A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
"If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first can be defined by presentism.”
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, explains award-winning media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, but we don’t seem to have any time in which to live it. Instead we remain poised and frozen, overwhelmed by an always-on, live-streamed reality that our human bodies and minds can never truly inhabit. And our failure to do so has had wide-ranging effects on every aspect of our lives.
People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and connect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instantaneous network where time and space could be compressed.
Well, the future’s arrived. We live in a continuous now enabled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technological shift. Yet this ”now” is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.
Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eternal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fiction signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.
As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.
Absorbing and thought-provoking, Present Shock is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.
"emotional design - which uses psychology and craftsmanship to create an experience for users that makes them feel like there’s a person, not a machine, at the other end of the connection."
"a craftsman wields great technical skill, and shows us their hand in their work. Their work exudes a human quality we can see and feel."
"Design is too often wrongly taken for the indulgent frosting on a functional interface. Have you ever overheard a colleague declare, ‘It would be nice if we could have a sexy interface, but people care more about what the site does than how it looks’? Would this person show up to a job interview in their pajamas because people only care about what they can do and now how they look?"
"Aesthetic-usability effect = attractive things actually work better."
"The contrast between open and closed systems is what leads us so often to perceive that reading the book is better than seeing the movie. Books require our imagination to tell the story, but movies do all the imagining for us."
— Make your users fall in love with your site via the precepts packed into this brief, charming book by MailChimp user experience design lead Aarron Walter. From classic psychology to case studies, highbrow concepts to common sense, Designing for Emotion demonstrates accessible strategies and memorable methods to help you make a human connection through design.
"Two days later against Chicago at Yankee Stadium, Ruth stole home plate - something that thirty-two-year-old men with paunches didn’t normally do."
"Every word he ever wrote about himself made him seem valorous, calm, and wise. He was also, and above all, very possibly a great liar."
"Henry Ford had the additional distinction of being the only American mentioned favorably in Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, it was said, kept a framed photo of Ford on his wall."
"We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert - because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job."
"Chicago was to corruption what PIttsburgh was to steel or Hollywood to motion pictures. It refined and cultivated it, and embraced it without embarrassment."
"…so let us just note in passing that even with the benefit of steroids most modern players couldn’t hit as many home runs as Babe Ruth hit on hot dogs."
The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history. In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.
All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.
Ooof. Highlighted the whole book.
- How do we see the world around us? “The Penguin on Design” series includes the works of creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision forever. Bruno Munari was among the most inspirational designers of all time, described by Picasso as ‘the new Leonardo’. Munari insisted that design be beautiful, functional and accessible, and this enlightening and highly entertaining book sets out his ideas about visual, graphic and industrial design and the role it plays in the objects we use everyday. Lamps, road signs, typography, posters, children’s books, advertising, cars and chairs - these are just some of the subjects to which he turns his illuminating gaze.
"Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness."
"The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
- First published in 1843; A Christmas Carol is known the world over as a literary classic. When the mean spirited Ebenezer Scrooge goes to sleep on Christmas Eve he is unaware of what lie ahead of him as his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come pay a visit and leave Scrooge with a changed heart, one of giving, loving and kindness.
"…the words still warm from being read."
"Over drinks in our living room, her face dewed with sweat, she taught us the term "shout", as in, "I’m shouting lunch." This means that you’re treating and that you don’t want any lip about it. "You can also say, ‘It’s my shout,’ or ‘I’ll shout the next round,’" she told us."
- With Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris shows once again why his work has been called “hilarious, elegant, and surprisingly moving” (Washington Post).
A guy walks into a bar car and…From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.
Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
Re-read another book from college. Most of the really invigorating action in the art world today is a quiet affair, Mr. Kimball observes. It usually involves not the latest thing but permanent things—they can be new or old, but their relevance is measured not by the buzz they create but by the silences they inspire. With reviews and essays composed over the last twenty years and revised for this book, Art’s Prospect illuminates some of the chief spiritual itineraries of modern art. There is much to be learned and enjoyed in these stimulating, provocative, and elegant essays. —Paul Johnson
Designers are quick to tell us about their sources of inspiration, but they are much less willing to reveal such critical matters as how to find work, how much they charge, and what to do when a client rejects three weeks of work and refuses to pay the bill. How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul addresses the concerns of young designers who want to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work, and who want to avoid becoming hired drones working on soulless projects. Written by a designer for designers, it combines practical advice with philosophical guidance to help young professionals embark on their careers. How should designers manage the creative process? What’s the first step in the successful interpretation of a brief? How do you generate ideas when everything just seems blank? How to be a graphic designer offers clear, concise guidance for these questions, along with focused, no-nonsense strategies for setting up, running, and promoting a studio, finding work, and collaborating with clients. The book also includes inspiring interviews with ten leading designers, including Rudy VanderLans (Emigre), John Warwicker (Tomato), Neville Brody (Research Studios), and Andy Cruz (House Industries). All told, How to be a graphic designer covers just about every aspect of the profession, and stands as an indispensable guide for any young designer.