Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TWOsday ~ two "found" books

I went to the library to pick up the book I had on reserve and — AFTER checking it out — I noticed a display with bookmarks in every book that said...
A Best Book of 2014!  Chosen as a best book of the year by two or more publications including:  Library Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more.
Right in front of me was the one my friend Donna had already told me looks good.  Beside it was another book I'd read about and meant to look up sometime.  I checked out both.

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth about Everything ~ by Barbara Ehrenreich, 2014, memoir
From the New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed comes a brave, frank, and exquisitely written memoir that will change the way you see the world.  Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most important thinkers of our time.   Educated as a scientist, she is an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice.  In Living with a Wild God, she recounts her quest — beginning in childhood — to find "the Truth" about the universe and everything else:  What's really going on?  Why are we here?  In middle age, she rediscovered the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence, which records an event so strange, so cataclysmic, that she had never, in all the intervening years, written or spoken about it to anyone.  It was the kind of event that people call a "mystical experience" — and, to a steadfast atheist and rationalist, nothing less than shattering.  In Living with a Wild God, Ehrenreich reconstructs her childhood mission, bringing an older woman's wry and erudite perspective to a young girl's impassioned obsession with the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all.  The result is both deeply personal and cosmically sweeping — a searing memoir and a profound reflection on science, religion, and the human condition.  With her signature combination of intellectual rigor and uninhibited imagination, Ehrenreich offers a true literary achievement — a work that has the power not only to entertain but amaze.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History ~ by Elizabeth Kolbert, 2014
Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted.  Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.  This time around, the cataclysm is us.  In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before.  Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes.  She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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