Can’t Just Stop

Can’t Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions by Sharon Begley

RC 533 .B446 2017

“Mild compulsions, such as shopping with military precision or hanging the tea towels just so, are something most of us have witnessed, or even engaged in. But compulsions exist along a broad continuum, and at the extremes there exist life-altering disorders.

Sharon Begley’s meticulously researched book is the first to examine all of these behaviors together – from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to hoarding, to compulsive exercise, even compulsions to do good. They may look profoundly different, but these behaviors are all ways of coping with varying degrees of anxiety.

With a focus on the personal stories of dozens of interviewees, Begley compassionately explores the role of compulsion in our fast-paced culture and the strange manifestations of this very human behavior throughout history.

Can’t Just Stop makes compulsion comprehensible and accessible, exploring how we can realistically grapple with it in ourselves and in those we love.”
– publisher description

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The Lonely City

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

N 71 .L24 2016

“What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens?

When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by this most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives – from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed.

Humane, provocative, and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality, and the magical possibilities of art. It’s a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.”
– publisher description

I Contain Multitudes

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
by Ed Yong

QR 171 .A1 Y66 2016

“For most of human existence, microbes were hidden, visible only through the illnesses they caused. When they finally surfaced in biological studies, they were cast as rogues. Only recently have they immigrated from the neglected fringes of biology to its center. Even today, many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us – the microbiome – are invaluable parts of our lives.

I Contain Multitudes lets us peer into that world for the first time, allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, giving us a grander view of life.

With humor and erudition, Ed Yong prompts us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are. When we look at the animal kingdom through a microbial lens, even the most familiar parts of our lives take on a striking new air. We learn the secret, invisible, and wondrous biology behind the corals that construct mighty reefs, the glowing squid that can help us understand the bacteria in our own guts, the beetles that bring down forests, the disease-fighting mosquitoes engineered in Australia, and the ingredients in breast milk that evolved to nourish a baby’s first microbes. We see how humans are disrupting these partnerships and how scientists are now manipulating them to our advantage. We see, as William Blake wrote, the world in a grain of sand.

I Contain Multitudes is the story of these extraordinary partnerships, between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.”
– publisher description

Before Harlem

Before Harlem: An Anthology of African American Literature from the Long Nineteenth Century
edited by Ajuan Maria Mance

PS 508 .N3 M34 2016

“Despite important recovery and authentication efforts during the last twenty-five years, the vast majority of nineteenth-century African American writers and their work remain unknown to today’s readers. Moreover, the most widely used anthologies of black writing have established a canon based largely on current interests and priorities. Seeking to establish a broader perspective, this collection brings together a wealth of autobiographical writings, fiction, poetry, speeches, sermons, essays, and journalism that better portrays the intellectual and cultural debates, social and political struggles, and community publications and institutions that nurtured black writers from the early 1800s to the eve of the Harlem Renaissance.

As editor Ajuan Mance notes, previous collections have focused mainly on writing that found a significant audience among white readers. Consequently, authors whose work appeared in African American-owned publications for a primarily black audience – such as Solomon G. Brown, Henrietta Cordelia Ray, and T. Thomas Fortune – have faded from memory. Even figures as celebrated as Frederick Douglass and Paul Laurence Dunbar are today much better known for their “cross-racial” writings than for the larger bodies of work they produced for a mostly African American readership. There has also been a tendency in modern canon making, especially in the genre of autobiography, to stress antebellum writing rather than writings produced after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Similarly, religious writings – despite the centrality of the church in the everyday lives of black readers and the interconnectedness of black spiritual and intellectual life – have not received the emphasis they deserve.

Filling those critical gaps with a selection of 143 works by 65 writers, Before Harlem presents as never before an in-depth picture of the literary, aesthetic, and intellectual landscape of nineteenth-century African America and will be valuable resource for a new generation of readers.”
– publisher description

Because of Sex

Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work
by Gillian Thomas

LF 3467 .T49 2016

“Best known as a monumental achievement of the civil rights movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act also revolutionized the lives of America’s working women. Title VII of the law made it illegal to discriminate “because of sex.” But that simple phrase didn’t mean much until ordinary women began using the law to get justice on the job – and some took their fights all the way to the Supreme Court. Among them were Ida Phillips, denied an assembly line job because she had a preschool-age child; Kim Rawlinson, who fought to become a prison guard – a “man’s job”; Mechelle Vinson, who brought a lawsuit for sexual abuse before “sexual harassment” even had a name; Ann Hopkins, denied partnership at a Big Eight accounting firm because the men in charge thought she needed “a course at charm school”; and, most recently, Peggy Young,a  UPS truck driver, forced to take an unpaid leave while pregnant because she asked for temporary reprieve from heavy lifting.

These unsung heroines’ victories, and those of the other women profiled in Because of Sex, dismantled a “Mad Men” world where women could only hope to play supporting roles; where sexual harassment was “just the way things are”; and where pregnancy meant getting a pink slip.

Through first-person accounts and a vivid narrative, Because of Sex tells the story of how one law, our highest court, and a few tenacious women changed the American workplace forever.”
– publisher description

What the F

What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves
by Benjamin K. Bergen

P 410 .O27 B47 2016

“Nearly everyone swears – whether it’s over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto. And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books. We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we’ll mutter in relief seconds after they fall asleep. Swearing, it seems, is an intimate part of us that we have decided to selectively deny.

That’s a damn shame. Swearing is useful. It can be funny, cathartic, or emotionally arousing. As linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen shows us, it also opens a new window into how our brains process language and why languages vary around the world and over time.

In this groundbreaking yet ebullient romp through the linguistic muck, Bergen answers intriguing questions: How can patients left otherwise speechless after a stroke still shout goddamn! when they get upset? When did a cock grow to be more than merely a rooster? Why is crap vulgar when poo is just as childish? Do slurs make you treat people differently? Why is the first word that Samoan children say not mommy but eat shit? And why do we extend a middle finger to flip someone the bird?

Smart as hell and funny as fuck, What the F is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know how and why we swear.”
– publisher description

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
by Frans de Waal

QL 785 .W127 2016

“What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future – all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of an echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal – and human – intelligence.”
– publisher description