Gamergate is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the internet. It began in 2014 when independent video-game developer Zoe Quinn, who had recently ended an abusive relationship with a tech-savvy man, was deluged by a tidal wave of hatred. Her attacker made false allegations about Quinn online, knowing he would spark a backlash. In her extraordinary Crash Override (PublicAffairs, $27), Quinn chronicles her experience—and the details are shocking. Gamergate compromised all facets of her online persona. Professional opportunities evaporated. The mounting threats endangered not only Quinn but anyone she was in contact with. Against these incredible odds, Quinn persevered. She fought back, organizing a movement dedicated to fighting online hate. While I called Gamergate “history,” Quinn shows that it’s not. It is now. It is here. It is going on every day. She illustrates the toxicity people from marginalized communities face daily on the internet, and often from those they turn to for help. This insightful and inspiring book is a clarion call for widespread action that all internet users should heed.
Following his award-winning profiles of Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein, Walter Isaacson continues his exploration of creative genius with this in-depth and insightful study of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster, $35), the great Italian painter, architect, and engineer. Isaacson keeps da Vinci in a dual focus, portraying him as both a great artist and a man of science and technology; in vivid tableaux, he shows us the quintessential Renaissance man in the act of dissecting cadavers to learn about human physiology, observing water and wind, and pursuing any and all ways to better understand his world. Isaacson also chronicles how da Vinci, because he was born out of wedlock, was prevented from attending Latin school, which spared him from the need to conform to many of his era’s social exigencies. Using the great treasure of da Vinci’s Notebooks, Isaacson mines the master’s work itself for insight into various periods of his subject’s life, analyzing paintings for both the history they convey and the invaluable glimpses they offer into da Vinci’s artistic techniques. The book is generous with illustrations, illuminating not just Isaacson’s portrait but also serving as an immediate reference to Leonardo’s brilliance.
So few people can say their father is a Catholic priest out loud. Patricia Lockwood's father is an angry gun-toting, Rush Limbaugh-listening, blustering, Catholic priest who likes to pad around the house in a giant pair of boxer shorts. With a wife and five children, he converted to Catholicism after watching The Exorcist. Her OCD mother is known for wearing a Danger Face, her hatred of nuns and her kindness. Patricia and her husband move in with them after health issues derail their plans and she starts writing. Her observations are hilarious and her writing is stunning and poetic.