Walk Through Walls

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramović

N 7253 .A27 A2 2016

“In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate non-verbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature.

The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito’s regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother’s abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor – all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story – a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe – a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China.

Marina’s story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, speaks to an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.”
– publisher description

Lab Girl

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

QH 31 .J344 A3 2016

“Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life – but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

Jahren’s probing look at plants, her astonishing tenacity of spirit, and her acute insights enliven every page of this extraordinary book. As Lab Girl opens your eyes to the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal, it will forever change how you see the natural world. Here is an eloquent demonstration of what can happen when you find the stamina, passion, and sense of sacrifice needed to make a life out of what you truly love, as you discover along the way the person you were meant to be.”
– publisher description

The World’s Strongest Librarian

The World's Strongest Librarian

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
by Josh Hanagarne

Z 720 .H24 H36 2013

“A funny, book-obsessed kid, Josh Hanagarne was born to Mormon parents in rural Utah. He plotted escape to Piers Anthony’s magical land of Xanth, freaked himself out with Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and fell feverishly in love with Fern from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

Large for his age, Josh was playing the role of Tree in his elementary school play when he suddenly started twitching uncontrollably. Turns out the tree had Tourette Syndrome.

By the time Josh turned twenty, his tics had become too drastic to ignore. Desperate for liberation, Josh tried all possible treatments: well-intentioned chiropractic massage from a future convict; antipsychotic drugs that left him in a fog; even Botox injected directly into his vocal cords to paralyze them, which left him voiceless for two years. The results were dismal.

As his tics worsened, the list of casualties grew: Josh’s relationship with his girlfriend, his Mormon mission, his college career, countless jobs, his sense of self, and – slowly but relentlessly – his faith.

It turned out to be weight lifting that provided the most lasting relief, as Josh learned to “throttle” his tics into submission in the weight room. Under guidance from an eccentric, autistic strongman – and former Air Force tech sergeant and prison guard in Iraq – Josh quickly went from lifting dumbbells and barbells to performing increasingly elaborate feats (like rolling up frying pans and bending spikes). What started as a hobby became an entire way of life – and an effective way of managing his disorder.

At an imposing 6’7″ and literally incapable of sitting still, Josh is certainly not your average librarian. He is an aspiring strongman, bookish nerd, twitchy guy with Tourette Syndrome, devoted family man, and tearer of phone books. A tall, thin paradox in thick glasses. Funny and offbeat, The World’s Strongest Librarian traces this unlikely hero as he attempts to overcome his disability, navigate his wavering faith, find love, and create a life worth living.” – publisher description

In the Body of the World

In the Body of the World

In the Body of the World: A Memoir by Eve Ensler

CT 275 .E546 A3 2013

“Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body – how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body – a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not, inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel or know their pain.”

But Ensler is shocked out of her distance. While working in the Congo, she is shattered to encounter the horrific rape and violence inflicted on the women there. Soon after, she is diagnosed with uterine cancer and, through months of harrowing treatment, she is forced to become first and foremost a body – pricked, punctured, cut, scanned. It is then that all distance is erased. As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the Earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully – and gratefully – joined to the body of the world.

Unflinching, generous, and inspiring, Ensler calls on us all to embody our connection to and responsibility for the world.” – publisher description