Rise of the Rocket Girls

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt

TL 862 .J48 H65 2016

“During World War II, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate jet velocities and plot missile trajectories, they recruited an elite group of young women – known as human computers – who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design and helped bring about America’s first ballistic missiles.

But they were never interested in developing weapons – their hearts lay in the dream of space exploration. So when JPL became part of a new agency called NASA, the computers worked on the first probes to the moon, Venus, Mars, and beyond. Later, as digital computers largely replaced human ones, JPL was unique in training and retaining its brilliant pool of women. They became the first computer programmers and engineers, and through their efforts, we launched the ships that showed us the contours of our solar system.

For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women who charted a course not only for the future of space exploration but also for the prospects of female scientists. Based on extensive research and interviews with the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science, illuminating both where we’ve been and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.”
– publisher escription

Anatomy of Love

Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher, PhD

HQ 728 .F454 2016

“First published in 1992, Helen Fisher’s “fascinating” (New York TimesAnatomy of Love quickly became a classic. Since then, Fisher has conducted pioneering brain research on lust, romantic love, and attachment; gathered data on more than 80,000 people to explain why you love whom you love; and collected information on more than 30,000 men and women on sexting, hooking up, friends with benefits, and other current trends in courtship and marriage. And she presents a new, scientifically based and optimistic perspective on relationships in our digital age – what she calls “slow love.”

This is a cutting-edge tour de force that traces human family life from its origins in Africa over 20 million years ago to the Internet dating sites and bedrooms of today. And it’s got it all: the copulatory gaze and other natural courting ploys; the who, when, where, and why of adultery; love addictions; her discovery of four broad chemically based personality styles and what each seeks in romance; the newest data on worldwide (biologically based) patterns of divorce; how and why men and women think differently; the real story of women, men, and power; the rise – and fall – of the sexual double standard; and what brain science tells us about how to make and keep a happy partnership.”
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publisher description

The Art of X-ray Reading

The Art of X-ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing by Roy Peter Clark

PE 1408 .C53 A78 2016

“What are the secrets to great writing? Was Melville simply born with the skill to write? Did Shirley Jackson write “The Lottery” in one sitting? Actually, she did, but that’s beside the point. The truth is, great writers are great readers, and the secret to learning how to write is as simple as learning how to read very, very closely.

In this practical and engaging guide, Roy Peter Clark, bestselling author of Writing Tools, teaches the fine art of X-ray reading. When we X-ray read, we look beneath the surface of a text to discover the strategies that create the effects we experience – such as suspense, humor, or pain; we can then adopt these strategies as our own. In each of the twenty-five chapters, Clark X-rays a classic or contemporary work and then sums up with a handful of succinct writing lessons. You’ll even get a chance to try your own hand at X-ray reading at the end of the book.

The Art of X-ray Reading is a fun, often hilarious guide teeming with pop culture references and fascinating trivia. Honestly, could a book that mentions Breaking Bad, I Love Lucy, and Sharknado and teaches you how to write like Hemingway be anything but a good time?”
– publisher description

This Is an Uprising

This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler

JC 328.3 .E54 2016

“From protests around climate change and immigrant rights, to Occupy, the Arab Spring, and #BlackLivesMatter, a new generation is unleashing strategic nonviolent action to shape public debate and force political change. When mass movements erupt on our television screens, the media consistently portrays them as being spontaneous and unpredictable. Yet, in this book, Mark and Paul Engler look at the hidden art behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

With incisive insights from contemporary activists, as well as fresh revelations about the work of groundbreaking figures such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Gene Sharp, and Frances Fox Piven, the Englers show how people with few resources and little conventional influence are engineering the upheavals that are reshaping contemporary politics.

Nonviolence is usually seen simply as a philosophy or moral code. This Is an Uprising shows how it can instead be deployed as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. It argued that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, we pass up the chance to truly understand how social transformation happens.”
– publisher description

Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial

Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial: The Story of Hollingsworth v. Perry by Kenji Yoshino

KF 229 .H654 Y67 2015

Speak Now tells the story of a watershed trial that unfolded over twelve tense days in California in 2010. A trial that legalized same-sex marriage in our most populous state. A trial that interrogated the nature of marriage, the political status of gays and lesbians, the ideal circumstances for raising children, and the ability of direct democracy to protect fundamental rights. A trial that stands as the most potent argument for marriage equality this nation has ever seen.

In telling the story of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the groundbreaking federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, Kenji Yoshino has also written a paean to the vanishing civil trial – an oasis of rationality in what is often a decidedly uncivil debate. Above all, this book is a work of deep humanity, in which Yoshino brings abstract legal arguments to life by sharing his own story of finding love, marrying, and having children as a gay man.

Intellectually rigorous and profoundly compassionate, Speak Now will stand as the definitive account of a landmark civil-rights trial.”
– publisher description

The Good Death

The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America by Ann Neumann

HQ 1073.5 .U6 N48 2016

“When Ann Neumann’s father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she left her job and moved back to her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She became his full-time caregiver – cooking, cleaning, and administering medications. When her father died, she was undone by the experience, by grief and the visceral quality of dying. Neumann struggled to put her life back in order and found herself haunted by a question: Was her father’s death a good death?

The way we talk about dying and the way we actually die are two very different things, she discovered, and many of us are shielded from what death actually looks like. To gain a better understanding, Neumann became a hospice volunteer and set out to discover what a good death is today. She attended conferences, academic lectures, and grief sessions in church basements. She went to Montana to talk with the attorney who successfully argued for the legalization of aid in dying, and to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to listen to “pro-life” groups who believe the removal of feeding tubes from some patients is tantamount to murder. Above all, she listened to the stories of those who were close to death.

What Neumann found is that death in contemporary America is much more complicated than we think. Medical technologies and increased life expectancies have changed the very definition of medical death. And although death is our common fate, it is also a divisive issue that we all experience differently. What constitutes a good death is unique to each of us, depending on our age, race, economic status, culture, and beliefs. What’s more, differing concepts of choice, autonomy, and consent make death a contested landscape, governed by social, medical, legal, and religious systems.

In these pages, Neumann brings us intimate portraits of the nurses, patients, bishops, bioethicists, and activists who are shaping the way we die. The Good Death presents a fearless examination of how we approach death, and how those of us close to dying loved ones live in death’s wake.”
– publisher description

The Invention of Nature

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World
by Andrea Wulf

Q 143 .H9 W85 2015

“The acclaimed author of Founding Gardeners reveals the forgotten life of Alexander von Humboldt, the visionary German naturalist whose ideas changed the way we see the natural world – and in the process created modern environmentalism.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. In North America, his name still graces four counties, thirteen towns, a river, parks, bays, lakes, and mountains. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether he was climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or racing through anthrax-infected Siberia or translating his research into best-selling publications that changed science and thinking. Among Humboldt’s most revolutionary ideas was a radical vision of nature, that it is a complex and interconnected global force that does not exist for the use of humankind alone.

Now Andrew Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his daring expeditions and investigation of wild environments around the world and his discoveries of similarities between climate and vegetation zones on different continents. She also discusses his prediction of human-induced climate change, his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation, and his relationships wit iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Wulf examines how Humboldt’s writings inspired other naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth, and Goethe, and she makes the compelling case that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of natural preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s Walden.

With this brilliantly researched and compellingly written book, Andrea Wulf shows the myriad fundamental ways in which Humboldt created our understanding of the natural world, and she champions a renewed interest in this vital and lost player in environmental history and science.”
– publisher description