New Book Tuesday 10-15-19

Posted & filed under Blog.

The Body by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner’s manual for everybody.

Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body–how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, “We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted.” The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.

Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia

A preeminent music historian and critic presents a global history of music from the bottom up
Histories of music overwhelmingly suppress stories of the outsiders and rebels who created musical revolutions and instead celebrate the mainstream assimilators who borrowed innovations, diluted their impact, and disguised their sources. In Music: A Subversive History, historian Ted Gioia reclaims the story of music for the riffraff, insurgents, and provocateurs.
Gioia tells a four-thousand-year history of music as a global source of power, change, and upheaval. He shows how social outcasts have repeatedly become trailblazers of musical expression: slaves and their descendants, for instance, have repeatedly reinvented music, from ancient times all the way to the jazz, reggae, and hip-hop sounds of the current day.
Music: A Subversive History is essential reading for anyone interested in the meaning of music, from Sappho to the Sex Pistols to Spotify.

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox

Amaryllis Fox’s riveting memoir tells the story of her ten years in the most elite clandestine ops unit of the CIA, hunting the world’s most dangerous terrorists in sixteen countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter

Amaryllis Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying theology and international law when her writing mentor Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded. Galvanized by this brutality, Fox applied to a master’s program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, where she created an algorithm that predicted, with uncanny certainty, the likelihood of a terrorist cell arising in any village around the world. At twenty-one, she was recruited by the CIA. Her first assignment was reading and analyzing hundreds of classified cables a day from foreign governments and synthesizing them into daily briefs for the president. Her next assignment was at the Iraq desk in the Counterterrorism center. At twenty-two, she was fast-tracked into advanced operations training, sent from Langley to “the Farm,” where she lived for six months in a simulated world learning how to use a Glock, how to get out of flexicuffs while locked in the trunk of a car, how to withstand torture, and the best ways to commit suicide in case of captivity. At the end of this training she was deployed as a spy under non-official cover–the most difficult and coveted job in the field as an art dealer specializing in tribal and indigenous art and sent to infiltrate terrorist networks in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia.

Life Undercover is exhilarating, intimate, fiercely intelligent–an impossible to put down record of an extraordinary life, and of Amaryllis Fox’s astonishing courage and passion.

The First Cell by Azra Raza

A world-class oncologist’s devastating and deeply personal examination of cancer
We have lost the war on cancer. We spend $150 billion each year treating it, yet — a few innovations notwithstanding — a patient with cancer is as likely to die of it as one was fifty years ago. Most new drugs add mere months to one’s life at agonizing physical and financial cost.
In The First Cell, Azra Raza offers a searing account of how both medicine and our society (mis)treats cancer, how we can do better, and why we must. A lyrical journey from hope to despair and back again, The First Cell explores cancer from every angle: medical, scientific, cultural, and personal. Indeed, Raza describes how she bore the terrible burden of being her own husband’s oncologist as he succumbed to leukemia. Like When Breath Becomes AirThe First Cell is no ordinary book of medicine, but a book of wisdom and grace by an author who has devoted her life to making the unbearable easier to bear.

Self-Portrait in Black and White by Thomas Chatterton Williams

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

It is not that he has come to believe that he is no longer black or that his kids are white, Williams notes. It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of them—or anyone else, for that matter. Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

I Really Needed This Today by Hoda Kotb

From New York Times bestselling author and beloved Today show co-host Hoda Kotb comes an inspiring collection of quotes–drawn from her own personal favorites featured on her enormously popular Instagram account–that offer wisdom, courage, and hope.

Several years ago, Today show co-host Hoda Kotb began posting a variety of quotes on her Instagram page. Some were penned by a favorite writer; others offered a dose of love or laughter. She thought the quotes were meaningful only to her, but soon a funny thing started happening – reactions poured in from thousands of people who were just as moved. The quotes weren’t only providing inspiration to Hoda, they were comforting and connecting people. So many of their comments read, “I really needed this today,” a phrase that inspired the book’s title.

In I Really Needed This Today, Hoda not only shares 365 sayings and quotes, she writes about the people and experiences that have pushed her to challenge boundaries, embrace change, and explore relationships to their fullest. Written with her signature wit and warmth, this book is the ideal companion to tuck beside your bed or to bring with you on-the-go to keep you motivated, recharged, and inspired each day.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.

We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

A powerful and haunting debut novel about friendship, acceptance, and learning to let go as the balance between the living and the dead is upended, perfect for fans of We Were Liars.

It’s been more than 50 years since a tornado tore through a drive-in movie theater in tiny Mercer, Illinois, leaving dozens of teens — a whole generation of Mercerites — dead in its wake. So when another tornado touches down in the exact same spot on the anniversary of this small-town tragedy, the town is shaken. For Brenna Ortiz, Joshua Calloway, and Callie Keller, the apprehension is more than just a feeling. Though they seem to share nothing more than a struggle to belong, the teens’ paths continue to intersect, bringing them together when they least expect it, and perhaps, when they need it most. Both the living and the dead have secrets and unresolved problems, but they may be able to find peace and move forward–if only they work together.

A beautifully told, haunting yet hopeful novel about pushing past the pain, facing the world, and finding yourself.