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I love a book that slowly reveals itself and Piranesi is one of them -- it morphs from one thing to another as you read it. I'd classify it as fantasy, but it's also a mystery. It's presented as a series of journal entries by a truly unique narrator in a truly unique place. It's a short book and one I could not wait to turn to every evening. Although there are some dark themes, the narrator processes them with a curiosity, wholesomeness, even naivete that left me with a newfound appreciation for the wonder of nature, simplicity, and the comfort of "home" (whatever that is for each of us).
--Carin Perilloux, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead by
This is a terrific murder(s) mystery narrated by quite a character named Janina. She translates the poetry of William Blake, reads the star charts of her neighbors, and takes care of country houses for wealthy Warsaw residents. She also prefers quadrupeds to bipeds and likes to assign nicknames and to capitalize key terms. Tokarczuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2019. I recommend "Drive..." as an accessible way into her wide-ranging and dazzling work.
--David Gaines, Professor Emeritus of English
I enjoyed Sittenfeld's first political novel, American Wife, which is a thinly disguised (names and places are changed but the story tracks on key events) fictional telling of Laura Bush's biography. So I was even more excited for this more blatant political alternate universe, in which Sittenfeld explores how Hillary Clinton's life might have been different if she'd never married Bill. It's a quick read and amusing political fantasy, particularly for those who have been following Democratic politics for a while.
--Emily Sydnor, Political Science
The Rosie Project by
We do have this title in the library, and I bought the two subsequent book in the series. I am happy to pass along my copies if you enjoy the first one. This is sort of a more mature "Big Bang Theory" set in Australia. I enjoyed the Aussie perspective and lingo along with the very relatable and comic family scenarios. It's light summer reading.
--Jean Whewell, Library
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by
This book is Kalb's memoir and a touching eulogy to her grandmother. It gives us a glimpse into Kalb's childhood, but also that of her mother and grandmother, crafting a wonderful intergenerational story and using a really interesting narrative structure throughout. I finished the book, wiped the tears from my eyes, and immediately wanted to call my own grandmother and encourage her to share stories of her own.
--Emily Sydnor, Political Science
Mortal Error by
There are many opinions about the assassination of President Kennedy, but Howard Donahue's journey to the truth is very hard to refute. A ballistic expert's astonishing discovery of the fatal bullet that Oswald did not fire.
--John Ore, Theater Dept.
Owls of the Eastern Ice by
"A field scientist and conservationist tracks the elusive Blakiston's Fish Owl in the forbidding reaches of eastern Russia."
I'm the first to admit, that doesn't sound all that compelling, but I promise, this book was great! Reading it was like being in the forests of Primorye searching for those rare giant owls. I was also fascinated by the dive into rural Russian culture. So many characters! So much vodka! Absolutely fascinating stuff.
I highly recommend the audiobook; it's narrated by the author who does an excellent job of bringing to life his story of saving these owls from loggers and other climate threats. Species conservation is necessary work, and Jonathan Slaght not only contributed to that work, but managed to write a captivating book about his adventures.
--Theresa Zelasko, Library
The Fifth Season by
N.K. Jemisin is one of the best of speculative fiction's world-builders, and this story (the first in her Broken Earth trilogy) is no exception. It's a totally immersive dive into a strange yet strangely familiar post-apocalyptic world, related by three alternating narrators, all "orogenes" who can draw on and manipulate the energy of the world around them (often with dangerous consequences!). It's full of suspense, surprises, keen political insights, overwhelmingly rich detail into the deep history of this world, and some of the tenderest and most finely drawn relationships I've read.
--Rebecca Evans, English
Think Again: the power of knowing what you don't know by
Dr. Grant is a psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania specializing in organizational psychology. "In his book he challenges us to become alright with not knowing, being wrong, and rethinking our own conventional wisdom." Goodreads.com
"Every time we encounter new information, we have a choice. We can attach our opinions to our identities and stand our ground in the stubbornnes of preaching and prosectuting. Or we can operate more like scientists, defining ourselves as people committed to the pursuit of truth - even if it means proving our own views wrong." Dr. Adam Grant
One of the many things in the book that I found interesting is his explanation of the hierarchy of rethinking styles where he listed the categories of Scientist, Critical Thinker, Contrarian, Politician, and Cult Leader. He also has a Ted podcast called Work Life with Adam Grant and a Twitter account.
--Susie Bullock, Administrative Assistant for the faculty of the Olin building
The Midnight Library by
I just ordered this book as my treat for after finals. Therefore, I can provide more of a reason for why I ordered it. This book as about reflecting on all the different paths one can take in life with a sci-fi/fantasy twist. I also really like Matt Haig's writing style so I am eager to dive in!
--Debika Sihi, Department of Economics and Business
Just As I Am by
I love the honesty and the engaging story telling about her life. The cover brings you into her world and shares the importance of being yourself in a world full of uncertainty.
--Terri Johnson, Office of Diversity Education
Red, White and Royal Blue by
A ridiculously charming story of two guys who hate each other until they realize they're actually crazy about each other. This cross-Atlantic love story features behind-the-scenes looks at the White House and Buckingham Palace as well as containing a Texas Hill Country connection.
I read this last summer (twice!) and couldn't put it down.
--Theresa Zelasko, Library
Separation Anxiety by
I haven't finished this book yet (just started it), but in the first few chapters I was laughing so hard I was crying. But I also felt kind of bad that I was laughing at the poor protagonist. The basic idea of the novel is that the protagonist, a woman with a lackluster husband and teenage child, is dealing with a sort of midlife crisis. She responds to that by beginning to wear her dog in her child's old baby sling. I'm a sucker for anything dog related, so I'm hooked!
--Katy Ross, Spanish
Such an amusing and inspiring book. This is an autobiography on Matthew's amazing life. I really enjoyed the audio version because he narrates it, so it is even more personal.
--Sally Volling - Business Office
A Tale for the Time Being by
Two narrators find each other across vast gaps of space and time. Nao, a Japanese teenager dealing with profound personal and social alienation, records the painful details of her life in a beloved diary; North American novelist Ruth* finds Nao's diary inside of a Hello Kitty lunchbox that (propelled, perhaps, by the same tsunami that caused the Fukushima meltdown) has washed up on the remote Western Canadian island where she and her husband live. Like Ruth, you'll become helplessly preoccupied with finding out what became of Nao and her family—and you'll be just as surprised as she is when you realize the stunning connections that may bind them. This is an engrossing read throughout, and it has one of the best executed endings I've ever read!
--Rebecca Evans, English
Fevre Dream by
This work of historical horror is filled with slow rivers, larger-than-life paddle boat captains, and (of course) vampires. Martin's skill at creating new worlds is obvious (see Game of Thrones), but his ability to actually put you on the deck of a river boat in the 1850's is on full display in this novel. It's a great book to enjoy on your patio, soaking up the sun.
--Heath Roberie, Finance and Administration
Mississippi to Madrid by
This book has a great history to tell by a man who lived through the most incredible times in recent history. Yates' grandmother had been a slave and the story he tells about her liberation leads him out of the south into the big cities of the north where he works, joins unions and volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. It is a quick read which makes clear connections between US racism and European fascism.
--Randal Scamardo - Spanish
The Warsaw Protocol by
The storyline takes you down into the "Polish salt mine (a real place) that's hundreds of meters deep with nine layers, has hundreds of miles of tunnels," and describes many parts of the history of the mine.
At the end of the book, the author goes into detail for what is fact and where he has to bend the history to fit his story. One can learn history and facts when they read his series of fiction novels.
For those interested in reading some of his novels, the main character is "Cotton Malone." Check out the link about the magnificent Polish salt mine at: https://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com.
--Joan Parks, Smith Library Center