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Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking) by Christian Rudder

Caitlin's picture

Do Equal Opportunity Employers really hire without discrimination? Is Twitter destroying our capacity to write, or improving it? Can Facebook predict if your marriage will last? How is Google fighting the flu?

Christian Rudder, one of the founders of OkCupid, leverages the company’s massive collection of data as a starting point for this examination of human nature. Rudder keeps the text light and readable, skipping wonky details while being sure to note when his conclusions are limited by his data. His insights range from quirky factoids—white men are most likely to read Robert Heinlein while drinking a home-brewed beer, while Asian women would rather snack on macarons and read Norwegian Wood—to sobering insights about racism, sexism, and homophobia. A must-read for anyone interested in social media and what it reveals about our personalities and communities.

Funny Teen Fiction: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three best friends are students at Selwyn Arts Academy, which has been hijacked by For Art’s Sake, a sleazy reality-television show. The program pits student artists against each other for an arts college scholarship, but is really for ratings and big bucks for the producers. The friends are inspired to write a vigilante poem and distribute it to the student body, hoping to save their school from reality television. 

"The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adrianna Trigianni

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​A novel about Italian immigrants and their lives in northern Italy as well as in America in the early 1900s. Enza and Ciro meet on a moonlit night in the cemetery of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Schilpario, Italy when they are just teenagers. They go their separate ways to new lives in America but they never quite leave behind their beautiful homeland. The descriptions are magically vivid and although it is a love story of sorts, it's also a powerful testimony on the strength of the human spirit and the importance of family.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte

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Americans spend more time working, more time parenting their children, and less time on vacation than the citizens of any other country on the planet—leading to widespread experience of “the overwhelm,” journalist Brigid Schulte’s term for the feeling of being constantly busy and dissatisfied with life. Her search for the underlying causes of America’s great stress-out takes her from the labs of time researchers scrutinizing time diaries in search of “time confetti” to the trapezes of the “Mice at Play,” a group of women who’ve deliberately made time for play in their lives. Her insights into why we’re feeling busier—and lousier—than ever, and how we can reclaim time for meaningful work, closer families, and greater joy, will provoke discussion and laughs of commiseration.

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