4 Booklist December 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
Philosophy & Psychology
What Love Is: And What It Could Be.
By Carrie Jenkins.
Jan. 2017. 224p. Basic, $26.99 (9780465098859). 128.
Jenkins’s first book posits her theory that
love is dualistic yet nonoppositional. She
works to correctly attribute love’s various
characteristics, biological and social, to their
origins. Misidentification of the social for the
biological or vice versa, such
as claiming women are “nat-
urally” more monogamous,
has disastrous and danger-
ous consequences. Jenkins’
manifesto is, Proceed with
interest and caution. Her
book is required reading.
She reveals early that she
is polyandrous, engaged simultaneously in
long-term relationships with a husband and a
boyfriend. But autobiography ends there. She
instead takes the reader on a survey of histori-
cal philosophy about love, using the scientific
method to identify which ideas are useful
and which are flawed. Equally important to
its subject matter, the book is a master class
in how to think and why. Jenkins researches,
questions, unpacks, considers, and examines.
A philosophy professor, Jenkins uses her
readable book to advocate for thinking both
critically and in great depth as a form of self-protection and self-advocacy. Tolerate no one
admonishing you for overthinking love, she
advises. Love is an “extreme sport,” and we
need parachutes. In so arguing, she empowers
her readers in regard to not just their love lives
but also their whole lives. —Emily Dziuban
Ordinary Goodness: The Surprisingly
Effortless Path to Creating A Life of
Meaning and Beauty.
By Edward Viljoen.
Jan. 2017. 240p. TarcherPerigee, paper, $16
In a world full of badness, how can hu-
Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual
man beings strip away the noise to live a life
of simple goodness? That’s the question the
author asks in this exploration of kindness
and goodness. Stories of his experience meet-
ing goodness and its opposite—the listening
skills of his grandmother, a moment of un-
kindness toward a stranger—pepper this
wide-ranging contemplation of how to find,
and practice, basic goodness in a compli-
cated world. The author draws on a number
of faith traditions, seeking to mine what is
most effective at cultivating kindness. Each
chapter also includes suggestions for prac-
ticing ways of showing more kindness, such
as meditation or even taking the time to
articulate what the reader believes. Though
not effortless, as the subtitle claims, the book
genuinely seeks to encourage a mind-set of
caring, an effort to see the basic goodness of
the world and spread that goodness to oth-
ers. —Christine Engel
By Maggie Rowe.
Jan. 2017. 240p. Soft Skull, paper, $16.95
Readers who have wrestled with self-doubt
over the strength of their convictions will
find a funny, frank companion in this frantically compelling memoir. The author grows
up Christian, but instead of feeling secure in
her eternal salvation is besieged by the anxiety of never knowing if she is really sincere
enough. Readers will cringe in recognition of
their own awkwardly sincere teenage selves
as she tries to secure her eternal destiny by
proving her commitment to God. The anxiety reaches a crescendo in college, and she
heads to a Christian mental-health facility
to figure things out. Once there, she meets a
cast of characters, some of whom are helpful
(an honest doctor, a woman struggling with
her own past) and some not so much (an inept therapist, an overly optimistic man prone
to quoting Bible verses). Rowe’s book does
not provide easy answers, but her capacity to
eventually sin bravely signals a new beginning. This engaging and adventurous book
is an excellent companion for fellow seekers.
American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales:
An Encyclopedia of American Folklore.
Ed. by Christopher R. Fee and Jeffrey B.
3v. 2016. 1,138p. illus. ABC-CLIO, $248
(9781610695671); e-book (9781619695688). 398.209.
Folklore has been part of our heritage
since the dawn of civilization. Different
parts of the globe produced different stories, but they all addressed fundamental
human needs and aspirations. Mass human
migration pulled in its wake migration of
the various tales, which blended with other tales and historical events to contribute
to the existing lore. Nowhere is this more
evident than in America, where the diversity of migrants for more than two centuries
has woven into the fabric of American culture several strands of myths and legends
that originate from all over the globe. This
three-volume work seeks to explore all these
strands, from the first tales promulgated by
American natives to the more recent ones
Fallout. By Sara Paretsky. Morrow, $27.99 (9780062435842); e-book (9780062435835).
A new thriller in Paretsky’s long-running V. I. Warshawski series is always an event.
Men without Women. By Haruki Murakami. Knopf, $25.95 (9780451494627). May 2017.
A collection of seven short stories by Murakami will draw in his many loyal fans.
The Refugees. By Viet Thanh Nguyen. Grove, $25 (9780802126399); e-book
(9780802189356). Feb. 2017.
Nguyen’s first short story collection and first work of fiction since the Carnegie Medal
for Excellence winner, The Sympathizer (2015) (which also won the Pulitzer Prize and Edgar Award) portrays characters navigating immigration’s unknowns.
The Song Rising. By Samantha Shannon. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781632866240). Mar. 2017.
Readers are eagerly awaiting this conclusion to the fantasy trilogy Shannon began with
The Bone Season (2013).
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America. By Michael Eric Dyson. St. Martin’s,
$24.99 (9781250135995); e-book (9781250136008). Apr. 2017.
Writer, Georgetown professor, and public intellectual Dyson offers an honest, timely,
and powerful discussion of black grievance and the difficult path to racial progress in
Walkaway. By Cory Doctorow. Tor, $26.99 (9780765392763); e-book (9780765392787).
Doctorow’s first solo-authored adult novel in eight years, an sf saga that takes place at
the end of our current century, will be accompanied by a 20-city author tour.
HIGH-DEMAND HOT LIST
We’ve nearly turned to a new calendar, and early 2017 will bring anticipated
short story collections, series continuations and finales, and a nonfiction
work by a popular commentator. —Annie Bostrom