How to Think is a contrarian treatise on why we’re not as good at thinking as we assume – but how recovering this lost art can rescue our inner lives from the chaos of modern life. As a celebrated cultural critic and a writer for national publications like The Atlantic and Harper’s, Alan Jacobs has spent his adult life belonging to communities that often clash in America’s culture wars. And in his years of confronting the big issues that divide us–political, social, religious–Jacobs has learned that many of our fiercest disputes occur not because we’re doomed to be divided, but because the people involved simply aren’t thinking.
Most of us don’t want to think, Jacobs writes. Thinking is trouble. Thinking can force us out of familiar, comforting habits, and it can complicate our relationships with like-minded friends. Finally, thinking is slow, and that’s a problem when our habits of consuming information (mostly online) leave us lost in the spin cycle of social media, partisan bickering, and confirmation bias.
In this smart, endlessly entertaining book, Jacobs diagnoses the many forces that act on us to prevent thinking–forces that have only worsened in the age of Twitter, “alternative facts,” and information overload–and he also dispels the many myths we hold about what it means to think well. (For example: It’s impossible to “think for yourself.”)
Drawing on sources as far-flung as novelist Marilynne Robinson, basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, British philosopher John Stuart Mill, and Christian author C.S. Lewis, Jacobs digs into the nuts and bolts of the cognitive process, offering hope that each of us can reclaim our mental lives from the impediments that plague us all. Because if we can learn to think together, maybe we can learn to live together, too.
A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
“A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice, Just Mercy is a New York Times Best Seller by Bryan Stevenson.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.”
From Equal Justice Initiative webpage
William Kamkwamba’s story is the story of success. It is perhaps the most inspiring story one could possibly read because he considers his achievement to be not only a personal feat but a triumph for others as well. The townspeople, after months of taunting him as a ne’er-do-well and calling him a crazy man, much to the dismay of his anxious mom, enthusiastically offer him their praise when they come to acknowledge the windmill that he built in his backyard. Despite the unceasing ridicule they made him endure, William embraces their expression of good will in a handshake of solidarity. As he explains in the Prologue to his book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, his birth as an inventor and scientist has also given birth to the immediate renewal of the society at large: “Each piece told its own tale of discovery, of being lost and found in a time of hardship and fear. Finally together now, we were all being reborn” (1-2).
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2013 – Spring 2014 Site
Welcome to the web site of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. With our selection of Song of Extinction, E. M. Lewis’s award-winning play, as the book of the semester, we have embarked upon an extraordinary interdisciplinary experience this semester. Faculty from many departments in the college – Behavioral and Social Sciences (History), Education, English, Humanities (Digital Design, Digital Music, and Visual and Performing Arts), Language and Cognition, and Natural Sciences (Biology and Chemistry) –are reading the play with their students.
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2012 – Spring 2013 Site
Welcome to the website of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. This semester, as we read Memoir of a Visionary, Antonia Pantoja’s autobiography, we will have the opportunity to consider how this prominent individual found the courage to better her own situation in life while marshaling at the same time the forces needed to improve the plight of her own people, Puerto Ricans here in the United States and on their island home in the Caribbean. This self-declared “Nuyorican” invites us to become travel companions with her in her personal journey as she undergoes a process of self-evaluation in her memoir.
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2011 – Spring 2012 Site
Welcome to the website of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. This year, as we read Sarah’s Key, a novel written by Tatiana de Rosnay, we will continue to ask ourselves what we can do in order to “embrace our neighbors” with compassion and be better human beings. Last year’s discussions inspired by the reading of Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project (Dave Isay, editor) and This Voice in My Heart: A Runner’s Memoir of Genocide, Faith and Forgiveness (Gilbert Tuhabonye) should therefore prove to be good preparation for our reading of Sarah’s Key.
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2010 – Spring 2011 Site
Welcome to the website of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. This year, as we continue to explore the theme of Six Degrees of Separation in more depth, we will read Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project (Dave Isay, editor) in the fall semester and This Voice in My Heart: A Runner’s Memoir of Genocide, Faith, and Forgiveness (Gilbert Tuhabonye) in the spring semester.
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2009 – Spring 2010 Site
Welcome to the website of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the-Semester Project. This semester, we will read John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation.
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2008 – Spring 2009 Site
Welcome to the web site of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College’s Book-of-the Semester Project. You are invited to embark upon a reading journey of great significance. This year, as we consider a theme that warrants our closest attention – ON ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN LIFE – we will read two awe-inspiring memoirs: The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier (Fall Semester) and Days of Grace, a memoir by Arthur Ashe (Spring Semester).
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2007 – Spring 2008 Site
You are invited to embark once more on another inspiring reading journey. We consider a theme that deserves our closest attention – CROSSING CULTURAL BOUNDARIES – we will read two award-winning novels: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (Fall 2006) and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (Spring 2007). Both authors are aware of the difficulties that children with bilingual and bicultural backgrounds face as they grow up in their parents’ “adopted” country, and this is the thematic backdrop for both of these works of fiction.Book-of-the-Semester
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2006 – Spring 2007 Site
Welcome to Book-of-the-Semester Project. Buckle your seatbelts as you embark on an exciting adventure inviting you to read and explore the meaning of two plays: Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (Fall 2005) and Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (Spring 2006).
Book-of-the-Semester Project for Fall 2005 – Spring 2006 Site