The Daily Beast Recommends
This week: why we lie, a sci-fi satire, poignant stories from John Updike’s son, the latest Sidney Sheldon thriller, and a dramatic inside look at the Federal Reserve.
The Liar in Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationshipsby Robert Feldman
A psychology prof on why, how, and when we lie.
Have you ever listened in horror as a lie escaped from your own lips? It’s more common than you think. Writing in his new book, The Liar in Your Life, psychology professor Robert Feldman says that on average, we tell three lies every 10 minutes. Think about it: “I’m well, thanks”; “I love that sweater”; “Let’s definitely get coffee sometime”; or “You really know how to cook a chicken.” Feldman draws on extensive research to explore how, when, and why people lie. The most common reason for lying, he explains, is that people want to make themselves sound more agreeable and want social interactions to go smoothly. But it turns out we’re often looking for and embrace the lies of others—do you really want the honest answer to “how are you feeling?” And best yet: Feldman explores whether we can really detect liars.
The Sheriff of Yrnameerby Michael Rubens
A hilarious sci-fi satire from a former Daily Show producer.
Who could have guessed that science fiction could be funny? The Sheriff of Yrnameer, a new novel by former Daily Show producer Michael Rubens, proves it’s an easy combination. The book follows a space scoundrel named Cole on an adventure from the planet InVestCo3 to Yrnameer— the last planet without a corporate sponsor. (Yrnameer is a contraction of “Your Name Here.”) Rubens says he originally wrote the book for a TV pilot, but it never went anywhere: “I thought that a pilot that made fun of advertising might not be the easiest to sell, but mostly because I grew very fond of the characters and didn’t want to lose control of them.” In the words of Stephen Colbert, The Sheriff of Yrnameer is “A science-fiction book your grandmother will love—if she’s a lustful, violent lady.”
Mistress of the Gameby Sidney Sheldon
If the Blackwells are American royalty, this is the princess’ story.
Mistress of the Game is the princess’ account. This page turner follows the youngest generation of Blackwells, who are all vying for the family’s multibillion-dollar corporation, Kruger-Brent Ltd. Kate Blackwell is long gone, but her great-granddaughter, Lexi Templeton, follows closely in her footsteps. In order to get her hands on the fortune, Lexi is forced to compete against distant cousins who want a piece of the pie. Written along with Sunday Times contributor Tilly Bagshawe, Sheldon returns with the ingredients of a formula that never gets old—family, greed and suspense—all just in time for the beach.
Old Girlfriends by David Updike
Poignant tales of family from John Updike’s son.
Barely six months after John Updike’s death, his son David has just released a collection of short stories about love—one that tackles the unique love between a father and son. In Old Girlfriends, David Updike, who teaches English at Roxbury Community College in Massachusetts and who has previously published only a handful of young-adult novels and another collection, presents 10 short stories that chronicle everything from a budding love affair to a professor’s obsession with a student. In “A Word With the Boy,” he follows a father and his biracial son on a trip to England. Policemen stop the boy, and in a poignant and heart-wrenching conclusion, the father watches as his son confronts racism firsthand.
In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panicby David Wessel
In this recession, a book on the Federal Reserve should be on everyone’s reading list.
As The Wall Street Journal’s insider at the Federal Reserve for 20 years, David Wessel has seen it all. In a new book, In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic, he chronicles the Fed’s desperate struggle to keep The Great Panic of 2008 from becoming the United States’ second Great Depression. In dramatic, fast-paced fashion, Wessel relays each fiscal catastrophe—from doomed subprime lending to the failure of Lehman Brothers. And it’s not all numbers and economics: Wessel peoples his book with several “overwhelmed, exhausted, beseeched, besieged, constantly second-guessed” characters at the Federal Reserve. Henry Paulson is portrayed as a deal-maker, Bernanke a “creative and bold” risk-taker, and Tim Geithner a calm deliberator. “A year ago, it would have been hard to imagine a book about the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department making it onto people’s must-read summer reading lists,” Michiko Kakutani wrote in a review of the book for The New York Times. But now, “understanding what happened has become vitally important not just for bankers and economists, but for everyone affected by the fallout, which means… well, just about everyone.”