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Embassytown
China Miéville
A planet at the farthest reaches of human colonisation. A planet needed by humanity for its irreproducible biotechnology. An exo-terran species whose goodwill is needed in trade negotiations, but whose language is so difficult to mimic that human "ambassadors" are genetically bred for the task. This is the setting for Miéville's latest...
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Un Lun Dun
China Miéville
One of the most inventive books for younger readers I've ever read, cramming a trilogy's worth into a single volume. An exhilarating adventure set in the London under London and just bursting with steampunk-esque craziness. (For ages 8 and up) —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Drugged
The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs
Richard J. Miller
"Morphine," writes Richard J. Miller, "is the most significant chemical substance mankind has ever encountered." So ancient that remains of poppies have been found in Neolithic tombs, it is the most effective drug ever discovered for treating pain. "Whatever advances are made in medicine," Miller adds, "nothing could really be more...
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Why Torture Doesn't Work
The Neuroscience of Interrogation
Shane O'Mara
We may all know in our hearts the truth of this titular statement, but political expediency will forever force the trump card, trampling over and demolishing any remnants of what we may personally consider humane, simply because of a word: terrorist. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Against Empire
Michael Parenti
Richly informed and written in an engaging style, Against Empire exposes the ruthless agenda and hidden costs of the U.S. empire today. Documenting the pretexts and lies used to justify violent intervention and maldevelopment abroad, Parenti shows...
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The Dwarfs
A Novel
Harold Pinter
Because drama is, by its very nature, fiction stripped bare of all that is unnecessary, The Dwarfs, Pinter's only novel, is probably his most revealing work. Originally written when Pinter was 20, he revisited and revised it 42 years later, fashioning out of both his youth and his maturity a devastating prose take on themes...
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San Francisco
A Map of Perceptions
Andrea Ponsi
San Francisco is a city designed for artists and wanderers. From North Beach, to Chinatown, to the cold, rough surf of Ocean Beach, to Marin, both visitors and lifelong residents have endless opportunities to explore new neighborhoods, buildings, environments, and cultures just by getting in the car, hopping on a cable car, or by simply...
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The Year of Lear
Shakespeare in 1606
James Shapiro
A brilliant rumination on how subversive and terrorist actions of late 1605 through 1606, as well as the citizenry's feelings about Elizabeth's replacement on the throne and the capital's experience with the plague, possibly informed and reconfigured the writing, performing, and publishing of the three plays attributed to Shakespeare...
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Planet of the Bugs
Evolution and the Rise of Insects
Scott Richard Shaw
How our six-legged friends have come to dominate the planet. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Devil's Chessboard
Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government
David Talbot
Recommended by Jeff & Paul & Scott, City Lights Books
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Area X
The Southern Reach Trilogy
Jeff VanderMeer
A near-future trilogy, here handsomely packaged in one volume, which has been my single most unexpected "find" of the year. The first book, Annihilation, found me intrigued, yet cautious. Imagine the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing. Authority, the second volume, was an absolute revelation...
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The Lucifer Effect
Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
Philip Zimbardo
This is one of the most revelatory and yet devastating books I have ever read. In the first half of the book Zimbardo, the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment, walks you painful moment by painful moment through the experiment, as aghast as you...

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