Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

November 5, 2017

Nonfiction Paperbacks Examine Our Accelerating Lifestyles and Assumptions About How Minds Work
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman. Slow down - we're moving too fast. That's the premise of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Friedman's new book.
His thesis: to u nderstand the 21st century, you need to understand that the planet's three largest forces - Moore's law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss) - are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community. The year 2007 was the major inflection point: the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, created a new technology platform that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships.  
The good news, according to Friedman, is that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations if we slow down, dare to be late, and use the time to re-imagine work, politics, and community.   
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis. The always-interesting Lewis has made a career out of writing well about a variety of subjects, including baseball ( Moneyball), big money ( Liar's Poker, The Big Short) and his own fatherhood ( Home Game). Now, he tackles the world of science and behavioral economics in examining a unique collaboration between two Israeli psychologists intent on better understanding how and when the human mind works.
Forty years ago, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Lewis's own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are arguably more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms. Although Tversky died in 1996, Lewis was able to interview Kahneman extensively for the book, which adds to the richness of the narrative. The two were an unlikely pair in some ways, but their partnership was one the most extraordinary in the history of science and Lewis makes their story eminently readable. Not surprisingly, by the way, The Undoing Project has also spurred sales of  Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. 
Political Insider Tells All About Democratic Presidential Bid 
Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile. Although the book doesn't officially publish until Tuesday, numerous details have already leaked and become front-page news throughout the news media. Brazile is the former head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), a well-known CNN political analyst (until last year), and a longtime political operative in Washington. After Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as chairperson of the Democratic National Committee on July 24, 2016, Brazile became interim chairperson of the DNC - a position she had held previously in 2011. It's from that perspective that she has written this rather scathing account of the recent presidential campaign, which even includes her eventually discarded deliberations about trying to replace Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine on the ticket with Joe Biden and Cory Booker as late as September of 2016. 
Brazile pulls no punches in her criticisms - the Russians get plenty as well - and is adamant that the Democratic party needs to own up to its mistakes before it can effectively move forward. And although she herself was dropped by CNN after a Wikileaks e-mail dump indicated that she had passed along possible debate questions to the Clinton campaign, Brazile is unquestionably an insider whose knowledge and experience can't be ignored. As a result, you'll be hearing a lot about Hacks in the coming days and weeks.   

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Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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