An education-reference book recommendation: On Trails

A critic review (source Globe and Mail) can be read at: https://tgam.ca/2cKabGu.
On Trails, the first book by American journalist Robert Moor, embodies this. It is a surprising story of trails as Moor takes us on disparate journeys.
Book description from Google Books:
Winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award “The best outdoors book of the year” —Sierra Club A New York Times Bestseller A Best Book of the Year—as chosen by The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Amazon, National Post, New York magazine, The Telegraph, Booklist, The Guardian Bookshop From a debut talent who’s been compared to Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, David Quammen, and Jared Diamond, On Trails is a wondrous exploration of how trails help us understand the world—from invisible ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet.In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of the next seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing—combining the nomadic joys of Peter Matthiessen with the eclectic wisdom of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic—the oft-overlooked trail—sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity’s relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life? Moor has the essayist’s gift for making new connections, the adventurer’s love for paths untaken, and the philosopher’s knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew.
The book is rated 3.97/5 at goodreads.com, from 917 ratings. See 161 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cKYOky.
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An education-reference book recommendation: Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2s3iMN2.
O’Neil’s book is an excellent primer on the ethical and moral risks of Big Data and an algorithmically dependent world. It compellingly describes algorithms (and those who use them) behaving badly, and advocates for society to do better.
Book description from Google Books:
Longlisted for the National Book AwardNew York Times Bestseller A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives–where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance–are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data. Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort r�sum�s, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health. O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
The book is rated 3.89/5 at goodreads.com, from 3416 ratings. See 629 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s3s0sN.
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An education-reference book recommendation: Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/2cAHGuK.
Bonnett is more than an armchair traveler, but his information is as likely to come from maps and libraries as it is from primary research…In general, however, Bonnett is an excellent guide and literary companion.
Book description from Google Books:
A tour of the world’s hidden geographies—from disappearing islands to forbidden deserts—and a stunning testament to how mysterious the world remains todayAt a time when Google Maps Street View can take you on a virtual tour of Yosemite’s remotest trails and cell phones double as navigational systems, it’s hard to imagine there’s any uncharted ground left on the planet. InUnruly Places, Alastair Bonnett goes to some of the most unexpected, offbeat places in the world to reinspire our geographical imagination.Bonnett’s remarkable tour includes moving villages, secret cities, no man’s lands, and floating islands. He explores places as disorienting as Sandy Island, an island included on maps until just two years ago despite the fact that it never existed. Or Sealand, an abandoned gun platform off the English coast that a British citizen claimed as his own sovereign nation, issuing passports and crowning his wife as a princess. Or Baarle, a patchwork of Dutch and Flemish enclaves where walking from the grocery store’s produce section to the meat counter can involve crossing national borders.An intrepid guide down the road much less traveled, Bonnett reveals that the most extraordinary places on earth might be hidden in plain sight, just around the corner from your apartment or underfoot on a wooded path. Perfect for urban explorers, wilderness ramblers, and armchair travelers struck by wanderlust, Unruly Places will change the way you see the places you inhabit.
The book is rated 3.51/5 at goodreads.com, from 1627 ratings. See 285 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2d6jhLj.
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Google Books preview available in full post.

An education-reference book recommendation: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2mVCZPw.
The thickly bound format is ideally read in bed. This is just the kind of book to shut out the world with a sense of Scandinavian comfort.
Book description from Google Books:
The Sunday Times bestseller The New York Times bestseller The Danish word hygge is one of those beautiful words that doesn’t directly translate into English, but it more or less means comfort, warmth or togetherness. Hygge is the feeling you get when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, in warm knitted socks, in front of the fire, when it is dark, cold and stormy outside. It that feeling when you are sharing good, comfort food with your closest friends, by candle light and exchanging easy conversation. It is those cold, crisp blue sky mornings when the light through your window is just right. Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and Meik puts this largely down to them living the hygge way. They focus on the small things that really matter, spend more quality time with friends and family and enjoy the good things in life. The Little Book of Hygge will give you practical steps and tips to become more hygge: how to pick the right lighting, organise a dinner party and even how to dress hygge, all backed up by Meik’s years’ of research at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. This year live more like a Dane, embrace hygge and become happier.
The book is rated 3.73/5 at goodreads.com, from 11437 ratings. See 1378 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mKHIa1.
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An education-reference book recommendation: The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2eti3KD.
In his new book, “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies,” John Lott methodically dismantles one popular gun-control myth after another.
Book description from Google Books:
The Second Amendment defender John R. Lott Jr., Ph.D., economist and gun rights advocate, goes beyond philosophical arguments to confront opponents of gun ownership with the facts. Through rigorous research and analysis of data, he has been able to show that increased gun possession can actually make people safer and reduce crime. Terrorists and mass murderers consciously pick targets where they know victims will be unable to defend themselves, and the push for more gun control only makes the types of attacks that we fear more likely to occur. The War on Guns has well-documented data, statistics, practical, legal, and moral arguments to support the natural right to self-defense. He looks into the many ways that anti-gun ‘statistics’ and ‘research’ have been used to perpetrate utter falsehoods and misleading propaganda, using the best evidence available—data from natural experiments on the effects of gun regulations—to compare the effects of alternative policies. Arrayed against him are the entire public health establishment and much of the media, but he carefully analyzes many of the arguments made against gun ownership and shows using both statistical and anecdotal evidence that they are incorrect. He also shows that wealthy opponents of gun ownership finance much fallacious “public health” research on the effects of guns. This is a valuable guide to a more balanced understanding of the issue of gun control.
The book is rated 4.36/5 at goodreads.com, from 59 ratings. See 8 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dAHNY2.
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An education-reference book recommendation: Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2evBJ0q.
But Potter is a skilled writer, and more importantly a generous and patient historian, willing to retell key points for layman’s reading. He is the kindest breed of academic…
Book description from Google Books:
In 2014 media around the world buzzed with news that an archaeological team from Parks Canada had located and identified the wreck of HMS Erebus, the flagship of Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Finding Franklin outlines the larger story and the cast of detectives from every walk of life that led to the discovery, solving one of the Arctic’s greatest mysteries. In compelling and accessible prose, Russell Potter details his decades of work alongside key figures in the era of modern searches for the expedition and elucidates how shared research and ideas have led to a fuller understanding of the Franklin crew’s final months. Illustrated with numerous images and maps from the last two centuries, Finding Franklin recounts the more than fifty searches for traces of his ships and crew, and the dedicated, often obsessive, men and women who embarked on them. Potter discusses the crucial role that Inuit oral accounts, often cited but rarely understood, played in all of these searches, and continue to play to this day, and offers historical and cultural context to the contemporary debates over the significance of Franklin’s achievement. While examination of HMS Erebus will undoubtedly reveal further details of this mystery, Finding Franklin assembles the stories behind the myth and illuminates what is ultimately a remarkable decades-long discovery.
The book is rated 4.25/5 at goodreads.com, from 36 ratings. See 4 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dCAUFF.
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An education-reference book recommendation: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2d7RpX4.
These accounts alone make the book worth reading. Taken together, they form a powerful argument against the old idea that other species lack a cognitively rich inner life.
Book description from Google Books:
What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future–all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal–and human–intelligence.
The book is rated 3.95/5 at goodreads.com, from 3274 ratings. See 497 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2d7QJRk.
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An education-reference book recommendation: The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2fuGxro.
If the state of international affairs continues to falter, we should hear more from Wright in the future. For now, we have “The Terror Years” to lay out the complex background to help us understand today’s situation.
Book description from Google Books:
With the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright became generally acknowledged as one of our major journalists writing on terrorism in the Middle East. Here, in ten powerful pieces first published in The New Yorker, he recalls the path that terror in the Middle East has taken, from the rise of al-Qaeda in the 1990s to the recent beheadings of reporters and aid workers by ISIS. The Terror Years draws on several articles he wrote while researching The Looming Tower, as well as many that he’s written since, following where and how al-Qaeda and its core cultlike beliefs have morphed and spread. They include a portrait of the “man behind bin Laden,” Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the tumultuous Egypt he helped spawn; an indelible impression of Saudi Arabia, a kingdom of silence under the control of the religious police; the Syrian film industry, at the time compliant at the edges but already exuding a feeling of the barely masked fury that erupted into civil war; the 2006-11 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, a study in the disparate value of human lives. Other chapters examine al-Qaeda as it forms a master plan for its future, experiences a rebellion from within the organization, and spins off a growing web of worldwide terror. The American response is covered in profiles of two FBI agents and the head of the intelligence community. The book ends with a devastating piece about the capture and slaying by ISIS of four American journalists and aid workers, and our government’s failed response.   On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, The Terror Years is at once a unifying recollection of the roots of contemporary Middle Eastern terrorism, a study of how it has grown and metastasized, and, in the scary and moving epilogue, a cautionary tale of where terrorism might take us yet. 
The book is rated 4.12/5 at goodreads.com, from 402 ratings. See 62 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2fuKj3U.
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An education-reference book recommendation: In My Humble Opinion: My So-Called Life (Pop Classics)

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2cEFOOs.
That’s a lot to unpack, but Soraya Roberts, a writer with an acute ’90s gaze and a sharp taste for peak pop culture, is more than up to the task with In My Humble Opinion, a pocket guide to all things MSCL.
Book description from Google Books:
A smart, engaging investigation of the show that brought real teens to TV My So-Called Life lasted only 19 episodes from 1994 to 1995, but in that time it earned many devoted viewers, including the showrunners who would usher in the teen TV boom of the late ’90s and the new millennium. With its focus on 15-year-old Angela Chase’s search for her identity, MSCL’s realistic representation of adolescence on TV was groundbreaking; without her there would be no Buffy or Felicity, Rory Gilmore or Veronica Mars. The series’ broadcast coincided with the arrival of third-wave feminism, the first feminist movement to make teen voices a priority, and Angela became their small-screen spokesperson. From her perspective, MSCL explored gender, identity, sexuality, race, class, body image, and other issues vital to the third wave (and the world). To this day, passionate fans dissect everything from what Rickie Vasquez did for gay representation to what Jordan Catalano did for leaning, and Soraya Roberts makes an invaluable contribution to that conversation with In My Humble Opinion.
The book is rated 3.97/5 at goodreads.com, from 39 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2duC6x3.
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An education-reference book recommendation: Avid Reader: A Life

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eLEKtw.
…at times this book has, perhaps justifiably, a self-congratulatory ring. But this is an indispensable work of American publishing history, thick with instruction and soul and gossip of the higher sort.
Book description from Google Books:
A spirited and revealing memoir by the most celebrated editor of his timeAfter editing The Columbia Review, staging plays at Cambridge, and a stint in the greeting-card department of Macy’s, Robert Gottlieb stumbled into a job at Simon and Schuster. By the time he left to run Alfred A. Knopf a dozen years later, he was the editor in chief, having discovered and edited Catch-22 and The American Way of Death, among other bestsellers. At Knopf, Gottlieb edited an astonishing list of authors, including Toni Morrison, John Cheever, Doris Lessing, John le Carré, Michael Crichton, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Graham, Robert Caro, Nora Ephron, and Bill Clinton–not to mention Bruno Bettelheim and Miss Piggy. In Avid Reader, Gottlieb writes with wit and candor about succeeding William Shawn as the editor of The New Yorker, and the challenges and satisfactions of running America’s preeminent magazine. Sixty years after joining Simon and Schuster, Gottlieb is still at it–editing, anthologizing, and, to his surprise, writing.But this account of a life founded upon reading is about more than the arc of a singular career–one that also includes a lifelong involvement with the world of dance. It’s about transcendent friendships and collaborations, “elective affinities” and family, psychoanalysis and Bakelite purses, the alchemical relationship between writer and editor, the glory days of publishing, and–always–the sheer exhilaration of work.Photograph of Bob Gottlieb © by Jill Krementz
The book is rated 3.70/5 at goodreads.com, from 503 ratings. See 111 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dQGe8h.
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