So many books, so little time – ‘tis the constant lament of bookworms the world over.
We feel you.
Here’s where the year-end best books lists tabled by the likes of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, BBC News, and Goodreads come in handy – they are a good place to start with picking a quality read. The following titles are 2017’s highly acclaimed non-fiction titles available at our store now.
We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe
By Jorge Cham & Daniel Whiteson
PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson teams up to explore everything we don’t know about the universe: the enormous holes in our knowledge of the cosmos. Armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and highly entertaining and lucid explanations of science, they give us the best answers currently available for a lot of questions that are still perplexing scientists. Cham and Whiteson also make a compelling case that the questions we can’t answer are as interesting as the ones we can. With equal doses of humour and delight, Cham and Whiteson invite readers to see the universe as a possibly boundless expanse of uncharted territory that’s still ours to explore. (Hardcover, RM131.95)
Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us
By Sam Kean
It’s invisible. It’s ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell. In Caesar’s Last Breath, bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we’ll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar’s Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second. (Hardcover, RM144.90)
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve And/Or Ruin Everything
By Kelly Weinersmith & Zach Weinersmith
From noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith and the celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith (creator of the hugely popular web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) comes a hilariously illustrated investigation into future technologies. By weaving their own research, interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, and Zach’s trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate 10 different emerging fields, from programmable matter to augmented reality, from space elevators to robotic construction, to show why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way. (Hardcover, RM119.95)
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fuelled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president”.
But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period – and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective – the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.
We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including “Fear of a Black President,” “The Case for Reparations,” and “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. (Paperback, RM89.95)
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
By Neil De Grasse Tyson
What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and bestselling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day. (Hardcover, RM85.90)
How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids
By David France
This multi-award winning book by David France is the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts. Not since the publication of Randy Shilts’ now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms. Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider’s account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide. (Paperback, RM82.90)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
By Roxane Gay
Bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined”, Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens, and twenties-including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life-and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With the bracing candour, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be. (Paperback, RM89.90)
The Undoing Project
By Michael Lewis
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize-winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. (Paperback, RM51.90)
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
By Robert M. Sapolsky
From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behaviour, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do? Sapolsky’s storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: He starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person’s reaction in the precise moment a behaviour occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy. Named a best book of the year by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. (Hardcover, RM89.95)
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
By Yuval Noah Harari
Author of the critically-acclaimed Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style – thorough, yet riveting –famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the 21st century – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. (Hardcover, RM99.90)