The Silence by Don DeLillo
It is Super Bowl Sunday in the year 2022. Five people, dinner, an apartment on the east side of Manhattan. The retired physics professor and her husband and her former student waiting for the couple who will join them from what becomes a dramatic flight from Paris. The conversation ranges from a survey telescope in North-central Chile to a favorite brand of bourbon to Einstein’s 1912 Manuscript on the Special Theory of Relativity. Then something happens and the digital connections that have transformed our lives are severed.
To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu
Cixin Liu takes us across time and space, from a rural mountain community where elementary students must use physicas to prevent an alien invasion; to coal mines in northern China where new technology will either save lives of unleash a fire that will burn for centuries; to a time very much like our own, when superstring computers predict our every move; to 10,000 years in the future, when humanity is finally able to begin anew; to the very collapse of the universe itself.
Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani
Readers will discover novels and memoirs by some of the most gifted writers working today; favorite classics worth reading or rereading; and nonfiction works, both old and new, that illuminate our social and political landscape and some of today’s most pressing issues, from climate change to medicine to the consequences of digital innovation. There are essential works in American history (The Federalist Papers, The Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.); books that address timely cultural dynamics (Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction, Daniel J. Boorstin’s The Image, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale); classics of children’s literature (the Harry Potter novels, Where the Wild Things Are); and novels by acclaimed contemporary writers like Don DeLillo, William Gibson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Ian McEwan.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
Our story begins in 1902, at the Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it the Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Less than five years later, the Brookhants School for Girls closes its doors forever—but not before three more people mysteriously die on the property, each in a most troubling way.
Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer Merritt Emmons publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the “haunted and cursed” Gilded Age institution. Her bestselling book inspires a controversial horror film adaptation starring celebrity actor and lesbian it girl Harper Harper playing the ill-fated heroine Flo, opposite B-list actress and former child star Audrey Wells as Clara. But as Brookhants opens its gates once again, and our three modern heroines arrive on set to begin filming, past and present become grimly entangled—or perhaps just grimly exploited—and soon it’s impossible to tell where the curse leaves off and Hollywood begins.
A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders
The story of alphabetical order has been shaped by some of history’s most compelling characters, such as industrious and enthusiastic early adopter Samuel Pepys and dedicated alphabet champion Denis Diderot. But though even George Washington was a proponent, many others stuck to older forms of classification — Yale listed its students by their family’s social status until 1886. And yet, while the order of the alphabet now rules — libraries, phone books, reference books, even the order of entry for the teams at the Olympic Games — it has remained curiously invisible.
With abundant inquisitiveness and wry humor, historian Judith Flanders traces the triumph of alphabetical order and offers a compendium of Western knowledge, from A to Z.