Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nonfiction from the Trade Paperback Table--Growing, Chronicling, Documenting, Surviving, Speculating...

Don't have time to visit Boswell this week? Well, allow me to help you out with a walk through our new in papeback table. Today I'm featuring five nonfiction selections.

The Quantum Universe (and Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) (DaCapo) comes from Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, the authors of Why Does E=MC2? Now normally I'm not the science geek in the store, a title akin to duke or duchess in the book world. That crown belongs to Halley. But I just want to mention that I was a math major in college and had a very good achievement test (now the SAT II) in high school chemistry. Very good. Yes, it's come to this--feeling my intellectual prowess peaked in high school.

These science hotties (see video) explain everything you wanted to know about quantum mechanics and why it matters. The Economist writes "the authors' love for their subject matter shines through the book."

Keepung in the field, I should note that another of my booksellers (unnamed) went on to me about the adorableness of Neil deGrasse Tyson. "I love that mustache, I love his pose in the author photo, I love everything about this book." Yes, some folks pine for pop stars and sports celebrities. At Boswell, we're all about the physicists.

Tyson's newest book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (W.W. Norton) is a collection of his work, includng plenty of his "Universe" columns from Natural History magazine, and also interviews, op eds, poetry ("Ode to Challenger, 1986") and even space tweets. You don't usually see so many editor's notes in a book like this, but I can see Avis Lang put a lot of work into this!

Here's Neil deGrasse Tylson on NPR talking about spending for space exploration.

Space Tweet #15: "When asked why planets orbit in ellipses and not some other shape, Newton had to invent calculus to give an answer."

From micro to macro to back down to Earth, that's the journey from our first two books to The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living (Storey), by Wendy Jehanara Tremayne. This book is inspired by the classic from the Helen and Scott Nearing, Living the Good Life. The author moved from New York to New Mexico with her partner Mikey, and have taken to doing as much they can themselves.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review. " This rollicking, inspiring tale of Tremayne’s journey from being the creative director of N.Y.C. marketing firm Green Galactic to being a Burning Man volunteer, yoga teacher, Sufi seeker, and hardscrabble DIY urban homesteader in a former trailer park in the eccentric community of Truth or Consequences, N. Mex., is alternately funny, tender, philosophical, and practical"

The book itself is a beautiful object, filled with full color illustrations in a variety of styles. It reminds me a bit of those Compendium blank books we sell. I love this note about the book in the back: "Books are printed on large sheets of paper, each sheet containing numerous pages. The sheets are gathered into groups, folded and trimmed.

"For this book, each folded group of sixteen pages, called a signature, was individually sewn together with thread, and then the signatures were sewn together into a whole, called a book block. This binding style is called Smyth sewn and is the highest quality book binding available as it is more durable than glue and lets the book open flat, making it easier to read.

"Covers are almost always glued around the book block. Instead we have exposed the book's spine so you can appreciate and understand how the object was made."

Julia Alvarez has written a number of novels, as well as a book about growing coffee, which is why I transitioned from the last book to here. Her new release in paperback is A Wedding in Haiti (Algonquin) which journeys back to the island of Hispaniola (Alavrez has a coffee farm and a literary arts center in the Dominican Republic) and her friendship a Haitian named Piti.

Agnes Torres El-Shebibi, in the Seattle Times, called the book " a touching, funny, eye-opening and uplifting memoir, and a rare intimate look at our poorest neighbor in the Western Hemisphere." The book's been out for several months, but I don't think I mentioned it before, so as I say about these things, if you haven't seen it before, it's new to you. And I love to note that the publisher once again changed a mostly green cover to another hue for paperback, in this case red. I just want to mention that no other color gets so much grief.

And finally, another memoir, this time from Nobel-winning author Imre Kertész.  Dossier K is his attempt to set the record straight, "an extraordinary self portrait, in which Kertész interrogates himself about the course of his own remarkable life, moving from memories of his childhood in Budapest, his imprisonment in Nazi death camps and the forged record that saved his life, his experiences as a censored journalist in postwar Hungar under successive totalitarian communist regimes, and his eventugal turn to fiction..." That sentence runs on for several more lines. I've been told by Conrad that this is very European.

Kirkus Reviews noted that this volume, first published in 2006, is "a provocative memoir that will deepen the understanding of those already familiar with his novels."

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