A beautiful testament to romantic love, scientific passion, and the endless possibility of connection.

WIRED FOR LOVE

A NEUROSCIENTIST'S JOURNEY THROUGH ROMANCE, LOSS, AND THE ESSENCE OF HUMAN CONNECTION

A leading neuroscientist analyzes the “power of love”—“why it evolved, how it functions, how it can be harnessed to strengthen our bodies and open our minds.”

From plunging marriage rates to the challenges of pandemic dating, finding a fulfilling romantic relationship is fraught with challenges. According to recent data, half of single adults in the U.S. are not even on the dating market. Yet, as Cacioppo convincingly argues, “a healthy love life is as necessary to a person’s well-being as nutritious food, exercise, or clean water…we cannot realize our full potential as human beings without it.” In this book, a hybrid of memoir and popular science, she tells her own story of love and heartbreak and examines the scientific data from fields including neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, and economics. As one of the first researchers to use the tools of neuroscience to study love, the author has made numerous fascinating and unexpected discoveries despite skepticism from others in her field. She shows that not only does love make people feel good by triggering a cascade of neurotransmitters and chemicals; social interaction actually shapes the brain, improving cognitive function. On the flip side, loneliness is considered a risk factor for poor health that some scientists consider as serious as smoking. In engaging and clear prose, Cacioppo explains how the tangible effect of positive, loving feelings is evident in various situations: recovering from a stroke, thinking quickly, and even retaining a will to survive. Equally intriguing is the author’s discovery that love activates 12 regions of the brain, playing a more complex role than anyone had previously theorized. Each chapter builds on the last, and Cacioppo’s writing becomes more intimate as her life story stitches closer to her research. Her conclusion is enchanting and uplifting: Love leads us "to be true to ourselves, to reveal who we are.”

A beautiful testament to romantic love, scientific passion, and the endless possibility of connection.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-79060-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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