January books: Happiness, Chemistry for Cooks, Code for What?, and more

Explore some of our most anticipated new releases for January

This month: an engaging exploration of how we understand happiness; an introduction to the science of cooking; an argument for coding for a purpose; and more. Explore these books and a selection of our other new and soon-to-be-released titles below.

Analog by Robert Hassan

We’re surrounded by screens; our music comes in the form of digital files; we tap words into a notes app. Why do we still crave the “realness” of analog, seeking out vinyl records, fountain pens, cameras with film? In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Robert Hassan explores our deep connection to analog technology. Our analog urge, he explains, is about what we’ve lost from our technological past, something that’s not there in our digital present. We’re nostalgic for what we remember indistinctly as somehow more real, more human. Surveying some of the major developments of analog technology, Hassan shows us what’s been lost with the digital.

You might also like Visual Culture by Alexis L. Boylan

Chemistry for Cooks: An Introduction to the Science of Cooking by Sandra C. Greer

How does an armload of groceries turn into a culinary masterpiece? In this highly accessible and informative text, Sandra C. Greer takes students into the kitchen to show how chemistry—with a dash of biology and physics—explains what happens when we cook. Chemistry for Cooks provides all the background material necessary for nonscientists to understand essential chemical processes and to see cooking as an enjoyable application of science. Greer uses a variety of practical examples, including recipes, to instruct readers on the molecular structure of food, the chemical reactions used in cooking to change the nature of food, and the essentials of nutrition and taste. She also offers kitchen hints and exercises based on the material in each chapter, plus do-it-yourself projects to encourage exploration of the chemistry that takes place when we cook food.

“If, like me, you’ve been sleepless wondering exactly how your pressure cooker works or how to scientifically time salt and acid additions for more delicious results, Chemistry for Cooks will ease your restless nights.” —Becky Selengut, author of How to Taste

You might also like The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science by Philip Ball

Grief Worlds: A Study of Emotional Experience by Matthew Ratcliffe

Experiences of grief can be bewildering, disorienting, and isolating; everything seems somehow different, in ways that are difficult to comprehend and describe. Why does the world as a whole look distant, strange, and unfamiliar? How can we know that someone is dead, while at the same time find this utterly unfathomable, impossible? Grief Worlds explores a host of philosophical questions raised by grief, showing how philosophical inquiry can enhance our understanding of grief and vice versa.

“A lucid, richly detailed, and absolutely unique contribution to the emerging field of a philosophy of grief.” —Allan Køster, National Center for Grief, Denmark

You might also like Death and Dying by Nicole Piemonte and Shawn Abreu

Happiness by Tim Lomas

What does it mean to feel happiness? As a state of mind, it’s elusive. As a concept—despite the plethora of pop psychology books on the subject—it’s poorly understood. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, psychologist Tim Lomas offers a concise and engaging overview of our current understanding of happiness. Lomas explains that although the field of positive psychology, which focuses on happiness, emerged only in the last twenty-five years, interest in the meaning of happiness goes back several millennia. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, from philosophy and sociology to economics and anthropology, Lomas offers an expansive vision of what happiness means, exploring a significant range of experiential territory.

You might also like Neurolinguistics by Giosuè Baggio

I Almost Forgot: Unpublished Colin Rowe edited by Daniel Naegele

Colin Rowe (1920–1999) was one of the great architectural historians of the twentieth century, publishing the influential works The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays (1976) and Collage City (1978). While his written work was rigorous and authoritative, his lectures and letters were more casual, “carefully careless,” both witty and erudite. I Almost Forgot gathers twenty-three such writings—letters, essays, lectures, a postcard, and a eulogy. Both edifying and entertaining, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, occasionally scathing, they fill in personal details and clarify key concepts in Rowe’s work.

You might also like Some Reasons for Traveling to Italy by Peter Wilson

Code for What?: Computer Science for Storytelling and Social Justice by Clifford Lee and Elisabeth Soep

Educators are urged to teach “code for all”—to make a specialized field accessible for students usually excluded from it. In this book, Clifford Lee and Elisabeth Soep instead ask the question, “Code for what?” What if coding were a justice-driven medium for storytelling rather than a narrow technical skill? What if “democratizing” computer science went beyond the usual one-off workshop and empowered youth to create digital products for social impact? Working with educators and media professionals at YR Media, an award-winning organization that helps young people from underserved communities build skills in media, journalism, and the arts, teens in Oakland, California found their own vibrant answers to “why code?” They code for insight, connection and community, accountability, creative expression, joy, and hope.

Code for What? presents authentic and inspirational visions of young people making information technology their own, not for some imagined future, but right now—to enrich their lives and the lives of those around them.” —Hal Abelson, MIT

You might also like Power On! by Jean J. Ryoo and Jane Margolis

The Smartness Mandate by Orit Halpern and Robert Mitchell

Smart phones. Smart cars. Smart homes. Smart cities. The imperative to make our world ever smarter in the face of increasingly complex challenges raises several questions: What is this “smartness mandate”? How has it emerged, and what does it say about our evolving way of understanding—and managing—reality? How have we come to see the planet and its denizens first and foremost as data-collecting instruments? In The Smartness Mandate, Orit Halpern and Robert Mitchell radically suggest that “smartness” is not primarily a technology, but rather an epistemology. Through this lens, they offer a critical exploration of the practices, technologies, and subjects that such an understanding relies upon—above all, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“With precise focus and provocative paradoxes, The Smartness Mandate is written on behalf of the futures of planetary intelligence and how they might emerge from the present myopia.” —Benjamin Bratton, University of California, San Diego

You might also like Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine by Michelle Drouin

Logical Methods by Greg Restall and Shawn Standefer

Rigorous yet accessible, Logical Methods introduces logical tools used in philosophy—including proofs, models, modal logics, meta-theory, two-dimensional logics, and quantification—for philosophy students at the undergraduate level and above. The approach developed by Greg Restall and Shawn Standefer is distinct from other texts because it presents proof construction on equal footing with model building and emphasizes connections to other areas of philosophy as the tools are developed.

“A superb introduction to philosophical logic written by two leading experts in the field.” —Hannes Leitgeb, LMU Munich

You might also like Reconstructing Reason and Representation by Murray Clarke

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