Best Books of the Month: Nonfiction

Irresistible225Here are a few of our favorite nonfiction titles for March. See more of our nonfiction picks, and all of the Best Books of the Month.

In his fascinating new book, associate professor of marketing and best-selling author Adam Alter examines the rise of behavioral addiction in our current times and offers some suggestions for alleviating your own addictive behavior. Here’s a question: where is your phone right now? Chances are it’s within arm’s reach—and as Alter writes, a device that travels with you is always a better vehicle for addiction. Convenience weaponizes temptation, and with the ubiquity and convenience of technology these days, you can see why behavioral addiction to video games, Facebook, checking your email on your phone, even your Fitbit, is on the rise. Irresistible is a deep and wide-ranging study of addiction, and there is much food for thought here. Alter seems especially concerned about how children and teens interact with technology, citing that they are the most vulnerable of us all. But as adults we are much more susceptible than most of us imagine—we may think we’re just interacting with a screen, but it’s important to remember that there are dozens of highly-paid people behind that screen whose only job is to make sure that we don’t stop. -- Chris Schluep

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Learn Better by Ulrich Boser
There are better ways to retain  information better than through the old (and less effective) systems of highlighting and rereading. Boser lays out six methods for becoming an expert at whatever you like, whether it’s basketball, parenting, or quantum physics. Experiments, data, and anecdotes back up his techniques, but almost as important, he explains learning in such a clear way that aha! moments abound. “Learning does not have a comfort zone,” he says, following up later with: “To develop a skill, we’re going to be uncomfortable, strained, often feeling a little embattled.”
 
 

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Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Word by Word is part memoir, part history of dictionaries – in particular, those published by Stamper’s employer, Merriam Webster. Language lovers (can we call them logophiles, Ms. Stamper?) will have a fine time in the author’s company as she discusses the unpredictable and uncontrollable ways of her mother tongue. Stamper and her fellow lexicographers work mostly in silence, but they can’t escape being drawn into our era’s vociferous political discourse.
 

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Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System by Michael Benson
Drawing on data received from myriad space probes launched across decades, Benson has assembled a spectacular collection of images that raises science to a rare level of photographic craft, blending (often hundreds of) frames and color information to create visions of these celestial objects as a human might see them, if we could only stow away aboard Cassini or Voyager.
 
 

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