Business, Science, & Social Science | Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2015, Pt. 4


Bock, Laszlo. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead. Twelve. Apr. 2015. 416p. ISBN 9781455554799. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781455554805. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455531455. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. BUSINESS
Billed as Lean In for every manager, this is good guidance from the head of Google’s innovative bocklPeople Operations, who wants to show companies how to attract and keep the best managers. His tips might unsettle: Take away managers’ power over employees, pay unfairly, and trust data (not your gut) to predict and shape the future. Love the read-it-two-ways title; with a 200,000-copy first printing.

Eklund, Fredrik with Bruce Littlefield. The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone. Gotham. Apr. 2015. 272p. ISBN 9781592409310. $26.95. CD: Penguin Audio. BUSINESS
After moving from Sweden to New York, Eklund became a megastar in that city’s hyperkinetic real estate market; now he wows ’em at Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, which airs in 113 countries and is the No. 1 TV show on iTunes. Here’s a primer on how to sell “anything to everyone,” as the author himself says. Will this be big? There were already several thousand preorders seven months before publication date.

Grazer, Brian & Charles Fishman. Curiosity: The Secret to a Bigger Life. S. & S. Apr. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9781476730752. $25.99. BUSINESS
How does Grazer, the Academy Award–nominated producer of films like A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, get inspired? For decades, he has conducted weekly “curiosity conversations” with accomplished individuals he doesn’t know, from scientists to business leaders to spies. Here’s what he’s learned by deciding that curiosity does not kill the cat; note that coauthor Fishman (The Wal-Mart Effect) is a three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb Award.

Mudd, Philip. The HEAD Game: A Spy’s Guide to High-Stakes Risk Management and Decision Making. Liveright: Norton. Apr. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9780871407887. $26.95. BUSINESS
How do you make decisions when the stakes are really, really high? I imagine that the former deputy director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and the FBI’s National Security Branch, currently director of enterprise risk at SouthernSun asset management, might have some answers. The HEAD game? That’s High Efficiency Analytic Decision Making, and it will upend your expectations.

Singer, Tania & Matthieu Ricard, eds. Caring Economics: Conversations on Altruism and Compassion, Between Scientists, Economists, and the Dalai Lama. Picador. Apr. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9781250064127. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250064165. BUSINESS
If you think this book sounds all warm and fuzzy, think again. Drawing on a conference held by the Mind and Life Institute, which in turn was inspired by a series of conferences the Dalai Lama held with scientists, it investigates whether economics is grounded solely in materialism and self-interest or can incorporate concepts of compassion. Smart editors here: Singer directs the Department of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human and Cognitive simplerules2and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, while French Buddhist Ricard, who manages humanitarian projects, has a PhD in cell genetics.

Sull, Donald & Kathleen M. Eisenhardt. Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780544409903. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544409590. BUSINESS
Feeling info-ed out? Sull, senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a global expert on market strategy and execution, and Eisenhardt, professor of Strategy and Organization at Stanford University, offer a framework for the creation of a few simple rules to manage it all. Think of Zipcar’s success with its clear and uncomplicated rules of carsharing. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Social Science

Brooks, David. The Road to Depth. Random. Apr. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780812993257. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780679645030. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. SOCIOLOGY
Whether in school, business, sports, or entertainment, we tend to reward the most obvious successes—and hence the best self-promoters. But does that make for a better society? New York Times columnist Brooks, whose books include the No. 1 New York Times (and Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times) best seller The Social Animal, asks us to resist the “Big Me” ethos, go for humility and connection, and fulfill ourselves by forgetting ourselves. A tall order; with an 11-city tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Miami, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Coupland, Douglas with Hans Ulrich Obrist & Shumon Basar. Age of Earthquakes: A Toolbox for the Extreme Present. Blue Rider. Apr. 2015. 128p. ISBN 9780399173868. pap. $20. SOCIAL SCIENCE/POPULAR CULTURE
A portrait of the digital era in determinedly paper format. A new world history as the old world fades. A study showing that human experience from love to politics feels completely different in our brave new world—and that we’re changing the very structure of our planet. This drum-roll project, spearheaded by novelist, visual artist, and designer Coupland (Worst. Person. Ever.), is a beautifully illustrated mind blower.

Daum, Meghan, ed. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not To Have Kids. Picador. Apr. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9781250052933. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250052940. ESSAYS
Already stirring first serial interest, this book could stir controversy, too. Compiled by Daum, a Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist, it features essays from 16 literary stars—among them Lionel Shriver, Sigrid Nunez, and Geoff Dyer—on why they have chosen not to have children. In eltahawyan age of helicopter parents, with the added notion that we really can have it all, this is a daring stance indeed. Supportive reading for some, insight for others.

Eltahawy, Mona. Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution. Faber & Faber. Apr. 2015. 192p. ISBN 9780865478039. $23; ebk. ISBN 9780374710651. RELIGION/GENDER STUDIES
In a 2012 piece titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” that appeared in Foreign Policy, Egyptian American journalist Eltahawy explored the misogyny that besets the Arab world. The result? Some 4,000 posts on the magazine’s website, numerous TV and radio interviews, and now this book, which expands on the original to argue that women in the Arab world are fighting two battles: one with men against repressive regimes and one against a political and social structure that debases women. Here she draws on stories she’s gleaned from her travels through the Middle East and North Africa to write what is by all accounts an angry book with a clear and hopeful message.

Imig, Ann. Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now. Putnam. Apr. 2015. 256p. ISBN 9780399169854. $25.95. FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
In 2010, Imig decided that Mother’s Day needed to get beyond the Hallmark-bedecked focus on individual mothers and become a community-focused event. Thus she founded the live-reading series “Listen to Your Mother,” which brought people together for a moment of sharing and also served to help local nonprofits for women and children. An impressive 300 member gathered for the first event in Madison, WI, and the series has turned into a skyrocketing movement that’s spread to dozens of cities. Imig collects pieces from the series that reflect on being, having, and losing a mother, with issues ranging from infertility and first-time motherhood to LGBTQ parenting and step-mothering.

Pinney, Melissa Ann (illus.) & Ann Patchett (text). Two. HarperDesign. Apr. 2015. 208p. ISBN 9780062334428. $29.99. PHOTOGRAPHY
Photographer Pinney, whose work can be found in museums ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Art Institute of Chicago, here presents 75 full-color illustrations exploring the relationship between two beings—friends, lovers, relatives, teammates, pets, and more. The concept is further explored in essays by ten key writers, among them Edwidge Danticat, Elizabeth Gilbert, Allan Gurganus, and Richard Russo, with Ann Patchett acting as editor and providing an introduction. In-house excitement.

Quinones, Sam. Dreamland. Bloomsbury.Apr. 2015. 384p. ISBN 9781620402504. $28. SOCIOLOGY
In the 1990s, pain medications were on their way to hooking millions of Americans and Purdue Pharma was marketing the highly addictive OxyContin as a miracle drug. At the same time, black-tar heroin, a cheap and powerful form of the drug produced in Mexico independent of the drug cartels, began making its way into America, devastating small heartland communities thought to have been immune to such abuse. Former Los Angeles Times reporter Quinones pairs the two phenomena as a study in addiction, the power of overwhelmingly persuasive marketing, and a huge social problem in America today.


Barnett, Cynthia. Rain. Crown. 368p. ISBN 9780804137096. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780804137102. METEOROLOGY
From veteran environmental and science journalist Barnett (Blue Revolution), here’s the story of barnettcsomething absolutely crucial, since it’s the source of all the world’s water. From the downpours that filled the oceans four billion years ago to the mega-storms whipped up by today’s climate change, from the shape of the raindrop to the ancient rain dances and modern levees we use to control rain, from the origins of the term cloud nine to the way Seattle’s misty climate inspired Kurt Cobain, Barnett intrigues us with her stories while showing that rain is one thing that ties divided humanity together.

Dyson, Freeman. Dreams of Earth and Sky. NYRB. Apr. 2015. 300p. ISBN 9781590178546. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590178553. SCIENCE
This new collection of essays by the distinguished Dyson, a former professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton who did key work in physics by unifying quantum and electrodynamic theory while writing accessibly for lay readers, explains important scientific concepts while recalling the ups and downs of a life spent in scientific inquiry.

Perlmutter. David with Kristin Loberg. Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes To Heal and Protect Your Brain—for Life. Little, Brown. 336p. ISBN 9780316380102. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316380089. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. HEALTH/FITNESS
Winner of the Linus Pauling Award, author of the No. 1 New York Times best seller Grain Brain, and editor in chief of the global online and print peer–reviewed journal Brain and Gut, Perlmutter knows everything there is to know about brains and guts. Here he explains how intestinal microbes interact with the brain, assuring its health, with lots of good advice on keeping those microbes jumping. With a 300,000-copy first printing.

Swaby, Rachel. Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World. Broadway. 272p. ISBN 9780553446791. pap. $19; ebk. ISBN 9780553446807. Downloadable: Random Audio. SCIENCE/WOMEN’S STUDIES
Never mind the prominent role particle physicist Fabiola Gianotti played in CERN’s work to discover the Higgs boson, women just don’t get the encouragement they need and deserve to pursue careers in science. Here’s a handy book to help encourage young women to put themselves on the scitech path, with profiles of 52 women from Nobel Prize winners to major innovators and more who have made a difference in science.


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.