Continued on p. 10
intrigued by the tech mogul’s Silicon Valley
world. In 2011, Thiel’s launch of his 20 Under 20 fellowship, which granted $100,000
each to young people willing to drop out of
college and move to the valley in order to follow brilliant technological pursuits, proved
the perfect lens for her to begin her research.
Wolfe follows several of the first young fellows
and along the way explores the particulars of
the valley itself, where youth and high-profile failure can be badges of honor, and the
concentrations of wealth and intelligence are
staggering. With a detached and playful tone,
fly-on-the-wall Wolfe catalogs the unique
habits, dress, nutrition, and mating habits of
the startup class. The dizzying array of proper
nouns, all real people and companies, can
cause a scattered focus and lack of real connection to Wolfe’s subjects, which might not
be out of place in this reporter’s anthropological view of the larger-than-life, tech-fertile,
“god”-strewn valley. —Annie Bostrom
YA: Tech-savvy teens curious about Silicon
Valley and alternatives to college might
want to check this out. AB.
Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to
Being a Bride.
By Jamie Lee and Jacqueline Novak.
Jan. 2017. 256p. HarperOne, paper, $22.99
Comedian and TV-personality Lee has, with
co-author Novak, created a readable, charmingly offbeat, and helpful guide to the Big
Day. Lee wanted to share what she’d learned
from her own wedding, which was preceded
by a “truly awful” year-and-a-half of planning, because, as she puts it, no one is actually
equipped to plan a wedding. With her book
divided in to-be-expected sections (Vendors,
Ceremony, Hair & Makeup) with unexpected chapter titles (“Blending Families into a
People Smoothie,” “Wedding Photography Is
Fucking Weird”), Lee shares her personal stories and advice alongside corresponding tips
from “Big Bridal” (websites like The Knot and
traditional bridal magazines) to help readers
suss out what’s right for them. Having had a
generous budget for her own affair, Lee notes
where she wishes she’d spent less and which
costs she considers essential. In libraries where
wedding guides circulate, brides-to-be will be
glad to slow down and laugh with Lee. In addressing the question, Is it okay to be scared
about it all?, she comforts with, “Marriage
itself is The Shining: terrifying, but also a well-respected classic.” —Annie Bostrom
Creative Change: Why We Resist It . . .
How We Can Embrace It.
By Jennifer Mueller.
Jan. 2017. 256p. illus. HMH, $28 (9780544703094);
e-book (9780544882034). 650.1.
Hundreds (if not thousands) of articles and
Hit Makers: Why Things Become
books have been written about change and
about creativity. But few have addressed both
in tandem and, more importantly, the reasons
why innovation is not broadly accepted in the
corporate world. UC-San Diego professor
Mueller proffers one answer, explaining that
humans basically hold two different mind-
sets—one conditioned to reject most ideas
and the other more accepting of innovation.
The rest of her book addresses the “how do we
overcome those innate biases,” covering topics
ranging from how to manage your own think-
ing to convincing others (and the business) of
the elegance of the innovation. Any number
of examples back up her thesis, including
the demise of Bob McDonald as Procter &
Gamble CEO and well-disguised stories of
stalemates within companies. Even with these
illustrations, though, the solutions remain on
an academic level; in other words, a few solid
how-to’s are featured along with a lot of refer-
ences. At least one start-to-finish case history
would have made this intriguing notion really
come to life. —Barbara Jacobs
By Derek Thompson.
Feb. 2017. 352p. Penguin, $28 (9781101980323). 650.
A senior editor at the Atlantic,
Thompson tackles the daunting subject of how
products come to dominate the culture in
this interdisciplinary romp that delves into
many facets of the entertainment industry as well as industrial design, art history,
publishing, and politics. He supports the
well-established argument that the Internet
has dethroned the gatekeepers who once
guided culture and entertainment, presenting his case with verve and a lightning chain
of compact anecdotes that highlight how
abruptly social media has changed the world.
While acknowledging that journalists have
an easier job of explaining a hit once it has
already attained hit status, Thompson rejects
the standard concept of viral content, arguing that megapopularity in the digital world
is a confluence of influence (of the artist and
the audience) plus exposure, with a dusting
of one thing no formula can predict: magic.
This book will appeal to readers of Malcolm
Gladwell as well as pop-culture enthusiasts
and anyone interested in the changing media
landscape. —Paul Smith
The Underground Culinary Tour: How the
New Metrics of Today’s Top Restaurants
Are Transforming How America Eats.
By Damian Mogavero and Joseph
Jan. 2017. 288p. Crown Business, $26 (9781101903308);
e-book (9781101903315). 647.95068.
People visit restaurants for food, fellowship,
and fun. But the people who work in them
and the people who run them must make
a profit if they are going to succeed. Mo-
gavero holds an MBA, and he is determined
to help ensure that the restaurant industry
thrives through application of sound busi-
ness practices. Although he concentrates on
high-volume, high-end “corporate” restaurants
and chains in New York and Las Vegas, his
insights may prove equally valuable to mom-
and-pop eateries. Mogavero cites training as
a key component: the waitress who doesn’t
know how to open a bottle of wine shrinks
the restaurant’s bottom line. Employee fraud
also cuts into a restaurant’s financial viability.
One of the book’s most compelling chapters
focuses on how Brennan’s in New Orleans
recovered from Hurricane Katrina’s devasta-
tions. Students and anyone in the hospitality
industry can profit from Mogavero’s insights
and rigorous financial-analysis and human-
resources advice. —Mark Knoblauch
A Big Bang in a Little Room: The
Quest to Create New Universes.
By Zeeya Merali.
Feb. 2017. 256p. Basic, $27.99 (9780465065912).
In the big bang that started our universe 13
billion years ago, Merali sees the cosmic prototype for history’s most audacious yet perhaps
not-so-far-off scientific experiment: the deliberate triggering of a universe-creating eruption in
a human laboratory. To explain how physicists
might conduct such an experiment, Merali explores cutting-edge science,
venturing deep into cosmology, quantum mechanics,
and relativity. Having personally interviewed many
of the pioneers doing this
science, Merali gives readers
not only up-close looks at
revolutionary science in the
making but also memorable glimpses of the
colorful revolutionaries. But for most readers,
the piquant personalities will matter far less
than the astonishing possibility now emerging
from these pathbreakers’ collective labors—
that of converting a false-vacuum bubble of
space-time weighing just 25 grams into a new
infant universe! While specialists surmount
the remaining technical obstacles, readers may
want to join the author and theorists in their
probing reflections on just what it means—not
only scientifically, but also morally, and even
theologically—to create a cosmos. What ethical responsibilities would the creators of a new
universe take on? What might the intentional
creation of a new universe teach us about the
inception and evolution of our own universe?
Science has never offered broader intellectual
horizons! —Bryce Christensen
Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural
By Bill Schutt. Illus. by Patricia J.
Feb. 2017. 352p. Algonquin, $26.95 (9781616204624).
Schutt’s popular history of humankind’s
juiciest taboo starts as you might expect, with