Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 2, 2024


Simon & Schuster: The Lightning Bottles by Marissa Stapley

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

News

Retirement, Promotions at Shelf Awareness

Major staff changes are happening this month at Shelf Awareness.

Jenny Brown

Jennifer M. Brown has decided to retire as senior editor, effective January 31, to relax, travel, and devote more time to her singing. (If you've never heard her sing, do!) Happily for us, she will continue to contribute reviews and interviews to Shelf Awareness. She says she could never truly leave the team. Otherwise, we would miss her very much for so many reasons, which include, besides her excellent work, her enthusiasm and unfailing cheerfulness.

Dave Wheeler

As a result, in a well-deserved promotion, associate editor Dave Wheeler will be succeeding Jenny as senior editor. Dave joined Shelf Awareness 10 years ago from Elliott Bay Book Company, where Seattleites may have heard him interview authors such as André Aciman, Bill Hayes, and Hanya Yanagihara. He's also published several short stories. He has been editing and writing reviews for Shelf Awareness for years, and is unusually qualified to take on this new role.

Elaine Cho

And in another well-deserved promotion, Elaine Cho, who joined Shelf Awareness as publishing assistant in early 2022, is succeeding Dave as associate editor. She was formerly a bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company and has worked at ArtsWest and Seattle Music Partners, plays and teaches the flute, and is a film critic for Mediaversity. She will be attending Winter Institute next month as an ABA Indies Introduce author for her sci-fi novel, Ocean's Godori, which will be published in April by Hillman Grad, a Zando Books imprint.

We have begun a search to fill the position of publishing assistant. If anyone is interested in applying, please watch our job board for the listing to come soon.


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Holiday Hum: Solid Sales; Appreciative, Cautious Customers

Staff at DDG Booksellers show off holiday merch.

Holiday sales generally ended positively, overcoming many retailers' concerns that consumers would spend less this season. Observers cited a strong job market and wage gains, strong savings, some drops in prices, and lower levels of inflation although some cautioned about a state of unease and reticence to spend among some consumers. Reports from several independent booksellers generally reflected these trends.

Retail sales from November 1 to December 24 rose 3.1% over the same period a year earlier, the New York Times reported, citing data from Mastercard Spending Pulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. And online sales growth slowed during the year, rising 6.3% compared to 10.6% growth rates for 2021 and 2022, according to Mastercard.

Mastercard chief economist Michelle Meyer commented: "What we're seeing during this holiday season is very consistent with how we're thinking about the economy, which is that it's an economy that is still very much expanding."

Still, the Times noted that "Americans are being more mindful of how they're spending, and that discretion shaped the shopping season." Walmart and Target have said that consumers aren't spending as freely and are waiting for sales. There was some significant discounting in categories that had been weak in the fall, including electronics, home furnishings, and toys.

Jessica Ramírez, a retail research analyst at Jane Hali & Associates, stated, "[T]he caution that [consumers] have taken on their spend and where they're spending has been really noticeable in the second half of the year, where a lot of customers have been affected, especially lower-income and middle-income."

And in mid December, the Wall Street Journal observed that "despite the downbeat attitudes Americans profess in polls, a strong job market and continued reserves of savings built up early in the pandemic are giving them the wherewithal to keep shopping."

Booksellers on the Holidays
Sales at Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., rose 8% both for the holiday season and the year, according to owner Kris Kleindienst. Excluding "the Covid blip of 2020/2021," December sales were the best ever for the store.

Top sellers in the season were not confined to a few hot titles and included some backlist titles. In general, speculative fiction--including Afrofuturism--and nontraditional romance have had strong sales this year, Kleindienst said, "and we have seen a renewed interest in current affairs/politics/race/gender." In non-book areas, "We cannot keep stickers in stock. Popular sticker topics: cats, feminism, gender, and reading. LBB branded items of all stripes fly out of the store."

The top 10 holiday bestsellers at Left Bank Books were Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson, The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin, The Wager by David Grann, Murdle: Volume 1 by G.T. Kaeber, and When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill.

Kleindienst added that "the mood of the customers was positive. Lots of love for the store and our various nonprofit programs. I think the ambiance of the store--personal, quirky, welcoming, and mission focused--is such a relief from basically every other shopping experience, that folks breathe a sigh of relief when they walk in. At least that's what they tell me."

---

Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif., had "a good, busy season, about even with last year," owner Michael Barnard reported. Sales of adult hardcovers were "very strong," especially in fiction and narrative nonfiction, highlighted by Unruly by David Mitchell and The Art Thief by Michael Finkel. Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney was also popular but hard to restock.

This year, the store "celebrated customers as well as books, and they loved it," Barnard said. "It enhanced the community feel of the shop--old friends, multiple generations, and welcome newcomers. The mood seems buoyant though I'm worried about the challenges in an election year."

During the new year, Rakestraw Books plans "to enhance our selection of backlist, which also ballasts our ability to hand sell favorites," Barnard added. "We are also trying to double-down on the elusive vibe that makes us us. I am not sure how to define it, but I know it when I see it."

---

At DDG Booksellers, Farmington, Maine, holiday sales were strong and steady until December 20, when a major storm hit northern New England, leading to torrential rains, dangerous flooding, and power outages in many areas, including Farmington. Because of high winds, the store's front door had to be locked, and staff put up a sign reading, "We are open. Door is locked due to safety. Knock and we'll let you in." By 3 p.m., owner Kenny Brechner said, "We had to flee." Luckily the store and town recovered relatively quickly, and the last three shopping days brought "very, very strong sales," leading DDG Booksellers to finish "a little up for the season."

Brechner added that the store, which takes pride in its selection of great stocking stuffers, had "a huge year" in that category. "People were saying very kind things about the store and thanking us for being here," he added. "The economy felt a little sluggish to me, and I felt we had to work extra hard and make the store a warm and joyful place in order to succeed."


Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks


NYC's Bluestockings Cooperative Facing Eviction

Following months of tension with nearby residents, Bluestockings Cooperative in New York City is facing eviction over the harm reduction and support services it provides, particularly to people who are unhoused, Curbed reported.

The cooperative bookstore, which is located on Suffolk St. on Manhattan's Lower East Side, provides Narcan kits, along with food, socks, and a variety of hygiene and sanitary products, for free. It is also registered with the state health department's Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, allowing the bookstore to provide free Narcan training.

While it is not the only OOPP site in the area, the store allows visitors to stay for as long as they like and anyone is able to use the bathroom, which leads to unhoused people congregating at the bookstore. Neighboring residents have complained directly to the bookstore, petitioned City Council members, and pressured the bookstore's landlord.

In late October, the bookstore received a 15-day "notice to cure" from its landlord, alleging the store violated its lease by using "the premises as a medical facility," and that distributing food and allowing unhoused people to use the restroom has created a "hazardous condition" for residents.

In the two months since receiving the notice, Bluestockings has been able to get the window to cure extended through the help of pro bono legal representation, and negotiations continue with the bookstore's landlord.

Raquel Espasande, a Bluestockings worker-owner, told Curbed the cooperative hopes to avoid legal action; failing that, the bookstore could seek a Yellowstone injunction, "which would pause any eviction proceeding until a judge can rule on the validity of the violations."

Bluestockings originally opened in 1999 on Allen St., also on the Lower East Side. That location closed in July 2020, with the current Suffolk St. location opening in April 2021.


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Judge Blocks Most of Iowa's Book-Banning, Anti-GLBQT Law

In a bit of good news on the book-banning front, federal district court judge Stephen H. Locher has issued a preliminary injunction against most parts of an Iowa law whose penalties were to take effect yesterday. The law, signed by Governor Kim Reynolds last May, forbids school libraries and classrooms from carrying books describing or showing a "sex act," with the exception of religious texts like the Bible; prohibits educators from discussing "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" with students from kindergarten through sixth grade; and requires school administrators to notify parents when students ask to change anything relating to their gender identity, such as their names or pronouns. The judge barred the first two provisions, but allowed the parental notification provision to stand.

In connection with section of the law banning books, the judge wrote, "The law is incredibly broad and [in anticipation of the law taking effect] has resulted in the removal of hundreds of books from school libraries, including, among others, nonfiction history books, classic works of fiction, Pulitzer Prize winning contemporary novels, books that regularly appear on Advanced Placement exams, and even books designed to help students avoid being victimized by sexual assault. The sweeping restrictions in [the law] are unlikely to satisfy the First Amendment under any standard of scrutiny."

Concerning the ban on discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation, the judge wrote that "those terms are defined a neutral way that makes no distinction between cisgender or transgender identity or gay or straight relationships. Meaning: on its face, the law forbids any programs, promotion, or instruction recognizing that anyone is male or female or in a relationship of any sort (gay or straight). The statute is therefore content-neutral but so wildly overbroad that every school district and elementary school teacher in the State has likely been violating it since the day the school year started."

The judge wrote that he allowed the parental notification part of the law to continue because none of the student plaintiffs, who already use names and pronouns they want, have standing.

Two lawsuits were filed against the law, one by seven students and GLBT Youth in Iowa Schools Task Force, supported by the ACLU and Lambda Legal. The other was filed by Penguin Random House, authors Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Malindo Lo, and Jodi Picoult, the Iowa State Education Association, a high school student, her parent, and three educators. The suits charged that the law violates the First Amendment free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

In response to the judge's preliminary injunctions, Dan Novack, v-p, associate general counsel, at PRH, said, "We are extremely gratified by Judge Locher's order barring enforcement of Iowa's law that mandates the removal of books from school and classroom libraries. Our position remains that all viewpoints and perspectives must be made equitably available to readers, and Judge Locher has validated the importance of that with his ruling today. Penguin Random House will continue to stand up for the First Amendment, our authors, their stories and ideas, and the students and educators who have the right to access and discuss books without government interference."

According to the AP, in a statement, Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association, said, "When education professionals return to work next week, they can do what they do best: take great care of all their students without fear of reprisal."

For her part, Governor Reynolds decried the preliminary injunctions, saying, "Instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation has no place in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms. And there should be no question that books containing sexually explicit content--as clearly defined in Iowa law--do not belong in a school library for children. The fact that we're even arguing these issues is ridiculous."


Don Barliant: A Remembrance

Don Barliant, co-owner of Barbara's Bookstores since 1967, died on December 9 at age 86. Over the years, Barbara's has been a model of bookselling innovation, at various points having stores and pop-up in train stations and airports in Boston, Mass., New York City, Philadelphia, Pa.; in Macy's stores; and in hospitals. Barbara's now has five stores in the Chicago area and five locations at O'Hare Airport. Here, Michael Boggs, co-founder of Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky., remembers his 50-year friendship with Barliant that he calls "more like an epic journey, a Ben-Hur, a Lord of the Rings."

Don Barliant

The first bookstore job that my not-yet-wife Carol and I had was at Barbara's in the early 1970s. Don and I had one brief talk before offering me, a humanities graduate who had read too much existentialism, a job as Barbara's bookkeeper. So I spent the next five years in the office of the slowly crumbling Wells Street store trying to wrestle debits and credits that were as arcane to me as Being and Nothingness. I also got to observe Janet buying new titles for the store, a black art that could only be accomplished with a Yoda-like belief you could use the Force to choose books your customers would want. It was one of Don's great traits that his enthusiasm and optimism made you believe you could succeed at anything.

Barbara's in the '70s and '80s was an incubator for a cadre of young booksellers who would go on to move up through the ranks of publishing, advancing the culture from its staid, gentleman's hobby into a business with a future. Clerks became sales reps, sales reps became sales managers, and some even moved into editorial and ran their own imprints. My wife and I benefited greatly from this crash course in bookselling, and in 1978 we started Carmichael's Bookstore in Louisville. This was only possible due to the generous mentorship of Don and Janet, who never failed to maintain an exceptional openness about how an independent bookstore should be run in order to survive. Janet even saved us from becoming a Book Nook or Bookshelf or My Back Pages by giving us the Carmichael's name, a combination of our names.

One of Don's most appealing skills was that he was a terrific storyteller--and I, as a half-Cuban, half-Southerner, had some yarn-spinning chops of my own. Over pizzas in Chicago, on beaches in the Caribbean, in manor house hotels in England, we swapped stories ranging from follies of youth to the madness of a bookseller's life. We both knew how to polish the dull parts, stretch the highlights even higher, and groused when our spouses interjected with "facts." I'm not sure he was a good storyteller because he was a good bookman or vice versa. 

Finally, Don was a people person. An omnivore of curiosity about people, he would talk to anyone from physicists to financial wizards, from cashiers to chefs. He asked about their jobs and listened to their dreams for the future. He had a unique mix of empathy and street smarts to nudge them along to bigger and better lives.

Spending time with Don was always an adventure for me. Early on a quiet morning before he died, I spent some time talking to him. I said that I respected some people, I admired some people, but now, in my 75th year, he was the only person I still looked up to. In its most traditional sense, Don lived the life of a man in full.


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Becoming Little Shell:
Returning Home to the Landless
Indians of Montana
by Chris La Tray
GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Growing up in the 1970s, Montana Poet Laureate Chris La Tray was dimly aware of his paternal Chippewa ancestry--but his father had always rejected Indigenous identity. A series of funerals prompted him to delve into his family's history and, ultimately, to enroll in the Little Shell Tribe and join its successful campaign for federal recognition. Alternating past and present, La Tray weaves his personal experience with the wider history of Métis peoples. His book is also a love letter to Indigenous literature and Montana's natural landscapes. Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO at Milkweed Editions, noting the "beautiful flowering of writing" from Indigenous communities, was delighted to publish this "singular" work that "braids Chris's story with the history of his people, all in his inimitable voice, which is both fierce and tender." --Rebecca Foster

(Milkweed Editions, $28 hardcover, 9781571313980, 
August 20, 2024)

CLICK TO ENTER


#ShelfGLOW
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Notes

POTUS44's Reading List: Obama's Favorite Books of 2023

Former President Barack Obama shared a list of his favorite books from last year, noting: "As I usually do during this time of year, I wanted to share my favorite books, movies, and music of 2023. First up, here are the books I've enjoyed reading. If you’re looking for a new book over the holidays, give one of them a try. And if you can, shop at an independent bookstore or check them out at your local library." Obama's favorite reads were:

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
The Maniac by Benjamin Labatut 
Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond 
How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair,
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann 
Chip War by Chris Miller
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff
Humanly Possible by Sarah Bakewell
King: A Life by Jonathan Eig 
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
The Best Minds by Jonathan Rosen 
All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby
The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory by Tim Alberta 
Some People Need Killing by Patricia Evangelista 
This Other Eden by Paul Harding


'Cozy Reading Season': Plenty Bookshop

"It's cozy reading season, officially!" Plenty Bookshop, Cookeville, Tenn., declared on Saturday. "We are open today AND we'll be open on Monday for New Years Day--come hang out, spend your gift cards, play some chess, and talk books with us."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Yolanda Renee King on Good Morning America

Today:
Good Morning America: Yolanda Renee King, author of We Dream a World: Carrying the Light From My Grandparents Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King (Orchard Books, $18.99, 9781338753974).

Also on GMA: Ali Abdaal, author of Feel-Good Productivity: How to Do More of What Matters to You (Celadon, $29, 9781250865038).

Today Show: Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, author of The Hormone Shift: Balance Your Body and Thrive Through Midlife and Menopause (Rodale, $28, 9780593578698).

Tamron Hall: Dr. Anthony Youn, author of Younger for Life: Feel Great and Look Your Best with the New Science of Autojuvenation (Hanover Square Press, $30, 9781335007872). He will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Julia Fox, author of Down the Drain (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781668011508).

Sherri Shepherd Show repeat: Brian Hart Hoffman, co-author of Holiday Coupetails (83 Press, $26, 9798987482032).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Maya Feller, author of Eating from Our Roots: 80+ Healthy Home-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Around the World (Rodale Books, $30, 9780593235089).

Tamron Hall: Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, author of Forever Strong: A New, Science-Based Strategy for Aging Well (Atria, $29.99, 9781668007877).

Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: Danielle Kartes, author of Butter, Flour, Sugar, Joy: Simple Sweet Desserts for Everyone (Sourcebooks, $29.99, 9781728278018).


George R.R. Martin's Update on Animated Projects

George R.R. Martin offered an update in his end-of-year blog post on several Game of Thrones-based TV series that are currently in the works, noting that "HBO and I have our own animated projects, set in the world of A Song of Ice & Fire. None of them have been greenlit yet, but I think we are getting close to taking the next step with a couple of them. When this last round of development started a few years back, we had four ideas for animated shows, with some great talents attached. Writers rooms and summits, outline and scripts followed in due course... but, alas, two of the original projects were subsequently shelved."

Work on the other two animated projects, however, "continues apace," Martin wrote, adding that "meanwhile, we have moved Nine Voyages, our series about the legendary voyages of the Sea Snake, over from live action to animation. A move I support fully. Budgetary constraints would likely have made a live action version prohibitively expensive, what with half the show taking place at sea, and the necessity of creating a different port every week, from Driftmark to Lys to the Basilisk Isles to Volantis to Qarth to... well, on and on and on. There's a whole world out there. And we have a lot better chance of showing it all with animation. So we now have three animated projects underway.... Will any of them make it to air? Happen? No way to know. Nothing is certain in Hollywood."



Books & Authors

Awards: King Charles III's New Year's Honors List

Authors Jilly Cooper, Kate Mosse, Charlie Mackesy, and Alexander McCall Smith were among those recognized in King Charles III's second New Year's Honors list, the Bookseller reported. 

Cooper was made a dame for services to literature and to charity, after receiving a CBE in 2018. Mosse was awarded a CBE for services to literature, to women, and to charity. McCall Smith received a knighthood for services to literature, to academia and to charity, after previously having a CBE. 

Wild Swans author Dr. Jung Chang was given an CBE for services to literature and to history, while illustrator and author Mackesy won an OBE for services to art and literature. 

Josie Dobrin, co-founder and executive chair at arts social enterprise Creative Access, was given an OBE for services to the creative industries. Felicity Dahl, who set up Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity in 1991, was made a dame for services to philanthropy, to literature, and to young people. 

Among other book-related honors recipients were author and historian Andrew Pettegree (CBE for services to literature, after previously having an FBA), author Laura Coryton (MBE for services to charitable campaigning), comedian and author Arabella Weir (MBE for services to the arts and to young people), Christopher Jolly, managing director and publisher at Jolly Phonics (OBE for services to education), and children's reading expert Ruth Miskin (dame for services to education).

Library community members honored included Libraries Connected president Stump (MBE for services to public libraries), as well as librarians Richard Fowler and Christine Mellor (British Empire Medal for services to libraries). Alasdair Cunningham, Boston Spa renewed program manager in Yorkshire, was given an MBE.


Attainment: New Titles Out This Week

Selected new titles appearing today, January 2:

Upside Down: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28.99, 9780593498378) explores the relationship between a famous actress and her estranged daughter.

The Lost Van Gogh: A Novel by Jonathan Santlofer (Sourcebooks Landmark, $34.99, 9781728260174) is a thriller about the hunt for a lost Van Gogh self-portrait.

The Book of Fire: A Novel by Christy Lefteri (Ballantine, $29.99, 9780593497272) follows a family of Greek artists impacted by a tragic wildfire.

First Lie Wins: A Novel by Ashley Elston (Pamela Dorman, $28, 9780593492918) is a thriller about a woman working under a false identity.

The Storm We Made: A Novel by Vanessa Chan (S&S/Marysue Rucci, $27, 9781668015148) follows a Malayan mother who spies for the invading Japanese during World War II.

Younger for Life: Feel Great and Look Your Best with the New Science of Autojuvenation by Dr. Anthony Youn (Hanover Square Press, $30, 9781335007872) is a guide to healthier aging.

The Noom Kitchen: 100 Healthy, Delicious, Flexible Recipes for Every Day by Noom (S&S/Simon Element, $30, 9781982194345) ties into a digital weight management program.

Your First Million: Why You Don't Have to Be Born into a Legacy of Wealth to Leave One Behind by Arlan Hamilton with Rachel L. Nelson (Little, Brown Spark, $29, 9780316507967) is an inclusive guide to entrepreneurship.

Divine Might: Goddesses in Greek Myth by Natalie Haynes (Harper, $30, 9780063377097) gives a female-centered rundown of Greek mythology.

Mary Makes It Easy by Mary Berry (BBC Books, $50, 9781785948428) includes 120 recipes from her new BBC series.

Lawrence of Arabia: My Journey in Search of T.E. Lawrence by Ranulph Fiennes (Pegasus, $32, 9781639365517) is a biography of T.E. Lawrence written by a British explorer.

Break by Kayla Miller (Clarion, $15.99, 9780358414223) is another middle-grade graphic novel in the Click series, in which Olive spends spring break in her dad's new apartment in the city.  

Like So by Ruth Forman, illus. by Raissa Figueroa (Little Simon, $18.99, 9781665917544) is a picture book focusing on the loving bonds of family.

Paperbacks:
Chevengur by Andrey Platonov, trans. by Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler (NYRB Classics, $26.95, 9781681377681).

The Dog Across the Lake: A Paws & Claws Mystery Book 9 by Krista Davis (Berkley, $9.99, 9780593436974).

Frostbitten: Deep Ops Book 6 by Rebecca Zanetti (Kensington, $18.95, 9781516111282).

The Lazy Girl's Guide to Delicious Dinners: 60 No-Stress, Limited-Mess, Sure-to-Impress Meals by Sophia Kaur (Page Street, $21.99, 9781645679509).

Last Call at the Local by Sarah Grunder Ruiz (Berkley, $16.99, 9780593549063).

The Good Die Young: The Verdict on Henry Kissinger, edited by Bhaskar Sunkara, Rene Rojas Jonah Walter (Verso, $19.95, 9781788730303).


Book Review

Review: Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There

Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There by Tali Sharot, Cass R. Sunstein (One Signal/Atria, $28.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781668008201, February 27, 2024)

Best known outside the world of legal scholarship as co-author of the influential Nudge with Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler, Harvard law professor Cass R. Sunstein has returned to the field of human behavior, this time with Tali Sharot, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London and MIT. In their engaging Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There, Sunstein and Sharot explore habituation--our psychological adaption to our environment--and how a consciousness of the subtle ways this phenomenon influences human thoughts and actions can help people lead a more examined, and more fruitful, life.

Combining stories drawn from life and literature with accounts of controlled experiments, some conducted in Sharot's own laboratory, the authors make it clear that habituation is an inescapable, and in many ways essential, fact of human existence. Through numerous examples, they illustrate why "to survive, your brain must prioritize what is new and different." Nonetheless, in considering a broad range of everyday experiences that include social media, creativity, risk assessment, and our adaptation to climate change, they offer useful approaches for awakening from what often amounts to a cognitive fog, to refresh and renew our lives. Whether it's breaking up positive experiences into small chunks, or offering tips to enhance our awareness of pervasive misinformation, their suggestions for eliminating the psychological blind spots that are the product of overfamiliarity are numerous and useful.

Sunstein and Sharot also are fascinated by those they call "dishabituation entrepreneurs," people they single out as "rebels who combat the norms--make them salient." By way of example, they introduce Margaret Sawyer, the mother of a young child from Colorado who spoke up when she saw a Red Cross poster at her local swimming pool that reflected unconscious bias, and alerted its creators to the discrimination it unintentionally reinforced.

And it's at the macro level that the phenomenon of habituation takes on critical importance for Sunstein and Sharot. In a chapter that demands serious reflection by anyone concerned about threats to U.S. democratic norms, they examine the rise of Nazism. While avoiding facile comparisons, they describe how Hitler's worst depredations occurred only as the final links in a chain of wrongs that, for many, seemed relatively easy to ignore as they habituated to escalating discrimination and violence. "When horrors start small and increase gradually, they elicit a weaker emotional reaction, less resistance, and more acceptance," they write, "allowing larger and larger horrors to play out in broad daylight."

Look Again is a worthy addition to literature at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and economics, making them accessible to the general reader. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Cass R. Sunstein and Tali Sharot offer a multifaceted investigation of habituation and offer strategies for overcoming its deleterious effects in our lives.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Hookers and Blow Save Christmas by Munty C. Pepin
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. He's Not My Type by Meghan Quinn
4. The Inmate by Freida McFadden
5. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
6. Midnight Purgatory by Nicole Fox
7. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
8. The Perfect Fit by Sadie Kincaid
9. The Fake Out by Stephanie Archer
10. The Christmas Fix by Lucy Score

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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