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‘books’ Archives

19th Century Manly Slang

19th Century Manly Slang

From The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man, an absolutely delightful "Dictionary of Manly 19th Century Vernacular." Some of my faves: Anointing: A good beating. A case for the application of salve.Blind Monkeys: An imaginary collection at the Zoological Gardens, which are supposed to receive care and attention from [...]

Property Outlaws: important scholarly book on how breaking property law improves it

Property Outlaws: important scholarly book on how breaking property law improves it

Eduardo Penalver and Sonia Katyal's Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership has been at the top of my discretionary reading pile for months, now ever since the publisher, Yale, sent me a review copy. Unfortunately, it's been months since I've done any substantial discretionary reading and it'll be [...]

Obamistan! Land Without Racism

Obamistan! Land Without Racism

Damali Ayo, an author and performance artist who is best known for her satirical exploration of race relations in America. Her first book was called How to Rent a Negro; now she's come out with a new title, Obamistan! Land Without Racism, an A-Z guide that imagines a satirical, utopian post-racism America now that we have a black president. For [...]

Predictably Irrational: subjecting the “rational consumer” hypothesis to scientific scrutiny

Predictably Irrational: subjecting the “rational consumer” hypothesis to scientific scrutiny

Over the weekend, I finally picked up and read Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, an accessible intro to the subject of behavioral economics... that is, the study of how people behave in the real world and why that varies from the predictions made by classical economic theory (which predicts that [...]

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay: A funny and well-written economics book

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay: A funny and well-written economics book

I have read a mountain of economics books that purport to explain the great econopocalypse in which we find ourselves, but none can hold a candle to John Lanchester's Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, a British book that explains the macro- and microeconomic phenomena with a novelist's sense of plot and clarity (Lanchester [...]

Kim Stanley Robinson chapbook: how history works explained in fiction and essay

Kim Stanley Robinson chapbook: how history works explained in fiction and essay

San Francisco-based PM Press were kind enough to send me a couple of their lovely little "Outspoken Authors" chapbooks, including The Lucky Strike, a volume by and about the science fiction great Kim Stanley Robinson. The "Outspoken Authors" format is a good one: a novella, followed by an explanatory essay, followed by an interview with the [...]

The Decision Tree

The Decision Tree

Last May I had the opportunity to talk a while with Wired Magazine's Thomas Goetz about the idea of how people can take control their over own health care using the tools and data available on the Internet. His new book on the subject, entitled The Decision Tree, is a step above most health improvement books in terms of the scholarship/readability [...]

Inside-out Teddy Bears!

Inside-out Teddy Bears!

Kent Rogowski takes portraits of cute teddy bears that are gutted and turned inside out to reveal their even more lovable sides. The series of photographs is compiled in the delightful 2007 book Bears.

Walking Dead 11: zombie comic is a parable about the ethics of survival and disaster

Walking Dead 11: zombie comic is a parable about the ethics of survival and disaster

The Walking Dead Volume 11: Fear The Hunters came out this month, and I happened on it this weekend and promptly fell into it, emerging an hour later feeling like the world was coming to an end. For the uninitiated, The Walking Dead is Robert Kirkham, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore and Cliff Rathburn's superb and terrifying zombapocalypse graphic [...]

Unwritten: spellbinding graphic novel about narrative’s secret place in the world

Unwritten: spellbinding graphic novel about narrative’s secret place in the world

Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity collects the first series of Mike Carey and Peter Gross's Unwritten comic. It's a fine, mature graphic novel in the tradition of Bill Willingham's Fables (Willingham wrote the intro to the collection): Tom Taylor is best known for inspiring his father's character "Tommy Taylor," the star of a [...]

Hamburger, or $115 seafood platter? How restaurants use marketing psychology to make the sale.

Hamburger, or $115 seafood platter? How restaurants use marketing psychology to make the sale.

New York magazine breaks down the menu at Balthazar, with help from author William Poundstone, to show you how tricks of typography make a difference in what you choose to eat (and pay for). Columns Are Killers According to Brandon O'Dell, one of the consultants Poundstone quotes in Priceless, it's a big mistake to list prices in a straight [...]

How to Teach Physics to Your Dog: explaining quantum physics through discussions with a German shepherd

How to Teach Physics to Your Dog: explaining quantum physics through discussions with a German shepherd

Chad Orzel's How to Teach Physics to Your Dog is an absolutely delightful book on many axes: first, its subject matter, quantum physics, is arguably the most mind-bending scientific subject we have; second, the device of the book -- a quantum physicist, Orzel, explains quantum physics to Emmy, his cheeky German shepherd -- is a hoot, and has the [...]

The Forgery of Venus, by Michael Gruber

The Forgery of Venus, by Michael Gruber

Michael Gruber's The Forgery of Venus combines art history, criminal mischief, and the sleaziness of the contemporary art gallery business to deliver a terrifically fun thriller-esque novel. The main character, Chaz Wilmot, is an extremely talented but frustrated and depressed magazine illustrator. For no special reason, he volunteers as a [...]

Love of Shopping is Not a Gene: exposing junk science and ideology in Darwinian Psychology

Love of Shopping is Not a Gene: exposing junk science and ideology in Darwinian Psychology

Anne Innis Dagg's "Love of Shopping" is Not a Gene is a scathing, entertaining and extremely accessible geneticist's critique of "Darwinian Psychology" -- that is, the "science" of ascribing human behavior to genetic inevitability. Dagg, a biologist/geneticist at the University of Waterloo, identifies Darwinian Psychology as a nexus of ideological [...]

“Get High Now” author interviewed on Expanding Mind podcast

“Get High Now” author interviewed on Expanding Mind podcast

My favorite podcast as of late is Erik Davis' Expanding Mind, which covers the realm of human consciousness. In previous podcasts Erik has talked with guests about neuro technologies, ceremonial magic, secret societies, underground comics, grass-roots science, hedonic circuits, and supernatural pop culture. In the latest episode, Erik spoke [...]

Rules for my Unborn Son

Here's a video for a new book that I received from the publisher a couple of days ago called Rules for My Unborn Son, by Walker Lamond, based on his entertaining blog 1,001 Rules for my Unborn Son. The Lamond's rules are good advice for sons, as well as anyone else, really. I wish my wife would remember the rule, "Never under any circumstances [...]

Booklife: a guide to a sane and productive writerly life

Booklife: a guide to a sane and productive writerly life

I often get email from writers who are starting out asking for career advice for "breaking in" to the field. I'm somewhat helpless to answer these queries -- my first professional sale was more than a decade ago, that sale itself represented a further decade of hard work on both my craft and my career. I can tell you a lot about how to break in [...]

Liar: YA suspense novel that elevates the unreliable narrator to a new level

Liar: YA suspense novel that elevates the unreliable narrator to a new level

I just finished listening to the unabridged audiobook of Justine Larbalestier's new YA novel, Liar, read by Channie Waites, and I'm here to tell you that it's Larbalestier's best book (and that's saying something). Micah -- the unreliable narrator of this tale -- is a compulsive liar from a fraught background. Poor and biracial, she attends a [...]

Occult historian Mitch Horowitz’s new book Occult America

Occult historian Mitch Horowitz’s new book Occult America

Mitch's fantastic new book Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation shares a "sacred space" on my bookshelf with works by Manly Hall, Robert Anton Wilson, Charles Fort, Jacques Vallee, and Erik Davis. In fact, Mitch, who is also a book editor/publisher, has revived essential classics by several of those folks. I’m [...]

LeBron James signs books in Cleveland

LeBron James signs books in Cleveland

WESTLAKE, OH —LeBron James autographed books for hundreds of fans. Next, they want his signature on a contract extension with the Cavaliers. Ditching his trademark New York Yankees cap for a Cleveland Indians model featuring a smiling Chief Wahoo, James signed copies of his new book, “Shooting Stars” on Friday for fans, some of whom [...]

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