Brilliant Book Titles #130

jumpting ships.jpg

Blurb:
On a global tour that takes him from India to Greece to Africa, David tries in vain to keep out of trouble; poaching in the Lake District, heli-skiing in Canada, taking on the pirates of Nigeria and disguising himself as a nurse in Durban.

Gritty and raucous, these true confessions of adventures on board a merchant ship – in the bad old days before regulations made everything ship-shape and orderly – are a riot from start to finish. A must-read for anyone who’s ever dreamt of running away to sea, Baboulene’s stories will make you weep with laughter.

Brilliant Book Titles #129

dont tell mum i work
You can reserve a copy at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
A take-no-prisoners approach to life has seen Paul Carter heading to some of the world’s most remote, wild and dangerous places as a contractor in the oil business. Amazingly, he’s survived (so far) to tell these stories from the edge of civilization. He has been shot at, hijacked and held hostage; almost died of dysentery in Asia and toothache in Russia; watched a Texan lose his mind in the jungles of Asia; lost a lot of money backing a scorpion against a mouse in a fight to the death, and been served cocktails by an orangutan on an ocean freighter. And that’s just his day job.

Taking postings in some of the world’s wildest and most remote regions, not to mention some of the roughest rigs on the planet, Paul has worked, got into trouble, and been given serious talkings to, in locations as far-flung as the North Sea, Middle East, Borneo and Tunisia, as exotic as Sumatra, Vietnam and Thailand, and as flat-out dangerous as Columbia, Nigeria and Russia, with some of the maddest, baddest and strangest people you could ever hope not to meet.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #125

blitzed.jpg
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2016

‘The most brilliant and fascinating book I have read in my entire life’ Dan Snow

‘Blitzed is making me rethink everything I’ve ever seen and read about WWII… terrific!’ Douglas Coupland

‘A huge contribution… remarkable’ Antony Beevor, BBC RADIO 4

‘Extremely interesting … a serious piece of scholarship, very well researched’ Ian Kershaw

The sensational German bestseller on the overwhelming role of drug-taking in the Third Reich, from Hitler to housewives.

The Nazis presented themselves as warriors against moral degeneracy. Yet, as Norman Ohler’s gripping bestseller reveals, the entire Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin, morphine and, most of all, methamphetamines, or crystal meth, used by everyone from factory workers to housewives, and crucial to troops’ resilience – even partly explaining German victory in 1940.

The promiscuous use of drugs at the very highest levels also impaired and confused decision-making, with Hitler and his entourage taking refuge in potentially lethal cocktails of stimulants administered by the physician Dr Morell as the war turned against Germany. While drugs cannot on their own explain the events of the Second World War or its outcome, Ohler shows, they change our understanding of it. Blitzed forms a crucial missing piece of the story.

Brilliant Book Titles #124

tell me how this ends well
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
In 2022, American Jews face an increasingly unsafe and anti-Semitic landscape at home. Against this backdrop, the Jacobson family gathers for Passover in Los Angeles. But their immediate problems are more personal than political, with the three adult children, Mo, Edith and Jacob, in various states of crisis; the result, each claims, of a lifetime of mistreatment by their father, Julian.

The siblings have begun to suspect that Julian is hastening their mother Roz’s demise, and years of resentment boil over as they debate whether to go through with the real reason for their reunion: an ill-considered plot to end their father’s iron rule forever. That is, if they can put their bickering, grudges, festering relationships and distrust of one another aside long enough to act. And God help them if their mother finds out . . .

Tell Me How This Ends Well presents a blistering vision of near-future America, turning the exploits of one very funny, very troubled family into a rare and compelling exploration of the state of America itself.

 

Brilliant Book Titles #123

fully connected
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Twenty-five years after the arrival of the Internet, we are drowning in data and deadlines. Humans and machines are in fully connected overdrive – and starting to become entwined as never before. Truly, it is an Age of Overload. We can never have imagined that absorbing so much information while trying to maintain a healthy balance in our personal and professional lives could feel so complex, dissatisfying and unproductive.

Something is missing. That something, Julia Hobsbawm argues in this ground-breaking book, is Social Health, a new blueprint for modern connectedness. She begins with the premise that much of what we think about healthy ways to live have not been updated any more than have most post-war modern institutions, which are themselves also struggling in the twenty-first century. In 1946, the World Health Organization defined ‘health’ as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ What we understood by ‘social’ in the middle of the last century now desperately needs an update.

In Fully Connected Julia Hobsbawm takes us on a journey often a personal one, ‘from Telex to Twitter’ to illustrate how the answer to the Age of Overload can come from devising management-based systems which are both highly practical and yet intuitive, and which draw inspiration from the huge advances the world has made in tackling other kinds of health, specifically nutrition, exercise, and mental well-being.

Drawing on the latest thinking in health and behavioural economics, social psychology, neuroscience, management and social network analysis, this book provides a cornucopia of case studies and ideas, to educate and inspire a new generation of managers, policymakers and anyone wanting to navigate through the rough seas of overload.

Brilliant Book Titles #122

there once lived a woman.jpg
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Here are attempts at human connection, both depraved and sublime, and the grinding struggle to survive against the crushing realities of the Soviet system: in Among Friends, a doting mother commits an atrocious act against her beloved son in an attempt to secure his future; The Time: Night examines the suicide of the great Russian poetess Anna Andreevna with heartbreaking clarity; while in Chocolates with Liqueur the struggle for ownership of an apartment between a nurse and a madman turns murderous. With the satirical eye of Cindy Sherman, the psychological perceptiveness of Dostoevsky, and the bleak absurdities of Beckett, Petrushevskaya blends macabre spectacle with transformative moments of grace and shows just why she is Russia’s preeminent contemporary fiction writer.

One of Russia’s best living writers … her tales inhabit a borderline between this world and the next – The New York Times

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya was born in Moscow in 1938 and is the only indisputable canonical writer currently writing in Russian today. She is the author of more than fifteen collections of prose, among them this short novel The Time: Night, shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize in 1992, and Svoi Krug, a modern classic about 1980s Soviet intelligentsia. Petrushevskaya is equally important as a playwright: since the 1980s her numerous plays have been staged by the best Russian theater companies. In 2002, Petrushevskaya received Russia’s most prestigious prize, The Triumph, for lifetime achievement. She lives in Moscow.

Brilliant Book Titles #121

utopia for realists
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb: 
A Sunday Times Bestseller

We live in a time of unprecedented upheaval, with questions about the future, society, work, happiness, family and money, and yet no political party of the right or left is providing us with answers. Rutger Bregman, a bestselling Dutch historian, explains that it needn’t be this way.

Bregman shows that we can construct a society with visionary ideas that are, in fact, wholly implementable. Every milestone of civilization – from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy – was once considered a utopian fantasy. New utopian ideas such as universal basic income and a 15-hour work week can become reality in our lifetime.

This guide to a revolutionary yet achievable utopia is supported by multiple studies, lively anecdotes and numerous success stories. From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty, to Richard Nixon’s near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, Bregman takes us on a journey through history, beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he introduces ideas whose time has come.

Brilliant Book Titles #120

it can't happen here
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
‘An eerily prescient foreshadowing of current affairs’ Guardian

‘Not only Lewis’s most important book but one of the most important books ever produced in the United States’ New Yorker

A vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant, fearmongering demagogue runs for President of the United States – and wins. Sinclair Lewis’s chilling 1935 bestseller is the story of Buzz Windrip, ‘Professional Common Man’, who promises poor, angry voters that he will make America proud and prosperous once more, but takes the country down a far darker path. As the new regime slides into authoritarianism, newspaper editor Doremus Jessop can’t believe it will last – but is he right? This cautionary tale of liberal complacency in the face of populist tyranny shows it really can happen here.

Brilliant Book Titles #119

heartthrobs
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
What can a cultural history of the heartthrob teach us about women, desire, and social change? From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons.

When girls were supposed to be shrinking violets, passionate females risked being seen as ‘unbridled’, or dangerously out of control. Change came slowly, and young women remained trapped in double-binds. You may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Sexual desire could be dangerous: a rash guide to making choices. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged ‘fast’ and undesirable.

Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of cultural horizons. Young women in the early twentieth century showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino’s screen performances, as tango-dancer, Arab tribesman, or desert lover. Contemporary critics were sniffy about ‘shop-girl’ taste in literature and in men, but as consumers, girls had new clout.

In Heartthrobs, social and cultural historian Carol Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing position of women has shaped their dreams about men, from Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century to boy-bands in the early twenty-first. Reflecting on the history of women as consumers and on the nature of fantasy, escapism, and ‘fandom’, she takes us deep into the world of gender and the imagination. A great deal of feminist literature has shown women as objects of the ‘male gaze’: this book looks at men through the eyes of women.

Brilliant Book Titles #118

hit makers
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
What makes a hit a hit? In Hit Makers, Atlantic Senior Editor Derek Thompson puts pop culture under the lens of science to answer the question that every business, every producer, every person looking to promote themselves and their work has asked.

Drawing on ancient history and modern headlines – from vampire lore and Brahms’s Lullaby to Instagram – Thompson explores the economics and psychology of why certain things become extraordinarily popular. With incisive analysis and captivating storytelling, he reveals that, though blockbuster films, Internet memes and number-one songs seem to have come out of nowhere, hits actually have a story and operate by certain rules. People gravitate towards familiar surprises: products that are bold and innovative, yet instantly comprehensible.

Whether he is uncovering the secrets of JFK and Barack Obama’s speechwriters or analysing the unexpected reasons for the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, Thompson goes beyond the cultural phenomena that make the news by revealing the desires that make us all human. While technology might change, he shows, our innate preferences do not, and throughout history hits have held up a mirror to ourselves.

From the dawn of Impressionist art to the future of Snapchat, from small-scale Etsy entrepreneurs to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson tells the fascinating story of how culture happens – and where genius lives.