Parul Sehgal of The New York Times Book Review reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in The Book Reader.
Why do paper clips bend? And why do we wrap presents in brightly colored paper, build skyscrapers out of concrete and shoes out of canvas and rubber?
This week, "Stuff Matters," reviewed in the New York Times Book Review by Rose George, a new nonfiction book on our curious, complex, and surprisingly emotional relationships with the material world.
When the author Mark Miodownik was a child, he was stabbed in the back during an attempted robbery. At the police station, he became preoccupied with the paper clip holding together his police report. How could steel be so sharp and unyielding one moment, and then coaxed into bending? He became fascinated with both the composition of different substances, as well as how we respond sensually to materials, why we feel that porcelain is refined, plastic imaginative, paper trustworthy.
The book is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful facts, from the engineering marvel that is chocolate and how the traces of a meteor that struck the Libyan desert 26 million years ago made their way into a piece of jewelry worn by King Tutankhamen.
Find more reviews of new books in the New York Times Book Review at nytimes.com/books.