The unifying theme of these new titles is they were each by writers who shed light on things right in front of us and might not notice. In some cases, we might not want to notice as I admit when I read Emily Guendelsberger’s account of working at Amazon. Since I love, love, love, knowing my purchase will arrive ASAP, I really didn’t want to know the human cost. In a climate charged with stressful and even dangerous events, Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing is a welcome reprieve from all the news and social media noise that bombards us. Chris Arnade’s Dignity is a deep examination of the reality and strong-arm grip of addiction and how it divides groups of people in a way that no other disease does.

Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing – 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday is a compilation of meditations and exercises to inspire us to find joy and expand the ways we engage with the people and places, the objects and tasks we encounter in our everyday lives. Includes 131 exercises and meditations to encourage and guide us in rediscovering joy and creativity in our lives. The short entries that make up The Art of Noticing include “Look for Ghosts and Ruins,” “Look Slowly,” “Make It Art,” “Compose a Personal Plaque.”

This gorgeously illustrated volume will spark your creativity–and most importantly, help you see the world anew. Through a series of simple and playful exercises–131 of them–Walker maps ways for you to become a clearer thinker, a better listener, a more creative workplace colleague and finally, to rediscover your sense of passion and to notice what really matters to you.

With stark photo essays and unforgettable true stories, Chris Arnade’s Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America cuts through “expert” pontification on inequality, addiction, and poverty to allow those who have been left behind to define themselves on their own terms.

After abandoning his Wall Street career, Chris Arnade decided to document poverty and addiction in the Bronx. He began interviewing, photographing, and becoming close friends with homeless addicts, and spent hours in drug dens and McDonald’s. Then he started driving across America to see how the rest of the country compared. He found the same types of stories everywhere, across lines of race, ethnicity, religion, and geography. 

The people he got to know, from Alabama and California to Maine and Nevada, gave Arnade a new respect for the dignity and resilience of what he calls America’s Back Row–those who lack the credentials and advantages of the so-called meritocratic upper class.

On the Clock : What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How it Drives America Insane by Emily Guendelsberger is an account of when she took a pre-Christmas job at an Amazon fulfillment center outside Louisville, Kentucky. The vending machines were stocked with painkillers, and the staff turnover was dizzying. In the new year she traveled to North Carolina to work at a call center, a place where even bathroom breaks were timed to the second. Then she was hired at a San Francisco McDonald’s, narrowly escaping revenge-seeking customers who pelted her with condiments. Here she takes us behind the scenes of the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce to understand how workers went from being the most expensive element of production to the cheapest– and how low wage jobs have been remade to serve the ideals of efficiency, at the cost of humanity.

And a bonus track:

Amanda Anderson answers the question of why is it so challenging to create and keep meaningful friendships?

In All My Friends Have Issues provides the wise and witty answers, giving practical advice and sharing personal stories to guide us toward the kinds of friendships we long for. Blending faith-based insights and psychological truths, All My Friends Have Issues is a liberating guide to finding and becoming an authentic and encouraging friend.

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