TO CONQUER THAT WOE? DIVIDE
Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success, CHIP CONLEY, '82, MBA '84; Free Press, $24.
Hotelier and inspirational speaker Conley was feeling as besieged as Job even before he suffered a warningless episode of heart failure in 2008. He took it as a wake-up call and courted new emotional wisdom. The author of Peak, which popularized psychologist Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, is inspired here by Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. The result is a readable business book with a hook of "mathematical" formulas that promote equilibrium. For example, if Despair = Suffering – Meaning, the key to avoiding a life of quiet desperation can be an increased sense of purpose.
Enchantments, KATHRYN HARRISON, '82; Random House, $26.
Some lives beg to be novelized: Take Rasputin's elder daughter, who survived the Revolution and eventually became a lion tamer in America. Harrison borrows some of Scheherazade's tactics and some of Anne Frank's sequestration to show how Maria "Masha" Rasputin might have fared as the loving confidant of the hemophiliac Tsarevich Alexei in the months between her father's murder and the elimination of Nicholas II and his descendants. Fascinated by the period's contrasting opulence and squalor, Harrison writes this tale in prose that's inch-of-cream-at-the-top rich.
The 1970s: A New Global History From Civil Rights to Economic Inequality, THOMAS BORSTELMANN, '80; Princeton U. Press, $29.95.
If disillusionment and Day-Glo are the main things you attribute to the '70s, Borstelmann would like you to think again. The decade—often viewed as a cavalcade of American failure (Vietnam War, oil crisis, economic malaise and such)—might better be defined as a contradiction-filled period of adjustment. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln history professor argues that its main features were a rise in social inclusiveness and a spiral into economic inequality.
God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine, VICTORIA SWEET, '70; Riverhead Books, $27.95 (April).
Describing a philosophy of "slow medicine" that's rooted in medieval history and less mechanistic than most modern doctoring, Sweet discusses her medical practice at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco. The facility, the nation's last almshouse, takes in indigents who have astounding constellations of physical and mental illness and addiction—and treats them with surprising effectiveness.
Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, SCOTT DOORLEY, MS '06, AND SCOTT WITTHOFT, MSE '08; Wiley, $49.95.
The directors of the Environments Collaborative at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford believe that "building a space is tough, but shaping a culture is an absurd act of daring." The book is a lushly illustrated toolkit of practices meant to do both. It covers matters as sublime as the d.school's focus on human values and as mundane as where to buy foamboard and casters.
The Reconstructionist, NICK ARVIN, MS '96; Harper Perennial, $14.99.
From a boyhood punctuated by the car crashes at a busy intersection near his suburban home, Ellis Barstow has grown into a forensic investigator with a particular talent for visualizing how vehicles spin out of control. He has more trouble with relationships in this noir-tinged novel about an affair among friends. Arvin, who has worked as a forensic engineer, writes and teaches in Denver.
'Our wallets may become as obsolete as pay phones.'
—David Wolman, MA '00, in The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers—and the Coming Cashless Society, Da Capo Press, $25.
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Data is from the past two weeks.