Dog Days, Beard Trends, and the Best of Non-Fiction

University of Chicago Press
University of Chicago Press
From science to literary history and other fun stuff, University of Chicago Press publishes some of the best and most intellectual books that make for educational, fun reading. Don't believe us? Just pick out one to believe it.
Beards are all the rage these days, but not really in the 90s, but super hip in teh 1800s. So how does the trend come and go? And when did it really start being fashionable? Oldstone-Moore tracks the history of the beard, and analyses its place and importance through time. It's a marker of trend now, but before that it used to be a a sign of masculinity. Already in his introduction, he insists that “changes in facial hair are never simply a matter of fashion”. Delving into this book is more than just a history lesson, it's a lens through time, fashion, masculinity and the importance of the facial hair - hate it or love it.
Do dogs know when we're sad? Do they really recognise faces and know who their owners are? What's going on in their fur-covered heads and what do their large, expressive eyes tell us? Raymond Coppinger shares with us how to understand these creatures, making this a must-read for any dog owner, lover or trainer. He goes through the early behaviours of canines, their shapes and sizes, and how that makes one species suited to do a certain work. So when your dog barks, or burrows in your lap, or whines - you might just know what they're asking for now.
The war on drugs has been a thing that the US and its nearby regions have been facing. But proponents of marijuana insist that its not like the /other/ drugs. Now, pot has bred a whole other other sort of culture - the "stoner" culture if you will. They're "users", rather than "abusers" and Howard S. Becker makes no judgements about this. He doesn't holler for legalisation, or clamp down on a crackdown. Instead he looks at this phenomena with a sociological lens - how we live with it, how we like it, how we interact with it and its users. It's a definitive look into the culture, and one that will certainly illuminate.
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!
"What's in a name?", as Shakespeare asked. Well, according to Margaret Doody, who's obsessive about names, a little too much. “The question of naming brings out a poetic complexity in Austen,” Doody says. From our favourite heroine Elizabeth Bennett to lesser knowns like Catherine Morland, Doody examines the names and nicknames of Austen's characters, and finds out that maybe their names reveal more about their characters and histories that we're let up to. It's a path down an ancient roots and odd associations, but it's one hell of a fun journey, especially for any Austen fan.
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.
See how one woman decided to transform her life instead of being destroyed by painful circumstances. Her love for nature, and her reflections that stem from being outdoors lend a insight into dealing with brokenness, pain and suffering. Her unique short stories about her life events provoke thinking, and allows you to reflect on your own life. It's a spiritual read, and one that might just mend old painful wounds.
Personal and profane, funny and fervent, The Dead Ladies Project ranges from the nineteenth century to the present, from historical figures to brand-new hangovers, in search, ultimately, of an answer to a bedrock question: How does a person decide how to live their life?
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