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Books to Watch | February 22, 2022

February 22, 2022

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Each and every week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), and Emily Porter (EPP)—highlights a few new books we are most excited about.

This week, our choices are:

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The Language Game: How Improvisation Created Language and Changed the World by Morten H. Christiansen & Nick Chater, Simon & Schuster (DJJS) 

Language is perhaps humanity’s most astonishing capacity—and one that remains poorly understood. In The Language Game, cognitive scientists Morten H. Christiansen and Nick Chater show us where generations of scientists seeking the rules of language got it wrong. Language isn’t about hardwired grammars but about near-total freedom, something like a game of charades, with the only requirement being a desire to understand and be understood. From this new vantage point, Christiansen and Chater find compelling solutions to major mysteries like the origins of languages and how language learning is possible, and to long-running debates such as whether having two words for “blue” changes what we see. In the end, they show that the only real constraint on communication is our imagination. 

 

Level Up: Rise Above the Hidden Forces Holding Your Business Back by Stacey Abrams, Lara Hodgson & Heather Cabot, Portfolio (DJJS) 

It’s never been easier to start a business—and it’s never been harder to scale it. Half of new businesses in America don’t make it past five years. Stacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson want to help today’s entrepreneurs beat the odds by revealing the unseen tethers that keep small businesses from growing and thriving.

Drawing on firsthand experience starting and scaling multiple companies over nearly two decades, Now® cofounders Abrams and Hodgson crystallize their hard-won advice into a single how-to, got-to guide for small business owners. In Level Up, they share intense behind-the-scenes stories of building their own businesses, as well as actionable, get-it-done principles for founders looking to propel their ventures forward. 

This is straight talk from the trenches on real issues like hiring, identifying a revenue strategy, recognizing when growth is a trap, and managing cash flow, from a duo that’s been there. Abrams and Hodgson also elevate and share the experiences of other successful founders including, Jules Pieri of The Grommet, Alisa Clark of Glory Professional Services, and Sheila Jordan of Knowledge Architects. 

New businesses started by entrepreneurs drive net new job growth. Yet, for the last four decades, startups have increasingly struggled to overcome a system of red tape and barriers to capital and commerce. As a new generation of founders launches a flurry of firms in the wake of the pandemic recession, Abrams and Hodgson offer key insights and support to help entrepreneurs break free and get to the next level. 

 

Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses by Jackie Higgins, Atria Books (GMC) 

There is a scientific revolution stirring in the field of human perception. Research has shown that the extraordinary sensory powers of our animal friends can help us better understand the same powers that lie dormant within us. 

From the harlequin mantis shrimp with its ability to see a vast range of colors, to the bloodhound and its hundreds of millions of scent receptors; from the orb-weaving spider whose eyes recognize not only space but time, to the cheetah whose ears are responsible for its perfect agility, these astonishing animals hold the key to better understanding how we make sense of the world around us. Eye-opening and captivating, Sentient will change the way you think about what it is to be human. 

 

What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo, Balentine Books (EPP) 

By age thirty, Stephanie Foo was successful on paper: She had her dream job as an award-winning radio producer at This American Life and a loving boyfriend. But behind her office door she was having panic attacks and sobbing at her desk every morning. After years of questioning what was wrong with herself, she was diagnosed with complex PTSD—a condition that occurs when trauma happens continuously, over the course of years. 

Both of Foo’s parents abandoned her when she was a teenager after years of physical and verbal abuse and neglect. She thought she’d moved on, but her new diagnosis illuminated the way her past continued to threaten her health, relationships, and career. She found limited resources to help her, so Foo set out to heal herself, and to map her experiences onto the scarce literature about C-PTSD. 

In this deeply personal and thoroughly researched account, Foo interviews scientists and psychologists and tries a variety of innovative therapies. She returns to her hometown of San Jose, California, to investigate the effects of immigrant trauma on the community, and she uncovers family secrets in the country of her birth, Malaysia, to learn how trauma can be inherited through generations. Ultimately, she discovers that you don’t move on from trauma—but you can learn to move with it. 

Powerful, enlightening, and hopeful, What My Bones Know is a brave narrative that reckons with the hold of the past over the present, the mind over the body—and examines one woman’s ability to reclaim agency from her trauma. 

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