Summary of “Dazzling, Blocky Book Covers Designed for Amazon, Instagram”

At a time when half of all book purchases in the U.S. are made on Amazon – and many of those on mobile – the first job of a book cover, after gesturing at the content inside, is to look great in miniature.
From the leather-bound volumes of old to lurid mass-market paperbacks, book covers were never designed in a vacuum.
When you look at book covers right now, what you’ll see blaring back at you, bold and dazzling, is a highly competitive marketing landscape dominated by online retail, social media, and their curiously symbiotic rival, the resurgent independent bookstore.
Into the ’60s, the advent of the Polaroid introduced realist images to the book cover, and the ’70s brought free-form design and psychedelia.
Since 2013, two things have happened in publishing: sales of print books have increased by nearly 11 percent, and at the same time, the industry has lost about a billion dollars in revenue, thanks to Amazon’s undercutting of book prices.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf’s publisher, Riverhead Books, has an Instagram account so pristine, so archetypical of contemporary design, that you’d think its jackets were all designed explicitly to sit there and rack up likes – likes that ideally convert to sales.
In a marriage of irony and logic, a book that pops in a filtered miniature Instagram still life can declare its presence just as loudly from across the room, particularly in the boutique environment of the modern independent bookstore.
So why shouldn’t our everyday objects – and particularly our books, where we’ve always turned for escape – give us that same feeling in person? Helen Yentus, the Riverhead art director responsible for most of the covers mentioned here, says that today’s cover art needs to be ambidextrous.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Can’t Sleep? Tell Yourself It’s Not a Big Deal”

Note to publishers: in my view, there’s an unfilled gap in the “Wellness” market for a book on how sleep isn’t really that important.
In contrast to the message relentlessly promoted by lifestyle gurus these days, this book would argue that four hours a night is probably fine, that caffeine before bed is no big deal, and that even severe sleep deprivation poses no real risk of poor performance, health troubles or early death.
You know what? Unlike all those other books, this one would help people sleep.
Actually, the ironies of insomnia are even worse than that, because there’s growing evidence that thinking of yourself as an insomniac – having an “Insomnia identity”, in the coinage of the sleep researcher Kenneth Lichstein – is a major part of the problem.
It’s not just that such a self-image makes it harder to sleep, though doubtless that’s the case.
In a review of the research published last year, Lichstein concluded that “Non-complaining poor sleepers” – who sleep badly but don’t define themselves as insomniacs – don’t suffer the high blood pressure commonly associated with severe sleeplessness.
“Complaining good sleepers” – who get enough shut-eye, but are heavily invested in their alleged insomnia – were essentially as tired, anxious and depressed as those who genuinely didn’t sleep.
The root of the problem, as Sasha Stephens explains in her book The Effortless Sleep Method, is that any external crutch on which you lean – not just pills, but herbal remedies and elaborate bedtime rituals, too – risks further eroding your trust in your ability to fall asleep on your own, and it’s that lack of self-trust that is insomnia’s main cause.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Science Has Begun Taking Gluten Seriously”

They decided to devote their time and money to studying the relationship between gluten and heart disease not because it seemed that they could be plausibly related, but simply because people believe them to be.
They believe this because of a monstrously popular 2011 book called Wheat Belly, which includes the implication that eating gluten has adverse cardiovascular effects.
Though blindly avoiding gluten is not recommended by any body of cardiologists or preventive-medicine experts, the outsider status of Davis’s alarmist hypothesis was promoted as the angle that seems to have made his book enormously successful.
I’ve previously traced the modern multi-billion-dollar gluten-free obsession to Wheat Belly, which is published by Rodale, along with subsequent spinoff books in the franchise.
In all, five books to tell people to stop eating grains.
The accomplice to Wheat Belly was the comparably fictive 2012 Grain Brain, the author of which has called gluten “This generation’s tobacco,” and which also became a number-one bestseller by promising secrets that no one else was willing to tell us, namely that avoiding grains would prevent and reverse dementia.
It’s also based on the idea that gluten sensitivity causes inflammation throughout a person’s body, which has not been shown to be true.
The idea has been picked up by theorists and presented as certainty even the founder of The Ultrawellness Center and embattled doctor to the Clintons, Mark Hyman, who has written that even in the absence of celiac disease, gluten “Creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more.” According to his web site, he has written ten books that were number-one bestsellers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife Crisis”

How did Hume come up with these ideas, so profoundly at odds with the Western philosophy and religion of his day? What turned the neurotic Presbyterian teenager into the great founder of the European Enlightenment?
In 1728, just before Hume began the Treatise, Desideri finished his book, the most complete and accurate European account of Buddhist philosophy to be written until the 20th century.
So Hume lived near a French Jesuit college when he wrote the Treatise.
Could anyone there have told Hume about Desideri? I couldn’t find any trace of Père Tolu, the Jesuit who had been especially interested in Desideri.
Hume writes better than any other great philosopher and, unlike many great philosophers, he is funny, humane, fair, and wise.
Twelve Jesuit fathers had been at La Flèche when Desideri visited and were still there when Hume arrived.
So Hume had lots of opportunities to learn about Desideri.
Dolu not only had been particularly interested in Desideri; he was also there for all of Hume’s stay.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Marlon James Decided to Write an African “Game of Thrones””

Fifteen years ago, when Marlon James was working on his first novel, he requested an exorcism.
After winning the Booker, James told an interviewer that he was going to “Geek the fuck out” and write an “African Game of Thrones.” The first installment of what he calls the Dark Star trilogy, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” comes out in February.
The show has not yet been green-lighted, but James is optimistically attempting to write a part for Grace Jones, who was born one town over from Portmore and is one of his idols-a print of her “Island Life” record cover hangs behind his dinner table in Minnesota.
James had wanted to write a “Noirish, magical-realist fable” about Jamaican rural life, he told me-a story that wouldn’t idealize its pastoral setting.
James had wanted to write about the impossibly brutal and volatile period in Jamaica when enslaved Africans outnumbered their white owners by more than ten to one.
James’s brothers-he has seven brothers and sisters, four of them half siblings, though James speaks of them all simply as siblings-had discussed the possibility that James was gay, Richard told me, speaking on the phone from a barbershop, above the metallic hum of clippers.
At the bar, there was a hand-lettered sign atop a little table that read “Reserved for Marlon James.” “I should have worn tights underneath this dress,” James said, as we sat down.
Backstage, Shears embraced James and demanded a copy of “Black Leopard.” As we were leaving, James glanced at the “Reserved for Marlon James” sign on our table.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Oscars’ ‘Green Book’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Controversy”

A musical love letter to classic Hollywood, a dark comedy about a woman’s rage, a civil-rights road movie, and a VH1-style rock biopic are not four films that you would immediately lump together – unless you follow the Oscars, in which case you know that La La Land, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Green Book, and Bohemian Rhapsody all hold the dubious distinction of becoming their respective seasons’ official villains to a certain segment of the awards-watching public.
Obviously, we won’t know if Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody will follow in those same footsteps for a few more weeks.
With First Man floundering, Green Book became Universal’s lead horse in the Oscars race, and Variety and The Hollywood Reporter in particular have given plenty of column inches over to its defense.
Team Green Book has been working hard to combat allegations that it’s a film for white people: Producer Octavia Spencer introduced the film at the Globes, and icons like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Quincy Jones, and Harry Belafonte have publicly co-signed Vallelonga’s efforts.
At the Golden Globes, the movie’s team, all of whom were perfectly fine making a movie with Bryan Singer as recently as a year-and-a-half ago, embraced the polite fiction that the movie was directed by no one.
All they want to do is enjoy a movie about an interracial friendship, or the band they loved as a teenager, and now people are saying that, as good-hearted progressives, they aren’t supposed to like them? It’s not as if Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody are the works of Richard Wagner; these are big mainstream movies about how being gay is okay, and how lifelong friendships can result if we throw away our biases.
As with the president, all this controversy may have the unintended effect of pulling the movies’ fans in closer.
What the two disparate reactions to Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody are really about is a dispute over the utility of pop-culture comfort food.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work”

Setting limits for yourself – whether that involves the time you have to work out, the money you have to start a business, or the number of words you can use in a book – often delivers better results than “Keeping your options open.”
Dr. Seuss found that setting some limits to work within was so useful that he employed this strategy for other books as well.
Time constraints have forced me to produce some of my best work.
Every artist has a limited set of tools to work with.
Once you know your constraints, you can start figuring out how to work with them.
Your job is to see if you can make those 30 minutes a work of art.
Your job is to take those ingredients and make each meal a work of art.
The limitations just determine the size of the canvas you have to work with.

The orginal article.

Summary of “On the Experience of Entering a Bookstore in Your Forties”

There aren’t just books to read but books I’ve already read. Lives I’ve lived.
No one reads everything, nor even all the books they’d like to.
John Muir’s famous quote about ecology might as well have been about choosing what books to buy: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” The bookstore is a liminal space.
Entering a bookstore now, at 44, with the benefit of hindsight, the choices I made as a young writer seem almost inevitable.
As luck would have it, the story of that half-year became my first published book, and the book helped me land a teaching job in Massachusetts.
There waiting in an inconspicuous bookstore in Concord, Massachusetts, in a glossy oversized coffee table book, was a glassy-green piece of my heart, a glimpse of a life I couldn’t get back.
As my father so eloquently reminded me last year when I mentioned I’d been shoveling snow: “Be careful, Bud: You’re in the heart-attack zone.” How many books do I have left to read?
How does reading evolve? Are books to us as leaves are to trees, feeding us while we hold them, then decomposing and feeding us again after we’ve let them go? I’m heartened by my elders.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Diabolical Genius of the Baby Advice Industry”

So “Two or three” books became six, and 10, and eventually 23, all with titles that, even before the sleep deprivation set in, had begun to blur into one other: The Baby Book and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Happiest Baby on the Block and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The Contented Little Baby Book.
Such mysteries begin to disperse when you realise that baby advice isn’t only, or perhaps even mainly, about raising children.
This same urge to recast a baby as something fundamentally mundane and familiar suffuses the debate over sleep, where hostilities between the Baby Trainers and the Natural Parents are most acute.
From five or six months old, I learned, we could choose to let our baby cry himself to sleep for a few nights, which the Baby Trainers felt was essential if he were ever to learn to “Self-soothe”, but which the Natural Parents swore would cause lasting neurological damage.
Not for the last time in the history of the baby advice industry, Liedloff turned her disdain for parenting experts into a successful career as one, publishing a 1975 book, The Continuum Concept, which urged American and European parents to embrace the laid-back ways of the Ye’kuana.
It sold healthily, but its greatest effect was undoubtedly in the influence it had on William Sears, a devout Christian paediatrician from Illinois who incorporated its message into his own childcare philosophy, coining the term “Attachment parenting” and achieving breakthrough success in 1992 with The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know about Your Baby from Birth to Age Two, written with his wife, Martha.
The anthropological literature is littered with contemporary examples of baby-rearing practices that would appal both Baby Trainers and Natural Parents: among the Hausa-Fulani of west Africa, for example, there is a taboo against mothers making eye contact with their children; the Swazi of southern Africa sometimes don’t even name a baby until it is several months old.
Last year, Amy Brown, a health researcher at Swansea University, conducted a study involving 354 new mothers, examining their use of parenting books “That encourage parents to try to put their babies into strict sleeping and feeding routines” – the manuals of the Baby Trainers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Read 100 Books in a Year”

Based on the math, which I’ll explain below, I’ll likely have read 100 books this year.
Put a book on your desk or breakfast table the night before and you’ll be more likely to read it in the morning.
If you want to read before you go to bed, put a book on your nightstand.
Reduce the activation energy it takes to read a book, and you’ll be more likely to read.3.
If you read 50 pages a day, that’s 350 pages a week.
Multiply that times 52 weeks in a year, and you’ve read 100 books.
Combine all of these ideas together, and the idea of reading 100 books in a year won’t seem like such a daunting task.
You might not reach 100 books, but you’ll end up doing quite a bit of reading.

The orginal article.