Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Putting "The Joy of Less" Into Action



JoyofLess200I'm a clutter queen.  It's something of an affliction for me, the sprawl that creeps across my desk (well, my whole cubicle, really) and onto various surfaces of my house.  You may have read about my experience with Marie Kondo (good for the first book, wonky for the second) and I'm always looking at other approaches, which brought me to  The Joy of Less.  Jay was a bit ahead of the curve when she self-published The Joy of Less and in the years between that book and writing the new fully revised version, she had a child.  Kids put a whole new spin on clutter and the family is a big part of the new The Joy of Less

Unlike Kondo, Jay's philosophy is, "is it useful?" and she uses a method she calls STEAMLINE which begins with Start over and ends with Everything in its place.  We asked Jay to come to the office to see if she could help with the aforementioned clutter.  Below you'll see her technique in action--I'm really pleased with how well her process has stuck.  A note about Part II, the drawer--after we did the surface of my monitor stand, Jay asked if we could possibly do the drawer before she left us--I think my whole desk made her a little crazy and that drawer was something she couldn't quite walk away from once I showed it to her.  I think you'll agree that the transformation is pretty remarkable...

In the beginning...I think poor Francine Jay took a big gulp when she caught sight of my monitor stand in all it's cluttered glory.  I hadn't realized how bad it was until I saw it through her eyes and in a photograph.  Yikes. 

MonitorStand_Beginning

First thing - start over.  This means everything off the surface.  Turned out there were actual layers of stuff, it was kind of like archeology without the awesome finds.  Plastic forks and salt packets?  Not so thrilling.

  MonitorStand_StartOverStep1 - Copy

Everything in a box.  Even the dog couldn't believe how much was on that stand...

MonitorStand_StartOverStep2_Beulah

A clear surface. Whoa. 

MonitorStand_StartOverStep3

Cue the lights and music-- after employing the other steps including identifying a reason for everything, narrowing down, and setting limits we've reached the final stage of everything in it's place.

MonitorStand_EverythingHasItsPlace

One month later... doing pretty good, if I do say so myself.

MonitorStand_1MonthLater

PART II - The Drawer

Drawer_Start

Start over...

Drawer_Empty

Modules.  Mine included pens, sticky notes, rubber bands, and personal items like lipsticks, band-aids, and dog poop bags.  It was quite the assortment.

Drawer_Modules

After The Joy of Less makeover

Drawer_Final

One month later...not quite as neat but nowhere near day one.

 Drawer_30DaysLater

 

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"We Don’t Know Our Hearts Until Life Puts Us to the Test"--Chris Cleave on "Everyone Brave Is Forgiven"



Everyone Brave Is ForgivenOn the heels of Memorial Day it seems apropos to post this Q&A we did recently with Chris Cleave, author of Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, which is set during WWII. This novel possesses many of the ingredients of other popular books in the genre—heroes and heroines who are flawed yet admirable. Check! A love story that manages to be poignant without being precious. Check! It even has cover art that is, as an astute colleague put it, a little cartoonish but appealingly "Disney-London." If you're a terrible cook like me, however, you know that you can have all of the right ingredients and still concoct something utterly inedible. But this couldn't be farther from the case with 'Brave,' which was inspired by love letters that Cleave unearthed from his grandparents. Examining the myriad meanings of courage, it also emphasizes the importance of challenging injustices.

A: With the great success of books like Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, and now, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, we've been wondering—what is it about stories set in and around WWII that so resonate and capture people's imaginations?

CC: I think all of us are intrigued to imagine what we as individuals would become, if we were ever tested as hard as that golden generation was. Would we be the heroes or the cowards of the piece? Would we follow orders or stick to our principles, if those two things ever conflicted? Would we be the brave ones who still found the capacity for love – and for laughter – even while we were terrified?

We don't know our hearts until life puts us to the test, and WWII fascinates because it was the last time everyone was simultaneously pushed to their limit. It was, without exaggeration, the biggest event in all of human history, and it is still within living memory. Everyone carries the weight of it with them in their recent family history, and yet it is rarely spoken about within families, because veterans and survivors don't tend to talk. We leave it up to books and movies to talk about WWII on our behalf.

I think the recent cluster of WWII novels is so good because we have reached an optimal distance from the war. Just as a lens has its focal length, the novel also has its best distance from the action. At this point in time the war is close enough to still feel hotly personal to a writer, yet far enough away so that jingoism and heroics are no longer required. This means that a particular psychological sharpness can be achieved. We no longer need to show people being brave: instead, we can examine how they became brave. We can assume that they didn't start out that way. If we allow that they started out just like us, then their journey into courage becomes both more fascinating and more impressive.

A: In the book, the character Mary North teaches and looks after "lost children." Is this what your maternal grandmother did during the War?

CC: The character of Mary North is inspired by both my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother was in London during the Blitz. Indeed, the man she was dating before she met my grandfather was killed beside her in a cinema, in 1941, when a bomb came through the roof – a tragedy in which she herself was badly wounded. She was a teacher in London and elsewhere during the war, although the children she taught were not the "lost children" who feature in the novel – those come from my research. My paternal grandmother drove ambulances during the regional Blitz, in Birmingham, and her experiences informed the other half of Mary's journey in the novel.

A: In the letter that opens 'Brave' you talk about, among other things, how different wars are today and how that can complicate the reconciliation process between countries. You say, after reading the novel, you "wanted the reader to come away wondering whether forgiveness is possible at a national level or whether it is only achievable between courageous individuals." What do you think?

CC: I write in the novel's afterword that our recent wars "finish not with victory or defeat but with a calendar draw-down date and a presumption that we shall never be reconciled with the enemy". I do think it is harder to acknowledge our strengths, or to forgive ourselves and each other for our shortcomings, when there has not been a result we can all agree on. And it is certainly impossible to imagine forgiving the enemy while their animus remains undefeated. Yet war doesn't end with armistice, it only ends with forgiveness and reconciliation. I wanted to look at the differences between how we fought then and how we fight now, because the current lack of closure generates a state of psychological unease that is interesting to acknowledge and examine.

A: You traveled to Malta to research your grandfather's role in the war. What was the most striking thing you discovered?

CC: I was astonished to find that the positions my grandfather had defended were now overgrown and entangled with trees and thorns. I suppose I had developed a sense of reverence for the locations he described in his memoirs and letters – the forts and the high emplacements. I had expected them to have been preserved in some way. And yet when I reached Fort Binjemma, for example, where my grandfather was stationed for a while, the whole Victorian fort was decaying. Barbed wire surrounded it, spray paint on the ancient walls claimed it as private property, and the moat where my grandfather and his men had grown crops – in desperation as the siege's hunger bit – was completely overgrown with bushes and trees. Rubbish had been dumped in the main entrance: black bin bags, builders' rubble, cracked old toilets. The desecration made me desperately sad. It also made me all the more determined to bring the island back to life as it had once been, when men and women were ready to give their lives for every precious inch of it.

A: 'Brave' is a book about courage. Has your definition/s of it changed after writing this novel?

CC: I think bravery means a different thing to everyone. Our own personal brand of courage – in relationships, in conflict, in our principles ­– is as unique as our fingerprints. Sometimes we don't notice that someone is being brave, because they are only doing something that seems quite easy for us. Conversely, things that we have to really dare ourselves to do come quite naturally to others.

The ways in which we are able to express courage also depend on the hand life deals us. It is easier for a rich person to act on their principles than it is for someone with fewer choices (which is why it is all the more disappointing when a wealthy person plays to the crowd).

Something I am now convinced of, after researching Everyone Brave, is that none of us is born courageous in all respects. Courage is a muscle that develops through use. It's no use waiting for some inner fire to conveniently become apparent at the moment of crisis – that's cartoon stuff. Instead we must constantly dare ourselves in the small things, until courage becomes a habit of mind that will serve us when we are unexpectedly tested.



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Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Books



P1

In honor of Memorial Day, here is a list of recent nonfiction books about American soldiers (and in one case, merchant marines) and the enormous sacrifices that they make.

 

B1

 

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - This could be described as the quintessential Memorial Day read. If you've already read the book, or seen the movie, or read the young adult adaptation, you can read Louis Zamperini's own account of his life in his autobiography Devil at My Heels.

 

B2

 

The Mathews Men by William Geroux - This is an inspiring, fascinating account of the sacrifices that members of our merchant marine made during World War II. It's a great book about an underappreciated group of heroes, and I hope more readers will discover it. 

 

 

B3

Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Phibrick - We tend to focus on the beginning of the American Revolution (Boston Massacre:1770; Lexington and Concord: 1773) and a few key dates along the way (Valley Forge: winter of 1777-1778), but the Paris Treaty ending the war was not signed until 1783. This is a nonfiction account of the middle years of the Revolutionary War, focusing on two dominant but different American generals, George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Amazon Senior Editor Adrian Liang writes of the book: "Riveting and relevant, Valiant Ambition explodes the myth that a triumphant revolution was inevitable."

 

B4

The Red Platoon by Clinton Romesha - Here is the riveting account of a fourteen hour firefight that took place in a remote, isolated, and ill-advised outpost constructed to slow the passage of the Taliban between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Sebastian Junger calls the book, "a vitally important story that needs to be understood by the public, and I cannot imagine an account that does it better justice that Romesha's." Two additional notes here: The author Romesha is a Medal of Honor recipient, and Sebastian Junger has just published a new book, entitled Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.

 

P5

Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 by Adam Hochschild - In the 1930s Americans signed up to fight in a war that did not directly involve the U.S. government. Guided by their bravery and their consciences, these volunteers flooded to Spain to help its democratic government fight off a fascist uprising led by Francisco Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini. When we think of this war, we tend to focus on Hemingway's involvement. But there were many more volunteers, and many of their stories were more interesting.

 

B5

Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel - If you've ever wondered about the difficulties that some soldiers face after returning from battle (Finkel calls it the "After-War"), read Thank You For Your Service. This is a difficult but important book--but it's time to face that we should not just talk about treating our returning soldiers better. We should actually do it.

 



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Friday, May 27, 2016

Weekend Reading



Mischling

Here's what some of the Amazon editors are planning to read over the long weekend...

Sara Nelson: I just opened Affinity Konar's novel Mischling, which is coming out in September. So while it's nice to have a head start on the weekend, I doubt it will take me all three days of this Memorial Day vacation to finish it. Ten pages in, I'm riveted, and mildly shocked at how readable and terrifying, all at once, this debut is. When I tell you that Konar spent ten years writing about twins who were singled out by Josef Mengele in Auschwitz, you're going to think it couldn't possibly be an easy read. What it depicts is grim and shocking and horrible; but so far at least, it is written in such a way as to "[carry] the lightness of a fairy tale," to quote from Anthony Doerr's impassioned blurb on the galley cover. 

W1Jon Foro: There's a moment that keeps me coming back to "Gimme Shelter," the Maysles brothers' documentary of the Rolling Stones' free concert at Altamont Motor Speedway that led to the death of Meredith Hunter--and as many say, the 60s--at the hands of a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. The Stones are running through a tense rendition of "Under My Thumb" and the stage is Pandæmonium—a crowd too big, too close, and too high; Evil-Eyed Angels keeping them at bay; a stray dog—when camera locks onto a man just feet to Mick's right, a mess of hair and denim and anguish seemingly transforming into a werewolf before our eyes. It's a moment of total unpredictability: mindless and physical and banal, and as awful spectacles often go, completely spellbinding. It's also the long way of saying that I'm looking forward to Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day, Joel Selvin's meticulous account of events that led to the fiasco—including the decision to hire the infamous biker gang as security—and its aftermath.

W2Adrian Liang: Even with a three-day weekend, I'm not sure I'll have enough time to read everything I want to! But these are on my weekend TBR pile: Susan Mallery's Daughters of the Bride, a novel about a woman who gets remarried in her sixties and how her three daughters are dealing with the run-up to the wedding. I love the cover to bits. I've started The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, a thriller narrated by a young woman named Elka who is on the run from a serial killer in post apocalyptic British Columbia. The story is gripping, and Elka's voice is striking, radiating a toughness yet vulnerability that reminds me of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Finally, I want to dive into The Devourers by Indra Das, which I've been looking forward to ever since Pierce Brown (Red Rising, Morning Star) recommended it in our "New Year, New Authors" post about talented up-and-coming sci-fi and fantasy writers.

W3Chris Schluep: My reading list is too optimistic, but we'll see: it's a three-day weekend. I've got Teddy Wayne's novel Loner, about a withdrawn Harvard freshman who falls in love with a girl, and then things go bad. It comes well-recommended. I'm not sure what to expect, although I'm expecting to be disturbed. I've also got Ben Winters' new book Underground Airlines. The publisher is really excited about this one, and I've liked Winters' other books. Here's the blurb: "It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred." Tin House Books (I'm a big fan of Tin House) sent me Joy Williams' Ninety-Nine Stories of God. I've got a really good feeling about this one in fact, I'm feeling pretty good about all the books on this list, the last of which is Jonathan Rabb's Among the Living, about a Holocaust survivor moving to Savannah in the 40s.

 

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And the First Novel Award Goes to...



AwadAn eagerly-anticipated debut meets expectations by winning first novel award

Our Canadian friends up north have just awarded the First Novel Award, which celebrates the talents of a first-time Canadian novelist. This is the 40th year of the First Novel Award, a prize that has helped to launch many an early writing career, including Michael Ondaatle's.

This year's winner is Mona Awad, author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl. There's humor in this novel, much of it dark and relatable, but the book is more affecting than funny. Here in the U.S., The Washington Post described it as "stunning" and "simultaneously tart and tender." The Canadian Globe and Mail also raved about the book, calling it "beautifully told, with a profoundly sensitive understanding of the subject matter."

The book is an exploration of a woman's life. Specifically, it looks at her relationship to body image expectations--her own and those of society's at-large. What must have struck the award judges was not just the topicality of the book but the way in which Awad presents the story. The author does not bludgeon us; she tells the story in details. As the suburban teenager Lizzie, who is overweight, evolves into Beth and finally into plain Elizabeth, we see her successfully control her weight. But words like "success" and "control" are fleeting when they are tied to any one thing. It's much more complicated than that.  



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Graphic Novel Friday: Darwyn Cooke (1962-2016)



DCooke_front.imageThis month, the comics industry and fans grapple with the loss of writer, artist, and animator Darwyn Cooke, a singular talent who passed away at the age of 53. Mr. Cooke's works, the bulk of which were produced for DC Comics, showcase heroes and villains untouched by the cynicism plaguing so many capes and cowls in contemporary culture. His stories were and will continue to be held up as brightly shining examples of what comics "should be." A Darwyn Cooke comic embraces its retro roots but features a sophisticated, forward-looking narrative. It charms. 

What follows below are only a few of his many must-reads, and we welcome your own favorites in the comments section.

 

Catwoman Vol. 1: Trail of the Catwoman by Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker: In direct opposition to Selina Kyle's previously impossible proportions and questionable portrayal, writer Brubaker and Cooke brought class back to Catwoman in a new costume and fun vision—one that has (nearly) remained her status quo since 2001. In a great interview with The Comics Journal, Cooke said, "I did have an affinity for her because she's an amoral character. She's a lot easier to understand than a hero or a psycho. She's a lot more human than most of the characters." Cooke would return to the character in a prequel, Selina's Big Score, which is included in this volume.

 

 

DC: The New Frontier: In 2004, Cooke bridged DC's Golden and Silver Ages in this grand origin story, in which new heroes meet for the first time and mantles pass from one generation to the next. It's gorgeous, moving, stand-alone, and regarded as an industry benchmark (its three Eisner Awards serve as testament). See the new Deluxe edition for a worthy presentation, as well as the animated adaptation, where Cooke co-wrote and provided art direction.

 

 

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter: Double-crosses, revenge, and a whole lotta noir; this is the first of Cooke's four recent adaptations of Donald Westlake's crime novels, and it was awarded the Eisner for Best Adaptation from an Outside Work in 2010. See also publisher IDW's Martini Edition, which includes a slipcase, another volume, and supplemental material.

 

 

Batman: Ego: Darwyn Cooke's earliest collected work, featuring a story set early in Batman's career. Bruce Wayne questions his role as The Batman and finds his alter ego does not always remain in the shadows. Also included here: again, Selina's Big Score, and Cooke's excellent short story from an issue in the Solo anthology series.

 

 

 

The Twilight Children by Darwyn Cooke and Gilbert Hernandez: Possibly Cooke's final collected work; here he teams with writer Gilbert Hernandez. Paired together, the two craft a village under quiet siege by a supernatural event and an enigmatic woman. Cooke's artwork illuminates, a contrast from his more recent shadowy work in Parker, and it's a chance to see him beam outside superheroes as well.

 

There is unmatched grace in Darwyn Cooke's pages. It's why so many readers and comics professionals count themselves as fans. It's why we return to his stories, always wanting more--and that's where he left us.

--Alex

P.S. George Gene Gustines wrote a moving Darwyn Cooke tribute in The New York Times.


 

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Life Ain't Always Instagram-Friendly: Nora McInerny Purmort on "It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too)"



It's Ok to LaughLife was just dandy for Nora McInerny Purmort until she turned 27. Sure she was jumping from job to job, but she had an amazing boyfriend, who would soon become her fiancé...after he was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. I know--womp, womp, right? But that's the thing--Nora and Aaron didn't let this tragic news get them down. Instead, they proceeded to pack a happy lifetime into the three short years they ended up having together. Ms. Purmort's candid and surprisingly hilarious memoir, It's Okay to Laugh, reminds of how we should embrace our one wild and precious life, despite the lemons it inevitably deals.

The thing about Terrible Things is that they always happen to someone else. They are things that happen to your friend's friend's dentist, your roommate's cousin's coworker, your mom's boyfriend's daughter. Until they happen to you.

I get it, because until I was 27, nothing had happened to me. My life, aside from manageable adult acne and a struggle with finding a pair of skinny jeans to fit my calves, had been pretty easy up until that point.

So I wasn't exactly prepared when my totally healthy, handsome boyfriend of a year had a seizure that turned out to be a brain tumor that ended up being stage IV brain cancer. This wasn't my life, wiping crusted blood from the STAPLES in my boyfriend's head. This wasn't my life, meeting with an oncologist and nodding along to works like "radiation mask" and "glioblastoma multiforme." My life was a pretty easy job in advertising, a little house we'd just moved into together, a dumb dog who barked at me if I wore a baseball cap, a boy I planned to marry.

All of this other stuff? It was a rude interruption, and I needed for it to be over.

Nope. As most adults know, life doesn't actually work that way. And the terrible things are as much a part of your life as the great things.

We know it, cognitively, that life isn't fair. But we also sort of believe that the rules don't apply to us, that if we live our lives well, if we're really good, we can get through life without any interruptions to our regularly scheduled happiness.

But the statistics are against us: our loved ones have a 100% chance of dying. And shit happens every day. The one sure thing in life is that something terrible is going to happen to you.

And I don't mean that as a bummer. I mean it as a pep talk. Aaron and I had a really, really good life together, even if it was way too short. We had a three-year marriage that was the definition of "better or worse, sickness and health, 'til death do us part." We made a beautiful child. We saw Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen in concert. And we also went through two brain surgeries, a miscarriage, a billion chemo and radiation appointments, ambulance rides through rush hour traffic, seizures at the dinner table.

You know what that is? It's life. All of it. And even though the weddings and babies and Beyonce concerts are way more Instagram-friendly, it's all worth keeping your eyes open for.

I was lucky to have had 27 years of unremarkable, unremitting pleasantness. But I'm lucky now, too. Because I got to fall in love so deeply. Because I was able to see my person to the edge of this world and into the next. Because the Internet brought me hundreds and hundreds of people who saw my Terrible Thing and said, "it happened to me, too, here is a virtual hug." Because all of the darkness helped me appreciate the light when I saw it again.



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Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Like Binge Books and I Cannot Lie...



Binge reading- amazon book reviewBring on the bounteous romances and fill up your beach bag or Kindle! Whether you like sizzling encounters, romantic suspense, small-town romances, or guys in (football) uniforms, you'll find a series to dive headlong into among our recommendations.

 

Contemporary small-town

Chasing PerfectSusan Mallery's Fool's Gold – I had a lovely conversation recently with Susan Mallery in which she confirmed that (wah!) Best of My Love is the last of her Fool's Gold novels. But don't let that stop you from reading all 22 of them, because she's planning cameo appearances for some Fool's Gold characters in her next series. Mallery captures the best of small-town life in her Fool's Gold series, and the relationships she builds between her characters—romantic and otherwise—are powerful and heartfelt. Plus, she has a wicked sense of humor.

 

Hot

Release MeJulie Kenner's Stark and Stark International series –Do you have a weakness for reading about bad boys and their wicked ways? Look no further than J. Kenner aka Julie Kenner, whose Stark books swirl together sex and suspense. The first Stark trilogy centers on Damien Stark, while the Stark International trilogy stars Jackson Steele. Dirtiest Secret is the start of a new Stark International series that spotlights Dallas Sykes. Load up your Kindle and settle in for a series of scorching stories. 

 

Historical

An Arranged MarriageJo Beverly's Company of Rogues – Sadly, Jo Beverly passed away this month, but she's left behind a historical romance legacy that sets a high bar indeed. Her marvelous Company of Rogues series has some appalling ebook covers, but it is what's inside that counts, as many of her heroes and heroines learn as they look beyond their first impressions and find their soul mates. If you like wicked word-play and witty wooing, Jo Beverly can't be beat. Plus there are rogues. And smugglers. And spies!

 

Romantic suspense

Phantom EvilHeather Graham's Krewe of Hunters – Graham has been dominating bestseller lists for years, and her paranormal Krewe of Hunters thrillers are a big reason why. The series is long—20+ books—but they are split into smaller story arcs so that you can jump in almost anywhere to follow the FBI team that is in charge of solving the most mysterious crimes. Launch your newest obsession with the first Krewe of Hunters book, Phantom Evil.

 

Sports

Susan Elizabeth PhillipsSusan Elizabeth Phillips' Chicago Stars – Did you know that Susan Elizabeth Phillips started the sports romance genre? Her Chicago Stars has had, as she admits, more quarterbacks than any real NFL team, but hey, who wants reality? Hardheaded football players meet their match off the field with plucky women who won't take their BS, and the fireworks are hilarious. Start with It Had to Be You, in which Phoebe Somerville—who knows absolutely nothing about football—inherits the Chicago Stars and has to show the head coach who's the boss. Get caught up on the series in time for Phillips' next Chicago Stars book, First Star I See Tonight, which hits shelves in August.

 

Young adult/new adult

Fallen Crest HighTijan's Fallen Crest – Starting with high school and continuing into college, Tijan's stories unravel the emotions and bind together the loyalties of young adults Samantha, Logan, and Mason. Self-involved hellraisers, brothers Logan and Mason learn to respect their soon-to-be-stepsister Samantha. And…then things get complicated. Dark, sexy, and often on the emotional knife-edge, Tijan's series launches with Fallen Crest High and will keep you enthralled. Angst has never been so exquisite.

 

What are your favorite binge-read romances?

 


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Best Books of the Month: Nonfiction



Amazon Book Review: The GeneHere are a few of our favorite Nonfiction titles this month. See more of the Best Books of May.

In 2010, Siddhartha Mukherjee was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies, a "biography" of cancer. Here, he follows up with a biography of the gene—and The Gene (our Spotlight pick for May) is just as informative, wise, and well-written as that first book. Mukherjee opens with a survey of how the gene first came to be conceptualized and understood, taking us through the thoughts of Aristotle, Darwin, Mendel, Thomas Morgan, and others; he finishes the section with a look at the case of Carrie Buck (to whom the book is dedicated), who eventually was sterilized in 1927 in a famous American eugenics case. Carrie Buck's sterilization comes as a warning that informs the rest of the book. This is what can happen when we start tinkering with this most personal science and misunderstand the ethical implications of those tinkerings. Through the rest of The Gene, Mukherjee clearly and skillfully illustrates how the science has grown so much more advanced and complicated since the 1920s—we are developing the capacity to directly manipulate the human genome—and how the ethical questions have also grown much more complicated. We could ask for no wiser, more fascinating and talented writer to guide us into the future of our human heredity than Siddhartha Mukherjee. --Chris Schluep

 

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Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
 
In what he has described as his last book on war, Junger (The Perfect Storm) draws on history and psychology--as well as his own first-hand experience as a war-zone reporter--to explore tribal society, especially in the context of veterans returning from combat. Tribe may be a succinct book, but it's long on insight.
 
 

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My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story by the Yarnell Hill Fire's Lone Survivor by Brendan McDonough
 
On June 30, 2013, Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire killed 19 "hotshot" firefighters within minutes, leaving McDonough as the only survivor. My Lost Brothers is not only a harrowing account of survival, but a stirring meditation on redemption and resilience.
 

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Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz
 
Told through the story of a single street and its denizens, Street of Eternal Happiness paints a poignant, insightful portrait of Shanghai and modern China, full of contradictions and humanity.
 
 
 

See the more Best Books of the Month in Nonfiction.


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