The Boundaries of Desire

The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities by Eric Berkowitz

HQ 21 .B547 2015

“The act of reproduction, and all its variants, haven’t changed much over time, but our ideas about the meaning and consequences of sex are in constant flux. At any given point in time, some forms of sex have been encouraged, while others have been punished mercilessly. Jump forward or backward a decade, cross a border, or traverse class lines and the harmless pleasures of one group become the gravest crimes of another.

Combining meticulous research and lively story telling, The Boundaries of Desire traces the fast-moving bloodsport of sex law over the past century, and challenges many of our most cherished notions about family, power, gender, and identity.

Beginning when courts censored birth control information as pornography and guarded marriage by letting men rape their wives, and continuing through the “sexual revolution” and into the present day (when rape, gay rights, sex trafficking, and sex on the internet saturate the news), Berkowitz shows how the law has remained out of synch with the convulsive changes in sexual morality.

By focusing on the real people who played key roles in the formation of our sexual rights, Berkowitz adds compelling human elements to what might otherwise by faceless legal battles. The law is made by people, after all, and nothing sparks intolerance – everywhere on the political spectrum – more than sex. Ultimately, Berkowitz shows the emptiness of sanctimonious condemnation, and argues that sexual questions are too subtle and volatile for simple, catch-all solutions.”
– publisher description

Black Man in a White Coat

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflection on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, M.D.

R 154 .T84 A3 2015

“When Damon Tweedy begins medical school, he envisions a bright future where his segregated, working-class background will become largely irrelevant. Instead, he finds that he has joined a new world where race is front and center. The recipient of a scholarship designed to increase black student enrollment, Tweedy soon meets a professor who bluntly questions whether he belongs in medical school, a moment that crystallizes the challenges he will face throughout his career. Making matters worse, in lecture after lecture the common refrain for numerous diseases resounds: “More common in blacks than in whites.”

Black Man in a White Coat examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Through their stories, he illustrates the complex social, cultural, and economic factors at the root of many health problems in the black community. These issues take on greater meaning when Tweedy is himself diagnosed with a chronic disease far more common among black people. In this powerful, moving, and deeply empathic book, Tweedy explores the challenges confronting black doctors, and the disproportionate health burdens faced by black patients, ultimately seeking a way forward to better treatment and more compassionate care.”
– publisher description

The Making of Home

The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes by Judith Flanders

GT 170 .F53 2015

“The idea that “home” is a special place, a separate place, a place where we can be our true selves, is so obvious to us today that we barely pause to think about it. But, as Judith Flanders shows in her most ambitious work to date, “home” is a relatively new idea.

In The Making of Home, Flanders traces the evolution of the house from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century across northern Europe and America, showing how the homes we know today bear only a faint resemblance to homes throughout history. What turned a house into a home? Why did northwestern Europe, a politically unimportant, sociologically underdeveloped region of the world, suddenly become the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, the capitalist crucible that created modernity? While investigating these important questions, Flanders uncovers the fascinating development of ordinary household items – from cutlery, chairs, and curtains, to fitted kitchens, plumbing, and windows – while also dismantling many domestic myths.

In this prodigiously researched and engagingly written book, Flanders elegantly draws together the threads of religion, history, economics, technology, and the arts to show not merely what happened, but why it happened: how we ended up in a world where we can all say, like Dorothy in Oz, “There’s no place like home.””
– publisher description

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

PR 6068 .U757 T96 2015

“From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding work of fiction that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush, richly layered novel in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling.

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise my contain a hidden curse.

Inspired by the traditional “wonder tales” of the East, Salman Rushdie’s novel is a masterpiece about the age-old conflicts that remain in today’s world. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption.”
– publisher description

One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds

One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds: Spirituality, Identity, and Resistance across Islamic Lands
by Raymond William Baker

BP 161.3 .B344 2015

“By all measures, the late twentieth century was a time of dramatic decline for the Islamic world, the Ummah, particularly its Arab heartland. Sober Muslim voices regularly describe their current state as the worst in the 1,400-year history of Islam. Yet, precisely at this time of unprecedented material vulnerability, Islam has emerged as a civilizational force strong enough to challenge the imposition of Western – particularly American – homogenizing power on Muslim peoples. This is the central paradox of Islam today: At a time of such unprecedented weakness in one sense, how has the Islamic Awakening, a broad and diverse movement of contemporary Islamic renewal, emerged as such a resilient and powerful transnational force, and what implications does it have for the West? In One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds Raymond William Baker addresses this question.

Two things are clear, Baker argues: Islam’s unexpected strength in recent decades does not originate from official political, economic, or religious institutions, nor can it be explained by focusing exclusively on the often criminal assertions of violent, marginal groups. While extremists monopolize the international press and the scholarly journals, those who live and work in the Islamic world know that the vast majority of Muslims reject their reckless calls to violence and look elsewhere for guidance.

Baker shows that extremists draw their energy and support not from contributions to the reinterpretation and revival of Islamic beliefs and practices but from the hatreds engendered by the brutalities of failed Arab regimes and destructive Western policies in Islamic lands. His persuasive analysis of the Islamic world identifies centrists as the revitalizing force of Islam, saying that they are responsible for constructing a modern, cohesive Islamic identity that is a force to be reckoned with.”
– publisher description

$2.00 a Day

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Schaefer

HC 110 .P6 E343 2015

“Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna, in Chicago, have gone for days with nothing to eat other than spoiled milk.

After two decades of groundbreaking research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before – households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin, whose deep examination of her subjects’ lives has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones), teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on surveys of the incomes of the poor. The two made a surprising discovery: the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million American households, including about three million children.

But the fuller story remained to be told. Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? What do they do to survive? In search of answers, Edin and Shaefer traveled across the country to speak with families living in this extreme poverty. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. Not just a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.”
– publisher description

Plenty Ladylike

Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir by Claire McCaskill

E 176 .M125 2015

“Claire McCaskill grew up in a political family, but not at a time that welcomed women with big plans. She earned a law degree and paid her way through school by working as a waitress. By 1982 Claire had set her sights on the Missouri House of Representatives. Typically, one voter whose door she knocked on said: “You’re too young; your hair is too long; you’re a girl. . . Go find yourself a husband.” That door was slammed in her face, but Claire always kept pushing – first as a prosecutor of arsonists and rapists and then all the way to the door of a cabal of Missouri politicians who had secret meetings to block her legislation.

In this candid, lively, and forthright memoir, Senator McCaskill describes her uphill battle to become who she is today, from her failed first marriage to a Kansas City car dealer – the father of her three children – to her current marriage to a Missouri businessman whom she describes as “a life partner.” She depicts her ups and downs with the Clintons, her long-shot reelection as senator after secretly helping to nominate a right-wing extremist as her opponent, and the fun of joining the growing bipartisan sisterhood in the Senate.

From the day she was elected homecoming queen in high school Claire has loved politics and winning. Her memoir is unconventional: unsparing in its honesty, full of sharp humor and practical wisdom, and rousing in its defense of female ambition.”
– publisher description