What to Read this Month: June

Looking for something new to read?  Check out our New and Noteworthy and Overdrive collections for some good reads to enjoy!


The Allure of the Multiverse: Extra Dimensions, Other Worlds, and Parallel Universes by Paul Halpern. Our books, our movies–our imaginations–are obsessed with extra dimensions, alternate timelines, and the sense that all we see might not be all there is. In short, we can’t stop thinking about the multiverse. As it turns out, physicists are similarly captivated. In The Allure of the Multiverse, physicist Paul Halpern tells the epic story of how science became besotted with the multiverse, and the controversies that ensued. The questions that brought scientists to this point are big and deep: Is reality such that anything can happen, must happen? How does quantum mechanics “choose” the outcomes of its apparently random processes? And why is the universe habitable? Each question quickly leads to the multiverse. Drawing on centuries of disputation and deep vision, from luminaries like Nietzsche, Einstein, and the creators of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Halpern reveals the multiplicity of multiverses that scientists have imagined to make sense of our reality. To learn more check out this Wall Street Journal review or watch an interview with the author.


Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett. When mysterious faeries from other realms appear at her university, curmudgeonly professor Emily Wilde must uncover their secrets before it’s too late, in this heartwarming, enchanting second installment of the Emily Wilde series. Emily Wilde is a genius scholar of faerie folklore who just wrote the world’s first comprehensive encyclopaedia of faeries. She’s learned many of the secrets of the Hidden Ones on her adventures . . . and also from her fellow scholar and former rival Wendell Bambleby. Because Bambleby is more than infuriatingly charming. He’s an exiled faerie king on the run from his murderous mother and in search of a door back to his realm. And despite Emily’s feelings for Bambleby, she’s not ready to accept his proposal of marriage: Loving one of the Fair Folk comes with secrets and dangers. With new relationships for the prickly Emily to navigate and dangerous Folk lurking in every forest and hollow, Emily must unravel the mysterious workings of faerie doors and of her own heart. To learn more about this book and the series, you can read several reviews.


Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure by Maggie Jackson. In an era of terrifying unpredictability, we race to address complex crises with quick, sure algorithms, bullet points, and tweets. How could we find the clarity and vision so urgently needed today by being unsure? Uncertain is about the triumph of doing just that. A scientific adventure tale set on the front lines of a volatile era, this epiphany of a book by award-winning author Maggie Jackson shows us how to skillfully confront the unexpected and the unknown, and how to harness not-knowing in the service of wisdom, invention, mutual understanding, and resilience. In laboratories, political campaigns, and on the frontiers of artificial intelligence, Jackson meets the pioneers decoding the surprising gifts of being unsure. Each chapter examines a mode of uncertainty-in-action, from creative reverie to the dissent that spurs team success. Step by step, the art and science of uncertainty reveal being unsure as a skill set for incisive thinking and day-to-day flourishing. You might enjoy this NPR interview.


Your Absence is Darkness by Jón Kalman Stefánsson ; translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton. A spellbinding saga about the inhabitants and inheritors of one rural community, by one of Iceland’s most beloved novelists. A man comes to awareness in a cold church in the Icelandic countryside, not knowing who he is, why he’s there or how he arrived, with a stranger staring mockingly from a few pews back. Startled by the man’s cryptic questions, he leaves–and plunges into a history spanning centuries, a past pressed into his genes that sinks him closer to some knowledge of himself. A city girl is drawn to the fjords by the memory of a blue-eyed gaze, and a generation earlier, a farmer’s wife writes an essay about earthworms that changes the course of lives. A pastor who writes letters to dead poets falls in love with a faraway stranger, and a rock musician, plagued by cosmic loneliness, discovers that his past has been a lie. Faced with the violence of fate and the effects of choices, made and avoided, that cascade between them, each discovers the cost of following the magnetic needle of the heart. Check out this NYT review or this Washington Post review.


I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition by Lucy Sante. An iconic writer’s lapidary memoir of a life spent pursuing a dream of artistic truth while evading the truth of her own gender identity, until, finally, she turned to face who she really was. For a long time, Lucy Sante felt unsure of her place. Born in Belgium, the only child of conservative working-class Catholic parents who transplanted their little family to the United States, she felt at home only when she moved to New York City in the early 1970s and found her people among a band of fellow bohemians. Some would die young, to drugs and AIDS, and some would become jarringly famous. Sante flirted with both fates, on her way to building an estimable career as a writer. But she still felt like her life a performance. She was presenting a façade, even to herself. Sante’s memoir braids together two threads of personal narrative: the arc of her life, and her recent step-by-step transition to a place of inner and outer alignment. To find out more, see this NYT review or this NPR interview.

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