Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Books, or A Long Time Coming

Hello, everyone! I don't know what to tell you. I have a genealogy project I'm working on, but I just haven't really felt like making much of an online presence lately. But I wanted to post some books for you, and maybe soon I'll get back to this. (I know I've said that before.)

Question: does Blogger seem that vital of a place anymore?

A photographic essay that explores a wide spectrum of experiences told from the perspective of a diverse group of young people, ages 14–24, identifying as queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning), Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus presents portraits without judgment or stereotype by eliminating environmental influence with a stark white backdrop. This backdrop acts as a blank canvas, where each subject’s personal thoughts are handwritten onto the final photographic print. With more than 65 portraits photographed over a period of 10 years, the book provides rare insight into the passions, confusions, prejudices, joys, and sorrows felt by queer youth and gives a voice to an underserved group of people that are seldom heard and often silenced. The collaboration of image and first-person narrative serves to provide an outlet, show support, create dialogue, and help those who struggle.

Have you ever had a strange urge to jump from a tall building, or steer your car into oncoming traffic? You are not alone. In this captivating fusion of science, history and personal memoir, writer David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind, and how they drive millions of us towards obsessions and compulsions.

David has suffered from OCD for twenty years, and The Man Who Couldn’t Stop is his unflinchingly honest attempt to understand the condition and his experiences. What might lead an Ethiopian schoolgirl to eat a wall of her house, piece by piece; or a pair of brothers to die beneath an avalanche of household junk that they had compulsively hoarded? At what point does a harmless idea, a snowflake in a clear summer sky, become a blinding blizzard of unwanted thoughts? Drawing on the latest research on the brain, as well as historical accounts of patients and their treatments, this is a book that will challenge the way you think about what is normal, and what is mental illness.

Told with fierce clarity, humour and urgent lyricism, this extraordinary book is both the haunting story of a personal nightmare, and a fascinating doorway into the darkest corners of our minds.

Adam's OCD focused on the contracting of HIV. More at NPR

Against the Country is a gift for fans of Southern Gothic and metafiction alike. Set in the Virginia pines, and overrun with failed parents, racist sex offenders, cast-off priests, and suicidal chickens, this novel challenges literary convention even as it attacks our national myth—that the rural naturally engenders good, while the urban breeds an inevitable sin.

In a voice both perfectly American and utterly new, Metcalf introduces the reader to Goochland County, Virginia—a land of stubborn soil, voracious insects, lackluster farms, and horrifying trees—and details one family’s pitiful struggle to survive there. Eventually it becomes clear that Goochland is not merely the author’s setting; it is a growing, throbbing menace that warps and scars every one of his characters’ lives.

Equal parts fiery criticism and icy farce, Against the Country is the most hilarious sermon one is likely to hear on the subject of our native soil, and the starkest celebration of the language our land produced. The result is a literary tour de force that raises the question: Was there ever a narrator, in all our literature, so precise, so far-reaching, so eloquently misanthropic, as the one encountered here?

Until the recent publication of My Struggle, a 3,600-page work in six volumes, the career of the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard had followed a fairly conventional trajectory: A young man besotted by the beauty of words, nature, music and painting writes a coming-of-age novel that earns him prizes and praise and then tries something more ambitious, which becomes an international best seller and wins more prizes.

“But with his latest project, My Struggle, whose title deliberately evokes Hitler’s infamous autobiography and political screed, everything has changed. Though My Struggle, a minutely detailed examination of Mr. Knausgaard’s family life, has done extremely well in Europe—in Norway, about half a million copies have been sold, the equivalent of one for every 10 people—it has also put Mr. Knausgaard (pronounced Kuh-NOWS-guard) squarely at the center of a debate about literary ethics and made him a kind of bad boy of European letters.” —Larry Rohter, The New York Times

My Struggle is the provocative, audacious, brilliant six-volume autobiographical novel of Karl Ove Knausgaard that has unquestionably been the main event of contemporary European literature. It has earned favorable comparisons to its obvious literary forebears A la recherche du temps perdu and Mein Kampf—but it has also been celebrated as the rare magnum opus that is intensely, addictively readable.

A study of books through history is a study of human history. In "The History of the Book in 100 Books," the author explores 100 books that have played a critical role in the creation and expansion of books and all that they bring -- literacy, numeracy, expansion of knowledge, religion, political theory, oppression, liberation, and much more. The book is ordered chronologically and divided thematically. Each of the 100 sections focuses on one book that represents a particular development in the evolution of books and in turn, world history and society. Abundant photographs inform and embellish.
The year is 2041. Since the end of WWI, Berlin has been an enormous subterranean city, home to 300 million citizens who have never seen the sun, and presided over by the autocratic Hohenzollern dynasty. Every aspect of life is regimented; from controlled rations that are issued on the basis of work-for-food, to a press that works exclusively under the auspices of the Information Service. Christianity has been abolished and all breeding is carried out on the basis of strict eugenic principles. Lyman De Forrest, an American chemist, discovers a way of neutralizing Berlin's defenses and, assuming the identity of a dead German man, enters the city to discover its hidden truths. The first outsider for decades to enter the forbidden metropolis, he is horrified to find a society where women are kept in isolation for breeding or the pleasuring of high status men. Can De Forrest escape this living tomb? Published shortly after the end of WWI, this tremendous example of early dystopian science fiction is thought to have been the inspiration behind Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

New York Times bestselling author, comedian, and actor Patton Oswalt shares his entertaining memoir about coming of age as a performer and writer in the late '90s while obsessively watching classic films at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles.

Between 1995 and 1999, Patton Oswalt lived with an unshakeable addiction. It wasn't drugs, alcohol, or sex. It was film. After moving to L.A., Oswalt became a huge film buff, absorbing classics and new releases at least three nights a week at the New Beverly Cinema. Silver screen celluloid became Patton's life schoolbook, informing his notions of acting, writing, comedy, and relationships. Set in the nascent days of the alternative comedy scene, Oswalt's memoir chronicles his journey from fledgling stand-up comedian to self-assured sitcom actor, with the colorful New Beverly collective supporting him all along the way.

Ideally timed for awards season, when everyone's mind is on Hollywood, Silver Screen Fiend follows up on the terrific reception of Oswalt's New York Times bestselling debut, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. Already a beloved fixture on the comedy stage, on television, and in film - not to mention his 1.1 million Twitter followers - Oswalt announces, with this second book, that he's also here to stay on the page.

Climate change is eroding the familiar pattern of the seasons, so we turn instinctively to the life cycle of herbaceous plants to guide us through the year. Herbaceous is a journey which follows the colour pulse of plants throughout the year, searching for new rhythms in a changing world.
Love is tricky for everyone--and different personality types can face their own unique problems. Now the author of The Introvert’s Way offers a guide to romance that takes you through the frequently outgoing world of dating, courting, and relationships, helping you navigate issues that are particular to introverts, from making conversation at parties to the challenges of dating an extrovert.

The riveting true story of Robert E. Lee, the brilliant soldier bound by marriage to George Washington's family but turned by war against Washington's crowning achievement, the Union.

On the eve of the Civil War, one soldier embodied the legacy of George Washington and the hopes of leaders across a divided land. Both North and South knew Robert E. Lee as the son of Washington's most famous eulogist and the son-in-law of Washington's adopted child. Each side sought his service for high command. Lee could choose only one.

In The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, former White House speechwriter Jonathan Horn reveals how the officer most associated with Washington went to war against the union that Washington had forged. This extensively researched and gracefully written biography follows Lee through married life, military glory, and misfortune. The story that emerges is more complicated, more tragic, and more illuminating than the familiar tale. More complicated because the unresolved question of slavery--the driver of disunion--was among the personal legacies that Lee inherited from Washington. More tragic because the Civil War destroyed the people and places connecting Lee to Washington in agonizing and astonishing ways. More illuminating because the battle for Washington's legacy shaped the nation that America is today. As Washington was the man who would not be king, Lee was the man who would not be Washington. The choice was Lee's. The story is America's.

A must-read for those passionate about history, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington introduces Jonathan Horn as a masterly voice in the field.

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