Book Review: Radical Hope

Book Review: Radical HopeRadical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times
by Carolina De Robertis, Junot Díaz, Faith Adiele, Parnaz Foroutan, Chip Livingston, Mohja Kahf, Achy Obejas, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Cherrie Moraga, Kate Schatz, Boris Fishman, Karen Joy Fowler, Elmaz Abinader, Aya de León, Jane Smiley, Luis Alberto Urrea, Mona Eltahawy, Jeff Chang, Claire Messud, Meredith Russo, Reyna Grande, Katie Kitamura, iO Tillett Wright, Francisco Goldman, Celeste Ng, Peter Orner, Cristina García, Aliciz Garza, Roxana Robinson, Lisa See, Jewelle Gomez, Hari Kunzru
Pages: 272
Published by Vintage
Genres: Non-Fiction, Short Stories
Goodreads

Radical Hope is a collection of letters--to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged--written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists. Provocative and inspiring, Radical Hope offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear, in view of the recent US presidential election.

My Takeaway  “But language is malleable, and it is not always on the side of truth. This is something every writer knows. Words make and unmake the world with terrifying rapidity, and they do so without moral distinction…There is a battle going on right now over the words we…

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Book Review: The Stranger in the Woods

Book Review: The Stranger in the WoodsThe Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
by Michael Finkel
Published by Books on Tape
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality--not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.

Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life--why did he leave? what did he learn?--as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

My Takeaway  “Modern life seems set up so that we can avoid loneliness at all costs, but maybe it’s worthwhile to face it occasionally. The further we push aloneness away, the less we are able to cope with it, and the more terrifying it gets.” ​Michael…

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Book Review: Hidden Figures

Book Review: Hidden FiguresHidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly
Pages: 349
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America's greatest achievements in space.

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.

Among these problem solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South's segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America's aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had shots at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam's call, moving to Hampton, Virginia, and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Even as Virginia's Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley's all-black West Computing group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War and complete domination of the heavens.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the space race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA's greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellects to change their own lives - and their country's future.

My Takeaway  Hidden Figures is the extraordinary true story of the obstacles and triumphs of a group of African-American women Mathematicians who made history, and were essential in sending the first American astronauts into space. Shetterly does an exceptional job and vividly depicts the lives of these exceptional women…

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Book Review: The End of Your Life Book Club

Book Review: The End of Your Life Book ClubThe End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe
Pages: 326
Published by Vintage
Genres: Non-Fiction
Goodreads

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.

This lovely book has a ton a quotes I like, but here are a few of my favorites: “I was learning that when you’re with someone who is dying, you may need to celebrate the past, live the present, and mourn the future all at the same time…

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