What We Are Reading Today: Now Comes Good Sailing by Andrew Blauner

What We Are Reading Today: Now Comes Good Sailing by Andrew Blauner
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Updated 23 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Now Comes Good Sailing by Andrew Blauner

What We Are Reading Today: Now Comes Good Sailing by Andrew Blauner

The world is never done catching up with Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), the author of Walden, “Civil Disobedience,” and other classics. A prophet of environmentalism and vegetarianism, an abolitionist, and a critic of materialism and technology, Thoreau even seems to have anticipated a world of social distancing in his famous experiment at Walden Pond.

In Now Comes Good Sailing, 27 of today’s leading writers offer wide-ranging original pieces exploring how Thoreau has influenced and inspired them—and why he matters more than ever in an age of climate, racial, and technological reckoning.

Here, Lauren Groff retreats from the COVID-19 pandemic to a rural house and writing hut, where, unable to write, she rereads Walden; Pico Iyer describes how Thoreau provided him with an unlikely guidebook to Japan; Gerald Early examines Walden and the Black quest for nature; and there’s much more.


What We Are Reading Today: How to Find a Habitable Planet by James Kasting

What We Are Reading Today: How to Find a Habitable Planet by James Kasting
Updated 08 December 2021

What We Are Reading Today: How to Find a Habitable Planet by James Kasting

What We Are Reading Today: How to Find a Habitable Planet by James Kasting

Ever since Carl Sagan first predicted that extraterrestrial civilizations must number in the millions, the search for life on other planets has gripped our imagination. Is Earth so rare that advanced life forms like us — or even the simplest biological organisms — are unique to the universe? How to Find a Habitable Planet describes how scientists are testing Sagan’s prediction, and demonstrates why Earth may not be so rare after all.

James Kasting has worked closely with NASA in its mission to detect habitable worlds outside our solar system, and in this book he introduces readers to the advanced methodologies being used in this extraordinary quest.


What We Are Watching Today: Cosmos: Possible Worlds

What We Are Watching Today: Cosmos: Possible Worlds
Updated 07 December 2021

What We Are Watching Today: Cosmos: Possible Worlds

What We Are Watching Today: Cosmos: Possible Worlds

Authors:  Ann Druyan, Brannon Braga

Ever look up and wonder what lies behind the sparkle of each star? Are we alone in the universe? Is it possible that our planet, Earth, is the only habitable planet out there in the vastness of space?
“Cosmos: Possible Worlds” is a documentary television series that follows up with famous astrophysicist Carl Sagan’s 1980 television series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.” Following his one-time mentor’s footsteps, the show is presented by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The series consists of 13 episodes. Viewers are transported through time to a possible future for mankind, first contact with aliens, exploring old civilizations that lived thousands of years ago, and discussing current challenges facing mankind and what the future will hold for today’s children.
While watching, a curious child within you will emerge, asking a thousand deep questions. How will the future of space exploration make the lives of future generations better? Can we explore the universe? Can we survive outside of our comfort zone, our home planet, or will we continue damaging it at such an alarming rate that we one day have to leave?

 


‘All the Women Inside Me’ a complex tale of coping with family, society

‘All the Women Inside Me’ a complex tale of coping with family, society
Updated 06 December 2021

‘All the Women Inside Me’ a complex tale of coping with family, society

‘All the Women Inside Me’ a complex tale of coping with family, society

CHICAGO: Shortlisted for the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction is the novel “All the Women Inside Me” by award-winning novelist and journalist Jana ElHassan. The story is about the complex life of a woman and how she copes with her family, society, and the unhappiness that plagues her. Translated into English by Michelle Hartman, ElHassan’s novel is an intimate look at the many things that seem to be out of the young woman’s control and how she navigates a path to help her survive.

Sahar is 30 years old and lives in Tripoli, Lebanon. Her story does not have a linear timeline. Instead, it is told in vignettes of memories: of her leftist father who rejects love, religion, and relationships for the sake of keeping his political persona alive; of her mother who yearns for a love that always seems too distant for her to grasp; of her husband Sami whose love she must now escape from; and of Hala, a friend whose misery matches hers but who gives her the strength to go on.

Admitting as much, Sahar observes her life just like her readers. She is disconnected from reality, which is too harsh and loveless. She believes that those who submit to reality are the ones who are caged and that she is free in her imagination to love and be loved. Although she grows up in a large house, everything has always been closed-off and separated. Each room has always been meticulously kept, not to be lived in but to show a certain decorum, as ElHassan describes: “The place was like a gun with a silencer; there was always continuous pressure on the trigger. Shots were fired and penetrated deep.”

ElHassan seamlessly weaves Sahar’s story into the city of Tripoli and its society. Patriarchy runs deep in the world of her character and so ElHassan’s story is of a woman trying to understand her position in the world, to see where and if she belongs. She explores how society reacts to this woman and pushes to the forefront the choices people have in life. Some live according to their principles, some choose joy, some choose to be miserable and subservient and scoff at those who choose independence. As for Sahar, her choice is to escape.


What We Are Reading Today: Armies of Sand by Kenneth M. Pollack

What We Are Reading Today: Armies of Sand by Kenneth M. Pollack
Updated 06 December 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Armies of Sand by Kenneth M. Pollack

What We Are Reading Today: Armies of Sand by Kenneth M. Pollack

In Armies of Sand, Kenneth M. Pollack’s powerful and riveting history of Arab armies from the end of WWII to the present, assesses these differing explanations and isolates the most important causes.

Over the course of the book, he examines the combat performance of fifteen Arab armies and air forces in virtually every Middle Eastern war.

He then compares these experiences to the performance of the Argentine, Chadian, Chinese, Cuban, North Korean, and South Vietnamese armed forces in their own combat operations during the twentieth century.

The patterns of behavior derived from the dominant Arab culture “was the most important factor of all.”


What We Are Reading Today: An Impeccable Spy

What We Are Reading Today: An Impeccable Spy
Updated 05 December 2021

What We Are Reading Today: An Impeccable Spy

What We Are Reading Today: An Impeccable Spy

Author: Owen Matthews

The thrilling true story of Richard Sorge — the man John le Carré called “the spy to end spies,” and whose actions turned the tide of WWII.
Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation, Sorge became a fanatical communist and the Soviet Union’s most formidable spy.
Never before has Sorge’s story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives — along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge — ​to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as “the most formidable spy in history,” according to a review on goodreads.com.