Staff Picks

Check out these staff recommended books.

The invention of nature : Alexander von Humboldt's new world

by Andrea Wulf
2015
ISBN: 9780385350662

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces counties, towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes, and mountains. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether he was climbing volcanoes, racing through Siberia, or translating his research into bestselling publications that changed science. Among Humboldt's most revolutionary ideas was a radical vision of nature as a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone. Now Andrea Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his daring expeditions and investigation of wild environments around the world and his discoveries of similarities between climate and vegetation zones on different continents. She also discusses his prediction of human-induced climate change, his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and his relationships with iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Wulf examines how Humboldt's writings inspired other naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth, and Goethe, and she makes the case that it was Humboldt's influence that led John Muir to his ideas of natural preservation and that shaped Thoreau's Walden. Wulf shows how Humboldt created our understanding of the natural world, and champions a renewed interest in this vital player in environmental history and science.

Recommended By: Martina
4/27/2020

Lives in Ruins : Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble

Marilyn Johnson
2014
ISBN: 9780062127181

Examines "the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies. What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost"--Amazon.com.

Recommended By: Stacia
4/27/2020

Convenience store woman : a novel

Sayaka Murata ; translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
2018
ISBN: 9780802128256

"Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers' style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society's expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko's contented stasis--but will it be for the better? Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko's thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie ." -- (Source of summary not specified).

Recommended By: Claire
4/27/2020

Everyone's awake

written by Colin Meloy ; illustrated by Shawn Harris
2020
ISBN: 9781452178059

In this house, when everyone stays awake at night, things get very strange, what with Mom on the roof, and Grandma playing cards with the ghost of long-dead Grandpa Paul, and even the dog and cat are acting weird; as the family's doings become more and more bizarre, the narrator starts to wonder--what on earth will happen when morning finally comes.

Recommended By: Kristie
4/27/2020

The long way to a small, angry planet

Becky Chambers
2016
ISBN: 9780062444134

"When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possible want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer."--Page [4] of cover.

Recommended By: Elizabeth
4/27/2020

Fentanyl, Inc. : how rogue chemists are creating the deadliest wave of the opioid epidemic

Ben Westhoff
2019
ISBN: 9780802127433

"A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. 'A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape,' writes Ben Westhoff. 'These are known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and they include replacements for known drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. They are synthetic, made in a laboratory, and are much more potent than traditional drugs'-and all-too-often tragically lethal. Drugs like fentanyl, K2, and Spice were all originally conceived in legitimate laboratories. Their formulas were then hijacked and manufactured by rogue chemists, largely in China, who change their molecular structures to stay ahead of the law, making the drugs' effects impossible to predict. Westhoff has infiltrated this world, tracking down the little-known scientists who invented these drugs and inadvertently killed thousands. He visits the factories in China from which these drugs emanate, providing startling and original reporting on how China's vast chemical industry operates, and how the Chinese government subsidizes it. He poignantly chronicles the lives of addicted users and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. Together they represent the shocking and riveting full anatomy of a calamity we are just beginning to understand and the new strategies slowly emerging that may provide essential long-term solutions to the drug crisis that has affected so many"-- Provided by publisher.

Recommended By: Ambler
4/27/2020

Dumplin'

Julie Murphy
2015
ISBN: 9780062327185

Sixteen-year-old Willowdean wants to prove to everyone in her small Texas town that she is more than just a fat girl, so, while grappling with her feelings for a co-worker who is clearly attracted to her, Will and some other misfits prepare to compete in the beauty pageant her mother runs.

Recommended By: Carlos
4/27/2020

The shape of water

Andrea Camilleri ; translated by Stephen Sartarelli
2002
ISBN: 9780670030927

Follows Sicilian detective Inspector Montalbano as he investigates the suspicious death of an engineer who had made a name for himself in a small town.

Recommended By: Martina
4/27/2020