The Glorious Train Wreck Mom

This is a safe space for all train wrecks. Except here, we don't give you a puppy and a latte. We give you sarcasm and humor.

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The color of the leaves is changing as the season progresses. The temperature is becoming colder. But the biggest news is the influx of new titles coming to stores later this year. So, sit back. Grab a warm drink, a cozy blanket, and a fluffy friend (real or stuffed) and find your next read or listen with this list.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach

Release date – September 14, 2021

You can buy your copy here –

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From the Amazon description –

One of Bookpage‘s Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of 2021

Join “America’s funniest science writer” (Peter Carlson, Washington Post), Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. These days, as New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and “danger tree” faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque.

Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to “problem” wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem―and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.12 illustrations.

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill

Release Date – September 28, 2021

From the Amazon description –

From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.

In 1991, Anita Hill began something that’s still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they were when she first testified. Believing is a story of America’s three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart.

We once thought gender-based violence–from casual harassment to rape and murder – was an individual problem that affected a few; we now know it’s cultural and endemic, and happens to our acquaintances, colleagues, friends, and family members, and it can be physical, emotional, and verbal. Women of color experience sexual harassment at higher rates than White women. Street harassment is ubiquitous and can escalate to violence. Transgender and nonbinary people are particularly vulnerable.

Anita Hill draws on her years as a teacher, legal scholar, and advocate, and on the experiences of the thousands of individuals who have told her their stories, to trace the pipeline of behavior that follows individuals from place to place: from home to school to work and back home. In measured, clear, blunt terms, she demonstrates the impact it has on  every aspect of our lives, including our physical and mental well-being, housing stability, political participation, economy, and community safety, and how our descriptive language undermines progress toward solutions. And she is uncompromising in her demands that our laws and our leaders must address the issue concretely and immediately.

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman

Release date – October 12, 2021

From the Amazon description –

A humorous and rousing set of literal and figurative sojourns as well as a mission statement about comprehending, protecting, and truly experiencing the outdoors, fueled by three journeys undertaken by actor, humorist, and New York Times best-selling author Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman has always felt a particular affection for the Land of the Free – not just for the people and their purported ideals but to the actual land itself: the bedrock, the topsoil, and everything in between that generates the health of your local watershed. In his new book, Nick takes a humorous, inspiring, and elucidating trip to America’s trails, farms, and frontier to examine the people who inhabit the land, what that has meant to them and us, and to the land itself, both historically and currently.  

In 2018, Wendell Berry posed a question to Nick, a query that planted the seed of this book, sending Nick on two memorable journeys with pals – a hiking trip to Glacier National Park with his friends Jeff Tweedy and George Saunders, as well as an extended visit to his friend James Rebanks, the author of The Shepherd’s Life and English Pastoral. He followed that up with an excursion that could only have come about in 2020 – Nick and his wife, Megan Mullally, bought an Airstream trailer to drive across (several of) the United States. These three quests inspired some “deep-ish” thinking from Nick, about the history and philosophy of our relationship with nature in our national parks, in our farming, and in our backyards; what we mean when we talk about conservation; and the importance of outdoor recreation, all subjects very close to Nick’s heart. 

With witty, heartwarming stories and a keen insight into the human problems we all confront, this is both a ramble through and celebration of the land we all love.

Music is History by Questlove

Release date – October 12, 2021

From the Amazon description –

Best-selling author and Sundance award-winning director Questlove offers a thrilling, music-driven ride through the last 50 years of American history

In Music Is History, best-selling author and Sundance award-winning director Questlove harnesses his encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and his deep curiosity about history to examine America over the past 50 years. Choosing one essential track from each year, Questlove unpacks each song’s significance, revealing the pivotal role that American music plays around issues of race, gender, politics, and identity.

Music Is History focuses on the years 1971 to the present, not only the country’s most complex and rewarding half-century when it comes to the ways that pop culture and culturally diverse history intersect and interact, but also the years that overlap with Questlove’s own life. Music Is History moves fluidly from the personal to the political, examining events closely and critically, to unpeel and uncover previously unseen dimensions, and encouraging listeners to do the same. Whether he is exploring how Black identity reshaped itself during the blaxploitation era, analyzing the assembly-line nature of disco and its hostility to Black genius, or remembering his own youth as a pop fan and what it taught him about America, Questlove finds the hidden connections in the American tapestry.

Complete with playlists organized around personal, playful themes that touch on everything from the relationship of hip-hop to music’s past to the secret ingredient in all funk songs, Music Is History is filled with and informed by Questlove’s preferences, perspectives, and particularities. It feels like both a popular history of contemporary America and a conversation with one of music’s most influential and unique voices.

Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture by Zeba Blay

From the Amazon description –

Carefree Black Girls is an exploration and celebration of Black women’s identity and impact on pop culture, as well as the enduring stereotypes they face, from a film and culture critic for HuffPost.

In 2013, Zeba Blay was one of the first people to coin the viral term carefreeblackgirls on Twitter. It was, as she says, “a way to carve out a space of celebration and freedom for black women online”.

In this collection of essays, Blay expands on that initial idea by looking at the significance of influential Black women throughout history, including Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Cardi B. Incorporating her own personal experiences as well as astute analysis of these famous women, Blay presents an empowering and celebratory portrait of Black women and their effect on American culture. She also examines the many stereotypes that have clung to Black women throughout history, whether it is the mammy, the angry Black woman, or more recently, the thot.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin’s Griffin

Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA by Tim Mak

Release date – November 02, 2021

From the Amazon description –

A blistering exposé of the National Rifle Association, revealing its people, power, corruption, and ongoing downfall, from acclaimed NPR investigative reporter Tim Mak

The NRA once compelled respect – even fear – from Republicans and Democrats alike. Once a grassroots club dedicated to gun safety, the NRA ballooned into a powerful lobbyist organization that maintained an iron hold on gun legislation in America. This influential nonprofit raised millions in small fees from members across the country, which funded hidden, lavish lifestyles of designer suits, private jets and yachts, martini lunches and Champagne dinners – while the group manipulated legislators and flirted with a Russian spy.

Yet in 2012, the NRA’s grip on Washington began to loosen in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Facing nationwide outrage, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre gave a speech claiming the solution was not fewer guns, but more guns, in schools. The group’s rhetoric only escalated from there, a misstep that sparked a backlash and invited the scrutiny of the government.

Unveiled here for the first time ever are surprising, revelatory details spotlighting decades of poor leadership and mismanagement by LaPierre; the NRA’s long association with marketing firm Ackerman-McQueen; NRA executives’ 2015 trip to Moscow, a by-invitation affair packed with meetings with Russian government officials, diplomats, and oligarchs seeking influence in American politics; as well as the power struggle between LaPierre and former NRA president Oliver North that fractured the organization.  

Misfire is the result of a four-year investigation by journalist Tim Mak, who scoured thousands of pages of never-before-publicized documents and cultivated dozens of confidential sources inside the NRA’s orbit to paint a vivid picture of the gun group’s rampant corruption and slow decline, marking a sea change in the battle over gun rights and control in America.

Divine Lola: A True Story of Scandal and Celebrity by Cristina Morato

Release date – Available now

From the Amazon description –

An enthralling biography about one of the most intriguing women of the Victorian age: the first self-invented international social celebrity.

Lola Montez was one of the most celebrated and notorious women of the nineteenth century. A raven-haired Andalusian who performed her scandalous “Spider Dance” in the greatest performance halls across Europe, she dazzled and beguiled all who met her with her astonishing beauty, sexuality, and shocking disregard for propriety. But Lola was an impostor, a self-invention. Born Eliza Gilbert, the beautiful Irish wild child escaped a stifling marriage and reimagined herself as Lola the Sevillian flamenco dancer and noblewoman, choosing a life of adventure, fame, sex, and scandal rather than submitting to the strictures of her era. 

Lola cast her spell on the European aristocracy and the most famous intellectuals and artists of the time, including Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt, and George Sand, and became the obsession of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She then set out for the New World, arriving in San Francisco at the height of the gold rush, where she lived like a pioneer and performed for rowdy miners before making her way to New York. There, her inevitable downfall was every bit as dramatic as her rise. Yet there was one final reinvention to come for the most defiant woman of the Victorian age – a woman known as a “savage beauty” who was idolized, romanticized, vilified, truly known by no one, and a century ahead of her time.

Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury by Evan Osnos

Release date – September 14, 2021

From the Amazon description –

This program is read by the author.

After a decade abroad, the National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Evan Osnos returns to three places he has lived in the United States – Greenwich, CT; Clarksburg, WV; and Chicago, IL – to illuminate the origins of America’s political fury.

Evan Osnos moved to Washington, DC, in 2013 after a decade away from the United States, first as the Beijing bureau chief at the Chicago Tribune and then as the China correspondent for The New Yorker. While abroad, he often found himself making a case for America, urging the citizens of Egypt, Iraq, or China to trust that even though America had made grave mistakes throughout its history, it aspired to some foundational moral commitments – the rule of law, the power of truth, the right of equal opportunity for all. But when he returned to the United States, he found each of these principles under assault.

In search of an explanation for the crisis that reached an unsettling crescendo in 2020 – a year of pandemic, civil unrest, and political turmoil – he focused on three places he knew firsthand: Greenwich, Connecticut; Clarksburg, West Virginia; and Chicago, Illinois. Reported over the course of six years, Wildland follows ordinary individuals as they navigate the varied landscapes of 21st-century America. Through their powerful, often poignant stories, Osnos traces the sources of America’s political dissolution. He finds answers in the rightward shift of the financial elite in Greenwich; in the collapse of social infrastructure and possibility in Clarksburg; and in the compounded effects of segregation and violence in Chicago. The truth about the state of the nation may be found not in the slogans of political leaders but in the intricate details of individual lives, and in the hidden connections between them. As Wildland weaves in and out of these personal stories, events in Washington occasionally intrude, like flames licking up on the horizon.

A dramatic, prescient examination of seismic changes in American politics and culture, Wildland is the story of a crucible, a period bounded by two shocks to America’s psyche, two assaults on the country’s sense of itself: the attacks of September 11 in 2001 and the storming of the US Capitol, on January 6, 2021. Following the lives of everyday Americans, in three cities, across two decades, Osnos illuminates the country in a startling light, revealing how we lost the moral confidence to see ourselves as larger than the sum of our parts.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa

Release date – September 21, 2021

The transition from President Donald J. Trump to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stands as one of the most dangerous periods in American history.  

But as number one internationally best-selling author Bob Woodward and acclaimed reporter Robert Costa reveal for the first time, it was far more than just a domestic political crisis.  

Woodward and Costa interviewed more than 200 people at the center of the turmoil, resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts – and a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink.  

This classic study of Washington takes listeners deep inside the Trump White House, the Biden White House, the 2020 campaign, and the Pentagon and Congress, with vivid, eyewitness accounts of what really happened.  

Peril is supplemented throughout with never-before-seen material from secret orders, transcripts of confidential calls, diaries, emails, meeting notes, and other personal and government records, making for an unparalleled history.  

It is also the first inside look at Biden’s presidency as he faces the challenges of a lifetime: the continuing deadly pandemic and millions of Americans facing soul-crushing economic pain, all the while navigating a bitter and disabling partisan divide, a world rife with threats, and the hovering, dark shadow of the former president.  

“We have much to do in this winter of peril,” Biden declared at his inauguration, an event marked by a nerve-wracking security alert and the threat of domestic terrorism.   

Peril is the extraordinary story of the end of one presidency and the beginning of another and represents the culmination of Bob Woodward’s news-making trilogy on the Trump presidency, along with Fear and Rage. And it is the beginning of a collaboration with fellow Washington Post reporter Robert Costa that will remind listeners of Woodward’s coverage, with Carl Bernstein, of President Richard M. Nixon’s final days. 

Rationality: What Is It, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters by Steven Pinker

Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help us understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now (Bill Gates’ “new favorite book of all time”) answers all the questions here.

Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding – and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing? 

Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational – cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself. We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book – until now. 

Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth. 

Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with Pinker’s customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.

This audiobook includes a PDF of charts and graphs.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

Black Nerd Problems by William Evans and Omar Holman

Release Date – September 14, 2021

From the Amazon description –

A Book Riot Most Anticipated Nonfiction Book of 2021

The creators of the popular website Black Nerd Problems bring their witty and unflinching insight to this engaging collection of pop culture essays on everything from Mario Kart and The Wire to issues of representation and police brutality across media.

When William Evans and Omar Holmon founded Black Nerd Problems, they had no idea whether anyone beyond their small circle of friends would be interested in their little corner of the internet. But soon after launching, they were surprised to find out that there was a wide community of people who hungered for fresh perspectives on all things nerdy, from the perspective of #OwnedVoices.

In the years since, Evans and Holmon have built a large dedicated fanbase eager for their brand of cultural critique, whether in the form of a laugh-out-loud, raucous Game of Thrones episode recap or an eloquent essay on dealing with grief through stand-up comedy. Now, they are ready to take the next step with this vibrant and hilarious essay collection, which covers everything from X-Men to Breonna Taylor with insight and intelligence.

A much needed and fresh pop culture critique from the perspective of people of color, Black Nerd Problems is the ultimate celebration for anyone who loves a blend of social commentary and all things nerdy.

Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays by Phoebe Robinson

With sharp, timely insight, pitch-perfect pop culture references, and her always unforgettable voice, New York Times best-selling author, comedian, actress, and producer Phoebe Robinson is back with her most must-listen book yet.

In her brand-new collection, Phoebe shares stories that will make you laugh, but also plenty that will hit you in the heart, inspire a little bit of rage, and maybe a lot of action. That means sharing her perspective on performative allyship, white guilt, and what happens when White people take up space in cultural movements; exploring what it’s like to be a woman who doesn’t want kids living in a society where motherhood is the crowning achievement of a straight, cis woman’s life; and how the dire state of mental health in America means that taking care of one’s mental health – aka “self-care” – usually requires disposable money.

She also shares stories about her mom slow-poking before a visit with Mrs. Obama, the stupidly fake reassurances of zip-line attendants, her favorite things about dating a White person from the UK, and how the lack of Black women in leadership positions fueled her to become the Black lady boss of her dreams. By turns perceptive, laugh-out-loud funny, and heartfelt, Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes is not only a brilliant look at our current cultural moment, it’s also a collection that will stay with readers for years to come.

Well, I hope you found something to get you through the cooler months coming. If you did, let me know how you liked it. Until then, all aboard, train wrecks.

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