• The cover of the book Language

    Language

    It seems sensible to begin with the thing without which no book would or could exist: language. And in Daniel L. Everett’s provocative work, he argues that language—rather than an instinct, as has been commonly believed—is actually an invention like any other tool that humans have concocted.

     
  • The cover of the book Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors

    Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors

    Having delved into language’s origins, how about we try to get a handle on its intricate (and sometimes infuriating) nuances? Bill Bryson, one of language’s best practitioners, helps us navigate the many irksome and confusing idiosyncrasies of English, in order to assist in any author’s goal of better and more effective communication.

     
  • The cover of the book Max Perkins: Editor of Genius

    Max Perkins: Editor of Genius

    Let’s move on to what is probably the most arduous components of book making: editing. And what better person to take us through this than Max Perkins, editor extraordinaire? The editor of, among others, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, Perkins was a fascinating figure himself. But his monumental efforts in fine-tuning some of the greatest works of the 20th century are what make A. Scott Berg’s biography so enriching and enlightening.

     
  • The cover of the book The Sense of Style

    The Sense of Style

    Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style is the best style manual I’ve ever read. This is because Pinker understands the most vital aspect of grammar—namely, that it is utterly arbitrary. Consequently, Pinker does not merely itemize a bunch of dictums and creeds but instead describes the numerous inconsistencies and oddities of English in order to make sense of why certain phrasings and techniques are more effective than others (and sometimes why it’s nothing more than personal preference).

     
  • The cover of the book Merchants of Culture

    Merchants of Culture

    Now that the book is edited, it must be published. John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture tells the story of publishing in the past 60 years or so, and it’s not always a pretty picture. The industry has changed profoundly in this young century, from the digital revolution to the proliferation of storytelling forms.

     
  • The cover of the book Rebel Publisher

    Rebel Publisher

    Loren Glass’s book shows not just how a publishing company works but also the revolutionary impact they can potentially have. Grove Press, as run by Barney Rosset in the 1960s, didn’t just publish important books; they helped bring a stop to censorship. Rebel Publisher is a riveting glimpse into a tumultuous time in cultural history, and into the people who helped shepherd us through it.

     
  • The cover of the book The Clothing of Books

    The Clothing of Books

    Now that a book is ready for publication, it needs a cover. Renowned novelist Jhumpa Lahiri takes us on a personal journey through the art of the book cover, from the perspective of a writer as well as an avid reader. Brief and eloquent, The Clothing of Books is a must for any bibliophile’s library.

     
  • The cover of the book What We See When We Read

    What We See When We Read

    So after a book has been written, edited, designed, and published, what is it like to actually read? That’s the question at the heart of designer Peter Mendelsund’s brilliant and absorbing book. With wonderful visuals accompanying the text, Mendelsund challenges some commonly accepted notions about the experience of reading in clear and relatable language. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

     
  • The cover of the book The Book That Changed America

    The Book That Changed America

    While many books come and go without much fanfare, some—those lucky few—make enormous impressions on the world. Randall Fuller’s The Book That Changed America shows how Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species didn’t just influence people and culture but helped shape an entire country.

     
  • The cover of the book Reading Lolita in Tehran

    Reading Lolita in Tehran

    But it isn’t just the ideas in a book that can irrevocably change things. Sometimes the mere act of reading—the freedom to do so—is its own revolution. Azar Nafisi’s inspiring memoir of a secret reading group she formed with women in Iran demonstrates just how powerful—and life-changing—the book can be.