With the same sharp eye, quick with, and narrative drive that marked his bestsellers The Game, The Dirt, and How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, Neil Strauss takes us on a white-knuckled journey through America’s heart of darkness as he scrambles to escape the system. It’s one man’s story of a dangerous world—and how to stay alive in it.
Also, we will decide on six more books to read over the next six months. At our last meeting, we observed that many of the books we read over the past six months were quite similar. So, we came up with a list of genres to keep in mind when suggesting books for the next six months:
Our next meetup will be Wednesday, April 12 at 6PM at Gangplank.
We will discuss Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach.
“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) Mary Roach explores the science of keeping human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war.
Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries―panic, exhaustion, heat, noise―and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.
Our next meetup will be Wednesday, March 8. We will discuss The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online by Mary Aiken.
Mary Aiken is the world’s leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology—a discipline that combines psychology, criminology, and technology to investigate the intersection where technology and human behavior meet. In this, her first book, Aiken has created a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping development and behavior, societal norms and values, children, safety, security, and our perception of the world. Cyberspace is an environment full of surveillance, but who is looking out for us? The Cyber Effect offers a fascinating and chilling look at a future we can still do something about.
Are we living the good life—and what defines ‘good,’ anyway? Americans today are constructing a completely different framework for success than their parents’ generation, using new metrics that TED speaker and On Being columnist Courtney Martin has termed collectively the “New Better Off.” The New Better Off puts a name to the American phenomenon of rejecting the traditional dream of a 9-to-5 job, home ownership, and a nuclear family structure—illuminating the alternate ways Americans are seeking happiness and success.
Including commentary on recent changes in how we view work, customs and community, marriage, rituals, money, living arrangements, and spirituality, The New Better Off uses personal stories and social analysis to explore the trends shaping our country today. Martin covers growing topics such as freelancing, collaborative consumption, communal living, and the breaking down of gender roles.
The New Better Off is about the creative choices individuals are making in their vocational and personal lives, but it’s also about the movements, formal and informal, that are coalescing around the New Better Off idea—people who are reinventing the social safety net and figuring out how to truly better their own communities.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF “6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP’S WIN”
“You will not read a more important book about America this year.”—The Economist
“A riveting book.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Essential reading.”—David Brooks, New York Times
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
“This book changed the field of design. As the pace of technological change accelerates, the principles in this book are increasingly important. The new examples and ideas about design and product development make it essential reading.”—Patrick Whitney, Dean, Institute of Design, and Steelcase/Robert C. Pew Professor of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology
“Twenty-five years ago The Design of Everyday Things was instrumental in orienting my approach to design. With this latest revised and expanded edition, Don Norman has given me a host of new ideas to explore as well as reminding me of the fundamental principles of great and meaningful design. Part operating manual for designers and part manifesto on the power of designing for people, The Design of Everyday Things is even more relevant today than it was when first published.”—Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO, and author of Change by Design
“Norman enlightened me when I was a student of psychology decades ago and he continues to inspire me as a professor of design. His new book underpins all essential aspects of interaction design, the mother of human creation. It equips designers to make the world a safer, more pleasant and more exciting place. The cumulated insights and wisdom of the cross-disciplinary genius Donald Norman are a must for designers and a joy for those who are interested in artifacts and people.”—Cees de Bont, Dean, School of Design, and Chair Professor of Industrial Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
Our next meetup will be Wednesday, July 13 at 6PM at Gangplank Chandler. We will discuss Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman.
Publisher’s weekly says:
Recently we have seen plenty of irrational behavior, whether in politics or the world of finance. What makes people act irrationally? In a timely but thin collection of anecdotes and empirical research, the Brafman brothers—Ari (The Starfish and the Spire), a business expert, and Rom, a psychologist—look at sway, the submerged mental drives that undermine rational action, from the desire to avoid loss to a failure to consider all the evidence or to perceive a person or situation beyond the initial impression and the reluctance to alter a plan that isn’t working. To drive home their points, the authors use contemporary examples, such as the pivotal decisions of presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, coach Steve Spurrier and his Gators football team, and a sudden apparent epidemic of bipolar disorder in children (which may be due more to flawed thinking by doctors making the diagnoses). The stories are revealing, but focused on a few common causes of irrational behavior, the book doesn’t delve deeply into the psychological demons that can devastate a person’s life and those around him.
It’s a book that’s sure to influence how you think about thinking!