Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
By Neil deGrasse Tyson
National Geographic, 2021. 309 pages. Science
Tyson and coauthor James Trefil, a renowned physicist and science popularizer, take on the big questions that humanity has been posing for millennia—How did life begin? What is our place in the universe? Are we alone?—and provide answers based on the most current data, observations, and theories. Populated with paradigm-shifting discoveries that help explain the building blocks of astrophysics, this relatable and entertaining book will engage and inspire listeners of all ages.
Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek's Fundamentals is built around a simple but profound idea: the models of the world we construct as children are practical and adequate for everyday life, but they do not bring in the surprising and mind-expanding revelations of modern science. To do that, we must look at the world anew, combining clear thinking with an openness to wonder. This "born again" world is in many ways larger, fuller, and much stranger than it appears.
Award-winning astronomer Emily Levesque shares the stories of modern-day stargazers, the people willing to adventure across high mountaintops and to some of the most remote corners of the planet, all in the name of science. From the lonely quiet of midnight stargazing to tall tales of wild bears loose in the observatory, The Last Stargazers is a love letter to astronomy and an affirmation of the crucial role that humans can and must play in the future of scientific discovery.
Monday, May 3, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Friday, April 30, 2021
By Rena Barron
HarperTeen, 2019. 485 pages. Young Adult
Arrah has always wanted magic of her own. Her family is powerful and revered, but somehow the gift seems to have missed her. After years of longing, she’s determined to take matters into her own hands. Arrah is willing to sacrifice years of her life for limited access to magic. When the Kingdom’s children start to go missing, Arrah will use her new power to investigate and uncover what’s happening to them—but what’s happening is far worse than she could have ever imagined.
Arrah wants to assume the best in everyone, and thinks if she is able to do just a bit more, everything will turn out fine—even when all signs point to the contrary. It is #relatable on so many levels. While the pacing can feel a little slow at times, this is an intricately plotted fantasy novel that I would especially recommend to fans of Tomi Adeyemi’s CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
By Alex Trebek
Simon & Scuster, 2020. 304 pages. Biography
Best known as the host of Jeopardy! for 37 seasons, Trebek made headlines in 2019 when he announced that he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. After an outpouring of well-wishes and support from fans of the show and people across the world, Trebek decided to write a book of personal anecdotes, answers to frequently asked questions, and thoughts on a range of topics.
Trebek has been a staple in American households for decades and is known as a beloved and respected figure in the entertainment world. He also dedicated much of his life to philanthropy and activism. Despite the tragic circumstances that ended his life, this is a heartwarming and inspiring book, recommended for any fans of Jeopardy! or anyone looking to learn more about this extraordinary figure. The audiobook is narrated partly by Ken Jennings and partly by Trebek himself.
Monday, April 26, 2021
Saturday, April 24, 2021
The Blue Road: A Fable of Migration
By Wayde Compton
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019. 116 pages. Young Adult Comics.
The Blue Road is a graphic novel that tells the story of Lacuna, a girl living alone in a swamp made of ink who does not remember where she came from or how she got there. One day she meets Polaris, the will-o'-the-wisp guardian of the swamp who tells her she must leave his realm or die. She decides to try her luck in the world and sets off on her journey to the North Kingdom. Following the blue road, Lacuna overcomes many trials before reaching her journey’s end. However, once she gets to the North Kingdom Lacuna finds out that her quest to belong somewhere is only beginning. She realizes that “Leaving, arriving, and returning all mean starting all over again”.
This modern-day take on a fable is touching, with gorgeous artwork and poetry. It depicts made-up characters in a fantastical world but tells a story that has significance in our world. I like that it uses fantastical elements (world-building, surrealism, epic voyages, imaginary creatures, etc.) to convey the message that our laws, practices, and regulations can seem outlandish or whimsical to new people. Any aspect of the immigration experience can be applied to what Lacuna goes through, whether that is experiencing xenophobia, transportation issues, language barriers, lack of employment opportunities, racism, housing issues, or cultural differences. This book shares in an easily digestible format just a little bit of what an immigrant goes through and is thought-provoking.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Tantor Media Inc. 2016.
As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, Robin Wall Kimmerer has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to this land, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as "the younger brothers of creation." As she explores these themes, she circles toward a central argument: The awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the world. Once we begin to listen for the languages of other beings, we can begin to understand the innumerable life-giving gifts the world provides us and learn to offer our thanks, our care, and our own gifts in return.
Robin Wall Kimmerer provides us with a refreshing and in-depth perspective on our relationship with the earth. I love that she asks us as humans to become interwoven in our relationship with the earth (hence, braiding sweetgrass) rather than having a give and take relationship. Kimmerer has quite the talent for turning hard science into beautiful art. Her words are like poetry and are a pleasure to read. The knowledge she shares about indigenous culture and practices is so beneficial to the wellbeing of the earth and the human race. That having been said, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ecology, botany, nature, science, anthropology, and in exploring the relationship between humans and the earth. I would also highly recommend listening to the audiobook, which is available through the Libby app.
Monday, April 5, 2021
Friday, April 2, 2021
by Ashley Schumacher
Wednesday Books, 2021. 293 pages. Young Adult Fiction
Amelia and Jenna are brought together by a book store and a book. They were meant to be best friends forever. They were going to go to college together and take all the same generals. They were going to be roommates. Jenna had it all planned out, and Amelia needed to be tethered to someone, so she gladly followed the plan.
The summer after graduation, Jenna and Amelia, super fans of N.E. Endsley's amazing Orman Chronicles, find themselves waiting for the panel that will announce the last book in the series, made by N.E. Endsley himself. Amelia heads for the restroom and while she is gone, Jenna meets the terrified Endsley, right outside of the authors' green room. He is having a panic attack. When Amelia returns, she hears the announcement that the Orman panel is canceled. Jenna is strangely quiet about it all. Later she tells Amelia that she tried to help Endsley by telling him to do what was best for him, which led to the panel cancelation. Amelia is devastated and angry. She hold’s Jenna accountable for all her dashed hopes and dreams about meeting Endsley. She is slow to forgive Jenna, so when Jenna is killed in a car accident a week later, Amelia is devastated again.
Amelia becomes obsessed with searching for signs from Jenna. When the 101st out of 100 copies of the leather bound Orman Chronicles shows up for her at her book store with no information about the sender, Amelia knows she needs to find out who sent it. She thinks it’s from Jenna, but she has to be sure. So, she heads to Michigan, to another bookstore that might know where the book came from. Little does she know that this bookstore will bring her together with none other than N.E. Endsley!This book starts out devastatingly sad and ends impossibly. It's beautiful. With writerly prose that evokes vivid images like sky whales that surface whenever Amelia is feeling something deeply, this book uses the language of anxiety and trauma. It resonates deeply with those who have been through similar tragedies. But the book is also just so fun and lovely. If you can get to Michigan with Amelia, you have a big chance of loving this book. For fans of Sara Zarr and Jandy Nelson.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
By John Moe
St. Martin's Press, 2020. 285 pages. Nonfiction
John Moe does vital work in combatting the discrimination and difficulty that people with mental illnesses have to struggle against just to function. With a realistic and stark honesty about his personal experiences, Moe builds a compelling narrative for readers (or listeners) to get an insider's look at the world of living with depression inside your own head.
The audio book is narrated by the author, who has years of public radio shows and a podcast (of the same name) behind him to make the audio engaging and fun to listen to. By including actual interview segments from the individuals he quotes throughout the book, Moe's experiences are further supported and joined by a chorus of celebrity and professionals that struggle with depression and illness every day. Topics discussed throughout the book include living with symptoms while undiagnosed, the weight of thinking there's something fundamentally wrong, thoughts of suicidal ideation, and living in the wake of a family member's suicide.
The Hilarious World of Depression provides a necessary window into how it is impossible to just "bounce back" when struggling with depression and pulls apart societal stigmas surrounding medication and therapy. Supported by a tapestry of voices the author encountered in his own interviews for his podcast, listeners will walk away with an understanding, validation, or renewed hope that help is possible.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
By Laura Wood
Random House Children’s Books, 2020. 376 pages. Young Adult
Lou has dreamed of a fancy, high society life, but her family farm in a quiet Cornish village doesn’t exactly exude glamour. She often sneaks into and reads in the Cardew house, a grand house that has stood empty for years. Then, one day, Caitlin and Robert Cardew, the owners, return for the summer. When Lou hides in a tree one evening, watching one of the Cardew’s fancy parties, Robert Cardew surreptitiously walks over and starts chatting with her. Soon, Lou is swept into the hustle and bustle of high society, all the while feeling both excited, and like an outsider.
This is a lovely coming-of-age story. Although the story is relatively predictable and the characters fit nicely into their roles, it was fun to get swept away with Lou into the high-life. The setting is immersive and expertly crafted, and the budding romance adds a nice touch. The bitter-sweet nature of growing up, discovering oneself, and becoming independent of our families really tugs at the heartstrings. For those who have enjoyed PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, or THE GREAT GATSBY, or perhaps aren’t quite ready to venture into those classics, A SKY PAINTED GOLD is a great option.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
Juliet Takes a Breath
By Gabby Rivera
Dial Books, 2019. 304 pages. Fiction.The night before she leaves for her dream internship, Juliet Palante comes out to her Puerto Rican family as a lesbian. Leaving behind her shocked and disappointed parents, she travels from the Bronx to Portland, Oregon to intern for her favorite feminist author, Harlowe Brisbane. Juliet spends the summer making friends with other women authors of color, exploring her sexuality, learning to communicate with her mom, and getting over her first break-up. She finds that Harlowe’s brand of feminism isn’t as inclusive as she thought and that sometimes your heroes will fail you. Juliet discovers more about who she is as a “closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx” and learns to love herself, “even the shameful bits”.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
by Clare Liardet
A little book with a lot of flavor, this collection of alcohol-free cocktails is a must for anyone interested in exploring sophisticated flavor profiles of the world of mocktails. In addition to the perfect primer on mixology that covers common terms and gear, each simple recipe walks you through either the flavor profile or benefits of the particular mocktail. From dessert to clever pick-me-ups, there is sure to be a new favorite drink for you to add to your week.
I'm always on the lookout for interesting flavor combinations and this recipe book doesn't disappoint. One of the things I love about mocktails is that you can make them for anyone. Good mocktails are an experience both lovely and delicious. Each recipe is accompanied by vibrant photos that provide serving suggestions, as well as a range of flavors from creative sodas like a Blueberry-Mint Julep to adventurous remakes like a Beet Virgin Mary. If you're curious about what is beyond soda and syrups, then Dry: Delicious Handcrafted Cocktails and Other Clever Concoctions is a good place to start.
Monday, March 15, 2021
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids
The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Robert T. Kiyosaki
Plata Publishing, 2017. 352 pages. Nonfiction.
Robert Kiyosaki presents the basics of financial literacy by presenting the fiscal policies he learned from two men, his father and his friend's father. His father worked a traditional job, considered his house an asset, and believed in education (meaning a college degree) as one of the greatest driving factors behind lifelong success. His friend's father believed in taking financial risks when it made sense to do so, assets being only defined as things that make your money, and that and education (meaning a college degree) is only as useful as the financial education you pair with it. Kiyosaki walks you through the story of his own financial literacy journey from when he was a child and he collected toothpaste tubes to melt down and literally mint money with to today. He helps explain what assets should be, and how traditional assets like a house, often aren't an asset at all.
After finished this book, much of the financial advice the flies around the internet finally made sense. Kiyosaki gives you a framework with which to evaluate and analyze financial information you hear in passing as potentially useful or potentially useless. It isn't a traditional book of finance that describes a specific type of investing or financial development. No, Kiyosaki presents the basics that schools don't teach, so that his readers can start to understand the financial world by its most basic units: assets and liabilities. This book is for anyone that might want to get started with becoming financially literate.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
By David Chang
Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2020. 288 pgs. Biography
David Chang is best known as the chef and owner of Momofuku Noodle Bar in Manhattan's East Village, although he has by now opened several more restaurants in addition to Momofuku. Chang is surprisingly open about challenges he has faced, including serious struggles with mental health that nearly cost him his life. Chang isn't afraid to admit when he was wrong or made mistakes, and what it cost him to learn those lessons. What he has learned along the way is relatable and even inspiring, and his journey as a chef becomes almost secondary to the description of his growth as a person.
It seems like the chef biographies I have read have all included stories of hard work and overcoming big challenges. But Chang's book stands out from the pack. There is a vulnerability, a readiness to admit imperfections, and a steely determination that I haven't often seen in biographies. There were even a few passages that I wrote down because they paint the world in a light I hadn't considered before. His observations have an unexpected wisdom, insight, and depth that make this an inspiring read. There is plenty of adult language in the book, but fans of biographies and stories of overcoming hardships should find a lot to love here.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
A Court of Silver Flames fits perfectly with the story and characters the author developed previously. Nesta and Cassian's story is filled with emotional tension, ethical dilemma, and steamy romance. With masterful narration and action, this book is a fun read and impossible to put down.