From witty gag gifts to books that demystify science, here are our reading recommendations for the month of February.
This volume from Andy Selsberg, a former staff writer for The Onion and author of Dear Old Love, is a laugh-out-loud love letter to the things we are great at—225 pages of them.
The book celebrates skills like “hooking up electronic devices” and “getting the bartender’s attention” to those too-often unsung abilities like “sensing how many sheets the stapler can handle.” It’s definitely a gag book meant for brief and occasional leaf-throughs, but is also perfect for gifting a friend (or yourself) for times we need to be reminded of how frustratingly difficult even life’s tiny trivialities can be, and how great we actually are at getting through them.
You Are Good At Things: A Checklist by Andy Selsberg is available at Garden Books for RMB 120
It’s taken years for graphic novels to earn the respect they deserve as novels in their own right. Author and illustrator Gene Luen Yang’s deceptively simple artwork and coloring belie a dual-sided narrative fitting for a time in Chinese history that was both violent and complicated.
The story is divided into two volumes that tell two sides of the same conflict. In Boxers, a young Chinese peasant becomes embroiled in what would later be known as the Boxer Rebellion, and enlists help to to fight the “foreign devils” wreaking havoc in the countryside. The protagonist in Saints is a young Christian Chinese girl who is ultimately forced to choose between her faith and those fighting for her country’s liberation.
Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang is available at Garden Books for RMB 190
The world of economics and high finance is complex, opaque and quite frankly, boring to anyone who isn’t part of it. But Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short, Flash Boys) has a rare talent for parsing through the figures and jargon of this world and weaving together a compelling story.
His latest book profiles the work of two pioneering Israeli psychologists who questioned some of our basic assumptions about how humans make decisions. According to their findings, we aren’t the rational, clear-headed beings we thought we were. Poor decision making plagues us at all levels, from personal finance to public policy. Their Nobel Prize-winning work became the basis for a new branch of social science called “Behavioral Economics.”
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis is available at Garden Books for RMB 290
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