Walking through the store the other day, a stack of books piled high in one arm and ready for reshelving, a bookseller’s eye was drawn to the cover of a book that was faced out on a shelf. She set down her stack and pulled the book off the shelf and investigated.
It’s a story told often, the draw of a striking cover discovered on a bookstore shelf. It happens to booksellers as often as it does anyone else. In that spirit, we’ll be highlighting some of the books that adorn our shelves with a striking allure every Friday over on our instagram feed. Here are a few covers that grabbed our attention this week.
Jacket design by Janet Hansen
An urgent, illuminating exploration of the social nature of shame and of how it might be used to promote large-scale political change and social reform.
In cultures that champion the individual, guilt is advertised as the cornerstone of conscience. But while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it is powerless in the face of corrupt institutions. In recent years, we as consumers have sought to assuage our guilt about flawed social and environmental practices and policies by, for example, buying organic foods or fair-trade products. Unless nearly everyone participates, however, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is ineffective.
Is Shame Necessary? presents us with a trenchant case for public shaming as a nonviolent form of resistance that can challenge corporations and even governments to change policies and behaviors that are detrimental to the environment. Jennifer Jacquet argues that public shaming, when it has been retrofitted for the age of social media and aimed in the proper direction, can help compensate for the limitations of guilt in a globalized world. Jacquet leaves us with a new understanding of how public shame, when applied in the right way and at the right time, has the capacity to keep us from failing other species in life’s fabric and, ultimately, from failing ourselves.
Designed by Amy Ruth Buchanan
Cover Art by Nick Cave
Using the influential and field-changing “Writing Culture” as a point of departure, the thirteen essays in Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology address anthropology’s past, present, and future. The contributors, all leading figures in anthropology today, reflect back on the “writing culture” movement of the 1980s, consider its influences on ethnographic research and writing, and debate what counts as ethnography in a post-“Writing Culture” era. They address questions of ethnographic method, new forms the presentation of research might take, and the anthropologist’s role. Exploring themes such as late industrialism, precarity, violence, science and technology, globalization, and the non-human world, this book is essential reading for those looking to understand the current state of anthropology and its possibilities going forward.
Jacket design by Pete Garceau
Designed by Elyse Strongin
For decades, environmentalists have told us that using fossil fuels is a self-destructive addiction that will destroy our planet. Yet at the same time, by every measure of human well-being, from life expectancy to clean water to climate safety, life has been getting better and better.
How can this be?
The explanation, energy expert Alex Epstein argues in “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” is that we usually hear only one side of the story. We re taught to think only of the negatives of fossil fuels, their risks and side effects, but not their positives their unique ability to provide cheap, reliable energy for a world of seven billion people. And the moral significance of cheap, reliable energy, Epstein argues, is woefully underrated. Energy is our ability to improve every single aspect of life, whether economic or environmental.
If we look at the “big picture” of fossil fuels compared with the alternatives, the overall impact of using fossil fuels is to make the world a far better place. We are morally obligated to use more fossil fuels for the sake of our economy and our environment.
Taking everything into account, including the facts about climate change, Epstein argues that ” fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and demonize, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed. . . . Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous because human life is the standard of value and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.
Jacket & book design by Jim Hoover
Jacket Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too.
Cover design by Theresa Evangelista
Design by Ryan Thomann
It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen–who’s been reading” The Crucible” for extra credit–comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
Inspired by true events–from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school–“Conversion” casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, “New York Times” bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?
Cover design by Jamie Keenan
Book design by Maggie Hinders
Des Pepperdine is a boy out of place. He lives on the thirty-third floor of a London housing project; while his peers pick fights, Des retreats to the public library. What’s more, Des’s uncle and guardian, Lionel Asbo, is one of the most notorious petty criminals in the city. Yet Lionel, full of inept devotion to his nephew, dutifully teaches Des the essentials of becoming a man (always carry a knife; pornography is easier than dating; pit bulls should be fed Tabasco sauce). To survive these lessons, Des seeks solace in a covert romantic union that would fill Lionel with rage. But just as Des begins to lead a healthier life, Lionel wins £140 million in the lottery. The money ushers in a public-relations firm for Lionel, along with a cannily ambitious topless model–poet. Through it all, Lionel remains his vicious, oddly loyal self, and his problems, as well as Des’s, only seem to multiply. By turns outrageous and touching, Lionel Asbo is an exuberant Dickensian satire of crime, celebrity, and modern culture.
Cover design by Marlyn Dantes
Interior Design by Robert Ettlin
Avis thought her marriage had hit a temporary rut. But with a single confession in the middle of the night, her carefully constructed life comes undone. After escaping a tumultuous childhood and raising a son, she now faces a future without the security of the home and family she has spent decades building.
Luis only wants to make the grandmother who raised him proud. As a soldier, he was on his way to being the man she taught him to be until he woke up in Walter Reed Hospital with vague and troubling memories of how he got there. Now he must find a new way to live a life of honor.
Every day, young Bashkim looks forward to the quiet order of school and the kind instruction of his third grade teacher. His family relocated to Las Vegas after fleeing political persecution in their homeland. Now their ice cream truck provides just enough extra income to keep them afloat. With his family under constant stress, Bashkim opens his heart to his pen pal, a US soldier.
When these lives come together in a single, shocking moment, each character is called upon to rise.
Jacket design by April Ward
Jacket photograph by Chad Ward
Ava is a firebug–she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hitmen . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her boss, Venus, killed Ava’s mother. When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum…
Book descriptions courtesy of the individual publishers.