Stuff They Don't Teach You in School

From feminism and climate change to physics and mathematics, here at Bookmate, we'll teach you the stuff school doesn't.

What do you do when your husband of decades suddenly passes away? You don't learn how to handle grief in school. You learn it though the school of hard knocks.

If you're Joan Didion, you write a a book about grief and the days that pass. The "magical thinking" that Didion refers to is the idea that if someone thinks or hopes for something enough, then a crisis may be avoided. And through the year that passes from her husband's death, Didion intimately welcomes us into a sliver of her life, so we may understand her heartache and detachment that is to come. It's a great book for anyone who has dealt with profound loss in their life, not only because of its honesty, but also of Didion's clear, and almost clinical way of recording down the events that come.

It was only in the last two or three years that the Islamic State group, or ISIS, came under the spotlight. With its violence and brutality, there quickly became one of the biggest terror groups that was to be reckoned with. With their headquarters mostly in Syria and Iraq, how is it that the group has managed to recruit members from all over the world, including in South East Asia and Europe, and brainwashed even the smartest of millennials?

Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, two of America’s leading experts on terrorism, dissect the new model for violent extremism that ISIS has leveraged into an empire of death in Iraq and Syria, and an international network that is rapidly expanding in the Middle East, North Africa and around the world.

There's no other way to describe this book other than "powerful". Call it an expose of sorts, but this non-fiction book tells of the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Can this be considered a crime of sorts? Climate change and global warming is not just an "environmental" issue - it's one that involves the bigwigs running the world. Former vice-president Al Gore says "Anyone concerned about the state of democracy in America should read this book.”

Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out while breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class.

Poser is more than just a handbook to yoga poses, or a spiritual guidebook that waxes lyrical about the "good life". Claire Dederer, in a very personal manner, pens out and reveals how yoga helped her to be joyful, to be good, to be better. It's witty, sharp and irreverent. But most importantly, it's got plenty of sincerity and heart.

Physics is not easy, but you have to understand why the discovery of the Higgs Boson was such a big deal in 2012. That's because the search for it already started in 1950s. Physicists from the US at that time convinced President Reagan and Congress to support construction of the multibillion-dollar Superconducting Super Collider project in Texas—the largest basic-science project ever attempted. But when the Cold War arrived, the project was abandoned.

Tunnel Visions is a riveting journey into the discovery into the particle, of the tough sciencey stuff that waylaid the physicists and the bureaucratic red tape that came with it. The book has over 100 interviews from scientists, government officials, engineers, physicists... to answer one important question: Is the quest for the answers to science's mysteries and questions getting too big and expensive to handle?

But if you're thinking, damn this is too high-level, then head over to our Physics self for a 101 to get you up to speed.

Math? In The Simpsons? Yup, you better believe it.

In this book, Simon Singh makes a compelling case on why the creators and writers are all math lovers, and how they hide so many hidden trivia, nuggets and easter eggs about math. With examples from specific episodes, Singh brings to life the most intriguing and meaningful mathematical concepts, ranging from pi and the paradox of infinity to the origins of numbers and the most profound outstanding problems that haunt today's generation of mathematicians.

And yes, a lot of the writers on The Simpsons hold advanced degrees in mathematics. #squadgoals

If there's one person who knows about creativity - it's Tina Seelig. The Stanford University Professor and international bestselling author of inGenius has adopted her popular course material into this handy book so you can harness your creativity that's simmering inside and unleash it out on the world.

Through practical steps, she takes you through the process of imagination, ideation, innovation, and implementation to create something complex, interesting, and powerful. And most importantly - yours and yours only. So don't think creativity is something that we have to be born with. It can be practiced and learnt, and of course, if you stop using it, you'll definitely "run out" of it.

In a world of Snapchats, a million different apps, and billions of software releases, Elon Musk remains one of those dudes who gets down and dirty with hardware; the kind that gets intimate with the physical bits of engineering.

Here's what school doesn't teach you. Vance reminds us that Musk’s inventions and creations are all about saving the world. He might not be giving away billions to the poorest of the poor, or volunteering like Hollywood celebs, but his inventions are focused on making the world a better place. Like wanting to make Mars habitable when the Earth finally burns out; like exploring space travel to push human frontiers and curiosity; like building electric cars that don’t rely on fossil fuel. This book is a look at Musk’s humanity and a glimpse into his own moral values and visions.
Elon Musk, Ashlee Vance
Ashlee Vance
Elon Musk
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Babble, Charles Saatchi

Admittedly, there are so many waves of feminism, so many schools of thought, and so many different strong women. So there's no universal truth, but a collective understanding that women are multi-faceted and have to exist in many spaces.

Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth is exactly the power that we've come to shoot ourselves in the foot. Female beauty is inherently seen as a sign of femininity (and perhaps weakness). But over the years, the power that women have gained have caused some to view it as a sign of power and empowerment. But Wolf argues that just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. This is the beauty myth -- an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society's impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”

From method acting to vogueing balls in Harlem, and from Brian Eno to normcore, participants of these trends have been accused of "pretentiousness". But what does that mean anyway? Dan Fox gives us the arguments in his short essay, and to be frank, it's absolutely illuminating and we totes understand why we come to despise it so much, despite wanting to be part of the in-scene.

"Pretentiousness" is a good way to enter the world of philosophy as you see his arguments and learn how to think about concepts and logic. Also, psst, you can say that you knew about him here first.

Is the teenage brain whirring with what's hot at the moment, crushes, and junk food? Maybe a little more than that. The Teenage Brain is one neurologist's search for the brain matter of teenager. Also the mother of two teenaged boys, Frances Jensen lays out how the adolescent brain functions, is wiring, and its capacity. The end result is a fascinating and a delightful read.

Where does your seafood come from? Is it safe? Sustainable? To summarise, this is one seafood's lover round-the-world quest for the best of the best seafood. But one that's ethically sourced and sustainable. Grescoe travels to the end of the seafood supply chain and back, and hauls lobsters from Nova Scotia, grills three-star Michelin chefs in Manhattan, and samples poisonous pufferfish in Japan. But it's not all travel and fun an food for Grescoe. From his adventures lie the huge problems of how out-of-control pollution, over-fishing and global warming are affecting the fish in the ocean.

This are what the schools won't teach - the supply-chain of seafood and the impact that it has on the ecosystem. But more than that too -- he also teaches you which fish are the best for your body, how to pick the best of the best, and how to go for the underrated picks of the sea.

From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

What makes Zealot one of the best books about religion is the fact that Aslan sifts through centuries of mythmaking and sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor.

Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.

The sea surrounds us. It gives us life, provides us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. It is ceaseless change and constant presence. It covers two-thirds of our planet. Yet some of us don't even live close enough to ir to have seen it in our lives.

The Sea Inside is one man's discovery and journey of the sea. he travels to the other side of the world – the Azores, Sri Lanka, New Zealand – in search of encounters with animals and people. Navigating between human and natural history, he asks what these stories mean for us now. But more than that, his observations also brings us the cruelty of humankind and the impact of our practices on the fish and sea creatures deep in the sea.

Part memoir, part fantastical travelogue, ‘The Sea Inside’ takes us on an astounding journey of discovery of the ever-changing sea.

We're familiar with - the flu, Zika, HIV... they've been a destructive biological force of nature that our bodies cannot contain, yet we have our own unique viruses within our bodies. They're the smallest living thing known to science, yet they wreak widespread havoc so very quickly. Carl Zimmer, popular science writer and author, writes about how they gave birth to the first few life forms, yet hold sway over our lives and bodies. It's a great science read that doesn't go over our heads - in fact, Zimmer writes in such a entertaining yet educational way that you'll leave with some extra knowledge about how your body, and viruses, works.

What do you know about the bug that will never die? If you think the cockroach, then you're wrong.

Of all the household bugs that live, there is none other that will us terror and horror than the bedbug. How is it that a tiny, harmless thing can cause such a furor when discovered? They exist in plush blankets and beds in a brand new hotel, or even back in your own bed - these bloodthirsty vermin just never stops. Brooke Borel traces the history of the tiny creature, and explores how their infestation has come to invade even in the cleanest, urbanite areas. It's a fascinating look into the science and biology of this insect - and perhaps an understanding into modern life as well. Whatever it is, time to give your linens and bed a good spring cleaning after reading!
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