1993-2018 – Celebrating 25 Years
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“I cannot live without books” — Thomas Jefferson
Limits of the Known
By David Roberts (W.W. Norton, $26.95)
In the wake of his diagnosis with throat cancer, Roberts seeks answers with sharp new urgency. He explores his own lifelong commitment to adventuring, as well as the cultural contributions of explorers throughout history: What specific forms of courage and commitment did it take for Fridtjof Nansen to survive an eighteen-month journey from a record “farthest north” with no supplies and a single rifle during his polar expedition of 1893-96? What compelled Eric Shipton to return, five times, to the ridges of Mt. Everest, plotting the mountain’s most treacherous territory years before Hillary and Tenzing’s famous ascent? What drove Bill Stone to dive 3,000 feet underground into North America’s deepest cave?
What motivates the explorers we most admire, who are willing to embark on perilous journeys and push the limits of the human body? And what is the future of adventure in a world we have mapped and trodden from end to end?
By Richard Powers (W.W. Norton $27.95)
An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers–each summoned in different ways by trees–are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.
In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of–and paean to–the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours–vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
Every Note Played
By Lisa Genova (Simon & Schuster $26.00)
A once accomplished concert pianist, Richard now has ALS. As he becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.
Paris By The Book
By Liam Callanan (Penguin Random House $26.00)
Once a week, I chase men who are not my husband. . . . When eccentric novelist Robert Eady abruptly vanishes, he leaves behind his wife, Leah, their daughters, and, hidden in an unexpected spot, plane tickets to Paris. Hoping to uncover clues–and her husband–Leah sets off for France with her girls. Upon their arrival, she discovers an unfinished manuscript, one Robert had been writing without her knowledge . . . and that he had set in Paris. The Eady women follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell. The whole store? Today? Yes, but Leah’s biggest surprise comes when she hears herself accepting the offer on the spot. As the family settles into their new Parisian life, they can’t help but trace the literary paths of some beloved Parisian classics, including Madeline and The Red Balloon, hoping more clues arise. But a series of startling discoveries forces Leah to consider that she may not be ready for what solving this mystery might do to her family–and the Paris she thought she knew. At once haunting and charming, Paris by the Book follows one woman’s journey as her story is being rewritten, exploring the power of family and the magic that hides within the pages of a book.
Utopia Is Creepy and Other Provocations
Nicholas Carr (W.W. Norton $16.95)
Carr draws on artists ranging from Walt Whitman to the Clash, while weaving in the latest findings from science and sociology. Carr’s favorite targets are those zealots who believe so fervently in computers and data that they abandon common sense. Cheap digital tools do not make us all the next Fellini or Dylan. Social networks, diverting as they may be, are not vehicles for self-enlightenment. And “likes” and retweets are not going to elevate political discourse. Utopia Is Creepy compels us to question the technological momentum that has trapped us in its flow. “Resistance is never futile,” argues Carr, and this book delivers the proof.
No One Ever Asked
By Katie Ganshert (Harper Collins $16.99)
When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that,” when such complexity exists in each person?
Harbor of Spies
By Robin Lloyd (Lyons Press $24.95)
Set in Havana in 1863 during the American Civil War, the Spanish colonial city was alive with intrigue and war-related espionage. The protagonist – a young American ship captain by the name of Everett Townsend – is pulled into the war, not as a Naval Academy midshipman, as he had once hoped, but as the captain of a Havana-based blockade-running schooner. Even as Townsend gets entangled in the war effort, he also finds himself being pulled into the dangerous investigation of a murdered English diplomat which threatens his own life.
Everything Here is Beautiful
Mira T. Lee (Pamela Dorman Books $26)
A story of “two sisters–Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector, [and] Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and often life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. But Lucia impetuously plows ahead, marrying a big-hearted, older man only to leave him suddenly to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. She moves her new family from the States to Ecuador and back again, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill
Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, Sharp
By John Medina (Pear Press $27.99)
Brain Rules for Aging Well is organized into four sections, each laying out familiar problems with surprising solutions. First up, the social brain, in which topics ranging from relationships to happiness and gullibility illustrate how our emotions change with age. The second section focuses on the thinking brain, explaining how working memory and executive function change with time. The third section is all about your body: how certain kinds of exercise, diets, and sleep can slow the decline of aging. Each section is sprinkled with practical advice, for example, the fascinating benefits of dancing, and the brain science behind each intervention. The final section is about the future. Your future. Medina connects all the chapters into a plan for maintaining your brain health.