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New Books Spotlight: Celestial Fiction & Nonfiction

Explore the following celestial reading list to prepare yourself for the 2024 Total Eclipse. Showcasing our collection’s newest titles, this book spotlight features eclipses and space, both fiction and nonfiction. Visit the physical display in the Howe Library Lobby for even more books on this topic!

To keep the sun alive : a novel by Rabeah Ghaffari

“The year is 1979. The Iranian Revolution is just around the corner. In the northeastern city of Naishapur, a family, including their friends and servants, ranging from young to old, reveal the personal behind the political, reminding us of the human lives that animate historical events. Iran, 1979; the Iranian Revolution is just around the corner. In the northeastern city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi-Khanoom, continue to run their ancient family orchard, growing apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries. Bibi-Khanoom's grandniece secretly falls in love with the judge's grandnephew and dreams of a career on the stage. His other grandnephew withers away on opium dreams. A widowed father longs for a life in Europe. A strained marriage slowly unravels. As the streets in the capital grow violent, a solar eclipse, set to occur on one of the holiest days of year, finally causes the family-- and the country-- to break.”

Organs of Sense by Adam Ehrlich Sachs

“In 1666, an astronomer makes a prediction shared by no one else in the world: at the stroke of noon on June 30 of that year, a solar eclipse will cast all of Europe into total darkness for four seconds. This astronomer is rumored to be using the longest telescope ever built, but he is also known to be blind―and not only blind, but incapable of sight, both his eyes having been plucked out some time before under mysterious circumstances. Is he mad? Or does he, despite this impairment, have an insight denied the other scholars of his day? These questions intrigue the young Gottfried Leibniz―not yet the world-renowned polymath who would go on to discover calculus, but a nineteen-year-old whose faith in reason is shaky at best. Leibniz sets off to investigate the astronomer’s claim, and over the three hours remaining before the eclipse occurs―or fails to occur―the astronomer tells the scholar the haunting and hilarious story behind his strange prediction: a tale that ends up encompassing kings and princes, family squabbles, obsessive pursuits, insanity, philosophy, art, loss, and the horrors of war.”

The total eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

"A Cuban-American boy must use his ability to communicate with animals to save the inhabitants of his town when they are threatened by a witch that transforms into animals"

Black sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

"A god will return when the earth and sky converge under the black sun in the holy city of Tova... The winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man's mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain. Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade"

America's first eclipse chasers : stories of science, planet Vulcan, quicksand, and the railroad boom by Thomas A. Hockey

“In 2017, over 200 million Americans witnessed the spectacular total eclipse of the Sun, and the 2024 eclipse is expected to draw even larger crowds. In anticipation of this upcoming event, this book takes us back in history over 150 years, telling the story of the nations first ever eclipse chasers. Our tale follows the chaotic journeys of scientists and amateur astronomers as they trekked across the western United States to view the rare phenomenon of a total solar eclipse. The fascinating story centers on the expeditions of the 1869 total eclipse, which took place during the turbulent age of the chimerical Planet Vulcan and Civil War Reconstruction. The protagonistsa motley crew featuring astronomical giants like Simon Newcomb and pioneering female astronomers like Maria Mitchellwere met with unanticipated dangers, mission-threatening accidents, and eccentric characters only the West could produce. Theirs is a story of astronomical proportions. Along the way, we will make several stops across the booming US railroad network, traveling from viewing sites as familiar as Des Moines, Iowa, to ones as distant and strange as newly acquired Alaska. From equipment failures and botched preparations to quicksand and apocalyptic comets, welcome to the wild, western world of solar eclipses.”

Calculating Brilliance: An Intellectual History of Mayan Astronomy at Chich’en Itza by Gerardo Aldana

“To the modern eye, the architects at Chich'en Itza produced some of the most mysterious structures in ancient Mesoamerica. The purpose and cultural influences behind this architecture seem left to conjecture. The people who created and lived around this stunning site may seem even more mercurial. Near the structure known today as the Great Ball Court and within the interior of the Lower Temple of the Jaguar, a mural depicts a female Mayan astronomer called K'uk'ul Ek' Tuyilaj. Weaving together archaeology, mathematics, history, and astronomy, Calculating Brilliance brings to light the discovery by this Mayan astronomer, which is recorded in the Venus Table of the Dresden Codex. As the book demonstrates, this brilliant discovery reverberated throughout Mayan science. But it has remained obscured to modern eyes. Jumping from the vital contributions of K'uk'ul Ek' Tuyilaj, Gerardo Aldana y Villalobos critically reframes science in the pre-Columbian world. He reexamines the historiography of the Dresden Codex and contextualizes the Venus Table relative to other Indigenous literature. From a perspective anchored to Indigenous cosmologies and religions, Aldana y Villalobos delves into how we may understand Indigenous science and discovery-both its parallels and divergences from modern globalized perspectives of science. Calculating Brilliance brings different intellectual threads together across time and space, from the Classic to the Postclassic, the colonial period to the twenty-first century to offer a new vision for understanding Mayan astronomy.”

Starstruck: A Memoir of Astrophysics and Finding Light in the Dark by Sarafina El-Badry Nance

“In a beautifully written, science-packed, and inspirational memoir, Egyptian-American astrophysicist Sarafina El-Badry Nance shares how she boldly carved out a place in the field of astrophysics, grounding herself in a lifelong love of the stars to face life's inevitable challenges and embrace the unknown. As a child, Sarafina El-Badry Nance spent nearly every evening with her father gazing up at the flickering stars and pondering what secrets the night sky held. The daughter of an American father and Egyptian mother who both pushed her toward academic excellence, Sarafina dreamed of becoming an astronomer and untangling the mysteries of the stars overhead. But it wasn't long before she was told, both explicitly and implicitly, that girls just weren't cut out for math and science. In Starstruck, Sarafina invites us to consider the cosmos through fascinating science lessons to open each chapter. But she also traces more earthbound obstacles--of misogyny and racism, abuse and intergenerational trauma, anxiety and self-doubt, cancer diagnoses and recovery--she faced along the way. As her career and passion for space brought her from UT Austin to UC Berkeley, and even to a Mars astronaut simulation in Hawai'i, Sarafina learned how to survive--and ultimately thrive--in a space that was seldom welcoming to women, and especially not to women of color. Honest and empowering, Starstruck sits at the intersection of the study of our cosmos--itself constantly changing--and the transformative experience of embracing resilience to pursue one's passion.”

Totality : the great North American eclipse of 2024 by Mark Littmann

“A complete guide to the most stunning of celestial sights, a total eclipse of the Sun, this book features the eclipse of April 8, 2024 that passes across North America and provides amazing information, stunning photographs, and abundant illustrations to help the public understand and safely enjoy all aspects of solar eclipses.”

Cosmic queries : StarTalk's guide to who we are, how we got here, and where we're going by Neil deGrasse Tyson

"In this groundbreaking book, world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles the world's thorniest philosophical conundrums, armed with wit, wisdom, and cutting-edge science. Together with distinguished physicist James Trefil, Tyson presents questions that have preoccupied humanity for millennia. Then, using the latest theories, from the Big Bang to string theory and the multiverse, he explores the answers, bolstered with stunning images and the latest insights from missions to planets, moon, asteroids, and beyond. Filled with paradigm-shifting concepts arising from the ideas of astrophysics today, this enlightening book will inspire readers of all ages, offering new ways to understand the complexities of life and the universe we inhabit"

Mask of the sun : the science, history, and forgotten lore of eclipses by John Dvorak

“Eclipses have stunned, frightened, emboldened and mesmerized people for thousands of years. They have been thought of as harbingers of evil as well as a sign of the divine. An amazing phenomena unique to Earth, they have provided the key to much of what we now know and understand about the sun, our moon, gravity, and the workings of the universe. Dvorak provides explanations as to how and why eclipses occur-- as well as insight into the forthcoming eclipse of 2017 that will be visible across North America.”

Eclipses : what everyone needs to know by Frank Close

"Helps explain the profound differences between a 99.99% partial eclipse and true totality, and inform readers how to experience this most beautiful natural phenomenon successfully. It covers eclipses of sun, moon, and other astronomical objects, and their applications in science, as well as their role in history, literature, and myth. It describes the phenomena to expect at a solar eclipse and the best ways to record them--by camera, video, or by simple handmade experiments. The book covers the timetable of upcoming eclipses, where the best locations will be to see them, and the opportunities for using them as vehicles for inspiration and education."