8 Booklist January 1 & 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
exquisitely and unforgettably entwines the loss
of her father, the exhilaration of training a goshawk named Mabel, and the poignant story of
writer and fellow raptor fanatic T. H. White.
How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of
the Mathematics of Mathematics. By Eugenia Cheng. Basic, $27.99 (9780465051717).
Chang converts the making of lasagna,
pudding, cookies, and other comestibles into
analogies that help explicate various mathematical concepts. A singular humanization
of the mathematical world.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
By Yuval Noah Harari. Harper, $29.95
In this sweeping look at the history of
humans, Harari offers readers the chance to reconsider, well, everything, from a look at why
Homo sapiens endured to a compelling discussion
of how society organizes itself through fictions,
Between the World and Me. By Ta-Nehisi
Coates. Spiegel & Grau, $24
In this brief book, which takes the form of a
letter from the author to his teenage son, Coates
comes to grips with what it means to be black in
America today. There is awesome beauty in the
power of his prose and vital truth on every page.
Escape Points. By Michele Weldon. Chicago
Review, $26.95 (9781613733523).
Journalist and single mother Weldon is the Ev-eryperson voice of going-it-alone parents as she
forthrightly and humorously describes her struggles to care for three sons devoted to wrestling
while sustaining her career and battling cancer.
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle. By Lillian Faderman. Simon & Schuster,
Faderman has crafted an epic yet remarkably intimate work that belongs among the
most definitive civil rights titles, LGBTQ-specific or otherwise. Based on more than 150
interviews and the author’s research, this work
begins in the 1950s and spans the next six and
a half decades of the ongoing struggle for legal
and societal equality.
Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.
By Robert D. Putnam. Simon & Schuster,
Putnam tackles the enormously important
issue of income inequality across the U.S.
and how it directly impacts children’s lives in
this powerful blend of social and economic
research and the vivid telling of the personal
stories of several families.
The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s
Schools? By Dale Russakoff. Houghton, $27
Russakoff takes a detailed look at the major players in the dramatic fight to reform
Newark’s schools, funded by a $100 million
donation from Mark Zuckerberg, and the
hard lessons learned.
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of
Talk in a Digital Age. By Sherry Turkle. Penguin, $27.95 (9781594205552).
Turkle offers a wealth of revealing insights
in this far-reaching analysis of what she perceives as a worrisome paradox: digital media
enable us to easily share information but dissuade us from genuinely communicating and
developing deeper understandings.
The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural
Competence. Ed. by Janet M. Bennett.
SAGE, $375 (9781452244280).
Intercultural competence focuses on negotiating shared meaning across different cultures,
and the entries here are presented well, with
sufficient depth and subsections, making this
a useful reference for those without a background in the subject matter.
Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the
Supreme Court Nomination That Changed
America. By Wil Haygood. Knopf, $32.50
Haygood meticulously details Thurgood
Marshall’s remarkable career and the long
journey that led to his tumultuous nomination to the Supreme Court, changing the
course of American history
Something Must Be Done about Prince
Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town,
a Civil Rights Battle. By Kristen Green.
Harper, $25.99 (9780062268679).
This deeply moving account of historical injustice is also a personal search for redemption
for the author who, married to a mixed-race
man and mother of mixed-race daughters,
returned to her hometown to uncover the
shameful truth about its segregationist history,
Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens
Global Security. By Sarah Chayes. Norton,
From ancient tales of avaricious rulers to mod-
ern headlines of greedy politicians, Chayes offers
insightful analysis of how government corrup-
tion invites instability and insurgency and why
we will never see peace in some of the world’s
hot spots until we address that corruption.
Beauty Is a Wound. By Eka Kurniawan. Tr.
by Annie Tucker. New Directions, $19.95
The story of Dewi Ayu’s vibrant if troubled life
after being forced to serve as a Japanese comfort
woman, and the lives of her daughters becomes
a potent allegory for Indonesia in Kurniawan’s
lively, mythical, bawdy, and arresting saga.
Best Boy. By Eli Gottlieb. Norton/Liveright,
In the clear-as-a-tinkling-bell voice of Todd
Aaron, Gottlieb reveals how certain experiences cause this fiftysomething man with
autism to suddenly go into a post-post-post-adolescent rebellion.
The Book of Aron. By Jim Shepard. Knopf,
In this masterful novel about children, war,
and genocide, Shepard brings us into the Warsaw
ghetto via enterprising and courageous young
Aron, who bands with other imperiled Jewish
children to survive, ultimately finding refuge
with the real-life WWII hero, Janusz Korczak.
City on Fire. By Garth Risk Hallberg.
Knopf, $30 (9780385353779).
Graceful in execution, hugely entertaining,
and most concerned with the longing for connection, a theme that reaches full realization
during the blackout of 1977 in New York
City, this epic tale is both a compelling mystery and a literary tour de force.
Did You Ever Have a Family. By Bill
Clegg. Simon & Schuster/Scout, $26
Clegg is both delicately lyrical and emotionally direct in this masterful novel, which
strives to show how people make bearable
what is unbearable.
The Distant Marvels. By Chantel Acevedo.
Europa, $16 (9781609452520).
This uniquely powerful and startlingly beautiful novel showcases the enthralling voice of
elderly Maria Serena, a former “reader” in a cigar factory, who entertains her fellow refugees
waiting out a hurricane with tales of Cuba’s
Fates and Furies. By Lauren Groff. Riverhead, $27.95 (9781594634475).
This is a complex albeit harrowing look at
marriage, not least because of Groff’s dark
and dazzling prose, which seduces the reader
as much as the golden couple at the center of
the compelling story.
To be black in
of my youth
was to be naked before the
elements of the
all the guns,
The nakedness is not an error, nor
pathology. The nakedness is the correct and intended result of policy . . .