In this edition, surviving survivalism, something for Star Wars fans, and a budding literary trend...
Erin Kodicek: I'm inadvertently picking up books having to do with survivalism lately (this from the girl who will only go camping if there is a cabin with indoor plumbing...). Just finished Kristin Hannah's forthcoming The Great Alone (it's a terrifically tense page-turner) and now I'm reading Tara Westover's Educated. When she was a young girl, Ms. Westover knew that her family was different because the school bus drove past their remote Idaho property, but never stopped to pick them up (a few of her brothers and sisters didn't even have birth certificates). She didn't see the inside of a classroom until she was seventeen years old, but it was an experience that dramatically changed the trajectory of her life. This memoir chronicles how she survived her survivalist upbringing, eventually earning a PhD from Cambridge University. It's an inspiring reminder that knowledge is, indeed, power.
Adrian Liang: After all you (I mean, all us) Star Wars fans see The Last Jedi this weekend, I suggest that you give yourself the gift of Star Wars Super Graphic, a fun and colorful slice-and-dice of all things Star Wars. A map of the galaxy, a primer on which Sith and Jedi use which color lightsabers, and (my favorite) a Venn diagram of daddy issues are among the many new insights into Star Wars and its motley collection of heroes and villains. See our Facebook Live video on gift books to get a glimpse of these pages. (Start viewing at 4:05…unless you’re looking for gift ideas for your favorite book lover, in which case start at the beginning.) Also in the sci-fi realm is Lock In by John Scalzi, which I plan to read over the weekend in preparation for his upcoming Head On (April 2018), set in the same near-future world where 1% of the population are locked inside their bodies but fully aware. And there’s some body swapping. I’ve enjoyed all of Scalzi’s books, and I try to read them only on weekends or vacation, when I can immerse myself fully in his often funny, always thought-provoking worlds.
Sarah Harrison Smith: With the publication of the first female-translated edition of The Odyssey, by Emily Wilson, in November, and the debut of Women and Power: A Manifesto, by bestselling classicist Mary Beard, this month, we seem to be in the midst of a mini-trend. Beard, a totally engaging writer who wears her learning lightly, looks back at Ancient Greece and Rome for early literary traces of the mechanisms used to keep women quiet. “When it comes to silencing women,” Beard writes, “the Western world has had thousands of years of practice.” For the holidays this year, I’m wrapping up copies of Wilson’s Odyssey and Women and Power for my teenage daughter (but let’s keep that a secret!) Sometimes it’s only by looking at the past that you can get a clearer vision of the future, and that, of course, is my hope for her, and for the other girls of her generation.
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