THE BOYS IN THE BOAT -- an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times
The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown (2014, Penguin Books; 404 pages)
This is an amazing account of the 1936 Olympic crew team from Washington that surprised the world and won gold. The author does an excellent job of developing parallel storylines describing Hitler’s Germany on the cusp of World War II and the struggles of the young men on the American team during the depression. Even though you know the outcome of the race from the start, the writing and the various threads of the story keep you interested. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.
Find this title in our catalog: The Boys In The Boat
Recommended by: Ann
RUMI: SOUL FURY: RUMI AND SHAMS TABRIZ ON FRIENDSHIP -- a seminal collection of poetry from the medieval Sufi mystic and his “soul friend,” which illuminate the evocative and deeply spiritual dimensions of friendship and love
Rumi: Soul Fury: Rumi and Shams Tabriz on Friendship by Coleman Barks (2014, HarperOne; 272 pages)
The thirteenth-century Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi and Shams Tabriz met in 1244, the year of the beginning of their mystical and divine friendship, despite their differences. Rumi was introspective, loving, and embodied peace and kindness, while Shams was wild and honest, and full of a fiery passion that the author, Coleman Barks, calls "soul fury." Barks brings us a stunning translation of Rumi´s quatrains and also of the wise Sayings of Shams Tabriz, giving language to the delight of true friendship.
In the Author´s Note on Translation, Barks explains how the short free-verse poems are versions of Rumi´s rubai, done from Gamard and Farhadi´s translations. He writes that making versions is a way of "entering, and praising, and bringing Rumi´s insights into my own life."
A renowned poet himself, Coleman Barks is also the bestselling author of The Essential Rumi, and his job translating the Sufi mystic is probably one of the reasons why Rumi is the most read poet in America today.
This book is pure joy, an elegant and exquisite portrait of friendship. Recommended to those who love to escape to another realm when reading.
"There are those who love this physical world,
those who love spirit, and those who live inside what
Find this title in our catalog: Rumi: Soul Fury
Recommended by: Maite
STRANGE GODS: A SECULAR HISTORY OF CONVERSION -- a groundbreaking historical work that addresses religious conversion in the west
Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion by Susan Jacoby (2016, Pantheon; 512 pages)
This is a groundbreaking historical work that addresses religious conversion in the West from a secular perspective. Susan Jacoby, the author, challenges the conventional narrative of conversion as a purely spiritual journey. She focuses on the long, tense convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and she examines conversions within a social and economic framework that includes theocratic coercion and the more friendly persuasion of political advantage, economic opportunism, and inter-religious marriage.
The book moves through different times in history, continents, and cultures and the author chooses to portray individual conversions. The reader can learn about Augustine of Hippo, John Donne, the German Jew Edith Stein, whose conversion to Catholicism did not save her from Auschwithz, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, and former President George W. Bush.
I was absolutely in awe reading the chapter "From Convivencia to the Stake," the history of The Inquisition in Spain, and the crumbling of that convivencia. The chapter on Margaret Fell, "Woman´s Mind, Woman´s Voice," is also an absolute jewel.
The book is fantastic, a combination of intellectual rigor and erudition, but also a writing lively and enlightening that makes the possibility of enjoying a non-fiction book about religious conversions a reality. Absolutely worthy of your time.
Find this title in our catalog: Strange Gods
Recommended by: Maite
ALL BETTER NOW: A MEMOIR -- a captivating memoir of the author's childhood struggles as a result of a brain tumor, only discovered following a near-fatal car accident
All Better Now: A Memoir by Emily Wing Smith (2016, Dutton Books For Young Readers; 304 pages)
This is one of those books that you can’t put down until you read the last sentence. And not just the last sentence of the memoir itself, but the last sentence of the acknowledgments too. The author, Emily Wing Smith, starts the book with a note to the readers in which she admits that truth can be embarrassing, and that’s the reason why she decided to change names and identifying characteristics of certain people. Then, she starts the prologue with a radical sentence: “I ask myself: How am I living still?” Her memoir is an answer to that question through captivating chronicles of her struggles with both mental and physical disabilities, among them a grapefruit-size brain tumor at the base of her skull, and a car accident that ironically may have saved her life. Sharing with us details of her therapy, her sudden uncontrollable bursts of anger, and her unexplained episodes until discovering the reason for her dizziness and the fact that nothing in her ever felt quite right, Emily Wing Smith delivers a powerful message: writing, telling her stories, was the only way she could escape it all.
This book is both breathtaking and heartbreaking, and takes the reader on a journey from beauty to pain, and from humor to sadness. It is a fast-paced memoir, filled with anecdotes that swim in vulnerability and honesty. The prose is raw, and works extraordinary well when describing painful events, or simply asking questions aloud.
I’d recommend this book to mature young readers (it is located in our J-Biography section) who believe in staying true to themselves no matter what, and adult readers who can relate to feelings of isolation and just plain weirdness.
Find this title in our catalog: All Better Now
Recommended by: Maite
WALK THROUGH WALLS: A MEMOIR -- a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary performance artist
Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramovic (2016, Crowne Archetype; 384 pages)
Memoirs are one of my favorite genres. If you add to that the fact that I love women's art, this memoir arriving as an advanced copy to our library simply made the following weeks a pure joy.
Marina Abramovic is, of course, one of the most celebrated performance/conceptual artist in the world. She was raised in the former Yugoslavia, but now this artist with an impeccable sense of humor (reflected very well both in her art and in this memoir) lives between New York city and the Hudson Valley.
The book tells the story of Marina's life. The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito's regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to forge an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother's abusive control, strictly obeying a 10.00 p.m. curfew. This routine didn't kill her insatiable curiosity and desire to connect with people, two radical characteristics of her art and life.
The Ariadne thread of Walk Through Walls is a love story based on the relationship she had with Ulay, a fellow performance artist. This story is also a road trip across Europe. Elements are a van, no money, love, sex, art. They made history together and they said goodbye atop the Great Wall of China.
If you know Marina's art, you will understand the constant movement towards the limits: she uses her body to explore fear, pain, exhaustion, danger, transformation. She is truly remarkable and this memoir is fantastic and powerful. Read it.
For more information about the artist, click here and here
Find this title in our catalog: Walk Through Walls
Recommended by: Maite
NEW ORDER: A DECLUTTERING HANDBOOK FOR CREATIVE TYPES (AND EVERYONE ELSE) -- a revelatory, witty guide to a clearer home and a more creative mind
New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) by Fay Wolf (2016, Ballantine Books; 208 pages)
This book by organizing expert Fay Wolf includes all that you need to declutter a space and fuel your creative mind: how to create productive to-do lists, stem the flood of paper, downsize digital clutter and social media, arrange your space to spark creative juices, curb your desire to accumulate, collaborate and connect with others for support, embrace imperfection, and keep up the momentum.
The book also offers Wolf's favorite productivity apps and resources for donating your many, many items (that probably you have!). "From the outer clutter of your home to the inner clutter of your chatty mind, this handbook will help you make room for artistic inspiration and invite you to treat yourself to less."
The format of the book is very attractive. This is a little jewel for those who feel stuck in the chaos of possessing too many things, and who feel the desire to have less and do more.
Find this title in our catalog: New Order
Recommended by: Maite
ON THE MOVE: A LIFE -- Oliver Sacks' memoir is a fascinating account of the author's remarkable life
On The Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks (2016, Vintage; 416 pages)
Oliver Sacks died last August, and during his lifetime he was educated as a neurologist, but what his memoir, "On the Move," reveals is that he was anything but a man with a singular interest. His career may have been in neurology, but his life was filled with activities as varied as bodybuilding, motorcycle riding, writing, and snorkeling. His memoir explores all these facets of his life, and makes clear just what an engaged, interested, and interesting man Sacks was. To learn more about Sacks, you can listen to a "Fresh Air" program that ran shortly after his death, but I also highly recommend reading his final book, "On the Move," which will allow you to spend some time with a fascinating man's thoughts.
Find this title in our catalog: On The Move
Recommended by: Brooke
QUIET POWER: THE SECRET STRENGTHS OF INTROVERTS -- an insightful, accessible, and empowering book for and about kids
Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain, Gregory Mone, and Erica Moroz (2016, Dial Books; 288 pages)
For those of us who enjoyed reading the inspiring book Quiet :The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, this new book for introverted kids, tweens and teens is another empowering read for several reasons. Introverted and shy adults will recognize themselves in Susan Cain’s own story. Reading through the different great chapters of the book, one can go back and understand all kinds of dynamics lived in different universes that composes a kid, tween or teen’s world: school, friendships, family relations, extracurricular situations. The book is delightfully packed with stories of actual kids who have confronted the challenges of not being extroverted and who have been able to succeed in their own quiet way.
The book is a jewel on many levels: This is not only a resource to empower, it is also a great guide for those who are both extroverts and introverts. It is an eye-opening reading, and the illustrations complete each chapter with a fun comic-style art. The introduction, called "A Manifesto for Introverts," is a must read for everybody who would like to practice empathy on a daily basis. Other chapters quietly guide kids, tweens and teens in different scenarios: Quiet in the Cafeteria; Quiet in the Classroom; Group Projects, the Introverted Way; Quiet Friendship; The Quiet Athlete; plus a great finale, a conclusion that is a guide for parents and teachers.
Find this title in our catalog: Quiet Power
Recommended by: Maite
CONSOLATIONS: THE SOLACE, NOURISHMENT AND UNDERLYING MEANING OF EVERYDAY WORDS -- a poetic and thoughtful consideration of words
Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte (Many Rivers Press, 2015; 247 pages)
Maria Popova, a woman that I admire, said about this book that David Whyte -- internationally acclaimed poet and author of seven volumes of poetry and four books of prose -- has created "One of the wisest, most ennobling things I've read in my entire life." And I agree with her. With the imagery of a poet and the reflection of a philosopher, David Whyte turns his attention to 52 ordinary words, each its own particular doorway into the underlying currents of human life.
The book starts with the word "Alone" and closes with the word "Work". Each chapter is a meditation on meaning and context, an invitation to rethink our perspectives in life: pain and joy, honesty and anger, confession and vulnerability. Besides alone and work, there are chapters on ambition, anger, beauty, beginning, besieged, confession, courage, crisis, denial, despair, destiny, disappointment, forgiveness, friendship, genius, giving, gratitude, ground, haunted, heartbreak, help, hiding, honesty, Istanbul, joy, loneliness, longing, maturity, memory, naming, nostalgia, pain, parallels, pilgrim, procrastination, regret, rest, robustness, Rome, run away, self-knowledge, shadow, shyness, silence, solace, touch, unconditional, unrequited, vulnerability, and withdrawal.
This is a rewarding reading for every day of the life of a person.
This is what he writes about "Loneliness":
is the doorway to unspecified desire. In the bodily pain of aloneness is the first step to understanding how far we are from a real friendship, from a proper work or a long sought love. Loneliness can be a prison, a place from which we look out at a world we cannot inhabit; loneliness can be a bodily ache and a penance, but loneliness fully inhabited also becomes the voice that asks and calls for that great, unknown someone or something else we want to call our own. (...)
Absolutely gorgeous reading. The kind of reading you need to sip, and devour slowly, with a deep tempo.
Find this title in our catalog: Consolations
Recommended by: Maite
DRINKING WITH THE SAINTS: THE SINNER'S GUIDE TO A HOLY HAPPY HOUR -- one part bartender's guide, one part spiritual manual, with a dash of irreverance
Drinking With the Saints: The Sinner's Guide To a Holy Happy Hour by Michael P. Foley (2015, Regnery History; 487 pages)
Michael P. Foley, the author of Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour, is the son of an Irish-German father and a French-Canadian mother, so yes, he grew up taking both Catholicism and, according to his bio, drinking seriously. He even eventually became a Catholic theologian, married his wife Alexandra, got a job as an Associate Professor of Patristics in the Great Texts Program at Baylor University, and had six kids along the way.
This book is fantastic fun, especially if you have any relation with the Catholic world or you are intrigued by the saints. The author offers the reader witty and imaginative instruction on the appropriate libations for the seasons, feasts, and saint´s day of the Church year. This is what you will find inside:
My only complaint is that there was not recipe on my Saint Day! Bummer.
Check out this video about Two Cocktails to Help You Celebrate St. John the Baptist:
Find this title in our catalog: Drinking With The Saints
Recommended by: Maite