Advance Performance | Inspirational New Books for February
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Inspirational New Books for February

Inspirational New Books for February

This month’s selection of new books includes the story of five women who were integral in the NASA space programme, how non-conformists drive organisational progress, and the science behind successful hit makers in popular culture.

 

Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space programme which is the inspiration for the new Academy Award nominated movie, Hidden Figures.

Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as ‘Human Computers’, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these, was a group of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, the women used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind’s greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.

 

A Woman’s Work by Harriet Harman

The first time the story of women’s progressive politics over the past thirty years has been told – by someone at the forefront of the movement.

Why does the political representation of women matter? And which hurdles – personal, political and societal – have been faced, fought and sometimes overcome in the past thirty years? From campaigning with small children to increasing the number of women in Parliament, bringing women’s issues to the heart of the Labour Party and tackling a parliamentary culture with no consideration for family life, this frank, inspiring and politically charged book is a crucial account of the progress (and occasional setbacks) made in fighting to change the Labour Party, UK politics and the way the country has been governed since the 1970s.

Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World by Adam Grant

The author examines how people can drive creative, moral, and organisational progress―and how leaders can encourage originality in their organisations. How can we originate new ideas, policies and practices without risking it all? Adam Grant shows how to improve the world by championing novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battling conformity, and bucking outdated traditions.

The author includes a number of case studies such as a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who challenged secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees who don’t criticize him, and the TV executive who saved Seinfeld from the cutting room floor. Originals will give you groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and how to change the world.

Hit Makers: How Things Become Popular by Derek Thompson

What makes a hit a hit? In Hit Makers, Atlantic Senior Editor Derek Thompson puts pop culture under the lens of science to answer the question that every business, every producer, every person looking to promote themselves and their work has asked. With incisive analysis and captivating storytelling, Thompson reveals that, though blockbuster films, Internet memes and number-one songs seem to have come out of nowhere, hits actually have a story and operate by certain rules. People gravitate towards familiar surprises: products that are bold and innovative, yet instantly comprehensible.

Whether he is uncovering the secrets of JFK and Barack Obama’s speechwriters or analysing the unexpected reasons for the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, Thompson goes beyond the cultural phenomena that make the news by revealing the desires that make us all human. From the dawn of Impressionist art to the future of Snapchat, from small-scale Etsy entrepreneurs to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson tells the fascinating story of how culture happens – and where genius lives.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

A Boy Made of Blocks is a moving, funny and heartwarming story of family and love inspired by the author’s own experiences with his son, the perfect latest read for fans of The Rosie Project, David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes. This is the story of how a father rediscovers love.

Alex loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. He needs a reason to grab his future with both hands. Sam is the son who shows him how to live. Eight-year-old Sam is beautiful, surprising – and different. To him the world is a frightening mystery. But as his imagination comes to life, his family will be changed . . . for good.