Marshmallow Tests and Swimming Puppies | More Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2014, Pt. 5

Aptowicz, Cristin O’Keefe. Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. Gotham. Sept. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781592408702. $27.50. BIOGRAPHY/MEDICINE
Whether you know it or not, you are deeply indebted to Thomas Dent Mütter, a plastic surgeon in mid-19th-century Philadelphia who pioneered the use of anesthesia and the sterilization of medical tools. Published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Philadelphia-based Mütter Museum, which apparently attracts mobs of 25- to 35-year olds as no other science museum can.

Barrett, Paul M. Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing To Win It. Crown. 272p. ISBN barrett9780770436346. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780770436353. Downloadable: Random Audio. LAW
In 1991, Harvard-educated lawyer Steven Donziger joined the class-action lawsuit against Texaco (later Chevron, after the companies merged) that sought reparations for Ecuadorean aboriginal tribes whose lives and lands had been wholly despoiled by the company’s oil drilling. As lead lawyer, he eventually won a $19 billion judgment for his clients, but his court behavior could be as outrageous and questionably ethical as that of the opposition. From the author of the best-selling Glock.

Biss, Eula. On Immunity: An Inoculation. Graywolf. Sept. 2014. 216p. ISBN 9781555976897. $24. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Biss, who won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism for Notes from No Man’s Land, an examination of race in America, takes on another controversial topic: vaccination in America. From the perspective of a young mother, she considers the issue of fear—of the government, the medical establishment, and the possibility of environmental harm to her child—while parsing what we owe ourselves and what we owe our community. With a seven-city tour to New York City, Boston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Portland (OR), and Seattle.

Casteel, Seth. Underwater Puppies. Little, Brown. Sept. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9780316254892. $21. PHOTOGRAPHY
Underwater Dogs, Casteel’s portraits of dogs joyously paddling beneath the waves, proved to be underwaterthe best-selling book of photography in 2012–13, with 11 weeks on the New York Times best sellers list. So you can be sure that these 80 portraits of cute puppies underwater will sell a bundle. With a 100,000-copy first printing and an 11-city tour to Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, Chicago, Nashville, and Washington DC.

Doughty, Caitlin. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory. Norton. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780393240238. $24.95. MEMOIR
Called “America’s (kinda dark) sweetheart” (Huffington Post), Doughty satisfied her fascination with life’s hidden corners by taking a job in a crematorium after completing a degree in medieval history. Now she’s creator and host of the “Ask a Mortician” web series. Her memoir already has readers lining up; with a six-city tour to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York.

Harris, Sam. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. S. & S. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781451636017. $26. SCIENCE/PHILOSOPHY
Cofounder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit foundation promoting scientific knowledge harrissamand secular values, philosopher/neuroscientist and best-selling author Harris (e.g., The End of Faith) is generally counted among the so-called New Atheists, who include Richard Dawkins. Here he offers a guide to those who want spirituality without religion, working on the assumption that Jesus, Buddha, et al. weren’t touched by the divine but weren’t necessarily crazy, either, and have something valuable to tell us. Set to kick up some dust.

Harvey, Steve. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering the Way to Life’s Riches. Amistad. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780062220325. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062220349. CD: HarperAudio. SELF-HELP
When Harvey talks, people listen; his hit NBC talk show, The Steve Harvey Show, is seen by over two million viewers daily; he boasts a nationally syndicated morning radio show and the long-running game show Family Feud as well; and his first book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, has sold almost 500,000 copies across formats. His new book aims to help readers define their particular talents and use them well. With a 750,000-copy first printing.

Maitland, Sara. How To Be Alone: The School of Life. Picador. Sept. 2014. 208p. ISBN 9781250059024. pap. $16; ebk ISBN 9781250059031. SELF-HELP/PHILOSOPHY
Including Alain de Botton’s How To Think More About Sex and Philippa Perry’s How To Stay Sane, which got great New York Times review attention, Picador’s just launched “The School of Life” series goes after life’s big, practical questions. This new book by Maitland, author of the Somerset Maugham Award–winning Daughter of Jerusalem, asks how to enjoy solitude in a marshmallowworld that says we gotta be out there, connected and partying.

Mischel, Walter. The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control. Little, Brown. Sept. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780316230872. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316365727. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316230858. PSYCHOLOGY
In his famous Marshmallow Test, a study on delayed gratification conducted in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mischel presented children with a choice: eat one marshmallow now or wait and enjoy two later. Those who demonstrated the self-control to wait proved eventually to have higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, and more successful lives generally. Mischel here offers an interesting self-help book on enhancing self-control that could be an interesting discussion book as well; note some recent criticisms of the test.

Munroe, Randall. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Houghton. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780544272996. $24. ebk. ISBN 9780544272644. HUMOR/TRIVIA
Munroe originated the hugely popular webcomic xkcd, which had over 59 million unique visitors and over 1.1 billion page views in 2012, as well as the science question-and-answer blog What If? Here he addresses such interesting questions as,  How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and still live? Billed as geeky trivia and going out there with a 100,000-copy first printing.

Nordberg, Jenny. The Underground Girls of Kabul. Crown. Sept. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780307952493. $25. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Nordberg’s New York Times piece “Afghan Boys Are Prized, So Girls Live the Part” elicited millions of views worldwide, so a book was inevitable. Here, Swedish journalist Nordberg explains the Afghan practice of bacha posh, raising girls as boys in a culture that devalues the female sex. These girls get greater opportunity and status, but what happens when they acidtestbecome adults? And what does this say to the rest of us? Pushed back from April 2014.

Shales, Tom James & Andrew Miller. Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Little, Brown. rev. ed. 656p. 9780316295048. $28.  TELEVISION
Originally published to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, this book returns for the 40th anniversary with 100 pages of new material on the stars, skits, and hijinks that we’ve seen in the last ten years.

Shroder, Tom. Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power To Heal. Blue Rider. Sept. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780399162794. $27.95. HISTORY/PSYCHOLOGY
Not just a casual means of tripping, psychedelics have long been used in the study of the mind and are an especially effective means of treating conditions like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To clarify, distinguished journalist/author Schroder (Old Souls) covers 50 years of research while focusing on three men: Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies; psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer, involved in psychedelic therapy research; and his patient Nick Blackston, a former Marine devastated by his experiences is Iraq. Serious reading.

Williams, Paul & Tracey Jackson. Gratitude and Trust: Recovery Is Not Just for Addicts. Blue Rider. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780399167195. $27.95. SELF-HELP
Oscar–, Grammy–, and Golden Globe Award–winning Hall of Fame songwriter Williams, currently the president of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), is also a recovering addict. Here he joins with blogger/screenwriter Jackson to offer a guide applying the tenets—and necessary hopefulness—of recovery programs to people who aren’t addicts but still have compulsions or roommatesfears to tackle.

Wu, Stephanie, ed. The Roommates: True Tales of Friendship, Rivalry, Romance, and Disturbingly Close Quarters. Picador. Sept. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9781250051455. pap. $16. ISBN 9781250051462. HUMOR/ESSAYS
The roommate stories in this second addition to Picador’s “True Tales” series (after The Bridesmaids, coming in May and already bearing a Barnes and Noble “Editor’s Recommendation”) go way beyond boarding-school and college campuses to talk about the roomie experience in beach houses, retirement homes, and more. But it still could give back-to-schoolers some solid advice—and laughs.



Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.