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Erin Kodicek on March 24, 2017

WaterIn this edition, LOTS of books about water to quench your reading thirst, Sheryl Sandberg helps get us through the tough times, and the star of the movie Precious has penned a memoir...

Jon Foro: Who doesn’t like reading about the politics of water management? (Nobody answer that.) There’s more out there than you might expect, and as things, uh, change, more are coming. Marc Reisner’s classic Cadillac Desert is the obvious place to start, and there are a thousand directions to go from there, including Unreal City, The Big Thirst, and Floodpath, Jon Wilkman’s account of the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis dam outside of Los Angeles. Even tangential titles like Ed Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang and Kevin Fedarko’s The Emerald Mile provide useful context for understanding the complexity and history of water issues in the West.

So, back to the point of this. David Owen’s Where the Water Goes (April 11) explores the Colorado river from its headwaters to its end - and all the diversions and dams in-between. John Fleck’s Water is for Fighting Over (2016) takes the counterintuitive, i.e. optimistic, approach, arguing that as the Colorado’s volume has ebbed and flowed (mostly ebbed), its consumers have demonstrated the ability to cooperate and adapt, and that the future might not be as bleak as we assume.

Erin Kodicek: I'm reading Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by the COO of Facebook and bestselling author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg (along with psychologist and pal Adam Grant). Many of you will probably remember the heartrending social media post that Ms. Sandberg shared shortly after the unexpected passing of her beloved husband. In it, she expressed fear that she and her children would never find joy again. Fortunately this fear was unfounded. Option B shows you how Sandberg--and many others who have overcome unfathomable hardships--triumphed over tragedy. Announcing the book in a recent Facebook message, Sandberg said: "It’s my deepest hope that Option B will help others learn what I learned: that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again." Warning: certain parts of this book are messy-cry inducing (and that's ok!). But, you might want to read with Kleenex handy.

Penny Mann: It's a March Madness weekend and my bracket isn't completely busted (Go Heels!), so I will be watching basketball, but between games there are a few books I want to read. Dennis Lehane has a new novel coming out, Since We Fell. I was first introduced to Lehane's writing through Mystic River and have read most of his books since. Based on early reviews it sounds like he is at his best with 'Fell.' There are also two biographies I have been looking forward to: The Push by legendary rock climber Tommy Caldwell and This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe. Gabby is the award winning actress most known for her role in Precious. After the intensity of Lehane and Caldwell, not to mention the basketball games, I am sure Gabby's irreverent humor will be much needed. 

Adrian Liang: We launched our Middlemarch Madness literary character tournament this week, and it’s reminded me of so many great works of fiction that I’m having trouble deciding what to read this weekend. I think I’ll go with Animal Farm by George Orwell. I know that many have recently read (or reread) Orwell’s 1984, but I consider Animal Farm to be more eye-opening in some ways than 1984. Looking ahead at upcoming books, I’m so head over heels in love with Beartown by Fredrik Backman (A Man Named Ove) that I might read it again this weekend so I can soak in all the nuances of his story of a small, scrappy town who has a chance to reverse its decline through the winnings of its talented junior hockey team…until one of its star players is arrested for a crime that will divide the town.

Sarah Harrison Smith: So many exciting books are coming out this spring that I really should be reading them in the order in which they’ll be published. But good intentions be damned. A friend handed me a copy of Francesca Segal’s forthcoming novel, The Awkward Age, yesterday and even though it won’t be in stores until May, I couldn’t resist starting it right away. Then, as it turned out, I couldn’t put it down. This is a briskly paced, highly entertaining story about the effects of a serendipitous mid-life love match upon three generations of a “blended” Anglo-American family.  Segal has a keen eye for social satire and home truths; there are no dead sentences here – each one is served up with a twist of wit. Her previous book, The Innocents, which won the Costa First Novel Award (a big deal in the U.K.), was a take on Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. For this new novel, Segal borrows her title from Henry James, and I can’t wait to see how deep that connection runs. 


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