What We Are Reading Today: Manhattan by Jennifer Thermes

Updated 08 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Manhattan by Jennifer Thermes

  • This volume is a rich, multilayered creation worth leisurely exploration

This is an excellent book about the history of Manhattan island, staring with the indigenous tribes who lived there.

Jennifer Thermes’ illustrated chronicle of the history of Manhattan “is filled with a series of loose-limbed, eye-pleasing maps that trace the island’s transformation from the natural landscape of the native Lenape people to the newly built Dutch and English colony to the gridded American metropolis of the early 19th century and so on until the current day,” said a review in The New York Times.

It added: “Thermes has a gift not only for rendering delicate watercolor, colored pencil and ink illustrations but for narrating history in a way that inspires wonder. How terrifying it must have been to live through the Great Fire of 1835! And how exciting it must have been to ride that first subway in 1904!”

The review said: “Just like Manhattan itself, this volume is a rich, multilayered creation worth leisurely exploration. And it will give all children growing up in New York City a new perspective on their hometown.”


What We Are Reading Today: Spinoza’s Ethics by Benedictus de Spinoza

Updated 35 min 11 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Spinoza’s Ethics by Benedictus de Spinoza

In 1856, Marian Evans completed her translation of Benedict de Spinoza’s Ethics while living in Berlin with the philosopher and critic George Henry Lewes. This would have become the first edition of Spinoza’s controversial masterpiece in English, but the translation remained unpublished because of a disagreement between Lewes and the publisher. Later that year, Evans turned to fiction writing, and by 1859 she had published her first novel under the pseudonym George Eliot. This splendid edition makes Eliot’s translation of the Ethics available to today’s readers while also tracing Eliot’s deep engagement with Spinoza both before and after she wrote the novels that established her as one of English literature’s greatest writers, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Clare Carlisle’s introduction places Ethics in its 17th-century context and explains its key philosophical claims. She discusses George Eliot’s intellectual formation, her interest in Spinoza, the circumstances of her translation of Ethics, and the influence of Spinoza’s ideas on her literary work.