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Popular Reading: Social Sciences

View popular reading books by genre and make suggestions for what you would like to read.

Modern Romance

N6231.D3 A57 2015

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation's most popular and sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it's wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. "Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” "Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods?" Combos?!” "My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who's Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can't be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world's leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we've seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

The Road to Character

BF637.S4 B76 2015

With the wisdom, humor, curiosity, and sharp insights that have brought millions of readers to his New York Times column and his previous bestsellers, David Brooks has consistently illuminated our daily lives in surprising and original ways. In The Social Animal,he explored the neuroscience of human connection and how we can flourish together. Now, in The Road to Character, he focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our "résumé virtues"--achieving wealth, fame, and status--and our "eulogy virtues," those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.

The Woman Code

BJ1589 .N45 2014

Every woman lives by a code that informs how she treats others and herself, how much she expects of herself, and how far she is willing to go in order to find success. But are we sacrificing the deeper things for mere achievement? Nelson calls women to live out a powerful life code that will lead them to purposeful and successful lives-- and to do it with grace.

The Organized Mind

BF323.D5 L49 2014

New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin shifts his keen insights from your brain on music to your brain in a sea of details.

The information age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we’re expected to make more—and faster—decisions about our lives than ever before. No wonder, then, that the average American reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing appointments, and feeling worn out by the effort required just to keep up.

But somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. In The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel—and how readers can use their methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and time.

With lively, entertaining chapters on everything from the kitchen junk drawer to health care to executive office workflow, Levitin reveals how new research into the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory can be applied to the challenges of our daily lives. This Is Your Brain on Music showed how to better play and appreciate music through an understanding of how the brain works. The Organized Mind shows how to navigate the churning flood of information in the twenty-first century with the same neuroscientific perspective.

CRACK99: The Takedown of a $100 Million Chinese Software Pirate

HV6773.2 .H355 2015

The utterly gripping story of the most outrageous case of cyber piracy prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, David Locke Hall was a federal prosecutor when a bizarre-sounding website, CRACK99, came to his attention. It looked like Craigslist on acid, but what it sold was anything but amateurish: thousands of high-tech software products used largely by the military, and for mere pennies on the dollar. Want to purchase satellite tracking software? No problem. Aerospace and aviation simulations? No problem. Communications systems designs? No problem. Software for Marine One, the presidential helicopter? No problem. With delivery times and customer service to rival the world’s most successful e-tailers, anybody, anywhere―including rogue regimes, terrorists, and countries forbidden from doing business with the United States―had access to these goods for any purpose whatsoever.

But who was behind CRACK99, and where were they? The Justice Department discouraged potentially costly, risky cases like this, preferring the low-hanging fruit that scored points from politicians and the public. But Hall and his colleagues were determined to find the culprit. They bought CRACK99's products for delivery in the United States, buying more and more to appeal to the budding entrepreneur in the man they identified as Xiang Li. After winning his confidence, they lured him to Saipan―a U.S. commonwealth territory where Hall’s own father had stormed the beaches with the marines during World War II. There they set up an audacious sting that culminated in Xiang Li's capture and imprisonment. The value of the goods offered by CRACK99? A cool $100 million.

An eye-opening look at cybercrime and its chilling consequences for national security, CRACK99 reads like a caper that resonates with every amazing detail.

The Underground Girls of Kabul

HQ1075.5.A3 N67 2014

An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as "dressed up like a boy") is a third kind of child - a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.

The Underground Girls of Kabul
 is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents' attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults.

At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America's longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.

Essentialism

BF611 .M455 2014

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
 
Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?
 
Are you often busy but not productive?
 
Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people's agendas?
 
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.
 
The Way of the Essentialist isn't about getting more done in less time. It's about getting only the right things done.  It is not  a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. 

By forcing us to apply a more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy - instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing - it's a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism  is a movement whose time has come.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism...

RC553.A88 S54 2015

What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.
 
Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
 
Along the way, he reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, the father of Asperger’s syndrome, whose “little professors” were targeted by the darkest social-engineering experiment in human history; exposes the covert campaign by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for fifty years; and casts light on the growing movement of "neurodiversity" activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, accommodations in the workplace and in education, and the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences.

David and Goliath

BF503 .G53 2013

Malcolm Gladwell, the #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw, offers his most provocative---and dazzling---book yet.

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won. 

Or should he have? 

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there,David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms---all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity. 

In the tradition of Gladwell's previous bestsellers---The Tipping PointBlinkOutliers and What the Dog Saw---David and Goliathdraws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

Mind Change

BF311 .G7135 2015

We live in a world unimaginable only decades ago: a domain of backlit screens, instant information, and vibrant experiences that can outcompete dreary reality. Our brave new technologies offer incredible opportunities for work and play. But at what price?
 
Now renowned neuroscientist Susan Greenfield--known in the United Kingdom for challenging entrenched conventional views--brings together a range of scientific studies, news events, and cultural criticism to create an incisive snapshot of "the global now." Disputing the assumption that our technologies are harmless tools, Greenfield explores whether incessant exposure to social media sites, search engines, and videogames is capable of rewiring our brains, and whether the minds of people born before and after the advent of the Internet differ.
 
Stressing the impact on Digital Natives--those who've never known a world without the Internet--Greenfield exposes how neuronal networking may be affected by unprecedented bombardments of audiovisual stimuli, how gaming can shape a chemical landscape in the brain similar to that in gambling addicts, how surfing the Net risks placing a premium on information rather than on deep knowledge and understanding, and how excessive use of social networking sites limits the maturation of empathy and identity.
 
But Mind Change also delves into the potential benefits of our digital lifestyle. Sifting through the cocktail of not only threat but opportunity these technologies afford, Greenfield explores how gaming enhances vision and motor control, how touch tablets aid students with developmental disabilities, and how political "clicktivism" foments positive change.
 
In a world where adults spend ten hours a day online, and where tablets are the common means by which children learn and play,Mind Change reveals as never before the complex physiological, social, and cultural ramifications of living in the digital age. A book that will be to the Internet what An Inconvenient Truth was to global warming, Mind Change is provocative, alarming, and a call to action to ensure a future in which technology fosters--not frustrates--deep thinking, creativity, and true fulfillment.