Here’s a quick look at some notable books—new titles from Bobby Duffy, Bohumil Habral, and Thomas Lynch—that are publishing this week.
Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything by Bobby Duffy
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: “Duffy, Policy Institute director at King’s College London, puts his 20 years of research into opinion formation to good use in this illuminating first book. Through cogent analysis, made accessible through charts and anecdotes, he thoroughly examines ‘general and widespread delusions about individual, social, and political realities.’ The book divides misperceptions into two categories: mistakes people make in their own thinking, and mistakes originating in what they are told by others, both by authority figures and the media, and by friends, family, and colleagues. Within these categories, Duffy’s examples of things people often get wrong range from the trivial, such as whether the Great Wall of China is visible from space (it isn’t), to the consequential, such as whether violent crime is on the rise (a single high-profile case can make people think it is, even when crime rates are actually declining). While addressing such well-known conceptual pitfalls as the inherent ‘bias toward information that confirms what we already believe,’ Duffy avoids pessimism. He focuses on the things everyone can do to change how they process information, such as learning not to focus on extreme examples, or improving critical reading abilities. The result is a well-informed breath of intellectual fresh air about how best to avoid misunderstanding the world.”
All My Cats by Bohumil Habral (translated by Paul Wilson)
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about All My Cats: “This slender volume from novelist Hrabal (1914–1997), originally published in 1983, is an affecting meditation on the joys and occasional griefs of sharing his life with a large group of cats. While working in Prague during the week, Hrabal constantly worries about the animals that inhabit—and which he’s allowed to completely overrun—his country cottage, and only upon returning there for the weekend can he feel relieved. Should anything happen to him or his wife, he frets, ‘Who would feed the cats?’ So when a new litter brings the cottage’s feline population over capacity, and Hrabal rashly decides to kill several kittens, readers will be shocked. That he can keep them on his side afterward—by persuasively showing himself as appalled at what he’s done—is a testament to his storytelling skills. These include an ability to balance brutal moments with tender ones, as when relating how even his feline-averse wife ‘always looked forward to mornings, when we’d wake up and I’d open the door and five grown cats would come charging into the kitchen and lap up two full bowls of milk.’ Hrabal’s involving and moving story will prod his audience to look more closely at their own relationships with other creatures.”
The Depositions by Thomas Lynch
Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to say about The Depositions: “This meditative, often emotionally affecting collection from funeral director, poet, and essayist Lynch (Whence and Whither) explores, with personal honesty and philosophical curiosity, the intersection of faith, death, family, and vocation. It features selections from Lynch’s four previous collections, along with five new pieces. It begins with ‘The Undertaking,’ an introduction to his trade that is moving and humorous in turns—the latter, particularly, as Lynch considers people’s frequent discomfort with his profession, noting, ‘I am no more attracted to the dead than the dentist is to your bad gums.’ Despite this flippant remark, Lynch explores his work as a spiritual one. In ‘How We Come to Be the Ones We Are,’ he recalls how learning Catholicism’s language and rituals in childhood informed his work. In ‘Y2Kat,’ one of the standout pieces, Lynch views his first marriage’s collapse through the metaphor of the ancient, seemingly immortal family cat that hates him, again expertly straddling the line between comedy and tragedy. In the new essays, Lynch contemplates the potential collapse of his second marriage and the challenge of maintaining sobriety during dark days, among other topics. Providing an excellent entry point for newcomers to Lynch’s work, this assemblage is an erudite but unpretentious discussion of life and mortality by a master craftsman of language.”