#readwomen

Reading Women, 2018: Summer Books, Summer Reading

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GENEVIEVE GRAHAM: „Come from Away“

„In 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. Three years later, rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window.“

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MIRA T. LEE: „Everything here is beautiful“

„Miranda, the responsible one: always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unconventional one. When their mother dies and Lucia starts to hear voices, it’s Miranda who must fight for the help her sister needs — even as Lucia refuses to be defined by any doctor’s diagnosis. Miranda must decide whether or not to step in. Told from alternating perspectives. A family drama about tough choices.“

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[2017] CAITLIN HAMILTON SUMMIE: „To lay to Rest our Ghosts“

„WWII Kansas City. A poor, drug-ridden NYC neighborhood. Woodsy Wisconsin and the quiet of rural Minnesota: Ten elegantly written short stories navigating the geographical boundaries that shape our lives.“

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MICHELE LENT HIRSCH: „Invisible. How young Women with serious Health Issues navigate Work, Relationships and the Pressure to seem just fine“

„Miriam’s doctor didn’t believe she had breast cancer. She did. Sophie navigates being the only black scientist in her lab while studying the very disease, HIV, that she hides from her coworkers. For Victoria, coming out as a transgender woman was less difficult than coming out as bipolar.

Author Michele Lent Hirsch knew she couldn’t be the only woman who’s faced serious health issues at a young age, as well as the resulting effects on her career, her relationships, and her sense of self. Young female patients are in fact the primary demographic for many illnesses. Not only do they feel pressured to seem perfect and youthful, they also find themselves amid labyrinthine obstacles in a culture that has one narrow idea of womanhood.

Lent Hirsch weaves her own harrowing experiences together with stories from other women, perspectives from sociologists on structural inequality, and insights from neuroscientists on misogyny in health research. She shows how health issues and disabilities amplify what women in general already confront: warped beauty standards, workplace sexism, worries about romantic partners, and mistrust of their own bodies.“

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SHANNON HITCHCOCK: „One True Way“

„Two girls who discover their friendship is something more. Daniel Boone Middle School in the 1970s, where teachers and coaches must hide who they are, and girls who like girls are forced to question their own choices. Set against the backdrop of history and politics that surrounded gay rights in the 1970s South, this novel is a thoughtful look at tolerance, acceptance, and change.“

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MICHELLE KIM: „Running through Sprinklers“

„Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, in the early 1990s: Nadine has suddenly skipped a grade and gone to high school without Sara. Sara can feel their friendship slipping away.“

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ILYASAH SHABAZZ: „Betty before X“

„A powerful middle-grade novel about the childhood activism of Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X’s wife, written by their daughter. In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother’s childhood.“

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VEERA HIRANANDANI: „The Night Diary“

„It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home.“

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KHERYN CALLENDER: „Hurricane Child“

„Twelve-year-old Caroline is a Hurricane Child, born on Water Island during a storm. She’s hated by everyone in her small school, she can see things that no one else can see, and — worst of all — her mother left home one day and never came back. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados, seems to see the things Caroline sees, too. Joined by their common gift, Kalinda agrees to help Caroline look for her mother. A cadenced work of magical realism.“

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CLARE STRAHAN: „The Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge“

„Vanessa (Van) Partridge is curious about the idea of having sex. At first, summer feels like delicious freedom as she explores her independence, practising her favourite cello pieces, reconnecting with her long-time summer friend Kelsey and exploring her attraction to environmental activist Bodhi. But when her sense of self is shaken, Van wrestles with issues of desire and consent: Can someone with sensible plaits and an interest in philosophy really be a raving sex-o-maniac? And if they are, is there anything wrong with that?“

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ADRIENNE KISNER: „Dear Rachel Maddow“

„A high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow: After writing to Rachel for a school project–and actually getting a response–Brynn starts drafting e-mails. She tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick’s death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn’s archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do?“

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WHITNEY GARDNER: „Chaotic Good“

„When Cameron wins a major cosplay competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans. She hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt and handsome Lincoln. But as her „secret identity“ gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.“

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AUSTIN CHANNING BROWN: „I’m still here. Black Dignity in a World made for Whiteness“

„An eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, „I had to learn what it means to love blackness“.

I’m Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class, Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the reader to confront apathy, recognize God’s ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness–if we let it–can save us all.“

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AFUA HIRSCH: „Brit(ish). On Race, Identity and Belonging“

„Where are you really from? You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking you where you are from?

Brit(ish) is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be ‘colour-blind’ have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race.

In this personal and provocative investigation, Afua Hirsch explores a very British crisis of identity. We are a nation in denial about our past and our present. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change.“

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IJEOMA OLUO: „So you want to Talk about Race“

„Issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the „N“ word. Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask.“

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[male authors:] T. CHRISTIAN MILLER, KEN ARMSTRONG: „A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America“

„On August 11, 2008, eighteen-year-old Marie truthfully reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her, but within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story. The police swiftly began investigating her. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie. Police charged her with false reporting. One of her best friends created a web page branding her a liar.

More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night–the attacker’s calm and practiced demeanor, which led the victim to surmise „he’s done this before“–Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon realized they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop.

An Unbelievable Story unveils the disturbing reality of how sexual assault is investigated today–and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims.“

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BARBARA J. RISMAN: „Where the Millennials will take us. A new Generation wrestles with the Gender Structure“

„Are today’s young adults gender rebels or returning to tradition? Risman reveals the diverse strategies youth use to negotiate the ongoing gender revolution. Some are true believers that men and women are essentially different and should be so. Others are innovators, defying stereotypes and rejecting sexist ideologies and organizational practices. Perhaps new to this generation are gender rebels who reject sex categories, often refusing to present their bodies within them and sometimes claiming genderqueer identities. Risman reminds us that gender is much more than an identity; it also shapes expectations in everyday life, and structures the organization of workplaces, politics, and, ideology.“

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SAFIYA UMOJA NOBLE: „Algorithms of Oppression. How Search Engines reinforce Racism“

„A revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms. Run a Google search for „black girls“–what will you find? „Big Booty“ and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in „white girls,“ the results are radically different. Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. Algorithms of Oppression contributes to our understanding of how racism is created, maintained, and disseminated in the 21st century.“

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LUCY JONES: „The Big Ones. How Natural Disastes have shaped us“

„By a veteran seismologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, a lively and revealing history of the world’s most disruptive natural disasters, their impact on our culture, and new ways of thinking about the ones to come. The Big Ones is a look at some of the most devastating disasters in human history. It considers Pompeii, and how a volcanic eruption in the first century AD challenged and reinforced prevailing views of religion for centuries to come. It explores the California floods of 1862, examining the failures of our collective memory. And it shows what Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami can tell us about governance and globalization. Natural disasters are inevitable; human catastrophes are not.“

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ELIZABETH CATTE: „What you are getting wrong about Appalachia“

„In 2016, headlines declared Appalachia ground zero for America’s “forgotten tribe” of white working class voters. Journalists flocked to the region to extract sympathetic profiles of families devastated by poverty, abandoned by establishment politics, and eager to consume cheap campaign promises. What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia analyzes trends in contemporary writing on Appalachia, presents a brief history of Appalachia with an eye toward unpacking Appalachian stereotypes, and provides examples of writing, art, and policy created by Appalachians as opposed to for Appalachians.“

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KAREN AUVINEN: „Rough Beauty. Forty Seasons of Mountain Living“

„An inspirational memoir from an award-winning poet who ventures into the wilderness to seek answers to life’s big questions and finds her way back after losing everything she thought she needed. During a difficult time, Karen Auvinen flees to a primitive cabin in the Rockies to live in solitude as a writer and to embrace all the beauty and brutality nature has to offer. When a fire incinerates every word she has ever written and all of her possessions—except for her beloved dog Elvis, her truck, and a few singed artifacts—Karen embarks on a heroic journey to reconcile her desire to be alone with her need for community.

In the evocative spirit of works by Annie Dillard, Gretel Ehrlich, and Mary Oliver, Rough Beauty is a lyric exploration of forty seasons in the mountains.“

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FRANCHESCA RAMSEY: „Well, that escalated quickly“

Franchesca Ramsey didn’t set out to be an activist. Or a comedian. Or a commentator on identity, race, and culture. But then her YouTube video „What White Girls Say. . . to Black Girls“ went viral. Faced with an avalanche of media requests, fan letters, and hate mail, she had two choices: Jump in and make her voice heard or step back and let others frame the conversation.

In her first book, Ramsey uses her own experiences as an accidental activist to explore the many ways we communicate with each other–from the highs of bridging gaps and making connections to the many pitfalls that accompany talking about race, power, sexuality, and gender in an unpredictable public space…the internet. WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY includes Ramsey’s advice on dealing with internet trolls and low-key racists, confessions about being a former online hater herself, and her personal hits and misses in activist debates with everyone from bigoted Facebook friends and misguided relatives to mainstream celebrities and YouTube influencers.“

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ELIZABETH W. GARBER: „Implosion. A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter“

Visionary architect Woodie Garber had already built his masterwork—the family’s glass-walled house—when he received the commission to create Sanders Hall, a glass tower dormitory at The University of Cincinnati. At the time, Elizabeth was still impressed with her brilliant father and his taste for modernism, jazz, art, and race cars. But as she grew up, her adoration faded. Woodie became more controlling. Belittling. Inappropriate.

As the late 1960’s and early 1970s culture wars and race riots reached Cincinnati, and when Elizabeth started dating an African-American student at her high school, Woodie’s racism emerged. His abuse splintered the family, and unexpected problems with the design of Sanders Hall precipitated a financial crisis that was exacerbated by a sinking economy. Elizabeth Garber describes Woodie’s deepening mental illness, the destruction of her family, and her own slow healing from his abuse.“

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NELL SCOVELL: „Just the funny Parts… and a few hard Truths about Sneaking into the Hollywood Boys‘ Club“

„For more than thirty years, writer, producer and director Nell Scovell worked behind the scenes of iconic TV shows, including The Simpsons, Late Night with David Letterman, Murphy Brown, NCIS, The Muppets, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which she created and executive produced. In 2009, Scovell gave up her behind-the-scenes status when the David Letterman sex scandal broke. Scovell used the moment to publicly call out the lack of gender diversity in late-night TV writers’ rooms. Her criticisms fueled a cultural debate.

Through her eyes, you’ll sit in the Simpson writers’ room… stand on the Oscar red carpet… pin a tail on Miss Piggy…bond with Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy… and experience a Stephen King-like encounter with Stephen King. A fast-paced account of a nerdy girl from New England who fought her way to the top of the highly-competitive, male-dominated entertainment field.“

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FERN RIDDELL: „Death in Ten Minutes. Kitty Marion. Activist. Arsonist. Suffragette“

„The story of radical suffragette Kitty Marion, told through Kitty’s never before seen personal diaries. Kitty Marion was sent across the country by the Pankhurst family to carry out a nationwide campaign of bombings and arson attacks, as women fought for the vote using any means necessary. But in the aftermath of World War One, the dangerous and revolutionary actions of Kitty and other militant suffragettes were quickly hushed up and disowned by the previously proud movement.“

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JANE ROBINSON: „Hearts and Minds. The untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and how Women won the Vote“

„The suffragists‘ march on London. 1913: the last long summer before the war. The country is gripped by suffragette fever. Hundreds of women are stepping out on to the streets of Britain. They are the suffragists: non-militant campaigners for the vote, on an astonishing six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Rich and poor, young and old, they defy convention, risking jobs, family relationships and even their lives to persuade the country to listen to them. This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change. Jane Robinson has drawn from diaries, letters and unpublished accounts to tell the inside story of the march.“

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LYUDMILA PAVLICHENKO: „Lady Death. The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper“

„The wartime memoir of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, World War II’s best scoring sniper. In June 1941, when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, she left her university studies to become one of Soviet Russia’s 2000 female snipers. Less than a year later she had 309 recorded kills. She spoke at rallies in Canada and the US and the folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote a song, ‚Killed By A Gun‘ about her exploits. Her US trip included a tour of the White House. In November 1942 she visited Coventry. She never returned to combat but trained other snipers. After the war, she finished her education at Kiev University and began a career as a historian. She died on October 10, 1974 at age 58.“

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PENG SHEPHERD: „The Book of M“

„One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories. Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Until one day Max’s shadow disappears too.

Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world.“

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BETHANY C. MORROW: „MEM“

„Set in the glittering art deco world of Montreal a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source ― zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. She is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault.“

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KATARINA BOUDREAUX: „Platform Dwellers“

„On the remnants of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe is a typical Nob Platform teenager, except that her Mom left a year ago for a more social Platform, and her Dad sometimes forgets she exists. Her high school senior project “See-Saw” focuses on long-distance underwater connections. Then, Joe’s best friend discovers lights moving on Land at the same time Joe picks up SOS signals with her See-Saw – though Land has been silent since technology was destroyed during the Moralist Revolution. Joe enlists the help of Flox, a debunked scientist, to take them to Land to investigate the remnants of human Land society.“

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KATIE O’NEILL: „The Tea Dragon Society“ [2017]

„A charming [and queer] all-ages graphic novel. Greta is a blacksmith apprentice. After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, she learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik and befriends their shy ward, Minette.“

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MICHELLE PEREZ, REMY BOYDELL: „The Pervert“

[Graphic Novel] „A surprisingly honest and touching account of a trans girl surviving through sex work in Seattle: a collection of vignettes about a girl in transition, training to be a nurse, who supports herself through sex work.“

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PAMELA RIBON, CAT FARRIS: „My Boyfriend is a Bear“

[Graphic Novel] „Nora has bad luck with men. When she meets an (actual) bear on a hike in the Los Angeles hills, he turns out to be the best romantic partner she’s ever had! But he’s a bear, and winning over her friends and family is difficult. Not to mention he has to hibernate all winter. Can true love conquer all?“

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male writers:

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DONAL RYAN: „From a low and quiet Sea“

„Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war. Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John’s past torments him as he nears his end. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men are drawn towards a powerful reckoning.“

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TOMMY ORANGE: „There There“

„A multigenerational story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube.

A voice full of poetry and rage. Orange writes of the plight of the urban Native American. An unforgettable debut, destined to become required reading in schools and universities across the country.“

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DAVID DUCHOVNY: „Miss Subways“

„Emer is just a woman living in New York City who takes the subway, has writerly aspirations, and lives with her boyfriend, Con. But is this life she lives the only path she’s on? Taking inspiration from the myth of Emer and Cuchulain and featuring an all-star cast of mythical figures from all around the world, David Duchovny’s darkly funny fantasy novel Miss Subways is one woman’s trippy, mystical journey down parallel tracks of time and love.“

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JOSIAH BANCROFT: „Senlin Ascends“

„The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. The ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines. Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.“

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DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: „It’s even worse than you think. What the Trump Administration is doing to America“

„David Cay Johnston has been following Trump since 1988.“

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HANS ROSLING: „Factfulness“ (…auf Deutsch bei Ullstein)

„The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts. When asked simple questions about global trends—what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school—we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers. Factfulness reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective—from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse). Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. An urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.“

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For the sake of search engines, I didn’t start this blog post with my usual German disclaimers: I sampled about 500 books, published in 2018, to make my selection. I haven’t read these titles yet. But this is the list of titles with the most appealing sample chapters (…and reviews).

Ich habe die Titel angelesen: eine Vorauswahl von Büchern, deren Leseproben mich überzeugte. Lieblingsbücher des Jahres blogge ich u.a. hier (Link)