From the author of the best-selling and beloved The End of Your Life Book Club–a wonderfully engaging new book: both a celebration of reading in general and an impassioned recommendation of specific books that can help guide us through our daily lives.
For readers of W. G. Sebald and Daniel Mendelsohn, by a writer whose storytelling is ‘devastatingly agile’ (New York Times Book Review). Born in Czechoslovakia, Mark Slouka’s parents survived the Nazis only to be forced to then escape the Communist purges after the war. Smuggled out of their own country, the newlyweds joined a tide of refugees moving from Innsbruck to Sydney to New York, dragging with them a history of blood and betrayal that their son would be born into. From World War I to the present, Slouka pieces together a remarkable story of refugees and war, displacement and denial, admitting into evidence memories, dreams, stories, the lies we inherit and the lies we tell — in an attempt to reach his mother, the figure at the center of the labyrinth. Her story — the revelation of her life-long burden and the forty-year love affair that might have saved her — shows the way out of the maze.
You’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.
By Margarita Engle
In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.
Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.
Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?