All posts by George Cooper

Silence in the Age of Noise – Erling Kagge

What is silence? Where can it be found? Why is it now more important than ever?

In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, becoming the first person to reach the South Pole alone, accompanied only by a radio whose batteries he had removed before setting out. In this book. an astonishing and transformative meditation, Kagge explores the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create. By recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, Kagge shows us why silence is essential to sanity and happiness–and how it can open doors to wonder and gratitude. (With full-color photographs throughout.)

Dawn of the New Everything – Jaron Lanier

The father of virtual reality explains its dazzling possibilities by reflecting on his own lifelong relationship with technology

Bridging the gap between tech mania and the experience of being inside the human body, Dawn of the New Everything is a look at what it means to be human at a moment of unprecedented technological possibility.

Through a fascinating look back over his life in technology, Jaron Lanier, an interdisciplinary scientist and father of the term “virtual reality,” exposes VR’s ability to illuminate and amplify our understanding of our species, and gives readers a new perspective on how the brain and body connect to the world. An inventive blend of autobiography, science writing, philosophy and advice, this book tells the wild story of his personal and professional life as a scientist, from his childhood in the UFO territory of New Mexico, to the loss of his mother, the founding of the first start-up, and finally becoming a world-renowned technological guru.

Understanding virtual reality as being both a scientific and cultural adventure, Lanier demonstrates it to be a humanistic setting for technology. While his previous books offered a more critical view of social media and other manifestations of technology, in this book he argues that virtual reality can actually make our lives richer and fuller.

The Sentient Machine – Amir Husain

In the tradition of Michio Kaku’s The Future of the Mind, acclaimed technologist and inventor Amir Husain answers the universal question of how we can live amidst the coming age of sentient machines and artificial intelligence–and not only survive, but thrive.

The future is now. Artificial “machine” intelligence is playing an ever-greater role in our society. We are already using cruise control in our cars, automatic checkout at the drugstore, and are unable to live without our smartphones. The discussion around AI is largely polarized; people think either machines will solve all problems for everyone, or they will lead us down a dark, dystopian path into total human irrelevance. Regardless of what you believe, the idea that we might bring forth intelligent creation can be intrinsically frightening.

But what if our greatest role as humans so far is that of creators? Amir Husain, a brilliant inventor and computer scientist argues that we are on the cusp of writing our next, and greatest, creation myth. It is the dawn of a new form of intellectual diversity, one that we need to embrace in order to advance the state of the art in many critical fields, including security, resource management, finance, and energy.

In The Sentient Machine, he addresses broad existential questions surrounding the coming of AI: Why are we valuable? What can we create in this world? How are we intelligent? What constitutes progress for us? And how might we fail to progress? Husain boils down complex computer science and AI concepts into clear, plainspoken language and draws from a wide variety of cultural and historical references to illustrate his points. Ultimately, he challenges many of our societal norms and upends assumptions we hold about “the good life.

Small Business Saturday — November 25

Join us on the Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend for a holiday shopping tradition.

Indies First and Small Business Saturday® is a day that celebrates small businesses like ours, and it wouldn’t be a celebration without customers like you joining us. The day brings together authors, readers, and publishers in support of independent bookstores.

So mark your calendar for Nov 25  and get ready to Shop Small® with us. Grab a friend or family member and come by BOOKS & BOOKS @ THE STUDIOS between 10am and 6pm on the big day.

You can help get the word out and maybe win $1,000 of books for yourself and another $1,000 worth to be donated, by posting on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes..

Thank you for all your support, and see you Saturday, Nov 25!

Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug…. and Fake News – Kevin Young

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction

“There Kevin Young goes again, giving us books we greatly need, cleverly disguised as books we merely want. Unexpectedly essential.”–Marlon James

Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young tours us through a rogue’s gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers–from the humbug of P. T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe to the unrepentant bunk of JT LeRoy and Donald J. Trump. Bunk traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon, examining what motivates hucksters and makes the rest of us so gullible. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, race being the most insidious American hoax of all. He chronicles how Barnum came to fame by displaying figures like Joice Heth, a black woman whom he pretended was the 161-year-old nursemaid to George Washington, and What Is It?, an African American man Barnum professed was a newly discovered missing link in evolution.

Bunk then turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and journalistic fakers invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time, from pretend Native Americans Grey Owl and Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal. In this brilliant and timely work, Young asks what it means to live in a post-factual world of “truthiness” where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a pervasive cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose – Joe Biden

** Autographed Copies **

“Promise Me, Dad is a brisk, often uplifting read, a consequence of its author’s congenital jollity and irrepressible candor.”
– Vanity Fair

A deeply moving memoir about the year that would forever change both a family and a country.

In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before. Joe and Jill Biden’s eldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor fifteen months earlier, and his survival was uncertain. “Promise me, Dad,” Beau had told his father. “Give me your word that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right.” Joe Biden gave him his word.

Promise Me, Dad chronicles the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden’s extraordinary life and career. Vice President Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. When a call came from New York, or Capitol Hill, or Kyiv, or Baghdad–“Joe, I need your help”–he responded. For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family. And never far away was the insistent and urgent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016.

The year brought real triumph and accomplishment, and wrenching pain. But even in the worst times, Biden was able to lean on the strength of his long, deep bonds with his family, on his faith, and on his deepening friendship with the man in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Joe Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.

This is a book written not just by the vice president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband. Promise Me, Dad is a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future.

Artemis – Andy Weir

The bestselling author of The Martian returns with an irresistible new near-future thriller–a heist story set on the moon.

Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself–and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

End Game – David Baldacci

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci returns with his most breathtaking thriller yet…

Will Robie and Jessica Reel are two of the most lethal people alive. They’re the ones the government calls in when the utmost secrecy is required to take out those who plot violence and mass destruction against the United States. And through every mission, one man has always had their backs: their handler, code-named Blue Man. But now, Blue Man is missing. Last seen in rural Colorado, Blue Man had taken a rare vacation to go fly fishing in his hometown when he disappeared off the grid. With no communications since, the team can’t help but fear the worst. Sent to investigate, Robie and Reel arrive in the small town of Grand to discover that it has its own share of problems. A stagnant local economy and a woefully understaffed police force have made this small community a magnet for crime, drugs, and a growing number of militant fringe groups. But lying in wait in Grand is an even more insidious and sweeping threat, one that may shake the very foundations of America. And when Robie and Reel find themselves up against an adversary with superior firepower and a home-court advantage, they’ll be lucky if they make it out alive, with or without Blue Man . . .

PHENOMENAL PRAISE FOR DAVID BALDACCI’S #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING WILL ROBIE SERIES:
“Robie and Reel are complex characters, and anything they do is a pleasure to follow…Baldacci knows how to get readers to turn the pages.” —Associated Press “A first-class thriller…David Baldacci’s four bestselling novels about government assassin Will Robie have straddled that line of edgy, high-concept suspense, augmented with a bit of the political thriller, and deep character studies. In The Guilty, Baldacci takes a different tack with a more personal, but just as thrilling tale about Will’s past, giving compelling insight about how he became a man so willing to kill for his country.” —Sun-Sentinel (FL) on The Guilty “David Baldacci has never been better than in The Guilty. His latest to feature conflicted assassin extraordinaire Will Robie takes the character–and series–to new heights….A stunning success from one of America’s great literary talents.” —Providence Sunday Journal on The Guilty “With a lightning pace, captivating characters, and astonishing twists throughout, The Hit is guaranteed to keep your attention from the first page to the last.” —The Times-News (NC) on The Hit

The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound — Daniel Swift

In 1945, the American poet Ezra Pound was due to stand trial for treason for his broadcasts in Fascist Italy during the Second World War.

Before the trial could take place, however, he was pronounced insane. Escaping a possible death sentence, he was sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital near Washington, D.C., where he was held for more than a decade.

At the hospital, Pound was at his most infamous, and most contradictory. He was a genius and a traitor, a great poet and a madman. He was also an irresistible figure and, in his cell on Chestnut Ward and on the elegant hospital grounds, he was visited by the major poets and writers of his time. T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Charles Olson, and Frederick Seidel all went to sit with him. They listened to him speak and wrote of what they had seen. This was perhaps the world’s most unorthodox literary salon: convened by a fascist, held in a lunatic asylum, with chocolate brownies and mayonnaise sandwiches served for tea.

Pound continues to divide all who read and think of him. At the hospital, the doctors who studied him and the poets who learned from him each had a different understanding of this wild and most difficult man. Tracing Pound through the eyes of his visitors, Daniel Swift’s The Bughouse tells a story of politics, madness, and modern art in the twentieth century.

Mrs. Osmond — John Banville

From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea, a dazzling and audacious new novel that extends the story of Isabel Archer, the heroine of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, into unexpected territory.

Isabel Archer is a young American woman, swept off to Europe in the late nineteenth century by an aunt who hopes to round out the impetuous but naive girl’s experience of the world. When Isabel comes into a large, unexpected inheritance, she is finagled into a marriage with the charming, penniless, and–as Isabel finds out too late–cruel and deceitful Gilbert Osmond, whose connection to a certain Madame Merle is suspiciously intimate. On a trip to England to visit her cousin Ralph Touchett on his deathbed, Isabel is offered a chance to free herself from the marriage, but nonetheless chooses to return to Italy. Banville follows James’s story line to this point, but Mrs. Osmond is thoroughly Banville’s own: the narrative inventiveness; the lyrical precision and surprise of his language; the layers of emotional and psychological intensity; the subtle, dark humor. And when Isabel arrives in Italy–along with someone else –the novel takes off in directions that James himself would be thrilled to follow.