WIRED FOR LOVE

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

A beautiful testament to romantic love, scientific passion, and the endless possibility of 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. 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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