• Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure Samira Kawash (Faber and Faber)
This history of candy in America is about much more than jelly beans and M&Ms. It’s about industry, trade, war, morality, culture, psychology, and our national relationship to food. In the end, it’s also a defense of sweets. Sure, they’re not exactly nutritious. But the much bigger problem, Kawash argues, is all the processed food in the supermarket we don’t call candy, even when it contains the same ingredients.
• Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir (Times Books)
What happens when we don't have enough? This volume's authors—an economist and a psychologist—argue that situations of scarcity (not enough time, not enough money) almost inevitably nudge people into focusing mental energy on the immediate future in ways that are ultimately self-defeating. Moving breezily from study to study, they suggest a new way of looking at dysfunction that avoids simplifications based on culture or character.
• War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict Corey Mead (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
For almost as long as there have been video games, the U.S. military has looked for ways to make use of them. Today, there are video games for every stage of a soldier’s career, from recruitment to training to negotiation of post-traumatic stress. America’s Army, a government-funded combat game, has been downloaded by millions and won top awards in the field. In a development that’s received little attention, it’s been added to public school curricula in all 50 states.