News of the World, March 14, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


News of the world 3-14

Wishing that you had a retro selfie like Colin Powell? We can relate. But what about the motivation behind acts of vanity like selfies? Are narcissism and vanity really as bad as they seem? Can we avoid them even if we try? In Mirror, Mirror, Simon Blackburn, the author of such best-selling philosophy books as Think, Being Good, and Lust, says that narcissism, vanity, pride, and self-esteem are more complex than they first appear and have innumerable good and bad forms. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, history, and popular culture, Blackburn offers an enlightening and entertaining exploration of self-love, from the myth of Narcissus and the Christian story of the Fall to today’s self-esteem industry.

Mirror, Mirror was named as the book of the week in the Times Higher Education:

“Blackburn is not just a sure and supremely knowledgeable narrator in whom we can have utmost confidence, but one with a quirky ear, alert to the curious side note and irrefutable detail that can make his sometimes dusty discipline gleam with a new sheen and edge.” — Shahidha Bari, Times Higher Education

Read the introduction of Mirror, Mirror here.


The weekend is the perfect time to break out those oven mitts, and luckily, we have inspiration for your upcoming kitchen session. When Merry White’s Cooking for Crowds was first published in 1974, home cooks in America were just waking up to the great foods the rest of the world was eating, from pesto and curries to Ukrainian pork and baklava. Now Merry White’s indispensable classic is back in print for a new generation of readers to savor, and her international recipes are as crowd-pleasing as ever–whether you are hosting a large party numbering in the dozens, or a more intimate gathering of family and friends.

In this delightful cookbook, White shares all the ingenious tricks she learned as a young Harvard graduate student earning her way through school as a caterer to European scholars, heads of state, and cosmopolitans like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. With the help of her friend Julia Child, the cook just down the block in Cambridge, White surmounted unforeseen obstacles and epic-sized crises in the kitchen, along the way developing the surefire strategies described here.

Check out this recent BBC highlight about how Julia Child helped Merry White to remedy a burnt dish. You can also view an interview with Merry White on Midweek.

 

Ready to try your hand at a recipe? Try this sample recipe for tabbouleh and comment below with which recipe from the book you plan to try.


Good things come in small packages. Next up on our list is Diane Coyle’s new book, GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. This book traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today. The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented, how it has changed over the decades, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

The book explains why even small changes in GDP can decide elections, influence major political decisions, and determine whether countries can keep borrowing or be thrown into recession. The book ends by making the case that GDP was a good measure for the twentieth century but is increasingly inappropriate for a twenty-first-century economy driven by innovation, services, and intangible goods.

 

“[A] little charmer of a book…GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History is just what the title promises….Cowperthwaite himself would nod in agreement over Ms. Coyle’s informed discussion of what the GDP misses and how it misfires…Ms. Coyle—a graceful and witty writer, by the way—recounts familiar problems and adds some new ones….[E]xcellent”—James Grant

 


How are you handling the stress? The stress of making your March Madness brackets, of course. Unsure of where to start? Is this the year you will finally use something other than jersey color to make your bracket? PUP author Tim Chartier has your answers. He was featured this week on Bloomberg’s website, and he spoke about his strategy for creating a bracket that places him in the 97th percentile of brackets submitted to ESPN.

Ready to go in on Warren Buffet’s $1 Billion basketball challenge? We want Professor Chartier on our team. In the meantime, check out his new book, Math Bytes. This book provides a fun, hands-on approach to learning how mathematics and computing relate to the world around us and help us to better understand it. How can reposting on Twitter kill a movie’s opening weekend? How can you use mathematics to find your celebrity look-alike? What is Homer Simpson’s method for disproving Fermat’s Last Theorem?

Each topic in this refreshingly inviting book illustrates a famous mathematical algorithm or result–such as Google’s PageRank and the traveling salesman problem–and the applications grow more challenging as you progress through the chapters. But don’t worry, helpful solutions are provided each step of the way. Math Bytes shows you how to do calculus using a bag of chocolate chips, and how to prove the Euler characteristic simply by doodling. Generously illustrated in color throughout, this lively and entertaining book also explains how to create fractal landscapes with a roll of the dice, pick a competitive bracket for March Madness, decipher the math that makes it possible to resize a computer font or launch an Angry Bird–and much, much more. All of the applications are presented in an accessible and engaging way, enabling beginners and advanced readers alike to learn and explore at their own pace–a bit and a byte at a time.

 

Can I “Book” You to Be My Valentine?

Calling all lovebirds and book lovers — happy Valentine’s Day!

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Have you been shot by Cupid this year? Or are you boycotting the day by wearing black? Maybe you’re just looking forward to the after-Valentine’s-Day sale on candy at the supermarket (or is that just us?). Don’t sweat it — regardless of your Valentine’s Day mood, PUP has compiled a holiday roundup of reading selections just for you.

For those who… are their own Valentine. What’s wrong with self love? You know just what type of chocolates you like. Perfect!

Mirror, MirrorPUP author Simon Blackburn takes on the issue of narcissism in his new book, Mirror, Mirror. Everyone deplores narcissism, especially in others. The vain are by turns annoying or absurd, offending us whether they are blissfully oblivious or proudly aware of their behavior. But are narcissism and vanity really as bad as they seem? Can we avoid them even if we try? In Mirror, Mirror, Simon Blackburn, the author of such best-selling philosophy books as Think, Being Good, and Lust, says that narcissism, vanity, pride, and self-esteem are more complex than they first appear and have innumerable good and bad forms. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, history, and popular culture, Blackburn offers an enlightening and entertaining exploration of self-love, from the myth of Narcissus and the Christian story of the Fall to today’s self-esteem industry.

So before you answer “who is the fairest of them all,” this Valentine’s Day, check out the introduction to Mirror, Mirror.

For those who… are spending the day with a valentine. Today is your day! But don’t worry — we won’t tell your partner that sometimes during the other 364, you wonder whether opposites really do attract.

Odd CouplesAfter reading Daphne J. Fairbairn’s Odd Couples, you may have a new appreciation for your partner’s different style of folding laundry. While we joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can’t compare to those of other animals. For instance, the male garden spider spontaneously dies after mating with a female more than fifty times his size. Female cichlids must guard their eggs and larvae–even from the hungry appetites of their own partners. And male blanket octopuses employ a copulatory arm longer than their own bodies to mate with females that outweigh them by four orders of magnitude. Why do these gender gulfs exist? Introducing readers to important discoveries in animal behavior and evolution, Odd Couples explores some of the most extraordinary sexual differences in the animal world.

Share the introduction with your special someone.

For those who… find that their relationship is best described as “it’s complicated.” You’re not alone in your confusion about today’s world of dating and relationships.

The Paradox of LoveIn fact, PUP author Pascal Bruckner tackles the explanation of love’s supreme paradox, epitomized by the 1960s oxymoron of “free love”: the tension between freedom, which separates, and love, which attaches. The sexual revolution is justly celebrated for the freedoms it brought–birth control, the decriminalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce, greater equality between the sexes, women’s massive entry into the workforce, and more tolerance of homosexuality. But as Bruckner, one of France’s leading writers, argues in his book, The Paradox of Love, our new freedoms have also brought new burdens and rules–without, however, wiping out the old rules, emotions, desires, and arrangements: the couple, marriage, jealousy, the demand for fidelity, the war between constancy and inconstancy. It is no wonder that love, sex, and relationships today are so confusing, so difficult, and so paradoxical.

This Valentine’s Day, we remind you to keep calm, and… read the introduction here.

For those who… forgot that it was Valentine’s Day. The local CVS is out of candy, and the Hallmark cards display only has envelopes left. What is a valentine to do?

Scroogenomics

Well, according to PUP author Joel Waldfogel, the annual gift giving at holidays may in fact be a waste. How many of us get gifts we like? How many of us give gifts not knowing what recipients want? Did your cousin really look excited about that jumping alarm clock? Lively and informed, Waldfogel’s Scroogenomics illustrates how our consumer spending generates vast amounts of economic waste–to the shocking tune of eighty-five billion dollars each winter holiday season. Waldfogel provides solid explanations to show us why it’s time to stop the madness and think twice before buying gifts for the holidays.

Check out the video below for an interview with the author.

 

 

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