If you’re anything like us, you perk up a little when you see someone reading in public. We give a little gasp, do a double take, and sometimes we even backtrack to see what book has caught someone’s attention. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of seeing other reader’s choices. Best of all, it’s a chance for a recommendation outside our own reading habits and comfort zones. Take a look at the ten books that are making up our public reading shelf this week. Descriptions cribbed from the publisher.
In The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson will star in a new film based on this National Book Award–winning account of the true events behind Moby Dick.
In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. In the Heart of the Sea—and now, its epic adaptation for the screen—will forever place the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.
In The Emotionally Healthy Woman, Geri provides you a way out of an inauthentic, superficial spirituality to genuine freedom in Christ. This book is for every woman who thinks, “I can’t keep pretending everything is fine!”
The journey to emotional health begins by quitting. Geri quit being afraid of what others think. She quit lying. She quit denying her anger and sadness. She quit living someone else’s life. When you quit those things that are damaging to your soul or the souls of others, you are freed up to choose other ways of being and relating that are rooted in love and lead to life.
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict by William T Cavanaugh
The idea that religion has a dangerous tendency to promote violence is part of the conventional wisdom of Western societies, and it underlies many of our institutions and policies, from limits on the public role of religion to efforts to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East. William T. Cavanaugh challenges this conventional wisdom by examining how the twin categories of religion and the secular are constructed. A growing body of scholarly work explores how the category ‘religion’ has been constructed in the modern West and in colonial contexts according to specific configurations of political power. Cavanaugh draws on this scholarship to examine how timeless and transcultural categories of ‘religion and ‘the secular’ are used in arguments that religion causes violence.
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.
Are men literally born to cheat? Does monogamy actually serve women’s interests? These are among the questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science books in recent years. Wright unveils the genetic strategies behind everything from our sexual preferences to our office politics–as well as their implications for our moral codes and public policies. Illustrations.
Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species by Alan Green and Center for Public Integrity
A vast and previously undisclosed underground economy exists in the United States. The products bought and sold: animals. In Animal Underworld, veteran investigative journalist Alan Green exposes the sleazy, sometimes illegal web of those who trade in rare and exotic creatures. Green and The Center for Public Integrity reveal which American zoos and amusement parks dump their “surplus” animals on the middlemen adept at secretly redirecting them into the private pet trade. We’re taken to exotic-animal auctions, where the anonymous high bidders are often notorious dealers, hunting-ranch proprietors, and profit-minded charlatans masquerading as conservationists. We meet the men and women who make their living by skirting through loopholes in the law, or by ignoring the law altogether. For anyone who cares about animals; for pet owners, zoo-goers, wildlife conservationists, and animal welfare advocates, Animal Underworld is gripping, shocking reading.
What do you do when you’re full of questions: what happened to missions to the moon? Why spend a trillion dollars on war? Where did America go wrong? If you’re Thomas, a young man nursing migraines and a lack of direction, this calls for drastic action. To find some answers, Thomas kidnaps a NASA astronaut and brings him to an abandoned military base on the edge of the California coast. Then the questioning begins. The answers must be honest. The back and forth might even hurt. It might get uncomfortable. But eventually the truth will emerge.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.