This is one of my favorite memoirs of the past year, written by a woman scientist barely known outside her field. Hope Jahren is a leading American botanist and her story is a passionate elegy to trees and plants, and to our fragile planet. A fine writer and story-teller, Jahren offers an entertaining and poignant portrait of her career as a woman in the sciences, as well as her life as a wife and mother confronting unforeseen challenges along the way. Small interludes about botany are illuminating and digestible. Especially wonderful are her descriptions of her eccentric colleagues and friends. This book is a pleasure.
Five years ago, 16-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed walking one evening in an Orlando suburb after picking up a soft drink and some Skittles at a 7-11. His death made him a household name, and his gray hoodie became an emblem of black men unfairly targeted on America’s streets. Rest in Power, a candid and inspiring new book by his parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, is a first-person narrative about how one mother and one father channeled grief over their son’s death into a national, non-violent social justice movement. If you think you know the whole story of Trayvon Martin, you probably don’t. That’s why you should read this excellent book.
Let me state upfront that this is not a guide for tackling nicotine addiction. Or maybe it is, but if so, it’s more about suggesting processes of coping. For Gregor Hens, that process is putting pen to paper: to acknowledge all the sensual pleasures that smoking and the experiences that surround it have afforded him over the years and, in a sense, to relive those pleasures from writing's safe distance. It’s subtle and majestic at once, a beautiful little book that should appeal to current smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers alike.