If you’re looking for even more things to read, I have two other suggestions for you! First the Low Maintenance Book Club this month is doing a special discussion called “Love between the Covers.” It’s a chance for people to recommend a book they’ve recently read and loved and for other people to connect with new titles. We’ll have snacks and some games. Please join us!
Also, we now have access to NoveList Plus, which is a resource that can help you find lists of recommendations for fiction and non-fiction books based on genres, award winners, etc. My favorite feature is the “appeal mixer,” which allows you to select several categories and then get recommendations based on it. For example, if you select fast-paced brooding character with a mystical tone, you get suggestions like Alice Hoffman’s The Story Sisters.
In the meantime here are several selections from our collections!
In Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia, Michael Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality along with utopian attempts to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, and though no one has ever returned from such a place to report what it is really like–or that it even exists–today science and technology are being used to try to make it happen in our lifetime. From radical life extension to cryonic suspension to mind uploading, Shermer considers how realistic these attempts are from a proper skeptical perspective. Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and how we can live well in the here-and-now, whether or not there is a hereafter. You can read an NYT review here and the Washington Post review here.
Heartland by Ana Simo. In a word-drunk romp through an alternate, pre-apocalyptic United States, Ana Simo’s fiction debut is the uproarious story of a thwarted writer’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, pulp noir, and dystopian satire. It’s a hilarious, genre-defying debut that confronts taboos of race, assimilation, and sex through a high-voltage tale of love, language, and revenge. You can read a review here. You might also enjoy this podcast.
Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard ( with illustrations by Vanessa Baird and translated from the Norwegian by Ingvild Burkey). Autumn, first in a new autobiographical quartet based on the four seasons, begins with a letter Karl Ove Knausgaard writes to his unborn daughter, showing her what to expect of the world. He writes one short piece per day, describing the material and natural world with the precision and mesmerising intensity that have become his trademark. He describes with acute sensitivity daily life with his wife and children in rural Sweden, drawing upon memories of his own childhood to give an inimitably tender perspective on the precious and unique bond between parent and child. The sun, wasps, jellyfish, eyes, lice–the stuff of everyday life is the fodder for his art. Nothing is too small or too vast to escape his attention. This beautifully illustrated book is a personal encyclopaedia on everything from chewing gum to the stars.
Elements of Taste: Understanding What We Like and Why by Benjamin Errett. Celine Dion. Kanye West. Hamilton. Stranger Things. Wes Anderson. The Bachelor. Doctor Who. House Hunters. The Girl on the Train. We all have our most and least favorite things. But why? This smart, funny and well-researched book brings together the latest findings from the worlds of psychology, neuroscience, market research, and more to examine what taste really means–and what it can teach us about ourselves. Covering kitsch, nostalgia, “comfort food,” snobbery, bad taste, and what it means to be “basic,” this is the ultimate read for anyone who devours popular and not-so-popular culture.
The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe is a powerful and moving account of how refugee teenagers at a public high school learn English and become Americans, in the care of a compassionate teacher. It follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. You can read reviews here, here, and here.