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  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2018/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: , betrayal marklund, danielle marchant, david mcraney, , i am so smat s-m-a-t, josh kaufman, lewis dartnell, mark manson, nickel and dimed, pause, prisoners of geography, quiet the rage, r.w. burke, , the first 20 hours: how to learn anything...fast!, the happiness project, , the nordic guide to living 10 years longer, the subtle art of not giving a f*ck, tim marshal, you are not so smart   

    10 The Best Books to Read This Summer to Become a Better, Smarter, Happier Person 

    Summer usually means a bit more free time, which can be used towards much-needed vacations and other relaxing, rejuvenating activities. We’re all stressed out, and that means it’s easy to fall into the habit of using every spare moment to unplug and turn off your brain.

    Nothing wrong with that, but that can lead to missed opportunities—opportunities to improve yourself. Sitting on a beach, on a plane—anywhere you have the time to read for a while this summer is a chance to apply a patch to your personal operating system and do an upgrade—to make yourself better, smarter, and happier. Mix in just a few of these ten books to your summer reading list and make that time off count.

    Be Better

    The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
    Sometimes the challenge with books that purport to make you better is simply choosing one—after all, you probably have a limited window in which to read and try some new tricks. Rubin’s book is an ideal starting place because it’s not a specific set of instructions or fad—it’s her story of trying all the instructions and fads. Rubin applies the advice from a variety of self-help books, ranging from the ancient to the modern, and reports on her results. Along the way you’ll get plenty of simple, practical advice—but it’s also a great way to pre-test a few things by sharing in Rubin’s experience. Kick off your Summer of Self-Improvement with an overview of the available approaches.

    Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Being a better person begins with empathy, something that often seems to be in short supply. Ehrenreich’s experiment, in which she took on the sorts of low-wage, long-hour jobs that far too often fail to support even modest lifestyles, remains an eye-opening read. We all work hard for what we have, but sometimes the rules aren’t fair—and Ehrenreich plumbs the depths of economic desperation where no matter how hard someone works they keep sliding backwards, the deck stacked against them. Take a moment this summer and contemplate how different your own life could be if you lacked even a few of the advantages you have.

    Quiet the Rage, by R.W. Burke
    We live in contentious times, and half the reason you plan a trip is to get away from your co-workers, relatives, and neighbors with their troubling opinions and confrontational attitudes. These days everyone thinks they have to argue endlessly—but there’s a different approach worth trying. Instead of reacting emotionally to provocations and different opinions—instead of seeking to ‛win’ and thus make other ‛lose,’ perpetuating a cycle of misery, we should seek to control our emotions and try to attain a level of conflict resolution that doesn’t involve turning your life into an endless argument—and coincidentally seeking to punish those who disagree with us. The result might just be a calmer and more effective person.

    Be Smarter

    The Knowledge, by Lewis Dartnell
    This might seem like a strange choice for vacay reading, but this guide to everything you just might need to know if the world ends is more practical than it seems. On the one hand, if the apocalypse is coming it’s not going to care about your vacation schedule. On the other, this book explains not just the systems that support our civilization—technologies we often blindly rely upon—it also explains the fundamentals under those technologies and systems. Reading this book might make you a little better prepared for the end of the world, and in the meantime, it will make you a lot smart about how the world actually works.

    Prisoners of Geography, by Tim Marshall
    Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why there is so much suffering in one area of the world and so much prosperity—and vacationing—in others. It’s easy to assume some not particularly enlightened things about groups of people, but this book lays out how the terrain, climate, and natural borders of a country dictates to a great extent the lives of its people and the fate of its society. This sort of visual thinking might just change your perspective on a lot of different aspects of modern life, especially the crises that never seem to get solved and the political decisions that seem nonsensical at first glance. Using updated maps, Marshall lays it all out for you—making you smarter in the process.

    The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast!, by Josh Kaufman
    Getting smarter isn’t just the accumulation of facts or even the widening of perspective—it’s also the acquisition of skills. Kaufman presents a system by which you can learn the fundamentals of just about anything with just 20 hours of focused effort—not the 10,000 hours that are often thrown about. While he doesn’t claim this will make you an expert, he does argue that the beginning of learning anything new is always the hardest phase, and the easiest to give up on. Getting though the arduous beginning phase of learning a new skill gives you the foundation to keep going—or to move on to the next thing that you just want a functional knowledge of. As you sit on the beach sipping your drink, ask yourself what you might like to learn if you knew how to get the basics in under a day.

    You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney
    McRaney’s collection of genius blog posts makes one dismaying argument: you’re not as smart, special, or independent as you think you are—and he has receipts. His analysis of psychological experiments explode the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, and reading this book can be a painfully eye-opening experience as he correctly guesses what you think about yourself and then grimly lays out the probable truth. Knowing your own limitations and seeing how you’ve been bamboozled in the past is a first step towards a smarter, more aware life, and this summer is your chance to take that step.

    Be Happier

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
    Let’s start here: most self-help books stroke your ego more than they actually improve things. By telling you that you’re special and have the special je ne sais quoi to change your life and be amazing, they’re just flattering you. Manson argues—forcibly and with a lot of sharp wit—that it’s better to be plainly honest about your own limitations and seek to adjust how you approach life instead of assuming that life should be adjusted to suit your needs. Bracing and sometimes alarming, this book is a dash of cold water to the face that so, so many of us need—and you will be happier for having read it, because the best way to start changing your life for the better is to start seeing it with clear eyes.

    The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer, by Bertil Marklund
    Marklund, a doctor and professor in Sweden, offers up a refreshingly simple guide to living longer. It’s funny, but if you offered people a pill that would give them an extra decade of life they’d take it, but offer some simple suggestions and suddenly they lose interest. Don’t be that person. Marklund draws on his years of experience along with scientific data to present ten pretty simple, reasonable suggestions, from getting more sleep to getting more exercise, all based on the Swedish lifestyle. This may sound overly simplistic, but the fact is most of us get caught up in remarkably complex exercise and diet regimens rather than simply doing the basics in just the right amount. Read this book while you nap in the sun and return to your life determined to get those extra ten years.

    Pause, by Danielle Marchant
    You’re on vacation and yet you’ve prepared a reading list and consulted this post to fine-tune it. You may not be doing vacations correctly, and Marchant wants you to pause and think about that. Americans work too hard and take too little vacation, and many of us are at risk of burning out without realizing, constantly and exhaustingly driving hard every moment. Marchand, who suffered a bit of a breakdown after years of sustained stress in a high-powered job, argues that everything in your life would be improved by learning how to take a step back at crucial moments when our guts are screaming to move and instead pause and think. A thoughtful moment not only calms nerves and lowers stress, it allows us to choose our moves carefully instead of constantly reacting in a jittery dance of anxiety and sleep-deprivation. This is an ideally thoughtful book to read while you’re (hopefully) far away from your Slack and Facebook feeds (you didn’t pack your work phone…right?).

    What books have helped you become better and smarter?

    The post 10 The Best Books to Read This Summer to Become a Better, Smarter, Happier Person appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2018/01/18 Permalink
    Tags: , a season with the witch, , , being nixon, , , 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.

     
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