Book cover of Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World in a Big Way by Roma Agrawal
Engineering & Transportation

Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World in a Big Way

Some of humanity’s mightiest engineering achievements are small in scale—and, without them, the complex machinery on which our modern world runs would not exist. In Nuts and Bolts, structural engineer Roma Agrawal examines seven of these extraordinary elements: the nail, the wheel, the spring, the magnet, the lens, the string, and the pump. […Learn More]

Book cover of The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight by Andrew Leland
Biography & Autobiography

The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight

A witty, winning, and revelatory personal narrative of the author’s transition from sightedness to blindness and his quest to learn about blindness as a rich culture all its own

“The Country of the Blind is about seeing—but also about marriage and family and the moral and emotional challenge of accommodating the parts of ourselves that scare us. A warm, profound, and unforgettable meditation on how we adjust to new ways of being in the world.” —Rachel Aviv, author of Strangers to Ourselves […Learn More]

Book cover of Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World by Henry Grabar
Engineering & Transportation

Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World

An entertaining, enlightening, and utterly original investigation into one of the most quietly influential forces in modern American life—the humble parking spot

Parking, quite literally, has a death grip on America: each year a handful of Americans are tragically killed by their fellow citizens over parking spots. But even when we don’t resort to violence, we routinely do ridiculous things for parking, contorting our professional, social, and financial lives to get a spot. Indeed, in the century since the advent of the car, we have deformed—and in some cases demolished—our homes and our cities in a Sisyphean quest for cheap and convenient car storage. […Learn More]

Book cover of Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom by Sarah A. Seo
Engineering & Transportation

Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom 

When Americans think of freedom, they often picture the open road. Yet nowhere are we more likely to encounter the long arm of the law than in our cars. Sarah Seo reveals how the rise of the automobile led us to accept—and expect—pervasive police power, a radical transformation with far-reaching consequences. […Learn More]

Book cover of Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet by Chelsea Wald
Biological Sciences

Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet

Most of us do not give much thought to the centerpiece of our bathrooms, but the toilet is an unexpected paradox. On the one hand, it is a modern miracle: a ubiquitous fixture in a vast sanitation system that has helped add decades to the human life span by reducing disease. On the other hand, the toilet is also a tragic failure: less than half of the world’s population can access a toilet that safely manages body waste, including many right here in the United States. And it is inefficient, squandering clean water as well as the nutrients, energy, and information contained in the stuff we flush away. […Learn More]

Book cover of Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange
Business & Money

Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall

Few places have been as nostalgized, or as maligned, as malls. Since their birth in the 1950s, they have loomed large as temples of commerce, the agora of the suburbs. In their prime, they proved a powerful draw for creative thinkers such as Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury, and George Romero, who understood the mall’s appeal as both critics and consumers. Yet today, amid the aftershocks of financial crises and a global pandemic, as well as the rise of online retail, the dystopian husk of an abandoned shopping center has become one of our era’s defining images. Conventional wisdom holds that the mall is dead. But what was the mall, really? And have rumors of its demise been greatly exaggerated? […Learn More]

Book cover of Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern by Adam Rogers
Biological Sciences

Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern

A lively account of our age-old quest for brighter colors, which changed the way we see the world, from the best-selling author of Proof: The Science of Booze

From kelly green to millennial pink, our world is graced with a richness of colors. But our human-made colors haven’t always matched nature’s kaleidoscopic array. To reach those brightest heights required millennia of remarkable innovation and a fascinating exchange of ideas between science and craft that’s allowed for the most luminous manifestations of our built and adorned world. […Learn More]

History

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America

Just as The Color of Law provided a vital understanding of redlining and racial segregation, Marcia Chatelain’s Franchise investigates the complex interrelationship between black communities and America’s largest, most popular fast food chain. Taking us from the first McDonald’s drive-in in San Bernardino to the franchise on Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri, in the summer of 2014, Chatelain shows how fast food is a source of both power―economic and political―and despair for African Americans. As she contends, fast food is, more than ever before, a key battlefield in the fight for racial justice.  […Learn More]