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New Book Highlights

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Fury : a memoir by Koren Zailckas.

In the years following the publication of her landmark memoir, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Koren Zailckas stays sober and relegates binge drinking to her past. But a psychological legacy of repression lingers-her sobriety is a loose surface layer atop a hard- packed, unacknowledged rage that wreaks havoc on Koren emotionally and professionally. When a failed relationship leads Koren back to her childhood home, she sinks into emotional crisis-writer’s block, depression, anxiety. Only when she begins to apply her research on a book about anger to the turmoil of her own life does she learn what denial has cost her. –Publisher’s description

Read an interview with Koren Zailckas in Smith Magazine.

Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty

Using minimal tools and a simple technique of bending, interweaving, and fastening together sticks, artist Patrick Dougherty creates works of art inseparable with nature and the landscape. With a dazzling variety of forms seamlessly intertwined with their context, his sculptures evoke fantastical images of nests, cocoons, cones, castles, and beehives. Over the last twenty-five years, Dougherty has built more than two hundred works throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia that range from stand-alone structures to a kind of modern primitive architecture every piece mesmerizing in its ability to fly through trees, overtake buildings, and virtually defy gravity. –Publisher’s description

See installations by Patricky Dougherty.

Delusions of gender : how our minds, society, and neurosexism create difference by Cordelia Fine

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and psychology, Cordelia Fine debunks the myth of hardwired differences between men’s and women’s brains, unraveling the evidence behind such claims as men’s brains aren’t wired for empathy and women’s brains aren’t made to fix cars. She then goes one step further, offering a very different explanation of the dissimilarities between men’s and women’s behavior. Instead of a “male brain” and a “female brain,” Fine gives us a glimpse of plastic, mutable minds that are continuously influenced by cultural assumptions about gender. –Publisher’s description

Friendship : a history edited by Barbara Caine

This volume aims to combine an analysis of the major classical philosophical texts of friendship and their continuing importance over many centuries with a broader discussion of the changing ways in which friendship was understood and experienced in Europe from the Hellenic period to the present. It is the result of a collaborative research project that has involved philosophers and historians with special research interests in Classical Greek philosophy and in the history of medieval and renaissance, 18th century 19th and 20th century Europe. –Publisher’s description

Learn more about Barbara Caine’s research.

New Book Highlights

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The possessed: adventures with Russian books and the people who read them by Elif Batuman

“Odd and oddly profound . . . Among the charms of Ms. Batuman’s prose is her fond, funny way of describing the people around her . . . Perhaps Ms. Batuman’s best quality as a writer though—beyond her calm, lapidary prose—is the winsome and infectious delight she feels in the presence of literary genius and beauty. She’s the kind of reader who sends you back to your bookshelves with a sublime buzz in your head. You want to feel what she’s feeling.” -Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review

Tammy Wynette: tragic country queen by Jimmy McDonough.

“Tammy Wynette, along with Loretta Lynn, represented the female face of country music in the last decades before top-40 country became midtempo rock with fringe and steel guitars…McDonough’s first full-scale supplement to the autobiography Stand by Your Man (1979) and daughter Jackie Daley’s Tammy Wynette (2000) is a crucial acquisition for pop-music and American studies collections and absolutely essential for country-music collections. -Mike Tribby, Booklist

My brain made me do it: the rise of neuroscience and the threat to moral responsibility by Eliezer J. Sternberg

“At some point in our lives, we get puzzled about how we can be held responsible for actions seemingly initiated by brain chemistry. My Brain Made Me Do It is a terrific guide for those who are ready to confront this puzzle in its full scientific and philosophical complexity. It clearly explains the fascinating scientific advances in our understanding of the brain-behavior connection, and carefully considers their relevance to the free will question making these complicated theoretical issues come alive in vivid case studies.” -Jerry Samet, Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Brandeis University

The art of plant evolution by W. John Kress and Shirley Sherwood

“‘Art meets science’ in this beautiful book that aims to give readers a sense of some contemporary scientific discoveries that are changing our understanding of plant relationships. 136 botanical paintings from the Shirley Sherwood Collection, by 84 artists, cover 50 orders of plants in 118 families, and a total of 133 species, providing a sweeping overview of the evolution of plants on earth.” –Publisher’s information

New Book Highlights

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

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Appetite city : a culinary history of New York by William Grimes

“William Grimes, a New York Times domestic correspondent and formerly the newspaper’s restaurant critic, whose latest book is a chronicle of New York’s transformation from a Dutch village at the edge of the wilderness to what he sees as the most diverse restaurant city in the world. –Dawn Drzal, The New York Times

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The ordeal of equality : did federal regulation fix the schools? by David K. Cohen and Susan L. Moffitt

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“Ever since the Title I program in 1965 appropriated nearly one billion dollars for public schools, federal money and programs have been influencing every school in America. With incisive clarity and wit, David Cohen and Susan Moffitt argue that enormous gaps existed between policies and programs, and the real-world practices that they attempted to change.” –Publisher’s information

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Sexy orchids make lousy lovers & other unusual relationships by Marty Crump ; with illustrations by Alan Crump

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“Marty Crump’s book is a trawl through the whole gamut of weird animal behaviours. Watch out for spine-anointing, toad-chewing hedgehogs; tortoises that stomp the ground to draw up worms; and the mantids of the title that mate more effectively once the female has bitten off their heads. With Crump’s thirty-plus years of experience in the field, this beautifully written and charmingly illustrated book combines acute observation with helpful explanation. Nature has never seemed so bizarre and splendid.” -Adrian Barnett, New Scientist

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Vampire god : the allure of the undead in Western culture by Mary Y. Hallab

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“It seems we’re awash in vampires these days, in everything from movies, television shows, and novels to role-playing games, rock bands, and breakfast cereals. But what accounts for their enduring popular appeal? In Vampire God, Mary Y. Hallab examines the mythic figure of the vampire from its origins in early Greek and Slavic folklore, its transformation by Romantics like Byron, Le Fanu, and Stoker, and its diverse representations in present-day popular culture.” –Publisher’s information

New Book Highlights

Friday, November 13th, 2009

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Arachnids by Jan Beccaloni

“This adventurous volume summarizes all existing knowledge about each major type of arachnid, revealing their secrets through detailed species accounts, brilliant photographs, and a compelling cast of eight-legged characters. It examines the anatomy, habitat, behavior and distribution of each lineage, from the garden spider to the death stalker scorpion and even a species of mite that lives inside a monkey’s lungs. Drawing on the vast resources at London’s Natural History Museum, Arachnids spins a sensational tale, debunking common myths and delving deep into the lives of these bizarre and beautiful creatures.” –Publisher’s information

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The college fear factor : how students and professors misunderstand one another by Rebecca D. Cox

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“We have learned a great deal in the last twenty years about what goes on in classrooms. But no one before Cox has shown so clearly what teacher-student interactions about learning and teaching are like, how these are interpreted, or misinterpreted, and with what consequences. The implications go far beyond community colleges. This is a book that should be read by every teacher at every level.”
–Marvin Lazerson, University of Pennsylvania

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Ghostbread by Sonja Livingston

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“‘I know where I came from.’ With this declaration, the author of Ghostbread takes us on a journey through a childhood scarred by poverty and graced by love. Like an American version of Angela’s Ashes, the book allows us to encounter—and see, taste, and smell it—through the eyes of a beleaguered and intelligent child. We are grateful to be reminded of the human reality at the heart of a world that is all too often hidden in governmental ‘poverty indicators,’ and also glad that the author has survived to tell the tale.” –Kathleen Norris, author of Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life

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Manga kamishibai : the art of Japanese paper theater by Eric P. Nash

“Before giant robots, space ships, and masked super heroes filled the pages of Japanese comic books–known as manga–such characters were regularly seen on the streets of Japan in kamishibai stories. Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater tells the history of this fascinating and nearly vanished Japanese art form that paved the way for modern-day comic books, and is the missing link in the development of modern manga.” –Publisher’s information