Library News

New Books in the Library

New Books Winter 2019

Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration

We all experience moments when we struggle to understand the state of the world, when we feel powerless and--in some cases--even hopeless. The teens of today are the caretakers of tomorrow, and yet it's difficult for many to find joy or comfort in such a turbulent society. But in trying times, words are power.

Some of today's most influential young adult authors come together in this highly personal collection of essays and original stories that offer moments of light in the darkness, and show that hope is a decision we all can make.

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is...sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.

Parkland Speaks Edited by Sarah Lerner

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School share their emotional journeys that began on February 14, 2018, and continue today. This revealing and unfiltered look at teens living in the wake of tragedy is a poignant representation of grief, anger, determination, healing and hope.

This intimate collection includes poetry, eyewitness accounts, letters, speeches, journal entries, drawings, and photographs from the events of February 14 and its aftermath. Full of heartbreaking loss, a rally cry for change, and hope for a safe future, these artistic places will inspire readers to reflect on their own lives and the importance of valuing and protecting the ones you love.

Why Art? By Eleanor Davis

What is “Art”? It’s widely accepted that art serves an important function in society. But the concept falls under such an absurdly large umbrella and can manifest in so many different ways. Art can be self indulgent, goofy, serious, altruistic, evil, or expressive, or any number of other things. But how can it truly make lasting, positive change? In Why Art?, acclaimed graphic novelist Eleanor Davis (How To Be Happy) unpacks some of these concepts in ways both critical and positive, in an attempt to illuminate the highest possible potential an artwork might hope to achieve. A work of art unto itself, Davis leavens her exploration with a sense of humor and a thirst for challenging preconceptions of art worth of Magritte, instantly drawing the reader in as a willing accomplice in her quest.

Sabrina By Drnaso, Nick

Conspiracy theories, breakdown, murder: Everything’s gonna be all right―until it isn’t

When Sabrina disappears, an airman in the U.S. Air Force is drawn into a web of suppositions, wild theories, and outright lies. He reports to work every night in a bare, sterile fortress that serves as no protection from a situation that threatens the sanity of Teddy, his childhood friend and the boyfriend of the missing woman. Sabrina’s grieving sister, Sandra, struggles to fill her days as she waits in purgatory. After a videotape surfaces, we see devastation through a cinematic lens, as true tragedy is distorted when fringe thinkers and conspiracy theorists begin to interpret events to fit their own narratives.

The follow-up to Nick Drnaso’s Beverly, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Sabrina depicts a modern world devoid of personal interaction and responsibility, where relationships are stripped of intimacy through glowing computer screens. Presenting an indictment of our modern state, Drnaso contemplates the dangers of a fake-news climate. Timely and articulate, Sabrina leaves you gutted, searching for meaning in the aftermath of disaster.

Dry By Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

Bird Box By Josh Malerman

Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century By Dick & James Strawbridge

With step-by-step guidance and techniques, Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century teaches you how to reduce waste, use wind and solar energy to power your home, and grow your own food. Learn how to make practice changes for a simpler, greener, and cleaner life.

This modern manual is perfect for both urban and rural readers, covering eco projects, plant-by-plant and animal-by-animal identification, how to produce little or no waste and to remove our dependence upon fossil fuels, and so much more.

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century shows you how to make practical changes with a big impact.

Our Magazine Collection

Oxford’s Magazine List

February 2019

Time February 18 / February 25, 2019

Featured Articles:

  • Walled Off - Down in the polls and facing an empowered opposition, President Donald Trump is at a defining moment.
  • Venezuela’s Opening - A young leader offers a way out of the country’s catastrophe.
  • China’s Time Bomb - The nation’s biggest economic crisis may be its aging population.
  • To the Rescue - With doctors scarce in Nigeria midwives are saving thousands.
  • The Optimists - Guest editor Ava DuVernay finds the greatest hope in art, including these 34 visionaries.

Time February 4 / February 11, 2019

Featured Articles:

  • Crossing Borders - The global migration boom: a special report.
  • Mapping the Future - A field guide to the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Homecoming - The father of mindfulness returns to Vietnam to await the next life.
  • Resurrecting Chipotle - How a former Taco Bell CEO plans to revive the fresh-Mex chain.

Harper’s February 2019

Featured Articles:

  • Without a Trace - Missing, in an age of mass displacement.
  • What China Threat? - How the United States and China can avoid war?
  • Going to Extremes - Are homicides among the elderly acts of mercy or malice?
  • “Tell Me How This Ends” - America’s muddled involvement with Syria.
  • Orphan Bachelors - Exclusion and Confusion, the two slamming doors of America.

The Atlantic March 2019

Featured Articles:

  • The Case for Impeachment - Starting the process will rein in a president who is undermining American ideals - and bring the debate about his fitness for office into Congress, where it belongs.
  • “Nobody is Going to Believe You” - The director Bryan Singer has been trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct for more than 20 years, largely without consequence. Here, all alleged victims tell their stories.
  • The Yuck Factor - Study after study shows that a high “disgust sensitivity” tends to go hand in hand with traditionalism, religiosity, support for authority, and distrust of outsiders. Does biology influence ideology? And if so, why?
  • What the Crow Knows - The idea that animals are conscious, long unpopular in the West, has lately found favor among scientists who study animal cognition. Now even some insects are thought to have interior lives.
  • Not Just a Drill - There’s scant evidence that exercises to prepare students for shootings are effective. They can, however, be psychologically damaging - and they reveal a deeply misguided view of childhood.
  • The Fight Over Big Government Was Bitter From the Start - Amid national crisis, Hoover and FDR faced off over the prospect of the New Deal.
  • How Humans Tamed Themselves - A bold theory proposes that our ancestors relied on a form a capital punishment to winnow out male aggression.
  • The Chief Justice’s Secret - John Roberts writes fiercely conservative opinions, yet champions the Court’s political independence. How will he respond to constitutional crisis?

  • How Kleptocracy Came to America - When the U.S.S.R collapsed, Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values. Instead, plutocratic graft has corroded American politics and business.

Popular Science Winter 2018

Featured Articles:

  • Want to raise an all-star? - Let them play more than one sport year round.
  • Guardian of the Galaxy - Lisa Pratt
  • 78 Ways to Die
    • The Team Defending Humankind from Killer Al
    • Yes, Giant Asteroids Will Slam into Earth
    • Survive an Avalanche
    • Fear the Cone Snail?
    • Deadly Diets
    • Humongous spiders
    • Lava Harvests

Discover March 2019

Featured Articles:

  • A Lost World Emerges - A stunning discovery deep in the Guatemalan jungle revises what we know about the Maya - and researchers expect to uncover many more surprises.
  • WTH are FRBs? - Scientists are finally poised to figure out the mystery of fast radio bursts, powerful energy blasts from deep space.
  • Tame the Pain - The key to conquering chronic and costly aches may be as simple as retraining a hair-trigger brain.
  • The Happiness Dilemma - Turning that frown upside down and resting on our laurels may not be in our best interest, evolutionary speaking.
  • Remains of Our Day - An ancient civilization, lost to the jungle, prompts reflection on our fate.
  • Delusions of Grandeur - A young man goes from economics student to trail-blazing physician overnight - in his own mind at least.
  • An Atlas of Our Cells - An international team wants to map the Lilliputian universe inside every living human.
  • SETI’s Secret Origin Story - The search for intelligent life beyond Earth began behind closed doors, with dolphin clicks and champagne.
  • 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Chocolate - Scientists are still sorting out the chemistry, health effects of this tasty treat, first enjoyed in South America more than 5,000 year s ago.

Make February/March 2019


  • The Big Picture - Build your own 3D-printed large-format camera to make incredible images.
  • The Playful Table - Deploy a fleet of smart LED rings and simple sensors that react to motion with blazing, animated light displays.
  • Switch Gears - Build this fun and totally unnecessary mechanism to flip your lights on and off.
  • Threads of Knowledge - Celebrate 150 years of Mendeleev’s breakthrough periodic table by tying 200,000 tiny macrame knots.
  • Track your Stats - Show your social media numbers in real time with seven-segment LED displays and an ESP8266.
  • Not Your Father’s Lightsaber - Jedi or Sith? Design and build your own fully operational 3-D printed saber and choose your path.
  • Remaking History: James Watt and the Flyball Governor - Build the ingenious mechanical regulator that made steam engines run on time.
  • 1+2+3 Simpletest Soldering Station - This station holds down your project without breaking the bank.
  • Toy Inventor’s Notebook: Show ‘N’ Glow Toy Display - Upcycle a vintage plaything as a showpiece, comix rack, and reading lamp!
  • Stowaway Workshop - Tight on space? Roll this electronics station out in seconds and pack it up just as fast.

Wired February 2019

Featured Articles:

  • Sleep No More - When Sonia Vallabh discovered what killed her mother at 52, she and her husband began a tireless crusade to find a cure.
  • Make Globalism Great Again - Trump-style nationalism could - perversely - spark an era of progress and cooperation for all humanity.
  • On Earth as It Is in Heaven - Terrestrial tracings of the cosmic machine.
  • Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk - What it was like to work at Tesla as Model 3 production ramped up and company’s leader melted down.

National Geographic February 2019

Featured Articles:

  • South Africa’s Majorettes - For girls and young women in South Africa being a “drummy” requires dedication - and pays dividends in confidence and pride.
  • How Ketchup Made Food Safer - Henry Heinz’s view of wholesome food and preservatives still resonates today.
  • Memories Remade - This neuroscientist is working on suppressing bad memories.
  • The Shots that Almost Got Away - His camera captured polar bear close-ups - and then it sank. But the photographer refused to give up.
  • Puffed-Up Appeal - Frigatebirds woo mates by inflating a body part and drumming on it. What’s not to love?
  • Solo - Alex Honnold is famous for climbing formidable rock faces without using ropes. But El Capitan?
  • Unthinkable Sacrifice - Mystery shrouds child killings some 500 years ago in what’s now Peru.
  • The White Gold Rush - Lithium is key to making batteries. Bolivia has it in abundance.
  • Silicon Valley Grows Up (Sort Of) - The tech mecca looks at the costs of success.
  • A National Symbol- But Also a Pest? - Australia grapples with a kangaroo issue.

Smithsonian January/February 2019

Featured Articles:

  • A Nation at Arms - A special issue about the 17-year war on terror.
  • A Warrior Comes Home - Documenting a wounded Marine’s return.
  • The Priest of Abu Ghraib - An interrogator questions his beliefs.
  • Where we Fight - Mapping our antiterrorist actions overseas.
  • Fighting to Be American - The military’s imperiled path to citizenship.
  • The Legacy of Black Hawk Down - Did we learn the wrong lessons in Somalia?
  • Military Intelligence - A new poll of the troops.
  • War Dog - A bomb-sniffing veteran learns new tricks.
  • What We Leave Behind - The archaeology of our latest wars.
  • Name, Rank and Gender - Transgender service members in focus.
  • War & Remembrance - How can we pay tribute to a never-ending fight?

Mother Earth News February/March 2019

Featured Articles:

  • Build a Upcycled Greenhouse - You can save green while going green by repurposing windows to create a beautiful greenhouse.
  • ‘Container’ Gardening - Military college cadets grow lettuce for staff and students.
  • Building with Balecob - A hybrid natural building technique offers flexibility.
  • Tech for Energy Efficiency - Monitor and modify your energy usage with these apps and devices.

Art News Winter 2019

Featured Articles:

  • The Artist America Built - Daniel Joseph Martinez visits other places and other histories in his ongoing critique of these United States.
  • Just Like Starting Over - Can MOCA Los Angeles reinvent itself again?
  • Southward Bound - As art institutions explore new frontiers, communities brace for change.
  • The Next Stage - The legacy of Latinx performance art lives on.
  • Uncommon Threads - L.A.’s artists and musicians are experimenting with fashion.
  • Voices Carry - Suzanne Lacy’s polyphonic art defies museum curating - and is helping reinvent it.
  • Busy Signals - Paul Sietsema in conversation with Connie Butler.
  • L.A. Artists to Watch - Maximiliano Duron & Alex Greenberger

Independent School Winter 2019

Featured Articles:

  • A Common Thread - All the pieces of advancement are more connected than ever.
  • Building Up - How rethinking grades and assessment can help diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Reading Room - Five books to expand a worldly view. Plus: What your colleagues are reading.
  • Trend Lines - How much does homework really matter?
  • In Practice - Why one school developed a course for parents about growth mindset.

Teaching Tolerance Winter 2019

Featured Articles:

  • Speaking Up Without Tearing Down - A veteran human-rights educator explains the value of teaching students to call each other in rather than out.
  • Saving Title VI - This group of moms is working to ensure that all children receive the civil rights protections they’re entitled to at school.
  • Teaching in Solidarity - This February, join educators from Philadelphia to Seattle for Black Lives Matter Week of Action.
  • Whose Renaissance Is It? - These middle-schoolers spent months exploring the bridges that connect their gentrifying community and the barriers that divide it.
  • Finding Our Power - Professor and author Carol Anderson explains how voter suppression remains alive and well - and how it’s hurting us all.
  • Preserving a More Honest History - Want to take a field trip to a historic home or plantation? Here’s how to choose one that honors the enslaved people who lived and worked there.
  • Bearing Witness to the Hard History of Guilford - The legacy of slavery isn’t limited to the South.
  • Reading Together - Learn how one group of parents created space for their children to read, think and teach about social justice.
  • Demystifying the Mind - Across the country, educators are integrating mental health literacy into their curricula.
  • The Rhythm of Resilience - Following Hurricane Maria, these educators looked to tradition to help colleagues and students mourn what was lost - and celebrate what remains.

Book Trailers

What's Mrs. Gilman reading?

Fall 2018

Little Fire Everywhere By Celeste Ng

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Spring 2018

Before We Were Yours Lisa Wingate

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge--until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents--but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals--in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country--Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

February 2018

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

October/November 2017

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

September 2017

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past—and it includes a special PS section for book clubs featuring insights, interviews, and more.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

May 2017

I am currently reading Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

April 2017

I am currently reading The Shack By William P. Young

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

March 2017

I am currently reading The Zookeepers Wife by Diane Ackerman

A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story―sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.

February 2017

I am currently reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

January 2017

I am currently reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

December 2016

I am currently reading Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future―all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

November 2016

I am currently reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Playing on every teen’s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters) projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty. The fast-moving story is enlivened by many action sequences in the style of videogames, using intriguing inventions like hoverboards that use the rider’s skateboard skills to skim through the air, and bungee jackets that make wild downward plunges survivable -- and fun. Behind all the commotion is the disturbing vision of our own society -- the Rusties -- visible only in rusting ruins after a virus destroyed all petroleum. Teens will be entranced, and the cliffhanger ending will leave them gasping for the sequel. (Ages 12 and up) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

October 2016

I am currently reading Relativity by Antonia Hayes

“Twelve-year-old Ethan Forsythe, an exceptionally talented boy obsessed with physics and astronomy, has been raised alone by his mother in Sydney, Australia. Claire, a former professional ballerina, has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he’s becoming increasingly curious about his father’s absence in his life. Claire is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son—and of her own feelings. But when Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event that occurred during his infancy, her tightly-held world is split open.

Thousands of miles away on the western coast of Australia, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart, but an unexpected call forces him to confront his past and return home. When Ethan secretly intercepts a letter from Mark to Claire, he unleashes long-suppressed forces that—like gravity—pull the three together again, testing the limits of love and forgiveness.”

September 2016

I am currently reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

"Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge."