Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future - Lauren Redniss

In this graphic history of weather, Thunder & Lightning (Random House, $35) are only the beginning. Weather can raise the dead, as floods following Hurricane Irene did in Vermont. Extreme cold accomplishes the same thing on the Svalbard Archipelago, gradually unearthing caskets. Lauren Redniss gives such phenomena the full attention and respect they deserve, conveying in words and hand-colored copperplate and photopolymer-process prints conditions ranging from chaos to rain to heat. As she did in her unforgettable treatment of Marie Curie, Radioactive, Redniss has carefully considered each detail of her book; she designed a new font, named after the Inuktitut for “falling snow.” She fills every page to the edges with colors and shapes, disregarding perspective as early naturalists did, intent on recording details for the sake of science. Often taking a counter-intuitive approach to her subject, Redniss discusses wind by entering the breathless crush of Mecca and by shadowing Diana Nyad across a turbulent Atlantic. She listens to Eucalyptus trees explode in the intense Australian wildfires and joins black kites diving into the crests of flames for insects. She also looks at what we’ve done with weather, from the cloud-seeding that made rain a weapon of mass destruction in the Vietnam War to the climate changes that are destabilizing permafrost. “For millennia people have found meaning and divinity in weather,”Redniss reminds us, and notes that before Gutenberg printed a bible, he produced an almanac, that “calendar of the heavens” that guides us through the Earthly storms.

Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993172
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - October 27th, 2015

Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help - Larissa Macfarquhar

To go beyond the call of duty—that depends on how you define “duty.” Consider this thought experiment: you see people drowning and can save either a relative or two strangers. What do you do? For most, the first impulse is to save the relative, but the utilitarian view would dictate helping the strangers; why save only one person when you can do twice as much good by saving two? Most of the issues of Strangers Drowning (Penguin Press, $27.95) spiral out from this scenario. Is altruism a matter of emotion or of logic? Is rescue the same as saving? Are humanitarian NGOs just colonialism in another guise? And when have you done enough, if suffering continues? In detailed and compelling narratives that make the moral questions immediate, Larissa MacFarquhar profiles people variously called saints, heroes, or obsessive-compulsives. A couple feels their calling is to save unwanted children—and end up with a family of twenty-two. Driven to eliminate as much sheer suffering as possible, a man advocates on behalf of the millions of agri-business chickens. Another couple, realizing that a few dollars buys a mosquito net, gradually donates every expendable dime to charities, equating buying a soda for themselves to committing a murder. The size of donations, of course, depends on the donor’s income—a woman deliberates whether it’s moral to stay in a low-paying position she loves, if a more lucrative career allows her to give away more money. And if these “do-gooders” never really change the world, does that negate the improvements they make, or render “selfish” the satisfaction—even the exhilaration—they feel in trying?

Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143109785
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - September 27th, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

A must-read book of the season, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner, $27) opens on the Breton coast in the days just following D-Day. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who escaped from Paris with her father but is alone while Allied planes drop leaflets and German artillery batters the town of Saint-Malo. Werner, a young German radio operator, is trapped in the basement of a bombed-out building just blocks away. Doerr’s exquisitely plotted novel traces the paths of Marie-Laure and Werner from childhood to their inevitable meeting. Short chapters move the story at a brisk pace, and Doerr’s unerring eye for detail makes the book hard to put down and impossible to forget.

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476746586
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - May 6th, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501173219
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Scribner - April 4th, 2017