What We Are Reading Today: Ghosts of Gold Mountain

What We Are Reading Today: Ghosts of Gold Mountain
Updated 01 June 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Ghosts of Gold Mountain

What We Are Reading Today: Ghosts of Gold Mountain

In this groundbreaking account, award-winning scholar Gordon H. Chang draws on unprecedented research to recover the Chinese railroad workers’ stories and celebrate their role in remaking America.
Chang, professor of humanities and history at Stanford University, has written a fascinating account of the labor and technology involved in building the Transcontinental Railroad.
Hired at sub-market wages, which were still more than they might have imagined earning at home, thousands of Chinese men risked their lives to make the railroad a reality.
Ghosts of Gold Mountain “is nothing less than a fantastic feat of scholarship that not merely shines a spotlight onto a group that have nearly vanished from America’s historical memory, but makes them all come alive again,” said a review published in goodreads.com.
A lack of primary sources detailing the lives of the men who built one half of the transcontinental railroad — not a single diary and only a few letters — means Chang is forced to rely on payroll documents, inventory lists, folk songs, and other such sources to piece together his story.


What We Are Reading Today: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg
Updated 09 March 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

A detective’s brutal first case could make or break her career in an exhilarating thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg.

A video of Deputy Eve Ronin’s off-duty arrest of an abusive movie star goes viral, turning her into a popular hero at a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is plagued by scandal. The sheriff, desperate for more positive press, makes Eve the youngest female homicide detective in the department’s history.

Now Eve, with a lot to learn and resented by her colleagues, has to justify her new badge. Her chance comes when she and her burned-out, soon-to-retire partner are called to the blood-splattered home of a missing single mother and her two kids. The horrific carnage screams multiple murder — but there are no corpses.

Eve has to rely on her instincts and tenacity to find the bodies and capture the vicious killer, all while battling her own insecurities and mounting pressure from the media, her bosses, and the bereaved family. It’s a deadly ordeal that will either prove her skills … or totally destroy her.


Beirut stars in Lebanese author’s comical coming-of-age debut

Beirut stars in Lebanese author’s comical coming-of-age debut
Updated 08 March 2021

Beirut stars in Lebanese author’s comical coming-of-age debut

Beirut stars in Lebanese author’s comical coming-of-age debut

CHICAGO: Lebanese author A. Naji Bakhti’s debut is a comical coming-of-age tale of a boy growing up within the confines of post-civil-war Beirut.

With a Muslim father, Christian mother, and a curious little sister, the young Adam Najjar navigates adolescence in the vibrant coastal city.

In Bakhti’s “Between Beirut and the Moon,” Najjar flirts with adulthood as the Lebanese capital teeters between peace and conflict while flourishing in its multiple identities.

Despite the harsh realities of war and limited finances, and the difficult school yard choices children must make, there is a brightness to Najjar’s world that comes in the form of his family’s never-ending ability to adjust, his father’s books, and the scenarios that play out in his life.

A sharp wit and endless curiosity drown out the bombs falling around his sixth-floor apartment off Hamra Street in Ras Beirut as his family hides in the bathroom for safety.

Bakhti displays Beirut in all its multifaceted brilliance, pluralism, and conflicts and through Najjar, his family, and friends tries to make sense of the complex histories of characters, and religious and political tensions.

With the works of Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran and Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish nearby, a mother who wants him to live out his dream, and his father’s articles and obituaries, the Najjar family members force light into the dark corners of their lives.

In an old city that has built and rebuilt itself, Bakhti manages to convey the dream of a young boy, in a humorous way, when life wants to weigh him down.

Bakhti does not romanticize Beirut but creates an ever-increasing feel of belonging, and a love of the imperfect and sometimes dangerous. There is a fighting spirit for home, one that asks of his main character, why would you ever want to leave Beirut for the moon?

Because between Beirut and the moon, anything can happen. It is where life takes place.


What We Are Reading Today: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

What We Are Reading Today: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Updated 08 March 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

What We Are Reading Today: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

In his latest novel, “Klara and the Sun,” Kazuo Ishiguro turns his focus to artificial intelligence. 

In his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ishiguro insists he is an optimist about technology. “I’m not one of these people who thinks it’s going to come and destroy us,” he said in a recent interview in December about his latest work, his lockdown reading list, and his fears about the future.

As with many of his previous works, the book doesn’t fit neatly into one genre but has elements of science fiction and also works as a coming-of-age tale. 

The story follows Klara, an intelligent robot known as an “artificial friend,” who joins a human family in a dystopian America in a deeply disturbing novel about human cloning.  

What he fears, Ishiguro explained, is the devastating injustice that may result if society isn’t careful with scientific progress as he rattled off a list of promising breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and genetics. 

“We’ve all got to start to think and worry about these questions,” he said, “because at the moment, they’re in the hands of very, very few people.”


What We Are Reading Today: Trees of Life

What We Are Reading Today: Trees of Life
Updated 07 March 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Trees of Life

What We Are Reading Today: Trees of Life

Author: Max Adams

Our planet is home to some 3 trillion trees — roughly four hundred for every person on Earth. In Trees of Life, Max Adams selects, from 60,000 extant species, 80 remarkable trees through which to celebrate the richness of humanity’s relationship with trees, woods, and forests.
In a sequence of informative and beautifully illustrated portraits, divided between six thematic sections, Adams investigates the trees that human cultures have found most useful across the world and ages.
In a section titled Supertrees, Adams considers trees that have played a pivotal role in maintaining natural and social communities, while a final section, Trees for the Planet, looks at a group of trees so valuable to humanity that they must be protected at all costs from loss.
From the apple to the oak, the logwood to the breadfruit, and the paper mulberry to the Dahurian larch, these are trees that offer not merely shelter, timber, and fuel but also drugs, foods, and fibers. Trees of Life presents a plethora of fascinating stories about them, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.


What We Are Reading Today: Fears of a Setting Sun

What We Are Reading Today: Fears of a Setting Sun
Updated 06 March 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Fears of a Setting Sun

What We Are Reading Today: Fears of a Setting Sun

Author: Dennis C. Rasmussen

Americans seldom deify their Founding Fathers any longer, but they do still tend to venerate the Constitution and the republican government that the founders created. Strikingly, the founders themselves were far less confident in what they had wrought, particularly by the end of their lives.
In fact, most of them — including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson — came to deem America’s constitutional experiment an utter failure that was unlikely to last beyond their own generation. Fears of a Setting Sun is the first book to tell the fascinating and too-little-known story of the founders’ disillusionment, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.
As much as Americans today may worry about their country’s future, Rasmussen reveals, the founders faced even graver problems and harbored even deeper misgivings.
A vividly written account of a chapter of American history that has received too little attention, Fears of a Setting Sun will change the way that you look at the American founding, the Constitution, and indeed the United States itself.