What to Read this Month: August 2019

Welcome / welcome back to Duke and the start of another school year! In an effort to encourage reading for pleasure while in college – really, it’s possible – here are some suggestions from our New and Noteworthy collection, located on the first floor of Perkins across from the bathrooms. You can also check out our Current Literature and Devil DVDS at Lilly, CDs at the Music Library on East Campus, and our Overdrive collection. Don’t worry if your computer doesn’t have a disc drive; you can borrow those at Lilly! And if you need help finding a book, you can learn about how we organize our books in this course guide or come to the service desk – we’re happy to help!


Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen.

In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the happiest of occasions, but Walter and Bennie have a secret. A new community has moved to Rundle Junction, threatening the social order and forcing Bennie and Walter to confront uncomfortable truths about the lengths they would go to to maintain harmony.

Meanwhile, Aunt Glad, the oldest member of the family, arrives for the wedding plagued by long-buried memories of a scarring event that occurred when she was a girl in Rundle Junction. As she uncovers details about her role in this event, the family begins to realize that Clem’s wedding may not be exactly what it seemed. Clever, passionate, artistic Clem has her own agenda. What she doesn’t know is that by the end, everyone will have roles to play in this richly imagined ceremony of familial connection-a brood of quirky relatives, effervescent college friends, ghosts emerging from the past, a determined little mouse, and even the very group of new neighbors whose presence has shaken Rundle Junction to its core.

With Strangers and Cousins, Leah Hager Cohen delivers a story of pageantry and performance, hopefulness and growth, and introduces a winsome, unforgettable cast of characters whose lives are forever changed by events that unfold and reverberate across generations.

Cohen writes both fiction and nonfiction, including her 2013 book, I Don’t Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance and Doubt (Except When You Shouldn’t).


Only as the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems by Dorianne Laux.

Only as the Day Is Long represents a brilliant, daring body of work from one of our boldest contemporary poets, known to bear compassionate and ruthless witness to the quotidian. Drawn from Dorianne Laux’s five expansive volumes, including her confident debut Awake, National Book Critics Circle Finalist What We Carry, and Paterson Prize-winning The Book of Men, the poems in this collection have been “brought to the hard edge of meaning” (B. H. Fairchild) and praised for their “enormous precision and beauty” (Philip Levine). Twenty new odes pay homage to Laux’s mother, an ordinary and extraordinary woman of the Depression era.The wealth of her life experience finds expression in Laux’s earthy and lyrical depictions of working-class America, full of the dirt and mess of real life. From the opening poem, “Two Pictures of My Sister,” to the last, “Letter to My Dead Mother,” she writes, in her words, of “living gristle” with a perceptive frankness that is luminous in its specificity and universal in its appeal. Exploring experiences of survival and healing, of sexual love and celebration, Only as the Day Is Long shows Laux at the height of her powers.

You can watch Laux read her poetry.


The End of the Beginning: Cancer, Immunity, and the Future of a Cure by Michael S. Kinch.

For the first time since a 5th century Greek physician gave the name “cancer” (karkinos, in Greek) to a deadly disease first described in Egyptian Papyri, the medical world is near a breakthrough that could allow even the most conservative doctors and pragmatic patients to use the other “c word” – cure – in the same sentence as cancer. A remarkable series of events has brought us to this point, thanks in large part to a new ability to more efficiently harness the extraordinary power of the human immune system.

The End of the Beginning is a remarkable history of cancer treatment and the evolution of our understanding of its dynamic interplay with the immune system. Through Michael Kinch’s personal experience as a cancer researcher at Washington University and the head of the oncology program at a leading biotechnology company, we witness the incredible accumulation of breakthrough science and its rapid translation into life-saving technologies that have begun to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of life for cancer patients.

According to Kinch’s website,

“Michael S. Kinch, Ph.D. is Associate Vice Chancellor at Washington University in St Louis, where he helps lead entrepreneurship activities as well as research on innovation in biopharmaceutical research and development. Michael founded and leads the Centers for Research Innovation in Biotechnology (CRIB) and Drug Development (CDD).

“Dr. Kinch’s scientific background includes the development of new medicines for cancer, immunological and infectious diseases. His current work is primarily focused upon understanding the blend of science, medicine, business and law needed to support the development of new medicines.”


The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs are Transforming the Global Aid Industry by Raj Kumar.

Today, entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley start-ups, and celebrity activists are the driving force in a radical shift in the way we think about lifting people out of poverty. In this new era of data-driven, results-oriented global aid, it’s no longer enough to be a well-intentioned do-gooder or for the wealthy to donate an infinitesimal part of their assets to people without a home or basic nutrition. What matter now in the world of aid are measurable improvements and demonstrable, long-term change.

Drawing on two decades of research and his own experiences as an expert in global development, Raj Kumar, founder and President of Devex, explores the successes and failures of non-traditional models of philanthropy. According to Kumar, a new billionaire boom is fundamentally changing the landscape of how we give, from well-established charitable organizations like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to Starbucks and other businesses that see themselves as social enterprises, to entrepreneurial start-ups like Hello Tractor, a farm equipment-sharing app for farmers in Nigeria, and Give Directly, an app that allows individuals to send money straight to the mobile phone of someone in need. The result is a more sustainable philosophy of aid that elevates the voices of people in need as neighbors, partners, and customers.

Refreshing and accessibly written, The Business of Changing the World sets forth a bold vision for how businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals can turn well-intentioned charity into effective advocacy to transform our world for good.

For a different perspective, see Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas.


Operatic by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler.

Somewhere in the universe, there is the perfect tune for you.

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.

The Music Library has a variety of CD and Vinyl records featuring Maria Callas.

 


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