Roundup of 2018 books that I missed

As promised in my last posting, I am returning to my book blogging with a series of roundups. I will post chronologically, beginning with some books from last year that crossed my desk after my year-end blog entries were posted.

My usual caveat: I haven’t read all of these in detail, but they are published by reputable publishers and written by credible authors. I have browsed them enough to recommend picking them up from a library or bookstore shelf.

A logical place to start is coverThe Art of Logic in an Illogical World by Eugenia Cheng, who, in the words of the book’s publicity, “throws a lifeline to readers drowning in the illogic of contemporary life,” while admitting that she, herself often falls prey to emotional responses instead. She argues that “alogic,” including emotion, is also a vital part of how humans think and communicate. “Cheng shows us how to use logic and alogic together to navigate a world awash in bigotry. mansplaining, and manipulative memes.” Not wanting to be accused of mansplaining, I won’t tell you to read this book. But I’ll offer it to you as a suggestion to satisfy your intellect and reading pleasure.

It’s hard to be logical if you aren’t paying attention. An updated paperback edition of coverDistracted: Reclaiming Our Focus in a World of Lost Attention by Maggie Jackson offers advice on how to grapple successfully with the fragmentation of attention that often dominates our on-line experiences. If that sounds like something you need, click the link and buy the book before you lose your focus.

Another modern plague is not getting enough good-quality sleep. In coverSleepyhead: Narcolepsy, Neuroscience and the Search for a Good Night, Henry Nicholls was inspired by his own experiences with narcolepsy, a dangerous condition that affects 130,000 Americans and causes them to lapse into sleep uncontrollably during the day. As the book’s publicity notes, “Nicholls argues [that] it is the perfect vantage point from which to survey the neuroscience behind circadian sleep disorders, sleep apnea, parasomnias like sleep walking and sleep sex, chronic insomnia, restless leg syndrome and sleep deprivation. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Nicholls affirms the importance of good sleep, and offers evidence-based advice on how to avoid the devastation that results when sleep goes wrong.” If that appeals to you and you want to thank me for bringing these titles to your attention, wake up and click the link.

Indian computer scientist, researcher, and author Ramesh Hariharan is colorblind, the result of one of the most benign human genetic variations that he writes about in coverGenomic Quirks: The Search for Spelling Errors. The title refers to the four-character alphabet that spells out the genetic code on a person’s DNA. A error at one site on a gene can have profound effects, many of which Dr. Hariharan has studied or dealt with in a medical setting. The back dust jacket cover entices readers to follow the quest to understand genetic misspellings that have “stark consequences: infants who pass away mysteriously, siblings with misplaced organs, a family with several instances of vision loss, sisters whose hearts fail in the prime of their youth, a boy whose blood can’t carry enough oxygen, a baby with a cancer in the eye, a middle-aged patient battling cancer, and the author’s own color blindness. The search in each case proves to be a detective quest that connects the world of medical practice with that of molecular biology, traversing the world of algorithms along the way.”

Finally, we offer a tome (just over 600 pages long) that lies at the intersection of the social sciences and self help, coverThe Laws of Human Nature by best-selling author Robert Green. The back cover announces that the reader is “about to become an apprentice in human nature,” and then lists five benefits of doing so: becoming calmer and a more strategic observer of others, gaining skills that make you a master interpreter of cues from human actions, developing the ability “to outthink the toxic types who inevitably cross your path,” understanding and using “true levers for motivating and influencing people,” and learning the skills to “alter your own negative patterns.”

I will be back soon with another roundup of books from January through March of this year.

Blogger and reviewer Fred Bortz is the author of numerous science books for young readers.

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