Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Nov30

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures Before “computer” came to mean a sophisticated calculating machine, it meant a person: someone with a firm grasp of numbers and their myriad practical applications in the real world. In the 1940s, as the U.S. rapidly expanded its flight program to fight the Axis Powers, the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia tapped into a new source of computing power: a group of whip-smart, highly educated African...

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Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Nov02

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl “Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.” This is one of many wonderful lines from Hope Jahren’s memoir, Lab Girl, which I read this spring. As I walked under budding trees and past flowering bushes in the Boston area, where I live, Jahren’s memoir of becoming a botanist, building three successful...

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Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett
Sep07

Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett

Becoming Wise “I’m a person who listens for a living. I listen for wisdom, and beauty, and for voices not shouting to be heard.” These are the opening sentences of Krista Tippett’s luminous memoir, Becoming Wise, which distills the best of what she has heard, and learned, in nearly 15 years of hosting the radio show On Being. Each week, Tippett interviews a guest about his or her work in a stunning range of fields: from poetry to...

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Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy
Jun08

Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

What does it mean to come home? How does a person, or a family, decide to build a home in our frantic, increasingly mobile society? Is it possible to set down genuine roots in a place far from where you grew up? And how is the concept of “home” intertwined with making, and living, a meaningful life? Christie Purifoy doesn’t answer all these questions in her memoir, Roots and Sky. But she wrestles with them, in honest, lyrical prose....

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Stir by Jessica Fechtor
May04

Stir by Jessica Fechtor

After suffering a brain aneurysm at age 28, Jessica Fechtor found herself mostly physically healed, yet utterly disoriented. Multiple surgeries had left her brain clear of “problem areas,” but also caused the loss of her sense of smell and the sight in her left eye. And while she was “aggressively grateful” to have survived the medical ordeal, Fechtor still yearned to resume the life she loved: her graduate studies at Harvard, her...

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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Mar23

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger Leah “Lee” Westfall has a secret: she can sense the presence of gold. Whether it’s a few flakes of gold dust in a riverbed or a nugget hidden under a floorboard, the metal calls to Lee, tugging at her fingers and tingling in her throat. Since her father fell ill, Lee’s gold sense (as well as her skill with a gun) has allowed her to help provide for her family. But when her beloved parents are both murdered,...

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Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Dec02

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Every once in a while, a book comes along that knocks me backward with its quiet power. Kent Haruf’s final novel, Our Souls at Night, is such a book: a story about ordinary people living simple lives, told in spare, melancholy, beautiful prose. Addie Moore and Louis Waters, both elderly and widowed, live a block apart in a small Colorado town. They’ve known one another for years (though not very well),...

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Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Oct28

Kissing in America by Margo Rabb

  Kissing in America by Margo Rabb “I loved romances because when you opened the first page, you knew the story would end well.” Since her dad died in a plane crash, Eva Roth has found solace in romance novels – 118 of them over two years, to be exact. Her mother, a professor of women’s studies, is dismayed by what she calls her daughter’s “ultimate rebellion.” But Eva isn’t reading romances to upset her mom: she’s reading them...

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Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin
Sep02

Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin

Hammer Head I’m a writer. I have always wanted to be a writer. Since I was a little girl scribbling in my first couple of diaries (the kind with locks and keys), or making up stories to tell myself before bed at night, I’ve loved playing with words. But in this digital age, writing can sometimes look a lot like moving pixels around a screen, and less like anything real. Sometimes, after a day of hitting the delete key once too often,...

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Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard
Jun10

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

“Paris is always a good idea,” Julia Ormond famously noted in the 1995 film version of Sabrina. Like many Americans enamored with la belle France, I tend to agree, as does American journalist and author Elizabeth Bard. More than 10 years ago, Bard had a lunch date with a handsome Frenchman in Paris and never went home. That story is chronicled in her first memoir, Lunch in Paris, which I read several years ago and loved. So I was...

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Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
Mar25

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

“It is an impossibly great trial to be married to a man one loves and hates in equal proportions.” With a single witty sentence, Ashley Weaver introduces readers to the narrator of her sparkling debut novel, Murder at the Brightwell, and sets up one of its two central conflicts. (And doesn’t that sentence carry a whiff of Austen?) Amory Ames is a wealthy socialite living in 1930s England, unhappy (or at least deeply ambivalent) in her...

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Delancey by Molly Wizenberg
Jan07

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg When I picked up Molly Wizenberg’s second foodie memoir, Delancey, I did look at the subtitle: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. (It’s right there on the cover, after all.) But I had no idea how accurate it was, particularly the last phrase. Delancey chronicles the process of opening and running the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle, which Wizenberg co-founded with her husband, Brandon Pettit. But...

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The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill
Nov12

The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill

The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill   I’ve always been fascinated by the stars. Although I can’t name nearly all the constellations, I love to pick out the ones I do know: the Big Dipper, Orion, Cassiopeia, the Little Dipper pivoting around its anchor point, the North Star. I love to watch the constellations shift their positions in the sky as the seasons change. This rhythm – seemingly steady, yet always surprising – is captured...

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