Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

hidden-figuresBy Margot Lee Sheerly. An account of the previously unheralded but pivotal contributions of NASA’s African-American women mathematicians to America’s space program describes how they were segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws in spite of their groundbreaking successes.

When in French: Love in a Second Language

when-in-french“When New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins moves to Geneva, Switzerland, she decides to learn French–not just to be able to go about her day-to-day life, but in order to be closer to her French husband and his family. When in French is at once a hilarious and idiosyncratic memoir about the things we do for love, and an exploration across cultures and history into how we learn languages, and what they say about who we are”

The Sound of Gravel

Sound of GravelAn account of the author’s coming-of-age in a polygamist Mormon cult describes her childhood on a farm in rural Mexico as one of her father’s more than forty welfare-dependent children and her escape in the aftermath of a devastating tragedy.

Maggie Smith: A Biography

Maggie SmithAn intimate portrait of a truly remarkable performer—known most recently for her star turn in Downton Abbey—whose stage and screen career spans 60 years is written with her blessing and drawn from her personal archives as well as interviews with immediate family and close friends.

Navel Gazing: True Tales of Bodies, Mostly Mine (but Also My Mom’s, Which I Know Sounds Weird)

Navel GazingThe New York Times best-selling author (and Connecticut author!) and stand-up comedian, in a candid and humorous memoir, reexamines his life as a middle-aged guy and confronts his genetic legacy as he enters his 40s.

The Courage to Act

CourageActThe Courage to Act
By Ben S. Bernanke

In 2006, Ben S. Bernanke was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve, the unexpected apex of a personal journey from small-town South Carolina to prestigious academic appointments and finally public service in Washington s halls of power.

There would be no time to celebrate.

The bursting of a housing bubble in 2007 exposed the hidden vulnerabilities of the global financial system, bringing it to the brink of meltdown. From the implosion of the investment bank Bear Stearns to the unprecedented bailout of insurance giant AIG, efforts to arrest the financial contagion consumed Bernanke and his team at the Fed. Around the clock, they fought the crisis with every tool at their disposal to keep the United States and world economies afloat.

Working with two U.S. presidents, and under fire from a fractious Congress and a public incensed by behavior on Wall Street, the Fed alongside colleagues in the Treasury Department successfully stabilized a teetering financial system. With creativity and decisiveness, they prevented an economic collapse of unimaginable scale and went on to craft the unorthodox programs that would help revive the U.S. economy and become the model for other countries.

Rich with detail of the decision-making process in Washington and indelible portraits of the major players, The Courage to Act recounts and explains the worst financial crisis and economic slump in America since the Great Depression, providing an insider s account of the policy response.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

You're Never Weird on the InternetYou’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir
By Felicia Day

From online entertainment pioneer, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a “relentlessly funny and surprisingly inspirational” (Forbes.com), memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and embracing her weirdness to find her place in the world.

When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth – finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world. Her relative isolation meant that she could pursue passions like gaming, calculus, and 1930’s detective novels without shame. Because she had no idea how “uncool” she really was.

But if it hadn’t been for her strange background –  the awkwardness continued when she started college at sixteen, with Mom driving her to campus every day – she might never have had the naive confidence to forge her own path. Like when she graduated as valedictorian with a math degree and then headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting despite having zero contacts. Or when she tired of being typecast as the crazy cat-lady secretary and decided to create her own web series before people in show business understood that online video could be more than just cats chasing laser pointers.

Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety and depression – and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.

Showcasing Felicia’s “engaging and often hilarious voice” (USA TODAY), You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should celebrate what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now – even for a digital misfit.


By Jane McGonigal

An innovative guide to living gamefully, based on the program that has already helped nearly half a million people achieve remarkable personal growth.

In 2009, internationally renowned game designer Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion. Unable to think clearly or work or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a resilience-building game. What started as a simple motivational exercise quickly became a set of rules for post-traumatic growth that she shared on her blog. These rules led to a digital game and a major research study with the National Institutes of Health. Today nearly half a million people have played SuperBetter to get stronger, happier, and healthier.

But the life-changing ideas behind SuperBetter are much bigger than just one game. In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games including videogames, sports, and puzzles change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more gameful mindset. Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination to real-world goals.

Drawing on hundreds of studies, McGonigal shows that getting superbetter is as simple as tapping into the three core psychological strengths that games help you build: your ability to control your attention, and therefore your thoughts and feelings; your power to turn anyone into a potential ally, and to strengthen your existing relationships; and your natural capacity to motivate yourself and super-charge your heroic qualities, like willpower, compassion, and determination.

SuperBetter contains nearly 100 playful challenges anyone can undertake in order to build these gameful strengths. It includes stories and data from people who have used the SuperBetter method to get stronger in the face of illness, injury, and other major setbacks, as well as to achieve goals like losing weight, running a marathon, and finding a new job.

As inspiring as it is down to earth, and grounded in rigorous research, SuperBetter is a proven game plan for a better life. You’ll never say that something is just a game again.

The Theft of Memory

TyphoidIn a riveting biography that reads like a crime novel, a Sibert Medalist and Newbery-Honor winner uncovers the true story of Mary Mallon, a.k.a. Typhoid Mary, one of the most notorious and misunderstood women in American history. (yes, it is a book for 9-11 year olds, but it is awesome!)

Yoga Girl

Yoga Girl

Part self-help and part memoir, Yoga Girl is an inspirational, full-color look at the adventure that took writer and yoga teacher Rachel Brathen from her hometown in Sweden to the jungles of Costa Rica and finally to a paradise island in the Caribbean that she now calls home. In Yoga Girl, she gives readers an in-depth look at her journey from her self-destructive teenage years to the bohemian life she’s built through yoga and meditation in Aruba today. Featuring photos of Brathen practicing yoga in tropical locales, along with step-by-step yoga sequences and simple recipes.