bad news sits between the aging couple as they prepare their breakfast together and Nell imagines them in Southern France as the barbarians invade Rome on what is beautiful day, safe and quiet, for now, from the bad news coming their way.

 

The cover of the book Between Politics and Sanity“Between Politics and Sanity”
from Michelle Obama
Peter Slevin
From the definitive biography of the former First Lady, this is an inspiring window into the life of Michelle Obama as she navigated adversity and made her mark in the early White House years that followed her husband Barack Obama’s historic victory.

Deeply researched and told with a storyteller’s eye for detail, Peter Slevin highlights how Michelle became an admired and beloved American icon as she learned to inhabit the office with purpose, grace and humor–even as she faced unprecedented public scrutiny of her policy initiatives, her fashion choices and her day-to-day family life.

 

The cover of the book Work Doesn't Work“Work Doesn’t Work”
from The Working Poor
David K. Shipler
At the bottom of America’s working world, millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight of poverty and prosperity. Many are trapped for life in a perilous zone of low-wage work that keeps middle-class comforts and necessities forever beyond their reach despite the often long and hard hours they put in at their jobs, as bank tellers, food service employees, copyeditors, car washers and others.

In his authoritative study of how our country has consistently and still is failing its working poor with low wages, diminished benefits and rampant instability, bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David K. Shipler draws on researched facts and scores of personal testimonies to paint a bleak of the short shrift that so many of us, even in a booming economy, are bound by.

 

The cover of the book The Freedom to Be Free“The Freedom to Be Free”
from Thinking Without a Banister
Hannah Arendt
This lecture is a brilliant encapsulation of Arendt’s widely influential arguments on revolution, and why the American Revolution—unlike all those preceding it—was uniquely able to install political freedom.

“The Freedom to be Free” was first published in Thinking Without a Banister, a varied collection of Arendt’s essays, lectures, reviews, interviews, speeches, and editorials—which, taken together, manifest the relentless activity of her mind and character and contain within them the articulations of wide and sophisticated range of her political thought.

 

The cover of the book Election Night 2016“Election Night 2016”
from Dark Money
Jane Mayer
The last president election was a stunning political upset when Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman won in a political coup, with no experience whatsoever. But along with this outsider, on the night of his victory, longtime conservative operator David Koch was standing, and smiling, amid a throng of revelers on the eve of November 8, 2016.

In her electrifying and much-lauded, bestselling book, Jane Mayer reveals that the era of the Koch brothers and big money in American politics is far from over, despite how much discussion there is to the contrary. Rather, the secret figures behind the moneyed American oligarchy continue to wield tremendous influence over the political agendas of the Trump administration, the Republican Party today, the radical Right, and all corridors of power in Washington.

 

The cover of the book What Is Fascism?“What Is Fascism?”
from The Anatomy of Fascism
Robert Paxton
Based on a lifetime’s worth of research, esteemed historian Robert Paxton explores what fascism is and how it has come to have a lasting and continued impact on our history. In the concluding section of his authoritative book, The Anatomy of Fascism, Paxton makes the convincing and radical case that existing definitions of the popular, nationalist, and conservative political view are lacking, and offers up his own brilliant explication—drawn from concrete historical actions—thus transforming our understanding of this dangerous ideology and of why it takes hold when and where it does.

 

The cover of the book Why Do They Vote That Way?“Why Do They Vote That Way?”
from The Righteous Mind
Jonathan Haidt
To understand what drives the rift that divides our populace between liberal and conservative, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has spent twenty-five year examining the moral foundations that undergird and inform two differing world views: the political left and right place different values of importance on order, care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and liberty.

From one of our keenest dissectors of moral systems, Why Do They Vote That Way? explains how deeply ingrained moral systems have estranged conservatives and liberals from one another while crossing the political divide in a search for understanding the miracle of human cooperation.

 

The cover of the book The Evil Empire Speech, 1983“The Evil Empire Speech, 1983”
Ronald Reagan
Crucially relevant over thirty years after its delivery, President Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire speech to the National Association of Evangelicals is a classic of the American rhetorical tradition.

In 1983, when he delivered this address, Reagan outlined the principles of freedom and liberty that defined the foundation of American democracy, the faith and religiosity that underpins those principles, and the importance of diligently keeping the growing threats of dictatorship in the Soviet Union, now Russia, in check and triumphing over them.

%d bloggers like this: