Cloth: 256 pages
Publisher: Basic Books
The Science of When We Laugh and Why
Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why?
In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically think of humor in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha! Weems proposes a provocative new model. Humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, he argues, and is part of a larger desire to comprehend a complex world. Showing that the delight that comes with “getting” a punchline is closely related to the joy that accompanies the insight to solve a difficult problem, Weems explores why surprise is such an important element in humor, why computers are terrible at recognizing what’s funny, and why it takes so long for a tragedy to become acceptable comedic fodder. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system, Ha! reveals why humor is so idiosyncratic, and why how-to books alone will never help us become funnier people.
Packed with the latest research, illuminating anecdotes, and even a few jokes, Ha! lifts the curtain on this most human of qualities. From the origins of humor in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.
Listen to Scott Weems on CBC's Day 6 cracking the code of comedy with Brent Bambury and stand-up comic Andy Kindler! Listen here
Scott Weems received a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA, and an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. Previously a research scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language, he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press
My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA
“Both a rollicking read and a rare insider’s account of Western spying in the age of al Qaeda, where the risk if exposed is not Cold War-style expulsion but gruesome execution. . . . A valuable window on both sides in a lethal underground war.” —New York Times Book Review
Morten Storm was an unlikely jihadi. A six-foot-one red-haired Dane, Storm spent his teens throwing punches with a biker gang and getting thrown in jail. But after reading a book about the Prophet Mohammed, Storm converted to Islam and embarked on a decade-long transformation that would lead him from a militant madrasah in Yemen to close friendship with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born terrorist cleric—and then to becoming a double agent for the CIA and British and Danish intelligence.
This is the searing memoir of a young man who sought purpose in a community of believers, and of a jihadi who named his son Osama after 9/11, who not only repudiated extremism but, in a quest for atonement, lived in extreme danger undercover for five years, traveling the world to complete numerous high-profile missions. He single-handedly thwarted attacks in the West, led the CIA to some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, all the while knowing his own life might be expendable. Agent Storm takes readers inside the jihadist world like never before, showing the daily life of idealistic men set on mass murder, from dodging drones with al Qaeda leaders in the Arabian Desert to training in extremist gyms in Britain to carrying out supply drops in Kenya. The book also provides a tantalizing look at the world’s most powerful spy agencies: their tradecraft, rivalries, and late-night carousing, as well as their ruthless use of a beautiful blonde in an ambitious honey trap. Agent Storm is a captivating, exhilarating, and utterly unique real-life espionage tale.
Morten Storm is a former radical Islamist born in Korsor, Denmark. After plunging deep inside the world of al Qaeda, he became a double agent employed by the American, British, and Danish intelligence agencies. He lives in an undisclosed location.
Paul Cruickshank is CNN's Terrorism Analyst, and the editor of Al Qaeda, a five-volume collection of key scholarly works on the terrorist network.
Tim Lister has worked for CNN and the BBC and has extensive experience of the Middle East.
Paper: 300 pages
Publisher: Namaste Publishing
The Conscious Parent
Transforming Ourselves, Empowering our Children
NAUTILUS AWARD WINNER, 2011
MOM's CHOICE AWARD WINNER, 2011
Written by Namaste author Shefali Tsabary, PhD, with the Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and advance acclaim by authors Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Wiliamson, Marci Shimoff, Laura Berman Fortgang, and other leaders in the field of parenting, this is the book we've all been waiting for.
This innovative parenting style recognizes the child’s potential to spark a deep soul-searching leading to transformation in parents. Instead of being merely the receiver of the parents’ psychological and spiritual legacy, children function as ushers of the parent’s development.
Once parents are learning alongside their children, power, control, and dominance become an archaic language. Instead, mutual kinship and spiritual partnership are the focus of the parent-child journey.
Parents unwittingly pass on an inheritance of psychological pain and emotional shallowness. To handle the behavior that results from this, traditional books on parenting abound with clever techniques for control and quick fixes for dysfunctionality.
In contrast, in Dr. Tsabary’s conscious approach to parenting, children serve as mirrors of their parents’ forgotten self.
The parent who is willing to look in the mirror has an opportunity to establish a relationship with their own inner state of wholeness.
Once a parent finds their way back to their essence, they enter into communion with their children. The pillars of the parental ego crumble as the parent awakens to the ability of their children to transport them into a state of presence.
Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, New York. Dr. Shefali was exposed to Eastern philosophy at an early age and integrates its teachings with Western psychology. It is this blend of East and West that allows her to reach a global audience, and establishes her as one of a kind in the field of mindfulness psychology.
Dr. Shefali has worked with a varied demographic: survivors of the Tsunami, women from economically disadvantaged countries, inner city youth, suburban families, and corporate leaders. She lectures extensively on Mindful Living and Conscious Parenting around the world and currently has a private psychotherapy practice in New York city. Her first book, It's a Mom: What you should know about the early years of motherhood debuted on the Indian bestseller list for four weeks. She recently published a follow up to The Conscious Parent, Out of Control, which is now available.
Out of Control
Cloth: 32 pages
Publisher: Running Press
As a summer evening descends, three young children spot a shadow outside. When they chase it through their backyard, more shadows begin to appear, and the children find that they are always just out of reach. But when it is time to go to bed, the children dream of a new day filled with new possibilities.
Elly MacKay’s magical picture book showcases her luminous paper-cut illustrations and simple lyrical text. The idea that hopes and dreams keep us moving forward, and that one must be bold in order to go after them, are brought to life in this timeless story.
Check out the video review at The Small Picture by Mark Medley for The National Post: click here
Praise for If You Hold a Seed:
"Using minimal text, MacKay conveys the wonder that unfolds from the simple act of planting a seed along with a dream . . . exquisite papercraft illustrations . . . bring her text to life."
–Canadian Children’s Book News
“Beautifully illustrated . . . Young readers will appreciate the radiance of the seasons through MacKay's layered images." –Canadian Family
“destined to become a classic.” –Quill and Quire, starred review
“Glowing paper dioramas are the heart and soul of MacKay’s debut, a quiet, reader-directed contemplation of a seed’s slow growth into a tree"–Publishers Weekly
Elly MacKay is the author and illustrator of If You Hold a Seed. She attended Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and now her artwork is sold around the world, including through her Etsy.com shop, Theater Clouds. She lives in Owen Sound, ON. To learn more about Elly, visit her online at ellymackay.com, on facebook.com/theaterclouds, and Twitter @theaterclouds.
If You Hold a Seed
Paper over board: 280 pages
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Ballad is one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2013!
Ballad is a story, and like all great stories it deepens with each retelling. The story builds over seven sequences. The first has three images: school, path, home. The next gives us: school, street, path, forest, home. The following five sequences take up this story, but with new words and images that nearly double the previous sequence. Here a child takes in her surroundings as she returns home form school, and by telling stories about what she sees, she makes her world bigger and more complex. This story is as old as the world. It happens every day.
"As a story, it's challenging, mysterious, and even obscure. As an object and a piece of bookmaking, it's a work of art." --Publishers Weekly Starred Review!
"This continuously evolving story traces a child's perception of his surroundings as he walks home from school."
"All throughout, we're invited to reimagine the narrative as we absorb the growing complexity of the world - a beautiful allegory for our walk through life itself."
"Ballad...is an absolute treasure in its entirety, the kind that sparkles with new dimensions of light with each excavation."
Read the full review and find more pictures at Brain Pickings.
Born in France in 1966, Blexbolex entered art school with the intention of becoming a painter, but left having discovered his talents as a silk-screen artist. He works both as an illustrator and a comic book artist. His work, which is inspired by vintage design, mixes old printing methods with new interpretations and techniques. An illustrator of graphic genius, he received the prestigious Golden Letter Award in 2009 for best book design throughout the world.
Trade Paper: 288 pages
Publisher: Anvil Press Publishers
Nate’s nervous mother chews gum at warp speed and has a bob that resembles Darth Vader’s helmet. His icy father dabbles part-time in the death trade at a funeral home after working for a decade in the insurance racket. His older sister Holly is always lurking in the shadows or away at school. Nate, a creative, messy, and anxious teen, has chosen Randy Savage as his hero. As he finishes high school, the world to which Savage belongs is quickly waning in popularity, and Nate begins to see the wrestler’s downfall mirrored in his own life. But not until the family dismantles for good in 1994 does Nate’s life truly begin to fracture.
Savage 1986-2011 chronicles the middle-class implosion of Nate’s nuclear family, bracketed by July 1986 — when he first saw Randy Savage in person — and the wrestler’s sudden death in May 2011. When Savage dies, Nate is freed from beliefs — once a source of beauty and escape — that had come to constrict him, fusing him to a moribund past.
The novel is about the blurred lines between child and adult roles and the ever-changing landscape of interior heroism. Whether dealing with a family’s economic turbulence, the scarring effects of teenage love, or creating a new family order, Moore revisits, remasters, and repackages a twenty-five year family odyssey with guts, honesty, and love.
Advanced Praise for Savage 1986-2011
This is Running Backwards with Scissors in Leaside. Nathaniel G. Moore’s emotional atomic drops and body slams in Savage (1986-2011) put the nuke in nuclear family. Moore writes in Technicolor™ — he’s a poet of fractured reality, minstrel of meltdown, clown prince of sad suburban absurdity.”
–Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of five books, including Wrong Bar, nominated for the 2010 ReLit Award for best novel and Let’s Pretend We Never Met, which Vancouver’s Georgia Straight called “breathtaking.” His fiction has appeared in subTerrain, Joyland, Taddle Creek, and Verbicide magazine. He has also written for Bravo! Television in the short film Sahara Sahara. Nathaniel is a frequent contributor to Open Book: Toronto, The Globe & Mail and This magazine. Moore lives in Toronto.
Trade Paper: 384 pages
Publisher: Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press
An Untamed State
“An Untamed State is breathless, artful, disturbing and original. I won’t ever forget it.” —Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have earned her an enthusiastic audience. Flavorwire has already dubbed her one of 25 Women Poised to Lead the Culture, and An Untamed State one of their 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2014. In this debut novel, she delivers a powerful, unflinching story of a Haitian American woman kidnapped for ransom, the privilege that made her a target, and the strength she must draw on to survive.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port-au-Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As her father’s standoff with the kidnappers stretches out into days, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of wealth in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
Praise for An Untamed State
“A harrowing and emotionally cleareyed vision of one woman’s ordeal during and after her kidnapping in Haiti. . . remarkable . . . A cutting and resonant debut.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A searing portrait of a politically and economically divided Haiti . . . Deeply felt . . . Disturbing and frighteningly resonant.” —Publishers Weekly
“A fairy tale . . . its complex and fragile moral arrived at through great pain and high cost. . . . Perhaps Haiti, too, is a beautiful princess, well-versed in the vagaries of men, still searching for a happily ever after.” —Holly Bass, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] superbly written and excoriating first tale of terror and suspense. . . . Gay is a daring and transfixing storyteller, depicting with valor and deep intent hellishly intrusive violence, shocking betrayal, and psychological devastation, the poison fruits of prejudice, injustice, greed, and desperation. Ferocious, gripping, and unforgettable.” —Booklist (starred review)
Roxane Gay's writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. Her first book, Ayiti, was a collection of poetry and short stories. She is the coeditor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus.
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Running Press
Lessons In Balance
Based on the Tumblr page, Stuff on Scout’s Head, Lessons in Balance showcases Scout and his unique talent for balancing anything on his head. Scout has an uncanny ability to balance anything on his head. Whether it’s a sombrero, a tiara, or a single strawberry or baseball, this patient pooch knows not to get overwhelmed by the challenges life throws at him.
However, Lessons in Balance isn’t just another cute pet book. An introduction from Scout’s owner Jennifer Gillen reveals the touching story of how he was rescued, given a home, loved and eventually overcame earlier abuse and trauma. This delightful book will bring a smile to all animal lovers, while teaching them the finer point of mindfulness and yes, balance!
“Pure joy in canine form”—Pawnation.com
Scout is a nine-year-old pit bull, who likes to spend his days snoozing, snacking, and getting his ear scratched. Scout lives in a full household with two cat brothers, and a new dog sister who’s trying to steal his thunder. He hopes to use his talent to show how important it is for humans to be involved in animal rescue.
Jennifer Gillen is Scout’s owner and creator of the Tumblr blog Stuff on Scout’s Head. She rescued Scout four years ago and created the blog on a whim to not only showcase Scout’s unique skill but to show how patient, loyal, and gentle pit bulls can be with the right training. Now, she uses the blog to draw attention and donations to various animal shelters and advocates for responsible dog ownership. Jennifer and Scout live in Toronto.
Cloth: 132 pages
Publisher: Tin House
Heart of Darkness
An Illustrated Novel
Following his epic Moby Dick in Pictures, artist Matt Kish has set himself upon an equally impressive, and no less harrowing, task: illustrating each page of Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece, Heart of Darkness. Kish’s rich, imaginative drawings and paintings mirror Conrad’s original text and illuminate Marlow’s journey into the heart of the Congo, and into the depths of the human soul. Heart of Darkness is a text ripe for analysis and argument, formally and thematically; it explores matters of imperialism, racism, gender, and the duality of human nature. Kish’s illustrations add another layer, and another voice in the conversation. His visual interpretation of Heart of Darkness is not just essential for fans and students of Conrad; it's a work of art all its own.
Kish’s introduction lends context to his approach, details his relationship and struggle with Conrad’s work, and illuminates his own creative process. An index in the rear of the book catalogs the sentences and phrases that inspired each of the one hundred original pieces of art.
"The brilliant mind behind Moby Dick in Pictures is back to illustrate Joseph Conrad’s classic."—Flavorwire
Matt Kish was born in 1969 and lives in the middle of Ohio. After stints as a cafeteria cook, a hospital registrar, a bookstore manager, and an English teacher, he ended up as a librarian. He draws as often as he can, often with whatever he can find. He has tried his hand at 35mm black-and-white photography (with real film and real chemicals), making comics and zines, a bit of collage, and lots of pen and ink.
Moby-Dick In Pictures
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Running Press
Preserving by the Pint
Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces from the author of Food in Jars
Preserving by the Pint contains roughly 100 recipes divided by season: pestos, fruit spreads, condiments, syrups, whole fruits, and more, done on a small scale.
Marisa McClellan was an adult in a high-rise in Philadelphia when she rediscovered canning, and found herself under the preserving spell. She grew accustomed to working in large batches since most “vintage” recipes are written to feed a large family, or to use up a farm-size crop, but increasingly, found that smaller batches suited her life better. Working with a quart, a pound, a pint, or a bunch of produce, not a bushel, allows for dabbling in preserving without committing a whole shelf to storing a single type of jam.
Preserving by the Pint is meant to be a guide for saving smaller batches from farmer’s markets and produce stands—preserving tricks for stopping time in a jar. McClellan’s recipes offer tastes of unusual preserves like Blueberry Maple Jam, Mustardy Rhubarb Chutney, Sorrel Pesto, and Zucchini Bread and Butter Pickles. Organized seasonally, these pestos, sauces, mostardas, chutneys, butters, jams, jellies, and pickles are speedy, too: some take under an hour, leaving you more time to plan your next batch.
Marisa McClellan is a full-time writer, teacher, and blogger at Food in Jars (three times nominated by Saveur magazine for a Best Food Blog award, and winner of Best of Philly from Philadelphia Magazine). Her writing appears on The Food Network blog, Saveur.com, and Food52.com. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband. Visit her at foodinjars.com.
Cloth: 64 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
C. Montgomery Burns’ Handbook of World Domination
Vault of Simpsonology
Does power corrupt? Absolutely! Does the hunger and lust for absolute power course through your icy blue veins? Do you feel the need to rule the world with an iron fist? To subjugate the masses with a whimsical snap of your fingers? To rise above the insolent and unworthy with your superior intelligence and unlimited supply of cold hard cash? Have you ever wondered if there was a simple step-by-step guide for following your impulses and instincts toward world domination? You’ve come to the right place. Here is the opportunity of a lifetime—the chance to turn your sociopathic needs into bloodthirsty greed! Now you can learn at the feet of the Master of Megalomania . . . Charles Montgomery Burns! Don’t just stand there, you sniveling slugabed. Purchase this portable periodical posthaste and leave your conscience at the cash register!
Matt Groening is the creator of the longest-running comedy in television history, The Simpsons. It exploded into a cultural phenomenon in 1990 and has remained one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises, recognizable throughout the world. He followed it with his creation of the hit sci-fi series Futurama, currently one of the top-rated shows on Comedy Central. As a cartoonist, Groening began his “Life in Hell” weekly comic strip series in the 1980s, which he concluded in 2012. He lives in Southern California.