Bone is a marvel, an adaptable and resilient building material developed over 500 million years of evolutionary history. It has manifested itself in wings, sails, horns, armour, and an even greater array of appendages since the time of its origin. In dinosaur fossils, skeletons are biological time capsules that tell us of lives we’ll never see in the flesh. Inherited from a common fishy ancestor, it is the stuff that binds all of us vertebrates together into one great family. Swim, slither, stomp, fly, dig, run – all are expressions of what bones make possible. But that’s hardly all.
In The Secret Life of Bones, Brian Switek frames the history of our species through the importance of bone from instruments and jewellery, to objects of worship and conquest from the origins of religion through the genesis of science and up through this very day. While bone itself can reveal our individual stories, the truth very much depends on who’s telling it. Our skeletons are as embedded in our culture as they are in our bodies. Switek, an enthusiastic osteological raconteur, cuts through biology, history, and culture to understand the meaning of what’s inside us and what our bones tell us about who we are, where we came from and the legacies we leave behind.
Every encounter begins with a greeting. Be it a quick ‘Hello!’ or the somewhat longer and gracious ‘Sula manchwanta galunga omugobe!’ shaking hands or shaking, well, rather more private parts of our anatomy, we have been doing it many times daily for thousands of years. It should be the most straightforward thing in the world, but this apparently simple act is fraught with complications, leading to awkward misunderstandings and occasionally even outright violence.
In the illuminating and entertaining One Kiss or Two? Andy Scott goes down the rabbit hole to take a closer look at what greetings are all about. In looking at how they have developed, he discovers a kaleidoscopic world of etiquette, body-language, evolution, neuroscience, anthropology and history. Through in-depth research and his personal experiences, and with the help of experts, Scott takes us on a captivating journey through a subject far richer than we might have expected.
From childcare to healthcare, provision for the elderly and tackling issues of homelessness, the Nordic countries are world leaders in organising society – no wonder Finland has been ranked among the happiest places in the world.
But when Finnish journalist Anu Partanen moved to America, she quickly realised that navigating the basics of everyday life was overly complicated compared to how society was organised in her homeland. From the complications of buying a mobile, to the arduous task of filing taxes, she knew there was a better way and as she got to know her new neighbours she discovered that they too shared her deep apprehensions.
The Nordic Theory of Everything details Partanen’s mission to understand why America (and much of the Western world) suffers from so much inequality and struggling social services. Filled with fascinating insights, advice and practical solutions, she makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild society, rekindle optimism and become more autonomous people by following in the footsteps of our neighbours to the North.