Five New Nonfiction Books to Consider

Five new nonfiction books from the beginning of this year that have garnered good reviews.

I.The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (2017, but new in paperback) by Florence Williams.

“I’m no tree hugger,” remarks author Eric Weiner, “but The Nature Fix made me want to run outside and embrace the nearest oak. Not for the tree’s sake but mine. Florence Williams makes a compelling, and elegant, case that nature is not only beautiful but also good for us. If Thoreau were steeped in modern neuroscience and possessed an endearingly self-deprecating sense of humor, the result would be the book you hold in your hands.”

A worthwhile take-away quote:

The idea of solvitur ambulando (in walking it will be solved) has been around since St. Augustine, but well before that Aristotle thought and taught while walking the open-air parapets of the Lyceum. It has long been believed that walking in restorative settings could lead not only to physical vigor but to mental clarity and even bursts of genius, inspiration (with its etymology in breathing) and overall sanity. As French academic Frederic Gros writes in A Philosophy of Walking, it’s simply ‘the best way to go more slowly than any other method that has ever been found.’ Jefferson walked to clear his mind, while Thoreau and Nietzsche, like Aristotle, walked to think…

II. The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris MD.

The work of pediatrician Harris, who is CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, was strongly influenced by reading “The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study” (ACES).

Kirkus Reviews: “In a winning conversational style, Harris explains how adversity ‘harms development and regulation of the immune system throughout someone’s life’ and the ways in which doctors now screen for and treat childhood trauma—sleep, mental health, healthy relationships, exercise, nutrition, and meditation. She notes that adverse childhood experiences affect people of all socioeconomic levels (they are often disguised out of secrecy and shame), and their harmful effects can be passed on from one generation to another.”

III. Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland.

In this case the “oldest old” are six New Yorkers aged 85 and up. Lessons learned in Leland’s research “upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.”

IV. Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness by Melissa Dahl.

In an interview with Angela Chen, The Verge, Dahl describes what she set out to study:

I had to think deeply about how to define awkwardness when I was invited to speak at this amazing tiny little psychology conference called the Symposium of Neglected Emotions…I think awkwardness is self-consciousness with this undercurrent of uncertainty. You’re really aware of how you’re coming off to the world and then there’s an ambiguity about what to do next.

Embarrassment is a huge part of it, too. But embarrassment is like when you get pantsed in high school. I don’t think we’d call that awkward.

Author Adam Grant: “A stunningly captivating, clever, and comical look at why social discomfort haunts us long beyond our teenage years. This book didn’t just help me make sense of my most awkward moments. It liberated me from feeling embarrassed by them. Well, most of them.”

V. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink.

From the review by Matthew Hutson, The Washington Post:

…[Pink calls this] not a how-to book but ‘a when-to book.’

Some tidbits: Exercise in the morning to keep a routine or boost your mood; exercise later in the day to perform better and enjoy it more. Before marrying, date for at least a year and finish your education. The best time to switch jobs for a salary bump is after three years (once you’ve garnered some skills) but before five years (so you’re not too tied to your company).

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