What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime

What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime
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Updated 24 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime

What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime

Authors: Karen A. Cerulo and Janet M. Ruane

Most of us understand that a person’s place in society can close doors to opportunity, but anything is possible when we dream about what might be, or so we think.

Dreams of a Lifetime reveals that what and how we dream — and whether we believe our dreams can actually come true — are tied to our social class, gender, race, age, and life events.

Karen Cerulo and Janet Ruane argue that our social location shapes the seemingly private and unique life of our minds.

We are all free to dream about possibilities, but not all dreamers are equal. Cerulo and Ruane show how our social position ingrains itself on our mind’s eye, quietly influencing the nature of our dreams, whether we embrace dreaming or dream at all, and whether we believe that our dreams, from the attainable to the improbable, can become realities.


What We Are Reading Today: Cults

What We Are Reading Today: Cults
Updated 25 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Cults

What We Are Reading Today: Cults

Author: Max Cutler

Max Cutler’s Cults looks closely at the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power and fall from grace, sanity, and decency.
It is a study of humanity, an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into the lowest form of malevolence.
Cults prey on the very attributes that make us human: Our desire to belong; to find a deeper meaning in life; to live everyday with divine purpose.
Perhaps it’s this mindset that keeps us so utterly obsessed to learn more of the mechanics that make these infamous groups tick.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Sky Is for Everyone

What We Are Reading Today: The Sky Is for Everyone
Updated 22 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Sky Is for Everyone

What We Are Reading Today: The Sky Is for Everyone

Authors: Virginia Trimble and David A. Weintraub

The Sky Is for Everyone is an internationally diverse collection of autobiographical essays by women who broke down barriers and changed the face of modern astronomy.

Virginia Trimble and David Weintraub vividly describe how, before 1900, a woman who wanted to study the stars had to have a father, brother, or husband to provide entry, and how the considerable intellectual skills of women astronomers were still not enough to enable them to pry open doors of opportunity for much of the 20th century.

After decades of difficult struggles, women are closer to equality in astronomy than ever before.


What We Are Reading Today: The Double by James Meyer

What We Are Reading Today: The Double by James Meyer
Updated 21 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Double by James Meyer

What We Are Reading Today: The Double by James Meyer

From ancient mythology to contemporary cinema, the motif of the double — which repeats, duplicates, mirrors, inverts, splits, and reenacts — has captured our imaginations, both attracting and repelling us.

The Double examines this essential concept through the lens of art, from modernism to contemporary practice — from the paired paintings of Henri Matisse and Arshile Gorky, to the double line works of Piet Mondrian and Marlow Moss, to Eva Hesse’s One More Than One, Lorna Simpson’s Two Necklines, Roni Horn’s Pair Objects, and Rashid Johnson’s The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Emmett).

Richly illustrated throughout, The Double is a multifaceted exploration of an enduring theme in art, from painting and sculpture to photography, film, video, and performance.


REVIEW: Shahriar Mandanipour conjures joy and tragedy in ‘Seasons of Purgatory’

REVIEW: Shahriar Mandanipour conjures joy and tragedy in ‘Seasons of Purgatory’
Updated 21 June 2022

REVIEW: Shahriar Mandanipour conjures joy and tragedy in ‘Seasons of Purgatory’

REVIEW: Shahriar Mandanipour conjures joy and tragedy in ‘Seasons of Purgatory’

CHICAGO: Award-winning author and journalist Shahriar Mandanipour’s short-story collection, “Seasons of Purgatory,” is best described as an exploration of the human experience — from victims of war and soldiers on the frontline to lonely souls treading water, Mandanipour explores the physical, emotional and spiritual facets of his characters.

The collection — translated into English by journalist Sara Khalili — moves through the cities of Iran to the countryside, telling tales from young and old in ways that are both unique and relatable.

The collection opens with “Shadows of the Cave,” which centers around Mr. Farvaneh, a particular man whose past life as a former government employee envelops him in mystery. After being incarcerated for a little over a month in his youth, his entire outlook on life has changed and it’s the little details that seem to trouble him. Next up is “Mummy and Honey,” in which a father inherits his father’s house and orders his sons to take up residence with him if they want their inheritance. Reluctantly agreeing to their father’s outdated demands, the brothers stay, but a viper that lives in the grounds of the property spells trouble for the three brothers and their families.

Mandanipour’s title story takes readers into the Iran-Iraq war, introducing us to Captain Meena’s soldiers and Nasser, a decomposing man leaning against a rock in a valley. Stuck in no-man’s land between Iraqi and Iranian troops, Nasser’s skeleton has merged into the landscape, and represents something different to each soldier.

Mandanipour’s stories contain moments of joy but are underpinned by tragedy. His characters resiliently push through the trauma that affects everyone and everything — including animals and nature — around them. Among the floating orange blossom petals are lives that are connected, no matter their species.

Mandanipour manages to conjure a sense of magic from the heartbreak of wars and the consequences of power structures. The themes of his stories, no matter how unique the specific tale, seem to repeat in different circumstances with different characters, to show that life is a circle that repeats — a cycle of failures and successes.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Curves for the Mathematically Curious

What We Are Reading Today: Curves for the Mathematically Curious
Updated 20 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Curves for the Mathematically Curious

What We Are Reading Today: Curves for the Mathematically Curious

Author: Julian Havil 

Curves for the Mathematically Curious is a thoughtfully curated collection of 10 mathematical curves, selected by Julian Havil for their significance, mathematical interest, and beauty.

Each chapter gives an account of the history and definition of one curve, providing a glimpse into the elegant and often surprising mathematics involved in its creation and evolution.

In telling the 10 stories, Havil introduces many mathematicians and other innovators, some whose fame has withstood the passing of years and others who have slipped into comparative obscurity.