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What To Read: May & June 2019

Tuesday, May 07, 2019 at 5:02pm

God by Reza Aslan. Softcover. $24.00. RRC Price $21.60. Aslan narrates the history of religion as the attempt to understand our innate desire to humanize God. He writes that most of us think of God as a divine version of ourselves, but this projection is not without consequences. We bestow upon God not just all that is good in human nature but all that is bad in it as well, and these qualities inform our religions, cultures, and governments. More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more universal spirituality. (Random House. April)

On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis. Softcover. $24.00. RRC Price $21.60. For almost two decades, Yale students have competed for admission each year to the "Studies in Grand Strategy" seminar taught by John Lewis Gaddis. Its purpose has been to prepare future leaders for responsibilities they will face, through lessons drawn from history and the classics. Now Gaddis has distilled that teaching into a succinct, sharp and potentially transformational book, surveying statecraft from the ancient Greeks to Franklin D. Roosevelt and beyond. An unforgettable guide to the art of leadership, On Grand Strategy is, in every way, its own master class. (Penguin. April)

See more What To Read picks after the jump...

The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan. Softcover. $26.95. RRC Price $24.25. Samir leaves the safety and comfort of his family's adopted home, Germany, for volatile Beirut in an attempt to find his missing father. The only clues Samir has are an old photo and the bedtime stories his father used to tell him. In this novel about family secrets, love, and friendship, Jarawan pulls away the curtain of grim facts and figures portrayed in the media and shows an intimate truth of what it means to come from a country torn apart by civil war. (World Editions. April)

Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead. Hardcover. $37.50. RRC Price $33.75. The narrator of this novel is an Argentinian woman whose obsession is art. The story of her life is the story of the paintings, and painters, who matter to her and her voice guides us through a gallery of moments that have touched her. Episodes in art history also interact with the narrator's life in Buenos Aires — her family and work, her loves and losses, her infatuations and disappointments. The effect is of a character refracted by environment, composed by the canvases she studies. It is a book that captures the mysterious connections between a work of art and the person who perceives it. (Catapult. April)

Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds. Softcover. $19.95. RRC Price $17.95. Henry Banks, star of the UK's most popular television series, has higher aspirations, ones befitting of his talent: a serious film career, beginning with a role in a brilliant Spanish director's next movie. To make the jump to the big screen, he'll have to remake himself in more than one way. But as he runs his morning miles and scrutinizes his changing physique in the mirror, he doesn't know that he's not alone in his obsession. Kristin, an unstable American fan, has her own ambitions and turns this novel into a depiction of desire and delusion and the unsettling consequences of fame. (Biblioasis. May)

The Weight of Snow by Christian Guay-Poliquin, translated by David Homel. Softcover. $19.95. RRC Price $17.95. After surviving a major accident, a man is trapped in a village buried in the snow and cut off from the world by a nationwide power failure. He is entrusted to Matthias, an old man who agrees to heal his wounds in exchange for wood, food, and a place in the convoy leaving for the city in the spring. Inside a house where air currents and rare visitors intermingle, the men find themselves prisoners of winter and of their own confrontation. As the snow accumulates and the suspense rises, their relationship oscillates between commiseration, mistrust, and mutual aid borne out of necessity. (Talonbooks. April)

A Thousand Small Sanities by Adam Gopnik. Hardcover. $36.50. RRC Price $32.85. Not since the early twentieth century has liberalism, and liberals, been under such relentless attack, from both right and left. The crisis of democracy in our era has produced a crisis of faith in liberal institutions and, even worse, in liberal thought. Gopnik offers a manifesto rooted in the lives of the people who invented the liberal tradition, from Montaigne to Mill, from Middlemarch to the civil rights movement. He argues that liberalism is at its heart the search for radical change by humane measures. He shows us why liberalism is one of the great moral adventures in human history — and why its continuation is so vital. (Basic Books. May)

Florida by Lauren Groff. Softcover. $22.00. RRC Price $19.80. In these stories, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild — a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. The collection spans characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida becomes its gravitational centre as an energy and mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury — the moments that make us alive. (Riverhead Books. May)

The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku. Softcover. $22.00. RRC Price $19.80. We are entering a new Golden Age of space exploration. With a deep understanding of the cutting-edge research, Kaku presents a vision of how humanity may develop a sustainable civilization in outer space. He reveals the developments in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology that may allow us to terraform and build habitable cities on Mars and beyond. We travel beyond our galaxy, and even beyond our universe, as Kaku investigates some of the hottest topics in science today, including warp drive, wormholes, hyperspace, parallel universes, and the multiverse. (Anchor. April)

West by Carys Davies. Softcover. $20.00. RRC Price $18.00. When widowed mule breeder Cy Bellman reads in the newspaper that colossal bones have been discovered in the Kentucky mud, he sets out to see for himself if it is true that the giant monsters are still alive and roam the wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. He leaves behind his only daughter, Bess, to the care of his sister and heads west. With only a barnyard full of animals and her dead mother's gold ring to call her own, Bess fills lonely days tracing her father's route on maps and waiting for his letters to arrive. A frontier tale like few others. (Scribner. April)

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