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New Book Releases – Week of 4 January 2021

Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to each of the new book releases …)

See a book here that you’d like to review for us?
Contact us, and we’ll talk about the possibility of a review.



Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning

Tom Vanderbilt

(Knopf)

The best-selling author of Traffic and You May Also Like gives us an inspirational journey into the transformative joys that come with starting something new, no matter your age

Why do so many of us stop learning new skills as adults? Are we afraid to fail? Have we forgotten the sheer pleasure of being a beginner? Or is it simply a fact that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Inspired by his young daughter’s insatiable need to know how to do almost everything, and stymied by his own rut of mid-career competence, Tom Vanderbilt begins a year of learning purely for the sake of learning. He tackles five main skills (and picks up a few more along the way), choosing them for their difficulty to master and their distinct lack of career marketability–chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling.

What he doesn’t expect is finding himself having rapturous experiences singing Spice Girls songs in an amateur choir, losing games of chess to eight-year-olds, and dodging scorpions at a surf camp in Costa Rica. Along the way, he interviews dozens of experts to explore the fascinating psychology and science behind the benefits of becoming an adult beginner. Weaving comprehensive research and surprising insight gained from his year of learning dangerously, Vanderbilt shows how anyone can begin again–and, more important, why they should take those first awkward steps. Ultimately, he shares how a refreshed sense of curiosity opened him up to a profound happiness and a deeper connection to the people around him–and how small acts of reinvention, at any age, can make life seem magical.

*** READ the NY Times review of this book… 

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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