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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2018/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , a season with the witch, , , being nixon, big magic, , bullies, , cooked, devil’s bargain, escape from camp 14, , , how google works, how we got to now, in the garden of beasts, , it’s okay to laugh, , , mistress of the vatican, muslim girl, Night, , orientalism, , , , , silent spring, , stamped from the beginning, the autobiography of malcolm x, the blood of emmett till, the crown, , the new jim crow, the origins of totalitarianism, the six wives of henry viii, the subtle art of not giving a f*ck, , , victoria the queen, , we were eight years in power, welcome to the universe, what happened, , world without mind, year of yes,   

    50 Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter in 2018 

    It’s 2018, and we’ve all heard the phrase “New Year, New You”…but here’s the thing: being you is actually the best, because you’re the only you there could ever be! So instead of trying to reinvent yourself, why not read some nonfiction books to help yourself be the smartest, most interesting, well-informed person you could be? (Also, you’ll know so much it will be impossible not to impress people at parties.)

    1776, by David McCullough
    Hamilton fans, if you can’t get enough of Revolutionary history, this book is your next read. It follows both the North American and British sides of the conflict, and focuses on two leaders in particular: George Washington, and Red Coat commander William Howe. Factual but fun to read, American history that won’t put you to sleep.

    Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
    Another mandatory pick for Hamilton fans; the book the musical is based on! Follow Hamilton’s haunting upbringing as a poor, but brilliant kid in the Caribbean who travels to America with the hope of changing the world…and the downfall he could not recover from.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot
    This true story confronts the collision of science and systemic racism with the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her consent for study…and are still living today.

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    If you want to impress with facts from forgotten tales, this riveting thriller details the shipwreck of the Essex, the boat that inspired Moby Dick!

    The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt
    History can certainly inform the present….that is, if we the people aren’t informed. This book starts in the 1800’s and continues through World War I. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, history is history, and it never hurts to remember it.

    The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir
    On to a more scandalous historical figure…or six of them, actually! The wives of Henry VIII had interesting lives before they met him, and his impact on their lives—and in some cases, their deaths—altered history. Full of juicy details, this reads like a novel.

    Cleopatra, A Life, by Stacy Schiff
    Who WAS Cleopatra, a woman built into life by myth and legend? Historian Stacy Schiff gives you access to her palace and a world that you MUST read to believe: incest, murder, poison, infidelity, and more…why isn’t there a TV show about her again?

    MAUS I, by Art Spiegelman
    I first read this book when I was young, but the story has stayed with me forever. The author shares the story of his father’s experience during the holocaust in graphic novel form, using animals instead of humans to detail the horrifying experience.

    We Were Eight Years In Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    This collection of essays that follow President Obama’s two terms is a fascinating deep-dive into how race impacted Obama’s presidency and the ensuing 2016 election.

    The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
    Here’s an uncomfortable truth: The ripple effects of slavery and Jim Crow are still here due to a systemic mass incarceration problem, essentially enslaving millions of black men and women behind bars. Learn about this system of oppression in this difficult, but important book.

    Night, by Elie Wiesel
    This classic autobiography of one man’s journey to survive the Holocaust is a gripping portrait of both the depths of evil—and the precipice of hope—that human beings are capable of.

    How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
    With terms like “net neutrality” leading in the news, it’s important to become informed on the intersection of tech and government…and where best to start than with Google? Learn about their founding history, philosophy, and what it takes to succeed there.

    Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    If tech isn’t your thing, but art, writing, dance or performance are, definitely check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s treatise and lifestyle guide for living creatively.

    How We Got to Now, by Steven Johnson
    The modern world wasn’t built in a day, but it did innovate to evolve. This book is great for history buffs and factoid-finders (and maybe a reluctant reader or two, because there are illustrations!).

    The Crown, by Robert Lacey
    Season Two of the hit Netflix TV show has aired, you’ve marathoned it already, and you want more! Check out the book the show is based on and relive all the shocking and emotional moments, this time on the page.

    Mistress of the Vatican, by Eleanor Herman
    This salacious non-fiction history delves into the sordid and secretive history of the Vatican, and the forgotten woman who helped a man become Pope.

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    Look, 2017 was a rough year. So maybe the secret to success is not caring so much? Read this book and pass along the gospel of not giving a f*ck to your friends.

    Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle
    Glennon Doyle shares the heartbreaking story of learning her husband was unfaithful, and how she took her broken marriage and used the opportunity to piece herself back together again.

    It’s Okay to Laugh, by Nora McIerney
    This memoir about a woman’s journey through becoming a young, widowed mother (and losing her father shortly after her husband’s death) is surprisingly hilarious. That’s what Nora does: she uses dark humor to guide herself through grief, and if you could use a little bit of that, this book is for you.

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X
    A definitive figure of the Civil Rights Movement, Malcom X’s biography is essential reading when it comes to understanding current race relations in the United States. Learn about his upbringing, his conversion to Islam, and his activism.

    Devil’s Bargain, by Joshua Green
    Moving from the past political situation to the present, this book is essential reading for newfound politicos who want to enter 2018 informed and engaged. It details Steve Bannon’s relationship with President Trump, and what it took to get him elected.

    Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo
    We all need a little more joy in our lives, so consult organizational specialist Marie Kondo for the ways you can get rid of clutter and make room in your heart for objects and people that make you happy.

    Bullies, by Alex Abramovich
    A fascinating story of a man who befriends his childhood bully later in life, this story can teach you about reaching beyond your bubble, finding common ground in common pain, and the importance of forgiveness.

    Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
    Math is not my thing, but reading the story of the brilliant black women who got us to the moon totally is. These women worked as “human computers” and calculated what we would need to win the space race, but their stories have been lost to history until now.

    Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi
    Be an informed citizen and read this detailed account of racism in America. Using the stories of prominent American intellectuals to frame the debates of assimilationists, segregationists, racists, and allies.

    Being Nixon, by Evan Thomas
    Learn about the man behind the Watergate scandal: his background with a troubled older brother, his service in the Navy, and his political ascent. We tend to define historical figures by one event, and this biography shares the whole picture.

    In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
    Imagine being an American in the government….working with Adolf Hitler. This fascinating true story follows the Ambassador to Hitler’s Third Reich, William E. Dodd, and his family, as they enter the garden, are charmed by the snake, and witness the atrocities firsthand.

    Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden
    We know most things about Hitler’s Germany, but North Korea’s totalitarian regime is still, in many ways, a mystery. This is the haunting story of a person born inside a North Korean prison camp who escaped—after witnessing the executions of his family, being taught to distrust his fellow prisoners, and even fighting his mother for food.

    Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson
    The definitive text on the urgency of man-made harm to planet Earth, this book follows the banning of DDT and the sweeping reform that followed.

    Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli
    This book rides the border between fiction and non-fiction, but I’ll allow it, because it’s so cool. Reinvented stories about amazing women throughout history using fairytales as a framing device? Read this book yourself, then get it for everyone you know.

    What Happened, by Hillary Clinton
    Have you been living under a rock, or are just too busy/depressed/overwhelmed to deal with politics? Start 2018 on an informed note by reading the first female candidate for President’s account of the 2016 election.

    World Without Mind, by Franklin Foer
    Technology is the defining innovation of our time…but is it also the greatest threat? This book tracks the history of technological innovation, especially on the internet, and how it presents unseen dangers we need to prepare ourselves for.

    The Blood of Emmett Till, by Timothy B. Tyson
    We see stories of police brutality daily, but this story of civilian brutality had inexorable consequences on the Civil Rights Movement. Who was Emmett Till? And why has his murder shaped American history?

    Shrill, by Lindy West
    This memoir-slash-lifestyle guide for how to be a loud feminist who takes up space in a world that often wants women to be quiet, sweet, and invisible, is full of true stories about the importance of speaking out, showing up, and not caring if people call you “shrill.”

    Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti
    This book, on a similar theme, explores the impacts of sexism on the day-to-day lives of women.

    Muslim Girl, by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
    This painful and beautiful memoir details the reality of growing up Muslim in the wake of 9/11, and how Amani struggling with the impact of Islamophobia before launching her groundbreaking website.

    Orientalism, by Edward Said
    The origins of the problematic view of “orientalism” still persists, but this classic book breaks down the cultural and political perspectives of the Middle and Near East, aiming to combat prejudiced western philosophy.

    Welcome to the Universe, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott
    Something for the science nerd! (Or, aspiring science nerd.) Take a tour of the universe (literally) with renowned scientists explaining planets, aliens, and so much more.

    Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
    Have you ever thought of the history of things we use every day, and totally take for granted? I never thought of salt as having a history, but it does, and this interesting book details where it comes from, and why it matters so much.

    Cooked, by Michael Pollan
    This memoir is one of the most unique on the list, structurally and content-wise! It follows a food writer’s journey through exploring the different ways we cook things—with fire, water, air, and earth—and mastering the techniques we use to perfect our food.

    Yes Please, by Amy Poheler
    A funny memoir by one of the best comediennes ever, read about Amy’s (rough) beginnings in Hollywood, her persistent optimism, and why she loves being funny.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey
    If you read Amy’s memoir, you have to read her BFF’s! Tina Fey is wry, witty, and has lots to say on what it takes to succeed as a woman in a man’s world in this hilarious book.

    Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
    When your life collapses and there’s nothing left, where do you go? For Cheryl Strayed, to the Pacific Crest Trail, to figure out what she wants and who she wants to be by putting her body to the ultimate physical test.

    Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
    The story of a pilot brought down during World War II begins with a boy who would become an Olympian, despite a difficult childhood with a tendency towards defiance. It’s that defiance which saved his life years later in the Pacific Ocean, with only a life raft to guide him home.

    Victoria the Queen, by Julia Baird
    She was fifth in line for the throne, and only a teenager, but she became Queen. The second longest-reigning Queen in history, Victoria led a fascinating, passionate life: all of which is detailed in this book!

    A Season With the Witch, by J.W. Ocker
    Salem is an infamous place, ground zero to the 1692 Witch Trials. So when this writer decided to move his family to Salem in 2015 to experience Halloween in the most infamous stomping ground for witches.

    Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
    Radium is everywhere; in everything, and considered an essential ingredient to the beauty industry during World War I. But there is a dark underbelly to this element, experienced by girls working in factories to produce it who suddenly become ill.

    Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
    Part how-to guide, part memoir, this uplifting (and short, perfect for commutes!) read by showrunner and TV writer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes is the guide to positivity you need going into 2018.

    We Should All be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Based on her incredible TED Talk, this book explores the intersections of women’s issues, politics, and race using the author’s own experience against the backdrop of history.

    Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
    Roxane Gay’s essays on what it means to be a woman of color in the modern age are funny and profound, and touch upon everything from pop-culture, how Hollywood approaches rape, privilege, and much more. You’ll certainly impress at a cocktail party with some insights from this one.

    The post 50 Nonfiction Books that Will Make You Smarter in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 8:32 pm on 2015/09/15 Permalink
    Tags: big magic, , , , ,   

    How to Be Creative: Big Ideas from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic 

    If you’re someone who wants to be creative—to write a book or learn to dance or become a chef—but has struggled with the hurdles in your way, you’d probably love to speak to someone who has been there and, most importantly, done that.

    In her new book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert essentially gives readers the opportunity to sit down with the author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things and chat about creativity. This is a conversational, intimate glimpse into Gilbert’s process and philosophy, as personable as a confab over coffee. Here are a few of the big ideas within.

    Write like no one is reading
    The book’s subtitle is Creative Living Beyond Fear, and one of the remarkable things about it is the way Gilbert unflinchingly allows us into her headspace. There is no pretension here, no leave-me-alone-I’m-famous attitude. Gilbert is frank about her own fears and down-to-earth about her writing career. Discussing the creation of Eat, Pray, Love, she talks about asking her husband’s permission to include him and their relationship in the book. When he asks “What’s at stake?” she replies “Nothing. Trust me—nobody reads my books.”

    Find the magic
    This book’s purpose is to inspire people who want to be creative but have found it difficult. Instead of a dry book about discipline and process, Gilbert focuses on the more magical side of creativity, and offers advice on giving yourself permission to be creative. One step in gran that your creativity doesn’t have to change the world or even be successful in an economic sense in order to be valuable.

    Ideas are everywhere
    Gilbert isn’t above name-dropping a bit, which is understandable considering the literary circles she moves in these days, but she tells her stories with a clear-eyed warmth and purpose that elevates them above mere bragging. One story about meeting and forming a friendship with Ann Patchett involves an incredible creative coincidence—it turns out that Gilbert spent years researching and writing her own “Amazon novel” before giving up on it in frustration, only discovering later that her good friend was working on the same basic idea. The anecdote supports Gilbert’s belief that good ideas are floating around out there, just waiting to be seized.

    Live the struggle and be selfish
    What makes Big Magic essential reading for anyone who wants to live a larger life, filled with more ideas, more projects, and more fulfillment, is Gilbert’s frankness. Gilbert talks about how she paid the bills with a succession of dull jobs, how lucky she was that Eat, Pray, Love turned into a monster smash, and how her own messy personal life has informed her creativity. She makes it clear that being selfish is vital to creativity—she admits that she wrote Big Magic for herself, because she enjoys thinking and writing about creativity. As with Eat, Pray, Love, she wrote this book for her own pleasure; if it helps others, then that’s icing on the cake—but only icing.

    Give yourself permission
    The best idea in this book is the simplest: give yourself a “permission slip” to be creative. Gilbert points out that humans are inherently creative beings, and it’s your birthright to be as creative as you like. You don’t need someone to pat you on the head and say “Go for it!” You just go for it. And that idea, like this book, is powerful stuff.

     
  • Heidi Fiedler 4:00 pm on 2015/09/14 Permalink
    Tags: barnes & noble, , big magic, , , , good to great, , , rising strong, ,   

    The 15 Best Spots in Barnes & Noble, Ranked 

    Everyone has their go-to spots when they wander into the bookstore. But depending on your mood, and the needs of your inner bookworm, there’s more than one way to enjoy yourself in Barnes & Noble. This is where you’ll find me.

    15. Business
    If you read a book in this section, you can expense everything you buy that day, right? Just head straight over to Business and find out what the next Good to Great is so you can count this as a productive venture.

    14. Self Improvement
    Doesn’t that have a nicer ring to it than “Self Help?” Whatever it’s called, there are some major gems to be found here. Brené Brown’s new Rising Strong and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic are at the top of my list.

    13. Graphic Novels
    Yes, there are color tablets, but graphic novels are so fun to look at in the store. See the latest art styles. Travel to weird worlds. And take home something you can gobble up in a single sitting.

    12. Staff Recommendations
    I love getting to know my local B&N staff. These are my people. And the shelf with their handwritten recommendations are where the quirky but so-worth-it books hang out. This is where I discover the books I never knew I needed.

    11. The Doorway
    Pulling the door open; your feet bounce inside. You’re at Barnes & Noble. Where else would you rather be? Smelling the books, taking long glances at the magazine racks, knowing you have time to browse in a section you barely ever check out…there’s nothing better in the world.

    10. The Windowsill
    If you’re an introvert and want to avoid the energy that is required to be gazed upon while you read in a big comfy chair, you might want to try sitting on the wide windowsills. It’s easier to go undercover there and enjoy your finds.

    9. A Big Chair
    If you’re not as shy, grab one of the best seats in the house and get comfy. I usually have a big stack of books to look through and a tea to keep me hydrated. This is where I imagine “What would it be like to read this book?” and also forget about things like emails, to-do lists, and making dinner.

    8. The Children’s Section
    Sure there’s the nostalgia factor, but that won’t last long when you’re blown away by the gorgeous art that shines out from the books on these shelves. This is where the magic is. If you don’t catch yourself saying “Why didn’t they have this book when I was a kid?” you might be dead inside.

    7. Science Fiction
    This is the section my husband heads to as soon as we get to the store, and it always warms my heart to see his head cocked, looking for his favorites and debating which new sci-fi might be as good as the classic titles he read growing up.

    6. The Bathroom
    If you’re a serious bookworm, you need to pace yourself. Take breaks. Get a snack. Drink some tea. Visit the bathroom. It’s the only way to get in a full afternoon of shopping.

    5. In Line
    I know this one isn’t an obvious place to feel warm and fuzzy, but think about it. You’re on your way home with some books that could change your life. And you can scope out what everyone else is reading. It’s like the pleasure we all get looking in someone else’s cart at the market and judging whether they have too many carbs and not enough veggies. Book snobs, unite!

    4. YA
    Do kids really talk in emojis now? Are they as brutal as Hunger Games contestants? If you don’t live with a teenager, the only way to know the state of our youth is to eavesdrop in the YA section. You’re guaranteed to hear something juicy.

    3. Cookbooks
    These books are so lush, they’ll inspire you to stop drooling and go home and make yourself a proper meal. This is a good section to browse on your way out of the store. Brining home a juicy (or virtuous) cookbook can ease the transition from bookstore to home.

    2. Magazines
    Gretchen Rubin of Better Than Before encourages people to read magazines that have nothing to do with the rest of their lives. So if you’re a chef, check out a magazine about horses. If you just had a baby, read about international politics or photography. Exploring something new can inspire great ideas. And if you need ideas about how to get back to your pre-baby weight, they’ve definitely got that covered too.

    1. The New Tables
    Here’s where all the latest and greatest books land when they are unpacked. When I was a bookseller, I loved making displays on these tables; arranging the books in formations and themes that would attract attention. Now I love seeing what’s new and adding 1,791 more books to my To Be Read list.

    What’s your favorite spot in B&N?

     
  • Kathryn Williams 5:00 pm on 2015/09/10 Permalink
    Tags: , big magic, , , , hemingway, , , ,   

    9 Revelations from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic 

    Before she was Elizabeth Gilbert: International Bestseller, Guru of Self-discovery, and Julia Roberts’s Real-life Inspiration, Elizabeth Gilbert was just another writer toiling away at her craft. (She’ll tell you that even after Eat, Pray, Love, she is still just another writer toiling away at her craft.) In her latest work of non-fiction, Big Magic, Gilbert throws wide open a window on her writing process and creative philosophy. As the ancient Greeks called forth the Muse, Gilbert invokes “Big Magic.” Her world is animated with benevolent creative spirits—ideas—begging to be made manifest. To do so takes courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, even a touch of the divine.

    Gilbert is best when she’s at her most personal, and what the author reveals of herself in Big Magic is as enlightening as the advice she gives. Here are 9 of our favorite discoveries.

    1. Ann Patchett wrote Elizabeth Gilbert’s book—and Gilbert is okay with that
    Of course Patchett didn’t literally write a book published under Gilbert’s name; there was no stealing, no plagiarizing, no ghostwriting. As Gilbert’s story goes, the idea for a novel set in the Amazon jungle came to her. It occupied her, it inflamed her, it energized her…and then it didn’t. She set aside her inspiration, and so it left her, like a lover too long taken for granted. It migrated to the mind of her friend and fellow writer, Patchett, where it grew into that author’s bestselling novel set in the Amazon jungle, State of Wonder. If we don’t engage with our creative ideas, Gilbert learned, they’ll go looking for other willing collaborators. (And may we be as gracious as Gilbert if they do.)

    2. Gilbert doesn’t believe in MFA programs
    This critical darling does not have a masters in creative writing and does not recommend spending tens of thousands of dollars to earn one. The Class of 2015 might respectfully disagree, but Gilbert has a point. Creativity is about self-cultivation. Dig deep within yourself; don’t dig yourself into a financial hole. If you want to study under the masters, you can find them at a greatly reduced rate in the library, at the museum, or on the screen.

    3. She told her husband that no one would read the book she was writing about him
    Wrong. Eat, Pray, Love stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than 200 weeks. The point is that Gilbert was not writing in order to be read or even understood. She was writing to understand and—hold onto your hats—because she liked doing it. That was the only motivation and permission she needed.

    4. At 16 years-old, she took a vow to be a writer
    Gilbert did not vow to be rich or famous or even terribly good at writing. But by golly, she lit a candle, got down on her knees in her childhood bedroom, and committed herself to her creative process. Fear, procrastination, and need for recognition: speak now or forever hold your peace. Amen.

    5. She had a short-lived Southern Gothic period
    (She is from Connecticut.) She also had a Hemingway stage and a Cormac McCarthy stage. She stank at imitating, but at least she was writing. Finally she reached her Elizabeth Gilbert stage.

    6. Sometimes she puts on lipstick to write
    Elizabeth Gilbert dates her creativity. She dresses up for it. She takes a shower for it. She shows up, and she seduces it.

    7. She is a self-described “deeply disciplined half-ass.”
    Gilbert has published books that were, in her own esteem, good enough. Many writers have. The truth is that good enough is the only way creative endeavors ever exist. Perfection is an illusion and a trap. That doesn’t mean you should not create. It means embracing the paradox that what you create both matters and doesn’t matter one stinking whit. Work your tail off, and then let it go.

    8. She threw out an entire book
    It was called Go Set a Watchman. Just kidding. But just like the time Gilbert had to hack away 30% of the first short story she ever published, or the time an editor who once rejected her story enthusiastically accepted it in the very same form several years later, she realized that her ego would not serve her in that moment. Demanding that her story remain intact, asking why her writing was suddenly deemed brilliant when it had not been earlier, howling in frustration at failure—all these would have turned her away from what she really needed most: more wonder, less ego.

    9. When she started her last novel, The Signature of All Things, about a 19th-century botanist, she was not a gardener
    Gilbert needed an idea. Something. Anything. She did not have an innate passion for gardening—in fact she’d once seriously disliked the activity—but that’s okay because what she did have was curiosity. It was a tepid curiosity, perhaps, but it had perched on her shoulder, and so she paid attention. She followed her curiosity on what would become a deep and wide and long scavenger hunt, ending in a novel and, lo and behold, a garden.

     
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