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New Non-fiction published this week New Non-fiction published this week

Political Tribes is a beautifully written, eminently readable, and uniquely important challenge to conventional wisdom. In it, Amy Chua argues that tribalism–and the social dysfunction and violence that comes along with it–is the norm all over the world, but the United States managed to escape its worst impulses thanks to a shared sense of national identity. But there’s trouble on the horizon: identity politics on both the left and right threaten to unravel that consensus. ” –J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

Marilynne Robinson has plumbed the human spirit in her renowned novels, including Lila, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Gilead, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. In this new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern political climate and the mysteries of faith. Whether she is investigating how the work of great thinkers about America like Emerson and Tocqueville inform our political consciousness or discussing the way that beauty informs and disciplines daily life, Robinson’s peerless prose and boundless humanity are on full display.

Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility–and a necessity. Whether in the near future due to climate change and the depletion of finite resources, or in the distant future due to catastrophic cosmological events, we must face the reality that humans will one day need to leave planet Earth to survive as a species. World-renowned physicist and futurist Michio Kaku explores in rich, intimate detail the process by which humanity may gradually move away from the planet and develop a sustainable civilization in outer space.

Humans walk upright, possess giant brains, have nearly hairless skin, and live exceptionally long lives. How did we come to be such peculiar primates? Sang-Hee Lee tackles this question with aplomb. Deftly weaving together science and personal observation, Lee proves an engaging, authoritative guide on this nickel tour of the human condition.–Kate Wong



Recommended new pubs for February 14th Recommended new pubs for February 14th

“Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have offered a brilliant diagnosis of the most important issue facing our world: Can democracy survive? With clinical precision and an extraordinary grasp of history, they point to the warning signs of decay and define the obligations of those who would preserve free government. If there is an urgent book for you to read at this moment, it is How Democracies Die.” —E.J. Dionne Jr.

“The world is getting better, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.”—Bill Gates

“The best account so far of the most notorious woman-and most dangerous threat to the British royal family-of the twentieth century. Andrew Morton presents a convincing picture of Wallis Simpson’s rip-roaring sexual and social adventures and her curious marriage to the Duke of Windsor.” —Sarah Bradford

“Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear. That has been true from her very first book, but with An American Marriage that vision, that strength, and that truth-telling voice have found a new level of artistry and power.” —Michael Chabon

Just out in paperback:

The Book of Joan is a raucous celebration, a searing condemnation, and a fiercely imaginative retelling of Joan of Arc’s Transcendent life.” —Roxanne Gay


This week’s new pubs This week’s new pubs

Three long-awaited paperback releases.

Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him. In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

February 1862. President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying.

On March 3, 1947, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives.


What’s New?

The Book Den celebrates 85 years in Santa Barbara

On Monday, February 20th in 1933, the Book Den opened it’s doors at 15 East Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara, following a move from Oakland. Read the history of Santa Barbara years of one of the oldest bookstores in California below.

Book Den Marks 85 Remarkable Years in Business

Santa Barbara, Calif. – One morning in late 1932, Max Clemens Richter stepped off a train at the Santa Barbara station and began walking up State Street. He knew the city well. His family owned property in Mission Canyon and he had lived there from age 3 to 17. He wanted to return, but first he needed to find a new home for the bookstore he had been running in Oakland, Calif., for the past six years.

When he reached Anapamu Street, he turned right and found a vacant store on the ground floor of the Odd Fellows’ building. It was a reasonable size and located across the street from an institution likely to attract customers – the Public Library. Richter rented the space, returned to Oakland and shipped some 40 tons of books and magazines to Santa Barbara by train.

It turned out to be a fortuitous decision. Richter’s enterprise, the Book Den, has endured longer than any retail business in downtown Santa Barbara. That’s no small feat considering retail trends and competition the store has faced over the decades.

When the Book Den opened Feb. 20, 1933, a Santa Barbara News-Press article described shelves stocked with “volumes treating with all branches of literature, science, first editions, books on philosophy, sociology, natural sciences, art, and fiction.” Today’s patrons find little has changed.

Since its founding in Oakland in 1902, The Book Den has changed hands four times. Eric Kelley, the current owner, bought it in 1979. In 1990, he moved it next door and then back to its original location in 2005. The process of cataloging and digitizing the inventory began in the late 1980s. Online sales started in 1999 and debuted in 2001.

Over time, Kelley has replaced the fixtures and furnishings. The last remaining piece from Oakland, a green wooden table, is in storage. However, the essential character of the space remains warm and inviting. After a major makeover, a regular customer said the store “looks the same, only better.”

Kelley is often asked what makes the store’s longevity possible. He cites Richter’s vision and several other factors, including having a staff of booksellers who know and love books. The current staff of four has a combined 130 years in book sales.

In addition, the off-State location is more affordable than retail space with State Street frontage, and there are two nearby parking garages.

Most importantly, he said, the Book Den has a loyal following. Many customers who have visited the store over the years return with their friends and family members.

Kelley said the business has thrived by adapting to changes in bookselling and retail, in general. For example, the Book Den met competition with chain bookstores by acquiring used books in like-new condition that could be sold for less than new books at discount prices. When Borders and Barnes & Noble closed their downtown locations within a week of each other, it became possible to build a evenly balanced market for both new and gently used books and adjust title selections for in-person and online sales.

The death of the book, and corresponding demise of book stores, has been predicted for decades. But authors keep writing. Publishers bring out as many new books as ever, and more independent bookstores are opening than closing.

Readers still love the experience of browsing through a real bookstore, and the Book Den will remain open to meet the demand, Kelley said.

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