Spring 2024

As you can see by the parking lot in that photo, everybody seems to have taken this week off, so we thought we better get some new recommendations up right away. We’ve got a few new ones here, but we also strongly recommend our Winter 2023 links to lots of book recommendation sites. (And one more: If you haven’t seen The Atlantic’s new list, The Great American Novels, it is one part of the internet that’s worth some scrolling time.)

Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution
by Cat Bohannon

By focusing on the biological female body, this non-fiction book adjusts some common, male-led theories concerning human evolution and the development of culture. It’s technically a science book, but if you’re not into science don’t worry. There’s plenty of quirky insights about how we arrived at our contemporary patriarchal society. And if that sounds like a bore to you, there’s some good conversation starters, like how milk evolved from egg mucus and a mother’s hip fat helps a baby’s brain develop appropriately. Overall, it’s a really quick and engaging read that provokes a new way of thinking about humanity. Really, what more could you ask for?

All There Is with Anderson Cooper

When our loved ones die, what’s left behind? For those of us striving to cope with the grief of losing someone—a parent, a sibling, a child—how do we navigate life going forward? Anderson Cooper continues to ask these questions in the second season of his podcast, All There Is, which launched in 2022. New listeners should start with the first season, which opens with Anderson sorting through boxes of family keepsakes. Having lost his father at an early age, and his brother to suicide, he discusses his mother’s death, exploring the depths of loss and what we endure in its wake. Grief, with its heaviness and sorrow and pain, can make us feel like we’re completely alone. And yet, it’s the thing that inevitably binds us all. Is there actually beauty in grief? A profound and moving podcast, listeners should expect both laughter and tears.

The Deaths of Sybil Bolton
by Dennis McAuliffe, Jr.

If you appreciated the book or film, Killers of the Flower Moon, Matt suggests checking out The Deaths of Sybil Bolton: Oil, Greed, and Murder on the Osage Reservation. The author is a journalist and what makes the book interesting is that the history he unearths is his own: McAuliffe grew up believing his grandmother, Sybil Bolton, had died of natural causes, only to learn she was a victim of the systematic killings that plagued the Osage during the Oklahoma oil boom of the 1920s.

by Ursula K Le Guin

A retelling of the second half of Virgil’s Aeneid from a new perspective: Lavinia, who becomes the last wife of Aeneas. Lavinia is named in the Aeneid, but little else, and the novelist cleverly manages to let a pious, unmarried king’s daughter converse with the shadow of the dying poet through the centuries and miles that separate them. She tells us her story, overlapping the end of the epic poem and moving forward to tell us what perhaps may have happened later. It’s a beautiful story about love and the future and uncertainty even when you think you know what comes next—for both the reader and Lavinia herself. Just a beautiful, perfect little novel, even without the powerful roots in epic poetry and one of history’s great war heroes. RIYL Madeline Miller and Jennifer Saint.