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Because You Just Can’t Stop Reading the News

We get it. It’s tough to unplug from the current news cycle. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into topics around COVID-19 and beyond, we’ve got you covered (with a little bonus on the power of solitude snuck in just because).


A “brilliant and sobering” (Paul Kennedy, Wall Street Journal) look at the history and human costs of pandemic outbreaks.

The World Economic Forum #1 book to read for context on the coronavirus outbreak.

Epidemics and Society is a sweeping exploration of the impact of epidemic diseases looks at how mass infectious outbreaks have shaped society, from the Black Death to today, and in a new preface addresses the global threat of COVID-19. In a clear and accessible style, Frank M. Snowden reveals the ways that diseases have not only influenced medical science and public health, but also transformed the arts, religion, intellectual history, and warfare.

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From noted election law expert Rick Hasen comes a stark warning on the threats to American democracy in a time of foreign election interference and the coronavirus pandemic.

As the 2020 presidential campaign begins to take shape, there is widespread distrust of the fairness and accuracy of American elections. In Election Meltdown, Richard L. Hasen uses riveting stories illustrating four factors increasing the mistrust. Taking into account how each of these threats has manifested in recent years—most notably in the 2016 and 2018 elections—Hasen offers concrete steps that need to be taken to restore trust in American elections before the democratic process is completely undermined. This is an indispensable analysis of the key threats to the 2020 American presidential election.

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The social dynamics of “alternative facts”: why what you believe depends on who you know.

Philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false beliefs. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it (apparently) irrelevant to many people whether they believe true things or not? The Misinformation Age, written for a political era riven by “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, shows convincingly that what you believe depends on who you know.

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“Elegant and formally ingenious.”—Geoff Wisner, Wall Street Journal

In a time of social distancing, a meditation on the beauty of solitude from renowned Buddhist writer Stephen Batchelor.

Spending time in remote places, making art, practicing meditation and participating in retreats, drinking peyote and ayahuasca, and training himself to keep an open, questioning mind have all contributed to Batchelor’s ability to be simultaneously alone and at ease. Mixed in with personal narrative are inspiring stories from solitude’s devoted practitioners. In a hyperconnected world that is nonetheless plagued by social isolation, The Art of Solitude shows how to enjoy the inescapable solitude at the heart of human life.

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The end of our high-growth world was underway well before COVID-19 arrived. In this powerful and timely argument, Danny Dorling demonstrates the benefits of a larger, ongoing societal slowdown.

Slowdown reveals that human progress has been slowing down since the early 1970s. Fertility rates, growth in GDP per person, and even the frequency of new social movements have all steadily declined. Perhaps most surprising of all is the fact that the rate of technological progress is also rapidly dropping. Rather than lament this turn of events, Dorling embraces it as a move toward stability, and he notes that many of the older great strides in progress that have defined recent history also brought with them widespread warfare, divided societies, and massive inequality.

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