5 non-fiction releases you need to get your hands on in 2020

Has Marie Kondo changed your life? Her new book will change the way you work as well. Check out YS Weekender’s recommends of much anticipated non-fiction releases for 2020.

Tsundoku, the Japanese term for the practice of hoarding books without reading them, is not necessarily a bad thing. We are of the firm belief that there is no greater joy on earth than being surrounded by books. And as we bid adieu to January already, it is time to take a look at all the delectable reads hot off the press or soon to be out from the publishing world this year.

YS Weekender rounds up five non-fiction titles that are much anticipated releases of 2020 and tells you why exactly you need to add them to your wishlist or pre-order basket.

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener

There is nothing like a good memoir to sink your teeth into, and we kick off our list with the newly released Uncanny Valley: A Memoir. Through her timely book, author Anna Wiener examines the pitfalls of the technological revolution in which we find ourselves today. Anna moved across the country to partake of the startup boom that was flourishing in San Francisco. This soon left her jaded as she took in all the inhumanness of Silicon Valley.

The title, Uncanny Valley, was a term coined in the seventies to convey the revulsion that one feels when encountering a humanoid or an object bearing an eerie resemblance to human beings. It, therefore, is a fitting title to a memoir that records the way tech billionaires are trying to “optimise” life, often in very not-so-lifelike ways: like the biohackers who “optimised their sleep cycles with red light and binaural beats” or condensing books to “effectively increase the rate at which we can learn”.

Sharp prose and sharper observations on a culture propelling technology that is hurtling at the speed of light makes this memoir a must-read for the times we live in.

Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein 

When Japanese organisation consultant Marie Kondo brought out her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she made a great impact across the world. For, even though the wisdom of organisation and minimalism she advocated has been employed by the Japanese for centuries together, it was a refreshing antidote to the consumerism that America and most first-world countries are steeped in.

Now, the hugely successful entrepreneur and author has teamed up with Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein to bring out her latest book on harnessing the same principles for work. Workplace stress can lead to decrease in productivity, mess, and pointless meetings. In her new book, the decluttering expert explains how you can create harmony at your desk using the KonMari Method. The book, which promises to help you figure out ways to find workplace happiness, and career success and progress, is out in April.

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

The world is finally waking up to face its worst crisis so far: climate change. As we humans grapple with the extent of damage our choices have made on the planet, we look towards environmental activists like young Greta Thunberg, Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio who are sparking conversations around this pressing matter. In a timely take on climate change and how to survive it comes this book by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac—architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement—which maps out two scenarios. One is of how the world would be in 2050 if we do not take climate change seriously and reduce our carbon emissions, and the other of a world which is carbon neutral and takes into account the delicate ecosystem.

Releasing in March, the book promises to be a cautionary yet optimistic piece of work from two experts who have been working on drumming up some much needed attention around climate crisis.

Out of line and Offline: Queer Mobilizations in ’90s Eastern India by Pawan Dhall

Even after the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality, the LGBTQ+ community in India still does not have it easy. So, one can only imagine the stigma and violence it faced back in the 90s and 2000s. However, this was also the time when the queer community fought back and gained a voice. In this book, the author traces the lives of a dozen queer individuals and the paths their life has taken over the years. Interviews with them reveal the psychological effects of stigma and marginalisation, and research into some of the early allied groups and support forums for queers will make for a compelling read.

If you are interested in the global queer movement and India’s place in it, pick up this book, which is set for release this June.

Sex and Lies: True Stories of Women's Intimate Lives in the Arab World by Leïla Slimani

From a stifling world where sex is taboo arises this account of the sexual lives of Moroccan women from bestselling author Leïla Slimani. Not unlike India, women from these parts of the world are given a choice to either be a wife or a virgin, and to be silent about it.

This oppressive attitude has made the topic of sex an obsession in this region. Author Leïla Slimani speaks to women from various walks of life and unearths their stories of sexual longing, secret affairs, and closeted homosexuality, thus revealing the fact that desires and human nature, even if acted upon behind closed doors, cannot be completely banished by law.

With an impassioned plea for a sexual revolution in the Arab world, Leïla Slimani acts as a fearless ally and gives voice to women, the most supressed lot in the Arab world. The book, which is set for release in July, is sure to garner a lot of attention, both good and bad.

(Edited by Teje Lele Desai)


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