Fall 2021 Book List

 

Biography and Memoir

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution.

The past half century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code. Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm.... Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.

560 pages

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their 12 children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins - aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony - and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the 10 Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family? What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations. With clarity and compassion, best-selling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.

400 pages

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

In Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, Julie takes her listeners on a warm, moving, and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in war-torn Britain to the brink of international stardom in America. Her memoir begins in 1935, when Julie was born to an aspiring vaudevillian mother and a teacher father, and takes listeners to 1962, when Walt Disney himself saw her on Broadway and cast her as the world's most famous nanny.

Along the way, she weathered the London Blitz of World War II; her parents' painful divorce; her mother's turbulent second marriage to Canadian tenor Ted Andrews; and a childhood spent on radio, in music halls, and giving concert performances all over England.

Julie's professional career began at the age of 12, and in 1948 she became the youngest solo performer ever to participate in a Royal Command Performance before the queen. When only 18, she left home for the United States to make her Broadway debut in The Boy Friend, and thus began her meteoric rise to stardom.

Home is filled with numerous anecdotes, including stories of performing in My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison on Broadway and in the West End, and in Camelot with Richard Burton on Broadway; her first marriage to famed set and costume designer Tony Walton, culminating with the birth of their daughter, Emma; and the call from Hollywood and what lay beyond.

352 pages

Ten Percent Happier by Dan Harris

After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

We all have a voice in our head. It's what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we're not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we're stuck with this voice that there's nothing we can do to rein it in but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It's a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it's something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness.

272 pages

Classics

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Fiction)

Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its simplicity and wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an Alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a meditation on the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is art eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

208 pages

The Chronicles of Narnia (full set) by C.S. Lewis (Fiction)

An impressive hardcover volume containing all seven books in the classic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia, graced by black-and-white chapter opening illustrations and featuring an essay by C. S. Lewis on writing. This volume also contains C. S. Lewis's essay "On Three Ways of Writing for Children." Fantastic creatures, heroic deeds, epic battles in the war between good and evil, and unforgettable adventures come together in this world where magic meets reality, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years. The Chronicles of Narnia has transcended the fantasy genre to become a part of the canon of classic literature. This edition presents all seven books—The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle—unabridged. The books appear according to C. S. Lewis's preferred order and each chapter features a chapter opening illustration by the original artist, Pauline Baynes.

Diversity and Inclusion

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the listener on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks - those that are honest about the past and those that are not - that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving more than 400 people. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola, a former plantation-turned-maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.

A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view - whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted. Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.

352 pages

We Can't Talk About that at Work: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics by Mary-Frances Winters

A guide for bold, inclusive conversations.

Politics, religion, race - we can't talk about topics like these at work, right? But in fact, these conversations are happening all the time, either in real life or virtually via social media. And if they aren't handled effectively, they can become more polarizing and divisive, impacting productivity, engagement, retention, teamwork, and even employees' sense of safety in the workplace. But you can turn that around and address difficult topics in a way that brings people together instead of driving them apart.

As a thought leader in the field of diversity and inclusion, Mary-Frances Winters has been helping clients create inclusive environments for over three decades. In this concise and powerful book, she shows you how to lay the groundwork for having bold, inclusive conversations. The key is careful preparation.

Even with the best of intentions, you can't just start talking about taboo topics - that's wandering into a minefield. Winters offers exercises and tools to help you become aware of how your cultural background has shaped your perceptions and habits and to increase your understanding of how people from other cultures may differ from you, particularly when it comes to communicating and handling conflict.

Once you're ready to engage in bold, inclusive conversations (you can take the self-assessment included in the book to make sure), Winters gives detailed instructions on exactly how to structure them. A key component is beginning with a conversation to establish some kind of common ground, which makes it easier when you go more deeply into differences.

184 pages

Won't Lose This Dream by Andrew Gumbel

Once just another unglamorous urban university, Georgia State University has become a place of miracles and wonders in the heart of Atlanta, the city that spawned the civil rights movement. GSU is a living experiment in the education of lower income students and a crucible in which the promise of social advancement through talent and hard work, the essence of the American Dream, is being rekindled in an age of deep inequality and political crisis.

More than any other institution in the country, Georgia State has overturned the assumption that poorer students are doomed to fail. Won't Lose This Dream describes how the architects of Georgia State's success harnessed the power of evolving data technologies, a "moneyball" strategy that helped them recognize and remove the obstacles that have held poor students back. Veteran journalist Andrew Gumbel uncovers the human stories behind these innovations, tracing real students as they realize lifelong dreams of graduating from college.

Today, a Georgia State freshman who arrives homeless and hungry is no less likely to succeed than the daughter of a billionaire. African American, Hispanic, and low-income students now graduate from GSU at rates equal to or higher than those of other students.

336 pages

Education

Annotation by Remi H Kalir and Antero Garcia

Annotation--the addition of a note to a text--is an everyday and social activity that provides information, shares commentary, sparks conversation, expresses power, and aids learning. It helps mediate the relationship between reading and writing. This volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series offers an introduction to annotation and its literary, scholarly, civic, and everyday significance across historical and contemporary contexts. It approaches annotation as a genre--a synthesis of reading, thinking, writing, and communication--and offer examples of annotation that range from medieval rubrication and early book culture to data labeling and online reviews.

232 pages

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson's answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.

344 pages

Fiction

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (Historical Fiction)

Nuri is a beekeeper and Afra, his wife, is an artist. Mornings, Nuri rises early to hear the call to prayer before driving to his hives in the countryside. On weekends, Afra sells her colorful landscape paintings at the open-air market. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the hills of the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo—until the unthinkable happens. When all they love is destroyed by war, Nuri knows they have no choice except to leave their home. But escaping Syria will be no easy task: Afra has lost her sight, leaving Nuri to navigate her grief as well as a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece toward an uncertain future in Britain.

Nuri is sustained only by the knowledge that waiting for them is his cousin Mustafa, who has started an apiary in Yorkshire and is teaching fellow refugees beekeeping. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss but dangers that would overwhelm even the bravest souls. Above all, they must make the difficult journey back to each other, a path once so familiar yet rendered foreign by the heartache of displacement.

384 pages

Constance by Matthew Fitzsimmons (Science Fiction)

In the near future, advances in medicine and quantum computing make human cloning a reality. For the wealthy, cheating death is the ultimate luxury. To anticloning militants, it’s an abomination against nature. For young Constance “Con” D’Arcy, who was gifted her own clone by her late aunt, it’s terrifying.

After a routine monthly upload of her consciousness - stored for that inevitable transition - something goes wrong. When Con wakes up in the clinic, it’s eighteen months later. Her recent memories are missing. Her original, she’s told, is dead. If that’s true, what does that make her?

The secrets of Con’s disorienting new life are buried deep. So are those of how and why she died. To uncover the truth, Con is retracing the last days she can recall, crossing paths with a detective who’s just as curious. On the run, she needs someone she can trust. Because only one thing has become clear: Con is being marked for murder - all over again. 

352 pages

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Fantasy)

In Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.

Fforde's ingenious fantasy - enhanced by a website that re-creates the world of the novel - unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix.

400 pages

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Fantasy)

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

304 pages

A Summer Without Dawn by A.J. Hacikyan (Historical Fiction)

A Summer Without Dawn is an epic family saga that unfolds against the true story of the Armenians deported from the Ottoman Empire and massacred during the First World War. In the summer of 1915, days after the government orders the deportation of the Armenians, the charismatic Armenian journalist Vartan Balian is separated from his family and imprisoned by politicians hoping to silence him. After a daring escape, he becomes a fugitive and embarks on an odyssey across the vast empire. Not only is he running for his life; he is also searching for his wife, Maro, and their young son, Tomas.

548 pages

Non-Fiction

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean (Science)

We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country; their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? Science Magazine reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

416 pages

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek (Leadership)

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules, and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable, while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers - only ahead and behind. The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in? In this revelatory new audiobook, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a just cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning. Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.

272 pages


 

Previous Book Lists

Spring 2021

Fall 2020

Spring 2020

Fall 2019

Spring 2019