In the compelling popular science tradition of Sapiens and Guns, Germs, and Steel, a groundbreaking and eye-opening exploration that applies evolutionary science to provide a new perspective on human psychology, revealing how major challenges from our past have shaped some of the most fundamental aspects of our being.
The most fundamental aspects of our lives - from leadership and innovation to aggression and happiness - were permanently altered by the "social leap" our ancestors made from the rainforest to the savannah. Their struggle to survive on the open grasslands required a shift from individualism to a new form of collectivism, which forever altered the way our mind works. It changed the way we fight and our proclivity to make peace, it changed the way we lead and the way we follow, it made us innovative but not inventive, it created a new kind of social intelligence, and it led to new sources of life satisfaction.
In The Social Leap, William von Hippel lays out this revolutionary hypothesis, tracing human development through three critical evolutionary inflection points to explain how events in our distant past shape our lives today. From the mundane, such as why we exaggerate, to the surprising, such as why we believe our own lies and why fame and fortune are as likely to bring misery as happiness, the implications are far reaching and extraordinary.
Blending anthropology, biology, history, and psychology with evolutionary science, The Social Leap is a fresh and provocative look at our species that provides new clues about who we are, what makes us happy, and how to use this knowledge to improve our lives.
By Gaiman, Neil
A stunning and timely creative call-to-arms combining four extraordinary written pieces by Neil Gaiman illustrated with the striking four-color artwork of Chris Riddell.
"The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before." - Neil Gaiman
Drawn from Gaiman's trove of published speeches, poems, and creative manifestos, Art Matters is an embodiment of this remarkable multi-media artist's vision - an exploration of how reading, imagining, and creating can transform the world and our lives.
Art Matters bring together four of Gaiman's most beloved writings on creativity and artistry:
"Credo," his remarkably concise and relevant manifesto on free expression, first delivered in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings"Make Good Art," his famous 2012 commencement address delivered at the Philadelphia University of the Arts"Making a Chair," a poem about the joys of creating something, even when words won't come
"On Libraries," an impassioned argument for libraries that illuminates their importance to our future and celebrates how they foster readers and daydreamers
Featuring original illustrations by Gaiman's longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell, Art Matters is a stirring testament to the freedom of ideas that inspires us to make art in the face of adversity, and dares us to choose to be bold.
By Smith, Tiffany Watt
An entertaining and insightful exploration of schadenfreude: the deliciously dark and complex joy we've all felt, from time to time, at news of others' misfortunes. You might feel schadenfreude when...the boss calls himself "Head of Pubic Services" on an important letter.a cool guy swings back on his chair, and it tips over.a Celebrity Vegan is caught in the cheese aisle. an aggressive driver cuts you off - and then gets pulled over.your co-worker heats up fish in the microwave, then gets food poisoning.an urban unicyclist almost collides with a parked car.someone cuts the line for the ATM - and then it swallows their card.your effortlessly attractive friend gets dumped.We all know the pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune. The Germans named this furtive delight in another's failure schadenfreude (from schaden damage, and freude, joy) , and it has perplexed philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
Little, Brown Spark
By Geary, James
"A witty book about wit that steers an elegant path between waggishness and wisdom." -- Stephen Fry
Much more than a knack for snappy comebacks, wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say, or do the right thing at the right time in the right place. In this whimsical book, James Geary explores every facet of wittiness, from its role in innovation to why puns are the highest form of wit. Geary reasons that wit is both visual and verbal, physical and intellectual: there's the serendipitous wit of scientists, the crafty wit of inventors, the optical wit of artists, and the metaphysical wit of philosophers.
In Wit's End, Geary embraces wit in every form by adopting a different style for each chapter; he writes the section on verbal repartee as a dramatic dialogue, the neuroscience of wit as a scientific paper, the spirituality of wit as a sermon, and other chapters in jive, rap, and the heroic couplets of Alexander Pope. Wit's End agilely balances psychology, folktales, visual art, and literary history with lighthearted humor and acute insight, drawing upon traditions of wit from around the world.
Entertaining, illuminating, and entirely unique, Wit's End demonstrates that wit and wisdom are really the same thing.
W. W. Norton & Company
Why We Dream
By Robb, Alice
Science journalist and lucid dreamer Alice Robb explores fresh, revelatory research to uncover why we dream and how we can improve our dream life.
While on a research trip in Peru, science journalist Alice Robb became hooked on lucid dreaming. With practice, she mastered the uncanny phenomenon in which a sleeping person can realize that they're dreaming and even control the dreamed experience. Finding these forays both puzzling and exhilarating, Robb dug deeper into the science of dreams at an extremely opportune moment: just as researchers began to discover why dreams exist. They aren't just random events; they have clear purposes. In essence, we cannot learn without them, nor can we overcome psychic trauma.
Robb draws on fresh and forgotten research, as well as her experience and that of other dream experts, to show why dreams are vital to our emotional and physical health. She explains how we can remember our dreams better - and why we should. She traces the intricate links between dreaming and creativity, and even offers advice on how we can relish the intense adventure of lucid dreaming for ourselves.
Why We Dream is a clear-eyed, cutting-edge examination of the meaning and purpose of our nightly visions and a guide to changing our dream lives in order to make our waking lives richer, healthier, and happier.
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Gods and Robots
By Mayor, Adrienne
The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life -- and even invented real automated machinesThe first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. More than 2,500 years ago, long before medieval automata, and centuries before technology made self-moving devices possible, Greek mythology was exploring ideas about creating artificial life -- and grappling with still-unresolved ethical concerns about biotechne, "life through craft." In this compelling, richly illustrated book, Adrienne Mayor tells the fascinating story of how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese myths envisioned artificial life, automata, self-moving devices, and human enhancements -- and how these visions relate to and reflect the ancient invention of real animated machines.
Princeton University Press
The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth
By Morris, Thomas
This wryly humorous collection of stories about bizarre medical treatments and cases offers a unique portrait of a bygone era in all its grisly weirdness.
A puzzling series of dental explosions beginning in the nineteenth century is just one of many strange tales that have long lain undiscovered in the pages of old medical journals. Award-winning medical historian Thomas Morris has assembled the stories thematically, so readers will witness Mysterious Illnesses (such as the Rhode Island woman who peed through her nose) , Horrifying Operations (1635: A hungover Dutchman swallows a knife, which is then surgically removed from his stomach) , Dubious Treatments (like the 1799 painkiller made of a "foul-smelling morphine/crow's vomit concoction") , Unfortunate Predicaments (such as that of the boy who honked like a goose after inhaling a bird's larynx) , and many other marvels.
These painfully amusing stories amount to far more than a series of anecdotes. They tell us a great deal about the evolution of modern medicine. Some show the medical profession hopeless in the face of ailments that today would be quickly banished by modern drugs; but others are heartening tales of recovery against the odds, patients saved from death by the devotion or ingenuity of a conscientious doctor.
However embarrassing the ailment or ludicrous the treatment, every case tells us something about the knowledge (and ignorance) of an earlier age, along with the sheer resilience of human life.
By George, Rose
An eye-opening exploration of blood, the lifegiving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds and the promise of breakthrough science
Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don't even know their own blood type. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million women are still regarded as taboo: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event.
Rose George, author of The Big Necessity, is renowned for her intrepid work on topics that are invisible but vitally important. In Nine Pints, she takes us from ancient practices of bloodletting to modern "hemovigilance" teams that track blood-borne diseases. She introduces Janet Vaughan, who set up the world's first system of mass blood donation during the Blitz, and Arunachalam Muruganantham, known as "Menstrual Man" for his work on sanitary pads for developing countries. She probes the lucrative business of plasma transfusions, in which the US is known as the "OPEC of plasma." And she looks to the future, as researchers seek to bring synthetic blood to a hospital near you.
Spanning science and politics, stories and global epidemics, Nine Pints reveals our life's blood in an entirely new light.