The goofball. The party animal. The shoulder to lean on. Yes, every group of friends has its own cast of characters—but some of us feel pigeonholed into a role or identity that doesn’t feel quite right.
So if you’re ready to reinvent yourself, to become the “smart one” in your group of friends, you can impress them with the facts you pick up from the five brain-boosting reads below.
Download the Next Big Idea App for “Book Bite” summaries of hundreds of new nonfiction books like these—all prepared and read by the authors themselves.
Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age
By Dennis Duncan
Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of 13th-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the 21st, a University College London lecturer uncovers how the humble index has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office, and made us all into the readers we are today. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Dennis Duncan, in the Next Big Idea App
A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain
By Sara Manning Peskin
Our brains are the most complex machines known to humankind, but they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. Here are gripping accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Sara Manning Peskin, in the Next Big Idea App
Price Wars: How the Commodities Markets Made Our Chaotic World
By Rupert Russell
A fascinating, groundbreaking exposé of how commodity traders in New York and London have destabilized societies all over the world, leaving the most vulnerable at the mercy of hunger, chaos, and war. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Rupert Russell, in the Next Big Idea App
The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World
By Oliver Milman
Three out of every four of our planet’s known animal species are insects. In The Insect Crisis, an acclaimed journalist dives into the evidence that suggests this kaleidoscopic group of creatures is suffering a great existential crisis—an emergency with profound consequences for us all. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Oliver Milman, in the Next Big Idea App
Language vs. Reality: Why Language Is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists
By N.J. Enfield
A University of Sydney linguist argues that understanding how language works is crucial to tackling our most pressing challenges, including human cognitive bias, media spin, the “post-truth” problem, persuasion, the role of words in our thinking, and much more. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author N.J. Enfield, in the Next Big Idea App
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