The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

A wondrously romantic belief is that brilliant thinkers magically produce brilliant ideas: Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out. We can enjoy these fanciful visions of leaps of genius, but we should not be fooled into believing that they’re reality. Brilliant innovators are brilliant because they practice habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step by step to works of genius. No magic and no leaps are involved. Habits of effective thinking and creativity can be taught and learned.

Supernormal Stimuli

This book describes how a stimulus that evolved to elicit a particular functional response in animals (and people) can be artificially exaggerated or enhanced to create an especially powerful cue for eliciting behavior. The concept of a supernormal stimulus originated in research by the Nobel Prize-winning ethologists Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz, studying sea gulls and other such creatures. Artificially enhanced biologically based stimuli are now used extensively in various consumer products, ranging from foods to cars and iPhones.

Strangers in their Own Land

This book is a timely investigation of the current highly polarized American political landscape. But more broadly it is about the difficult work of crossing cultural boundaries. The author’s analysis of her extended encounters with people whose experiences, feelings, and thus political views differ significantly from hers is both rigorous and thoughtful. In the process, she not only gives us profound insights into American society, she also challenges us to grasp the vital importance of mutual respect and understanding in all contexts.

Science Fiction by Scientists

Science Fiction by Scientists is a new venture into fiction for science publisher Springer-Verlag. Springer-Verlag recruited Mike Brotherton to be editor of this compilation. Mike is a PhD graduate of the UT Department of Astronomy, now professor of Astronomy at the University of Wyoming, and an accomplished writer of science fiction in his own right. He in turn solicited contributions from an interesting range of colleagues, professional scientists who write science fiction.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?


Where can you find safety, or love, in a nation torn by civil war? You might look into life in a brothel, as Lynn Nottage does in this brilliant Pulitzer-Prize winning play, produced in 2007. The play is based on interviews the author and director conducted in Africa. The New York Times review said of this play: “Ms. Nottage has endowed [her characters] with a strength that transforms this tale of ruin into a clear-eyed celebration of endurance.” The play is raw and beautiful, a tribute to the human spirit.

Robinson Crusoe and Cast Away

For more than 20 years, in the early 1700s, Robinson Crusoe survived in isolation on an uncharted island. He had only a few items rescued from what was left of his ship. Besides being a captivating story of the era of pirates and sailing ships, Robinson Crusoe is generally regarded as one of the very first novels ever written. This classic tale has gone on to influence an entire genre of island survival adventures, including the movie Cast Away, in which the character played by Tom Hanks is stranded on a South Pacific Island after surviving a plane crash.

Red Harvest

This literary landmark is one of the great novels of hard-boiled detective fiction. As Raymond Chandler himself wrote, “Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare, and tropical fish. He put these people down on paper as they are, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes….He was spare, frugal, hardboiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all.

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Entering college is a time to start fresh, think about what’s worked in the past, and make changes to accomplish future goals.  Meeting new people and learning new ideas are integral parts of joining communities like universities.  And, while mobile phones can be an important lifeline, they also can create problems for us as we learn to manage our time and build new relationships.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.