The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars

By Dava Sobel. #1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel returns with the captivating, little-known true story of a group of women whose remarkable contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations made via telescope by their male counterparts each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but by the 1880s the female corps included graduates of the new women’s colleges—Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates. The “glass universe” of half a million plates that Harvard amassed in this period—thanks in part to the early financial support of another woman, Mrs. Anna Draper, whose late husband pioneered the technique of stellar photography—enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish woman originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars, Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use, and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin, who in 1956 became the first ever woman professor of astronomy at Harvard—and Harvard’s first female department chair. Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of a group of remarkable women who, through their hard work and groundbreaking discoveries, disproved the commonly held belief that the gentler sex had little to contribute to human knowledge.

We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America

By Charles Peters.  “We Do Our Part” was the slogan of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration–and it captured the can-do spirit that allowed America to survive the Great Depression and win World War II. Although the intervening decades have seen their share of progress as well, in some ways we have regressed as a nation. Over the course of a sixty-year career as a Washington, D.C., journalist, historian, and challenger of conventional wisdom, Charles Peters has witnessed these drastic changes firsthand. This stirring book explains how we can consolidate the gains we have made while recapturing the generous spirit we have lost.

About the author: Charles Peters was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and educated in local public schools. He earned a BA and a MA at Columbia University and attended the University of Virginia Law School. Peters served in the U.S. Army, worked in backstage roles in summer theaters and for a large advertising agency, and practiced law. He served in the West Virginia legislature and managed John Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign in his own county. Peters also helped found the Peace Corps and served as its director of evaluation. Peters is the author of several books, including an examination of the political system, How Washington Really Works; a history, Five Days in Philadelphia; and a biography, Lyndon B. Johnson, for the American Presidents series. On a personal note: Charles (Charlie) Peters was a great friend of my father ~ Alice)

Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors

By George W. Bush. A vibrant collection of military oil paintings and stories by the 43rd President, published to benefit the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, stands as an official tie-in to the exhibition scheduled for March 2017 at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World

By Haemin Sunim. The world moves fast, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with relationships and loved ones, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with full-color illustrations that serve as calming visual interludes. Even as we desperately speed toward what comes next, Haemin Sunim’s messages of solace and encouragement speak directly to the anxieties that have become part and parcel of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down.

Overwhelmingly popular in his native Korea, where his book has sold millions of copies, Haemin Sunim is a spiritual leader whose teachings transcend religions and borders and resonate with people of all ages. With insight and compassion drawn from a life full of change—moving from Korea to the U.S., studying film before discovering his true calling—he succeeds at encouraging all of us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction

By Derek Thompson. HIT-MAKERS is a groundbreaking investigation into the most valuable currency of the 21st century: people’s attention. With insatiable curiosity, great reporting, and beguiling storytelling, Atlantic Senior Editor Derek Thompson uses the lens of economics to reveal the secret of what makes a hit a hit.

Thompson begins with a simple proposition: even though many number-one songs, blockbuster films, Internet memes, and ubiquitous apps seem to come out of nowhere, hits have a story and they operate by certain rules. There is a reason why some ideas catch on. But a perfectly constructed product isn’t enough to create a hit on the level of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. People have to encounter it. Exposure is the critical other half of the hit equation. So HIT-MAKERS explores two crucial questions:  Why do people like what they like? And how do popular ideas spread?

This is an especially complicated phenomenon in the 21st century because scarcity has yielded to abundance. The finite nature of the concert hall or the museum wall is now the endless Internet. The world of hits is more democratic than ever. It’s also much more unpredictable. So even though human attention has not evolved–our preferences remain guided by an interplay between the complex and the simple, the new and the familiar–capturing that attention is more challenging than ever.

From the rise of the Impressionist vanguard to the ubiquity of SportsCenter, from the global Star Wars franchise to Swedish-engineered pop music, Thompson leaves no pet rock unturned to tell the fascinating story of how culture happens.

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity

By Carlo Rovelli. From the New York Times–bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, a closer look at the mind-bending nature of the universe.

What are time and space made of? Where does matter come from? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his whole life exploring these questions and pushing the boundaries of what we know. Here he explains how our image of the world has changed over the last few dozen centuries.

In elegant and accessible prose, Rovelli takes us on a wondrous journey from Aristotle to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to the Higgs boson, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers readers a deeper understanding of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. His evocative explanations invite us to imagine, beyond our ever-changing idea of reality, a whole new world that has yet to be discovered.

How to Make Your Money Last: The Indispensable Retirement Guide

By Jane Bryant Quinn. In this comprehensive guide to managing retirement savings, Quinn (columnist, AARP Bulletin; Making the Most of Your Money NOW) provides savvy suggestions to people approaching, entering, or managing retirement. Those thinking about taking the plunge will value the focus on planning and “rightsizing” spending. New retirees will appreciate the step-by-step tips on which accounts to tap first and how to “prudently parcel your money out.” Finally, those further down the path may find useful advice in a series of “yes”/”no” scenarios, offering a roadmap to inform their own choices. The chapters conclude with concise summaries and bulleted lists, but the information in places is perhaps too comprehensive—the discussion of Social Security, for example, operates at a level of detail that only a die-hard planner may enjoy. VERDICT Readers at these mature stages of planning will find valuable insight and resources here, making the book a good complement to others such as Laurence J. Kotlikoff and others’ Get What’s Yours and Emily Guy Birken’s The Five Years Before You Retire. With strategy and thoughtfulness, Quinn’s readers will be able to “get more from your assets than you probably think.”—Doug Diesenhaus, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

365 Ways to Live Generously: Simple Habits for a Life That’s Good for You and for Others

By Sharon Lipinski. Transform your physical, emotional, and spiritual health with the power of generosity. 365 Ways to Live Generously features an easy, inspiring lesson for every day that focuses on one of the seven generosity habits: Physical Health, Mindfulness, Connecting with Others, Connecting with Yourself, Gratitude, Simplicity, and Philanthropy. Each habit appears once a week, giving readers a whole year to practice and make it a part of their daily life.

100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive

100-plantsBees, along with other pollinators, are essential to food production and ultimately human life, and their survival is in critical peril. One of the simplest ways we can help ensure their future is by providing and protecting the plants they thrive on. In an at-a-glance, photo-driven format, 100 Plants to Save the Bees presents 100 nectar- and pollen-rich plants that home gardeners can cultivate to create a more bee-friendly world and turn their backyards, fields, and vacant lots into pollinator paradises.

Healing Herbal Teas: Learn to Blend 101 Specially Formulated Teas for Stress Management, Common Ailments, Seasonal Health, and Immune Support

By Sarah Farr. For the thousands of people who turn daily to herbal tea for calming the nerves or fighting off a cold, Healing Herbal Teas shows how easy and fun it can be to create flavorful, customized teas for enjoyment and health year-round, with 101 original recipes accompanied by insights into the medicinal qualities of each herb.


Freshly blended herbal teas offer more healing power than do pre-packaged tea bags. In Healing Herbal Teas, master herbalist and author Sara Farr serves up 101 original recipes that not only offer health advantages but also taste great. Formulations to benefit each body system and promote well-being include Daily Adrenal Support, Inflammation Reduction, and Digestive Tonic. Additional recipes that address seasonal needs such as allergy relief or immune support will attune you to the cycles of nature, while instruction on the art of tea blending will teach you how to develop your own signature mixtures to give your body exactly what it needs. This book is an enchanting and delectable guide to blending and brewing power-packed herbal teas at home.

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