Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Staff Recommendations, Week of May 10, 2022

A new week means new books means new recommendations from the Boswellians to our favorite readers (you!). Read on.

For fans of Michael Crighton, we first we have Kay Wosewick for Child Zero, a new novel by molecular biologist turned Anthony Award-winning author Chris Holm. Kay says: "Holm takes our experiences with COVID and blasts it into an ugly near future where an infection is deliberately released in NYC, eventually wiping out most of humanity’s resistance to infections. The US creates an invasive Department of Biological Security (DBS) to monitor, control, and prevent new infections. Add mercenaries looking for the holy grail to make a fortune, Endtimers who want everyone to die, a couple of cops forced to take time off, and a boy who may be the holy grail. The result is a rip-roaring thriller."

Next, it's Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Kay also recommends this one! She says: "Gigantic databases and analytical techniques that didn’t exist 10+ years ago (internet usage data, iPhone-based research, artificial intelligence algorithms) are now providing surprising, non-intuitive conclusions about ourselves. Subjects include online dating success, marital satisfaction, nature vs nurture in parenting, athletic success, drivers of wealth, and what makes us happy. A must-read for online daters, couples on the verge of marriage, and folks thinking of opening a business. And strongly recommended for everyone else!"

Daniel Goldin also recommends this book: "For those of you who loved Everybody Lies, the always entertaining Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has written a self-help book that uses not psychological theory, not meditation, nor endless arbitrary stories, but data to help you get what you want. Whether you want to pick the best partner, get the most fulfilling job, raise the best children (including pushing them into sports with the best scholarship payback), Don’t Trust Your Gut is the book for you. If you’re dating, it turns out you might look better in glasses. Check the data! My only beef? In rating which activities make you the happiest, reading does very poorly, but I noticed that the data does not distinguish between reading for work or school and reading for pleasure. Ridiculous! But I believe everything else."

Daniel offers up our next two recommendations, both for book by authors we'll be hosting for events this spring! First, Siren Queen by Nghi Vo: "Nghi Vo’s latest is a dark fantasy set in an alternate, glamorous Hollywood, just after the transition to talking pictures, and only a few years after Vo’s Gatsby-inspired novel, The Chosen and the Beautiful. As in that novel, this is a world that mirrors history – a studio system with artists under contract, an aversion to non-White actors, a gossip mill that threatens to expose the sexuality of the players. But that old Hollywood magic is real magic, the studio heads are monsters willing to sacrifice an actor for Halloween, and the studio system can have literal shackles for at least one actor brought over in chains. At its center is Luli Wei, a Queer Chinese woman from plain old Hungarian Hill who dreams of becoming an actor. Vo chose to avoid the trope of peppering her fantasy with real names from Hollywood’s past; Siren Queen is her own unique creation - dreamlike, haunting, and ultimately triumphant."

Nghi Vo will be In-Person at Milwaukee Public Library East Branch, 2320 N Cramer St, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 5:30 pm. Click here to register.

Next Daniel recommends The Shore by Katie Runde (Editor's Note: out on May 24, but added to this blog post because of a filing error, but will stay because we like it so just preorder it and have something to look forward to, okay?!): "Margot runs vacation rentals on the Jersey Shore with her husband Brian, but when he develops a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, their world is torn apart. With Brian becoming toddler, zombie, jerk, and Rain Man (to quote a character), the family alternates taking care of Brian while daughters Liz and Evy attempt to have the semblance of a normal summer, with all the teenage drama that entails.  Mom latches onto an online support network for caregiving spouses, and just to get some sort of connection, Evy catfishes her. The Shore is a poignant story of processing grief in the face of impending loss, but it’s the little moments that take the story to another level, like Liz’s ‘hey’ text to a guy and its many interpretations. Just beautiful!"

Katie Runde, in Conversation with CJ Hribal and Liam Callanan for a Virtual Event, Thursday, June 2, 2022, 7 pm. Click here to register.

Out today in paperback! 

We go back to Kay for The Guide by Peter Heller. Kay says: "A very exclusive, very private lodge in the Colorado Rockies has pristine creeks chockfull of trout, and very wealthy clients. Jack takes a fishing guide job late in the season, replacing someone who left suddenly. Bad vibes hit Jack almost immediately upon arrival, but melt away as he enjoys an exquisitely relaxing day fishing with his charming client. Unfortunately, neither of them can ignore increasingly visible oddities suggesting the lodge is a cover for something else. Something sinister. Both are compelled to discover what's really going on; they do, and it's a nasty surprise. Prepare for lovely highs and grim lows, an increasingly common combination for Peter Heller, one of my favorite authors."

Jason Kennedy jumps in with his recommendation for I Will Die in a Forgeign Land by Kalani Pickhart. Jason says: "Not an easy read, especially right now. Kalani Pickhart tells the devasting story of Russia's last incursion into Ukraine in 2014. Alternating between four characters in a non-linear fashion, we experience the tragic history that Russia has influenced over Ukraine. What's lost in all the madness of history are the stories of the individuals lost to events bigger than themselves; Pickhart has given us a glimpse into these four fictional characters that represent their lost voices. Lyrical and haunting, I learned so much reading this amazing novel."

And Daniel Goldin chimes in once again with his recommendation of Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark by Cecelia Watson: "We once treated punctuation as an art, but much the way the prescriptives triumphed over the descriptives in dictionaries, the grammar police created absolute rules for semicolons, and in that way, made them almost as rare as the iterrobang. Watson, historian, philosopher of science, and faculty member of Bard College’s Language and Thinking program, argues for the mark’s comeback, referencing the work of great semicolon users such as Herman Melville, Raymond Chandler, and Rebecca Solnit, and showing how artistic license can lead to a more joyfully nuanced reading life."

And those are the books we recommend! Read on, dear readers, we'll see ya next week.

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