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Books to Watch | July 5, 2022

July 05, 2022

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Looking for your next great read? We're here to help! Each week, our marketing team—Dylan Schleicher (DJJS), Gabbi Cisneros (GMC), Emily Porter (EPP), and Jasmine Gonzalez (JAG)—highlights four newly released books we are most excited about. 

Book descriptions are provided by the publisher unless otherwise noted.

This week, our choices are:

Cloudmoney: Cash, Cards, Crypto, and the War for Our Wallets by Brett Scott, Harper Business (DJJS) 

Since the 2007 Global Financial Crisis, banking giants have retreated from the public spotlight, giving center stage to Big Tech corporations that reach into our lives via our digital devices. Big Finance firms, however, have taken advantage of this to reinvent their own image via fintech innovations that paste a new digital face over their old practices. Now, behind our friendly-looking smartphone apps, a dangerous system of financial control and surveillance is emerging, forged from a symbiotic fusion of Big Finance and Tech. 

In this timely and eye-opening book, Brett Scott shows how this fusion requires “cloudmoney”—digital money underpinned by the banking sector—to replace physical cash. Scott clearly explains the technical, political, and cultural differences between our different forms of money, and shows how the cash system has been under attack for decades, as banking and tech companies promote a “cashless society” under the banner of progress” (a process accelerated in the wake of Covid-19). Scott reveals the deep class politics beneath this, lays out the coming battles between techno-utopians and those who do not want to exist in the Cloud, and critically analyzes the claims made by cryptocurrency promoters, who believe blockchain technology offers an escape. Cloudmoney paints a stark portrait of a future that is closer than we think, and offers a defense of slowness—and the physical—in a world caught in an accelerating vortex of the digital. 

 

A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America by Sofia Ali-Khan, Random House (JAG) 

Sofia Ali-Khan’s parents emigrated from Pakistan to America, believing it would be a good country. With a nerdy interest in American folk history and a devotion to the rule of law, Ali-Khan would pursue a career in social justice, serving some of America’s most vulnerable communities. By the time she had children of her own–having lived, worked and worshipped in twelve different towns across the nation–Ali-Khan felt deeply American, maybe even a little extra American for having seen so much of the country. In the wake of 9/11, and on the cusp of the 2016 election, Ali-Khan’s dream of a good life felt under constant threat. As the vitriolic attacks on Islam and Muslims intensified, she wondered if the American dream had ever applied to families like her own, and if she had gravely misunderstood her home. 
 
In A Good Country, Ali-Khan revisits the color lines in each of her twelve towns, unearthing the half-buried histories of forced migration that still shape every state, town, and reservation in America today. From the surprising origins of America’s Chinatowns, and the expulsion of Maroon and Seminole people during the conquest of Florida, to Virginia’s stake in breeding humans for sale, Ali-Khan reveals how America’s settler colonial origins have defined the law and landscape to maintain a White America. She braids this historical exploration with her own story, providing an intimate perspective on the modern racialization of American Muslims, and why she chose to leave. 
 
Equal parts memoir, history, and current events, A Good Country presents a vital portrait of our nation, its people, and the pathway to a better future. 

 

Human Blues: A Novel by Elisa Albert, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster (EPP) 

On the eve of her fourth album, singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner is plagued by infertility. The twist: as much as Aviva wants a child, she is wary of technological conception, and has poured her ambivalence into her music. As the album makes its way in the world, the shock of the response from fans and critics is at first exciting—and then invasive and strange. Aviva never wanted to be famous, or did she? Meanwhile, her evolving obsession with another iconic musician, gone too soon, might just help her make sense of things. 
 
Told over the course of nine menstrual cycles, Human Blues is a bold, brainy, darkly funny, utterly original interrogation of our cultural obsession with childbearing. It’s also the story of one fearless woman at the crossroads, ruthlessly questioning what she wants and what she’s willing—or not willing—to do to get it. 

 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin, Knopf (GMC) 

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. 
 
These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts. 
 
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before. 

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