Each week will share a few books that caught our eye from that week’s Mailbox Monday.
We encourage you to share the books that caught your eye in the comments.
Based on the series produced for the BBC World Service
Who thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? How did the humble spreadsheet turn the world of finance upside-down?
The world economy defies comprehension. A continuously-changing system of immense complexity, it offers over ten billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every fifteen years, and links almost every one of the planet’s seven billion people. It delivers astonishing luxury to hundreds of millions. It also leaves hundreds of millions behind, puts tremendous strains on the ecosystem, and has an alarming habit of stalling. Nobody is in charge of it. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what’s going on.
How can we make sense of this bewildering system on which our lives depend?
From the tally-stick to Bitcoin, the canal lock to the jumbo jet, each invention in Tim Harford’s fascinating new book has its own curious, surprising and memorable story, a vignette against a grand backdrop. Step by step, readers will start to understand where we are, how we got here, and where we might be going next.
Hidden connections will be laid bare: how the barcode undermined family corner shops; why the gramophone widened inequality; how barbed wire shaped America. We’ll meet the characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, or were ruined by them. We’ll trace the economic principles that help to explain their transformative effects. And we’ll ask what lessons we can learn to make wise use of future inventions, in a world where the pace of innovation will only accelerate.
“I have always enjoyed “why” or “how” things work sort of books and this one sounds very interesting.”
Some secrets change the world…
Once a privileged heiress, Annabelle Ross is now struggling to hold her home and her life together through the devastation of the War Between the States. But with a forced marriage and a desolate future on the horizon, her hopes are beginning to dwindle. When she discovers an encrypted note on a dying soldier, she seizes the opportunity to use it to deliver a message of her own. Instead, she’s mistaken for a spy and captured. Now her only chance to escape is the handsome soldier in charge of discovering her secrets.
After his brother is captured by enemy soldiers, Matthew Daniels vows to rescue him at any cost. When a secret society offers him a chance for retribution, Matthew must decide between his loyalties and his convictions. To prove himself, he’ll have to first unmask the spirited spy holding the key to their plans or risk losing his brother forever.
★ An Accidental Spy is a 2020 rewrite of the previously published title Leveraging Lincoln (The Liberator Series book one)
“I have always liked historical spy books and I like Civil War stories.”
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. “It’s Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird” (The Guardian).
After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.