An eye-opening, disturbing, empowering, and essential text.

COUNT DOWN

HOW OUR MODERN WORLD IS THREATENING SPERM COUNTS, ALTERING MALE AND FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE DEVELOPMENT, AND IMPERILING THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE

An urgent examination of a global problem that requires vastly more attention than it currently receives.

Despite the pervasive idea that overpopulation is one of the most pressing concerns facing our planet, human fertility rates are dropping fast. Without a concerted global effort to reverse this trend, long-term human survival may be at risk, according to renowned epidemiologist and public health expert Swan. The author made headlines in 2017 when she published a “meta-analysis on sperm-count decline in Western countries.” Her study became one of the most-cited in history, making it a hot topic among scientists as well as the public. Despite the attention, the demonstrated causes of fertility decline—including toxic chemicals that transfer from everyday products and foods into our bodies—remain a problem. In this impeccably researched, cogent book, the author convincingly argues that if society’s trend toward a fertility rate below replacement level continues at the current pace, humans could become an endangered species. “Of five possible criteria for what makes a species endangered,” she writes, “only one needs to be met; the current state of affairs for humans meets at least three.” The author’s passion for her work and access to reams of alarming data make for riveting reading, and her writing is crisp and unfettered by jargon. Writing about the lack of awareness regarding commonly used chemicals that are harming humans and the environment—not to mention policies to limit or eliminate them—she asks with justified anger, “Where is the outrage on this issue?!” Acknowledging the glacial pace of institutional change, Swan outlines how people can take concrete action to protect themselves now and how positive change has long-term ripple effects that benefit future generations. With an advocate’s verve and a scientist’s informed confidence, the author voices “a clarion call for all of us to do what we can to safeguard our fertility, the fate of mankind, and the planet.”

An eye-opening, disturbing, empowering, and essential text.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982113-66-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

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BROKEN (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY)

The Bloggess is back to survey the hazards and hilarity of imperfection.

Lawson is a wanderer. Whether on her award-winning blog or in the pages of her bestselling books, she reliably takes readers to places they weren’t even aware they wanted to go—e.g., shopping for dog condoms or witnessing what appears to be a satanic ritual. Longtime fans of the author’s prose know that the destinations really aren’t the point; it’s the laugh-out-loud, tears-streaming-down-your-face journeys that make her writing so irresistible. This book is another solid collection of humorous musings on everyday life, or at least the life of a self-described “super introvert” who has a fantastic imagination and dozens of chosen spirit animals. While Furiously Happy centered on the idea of making good mental health days exceptionally good, her latest celebrates the notion that being broken is beautiful—or at least nothing to be ashamed of. “I have managed to fuck shit up in shockingly impressive ways and still be considered a fairly acceptable person,” writes Lawson, who has made something of an art form out of awkward confessionals. For example, she chronicles a mix-up at the post office that left her with a “big ol’ sack filled with a dozen small squishy penises [with] smiley faces painted on them.” It’s not all laughs, though, as the author addresses her ongoing battle with both physical and mental illness, including a trial of transcranial magnetic stimulation, a relatively new therapy for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. The author’s colloquial narrative style may not suit the linear-narrative crowd, but this isn’t for them. “What we really want,” she writes, “is to know we’re not alone in our terribleness….Human foibles are what make us us, and the art of mortification is what brings us all together.” The material is fresh, but the scaffolding is the same.

Fans will find comfort in Lawson’s dependably winning mix of shameless irreverence, wicked humor, and vulnerability.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-07703-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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