Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom

By Thomas E. Ricks.

New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017

A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism, from the left and right alike.

Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930’s—Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they’d died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly, in words and in deeds, against the totalitarian threat from both the left and the right. In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West’s compass set toward freedom as its due north.

It’s not easy to recall now how lonely a position both men once occupied. By the late 1930’s, democracy was discredited in many circles, and authoritarian rulers were everywhere in the ascent. There were some who decried the scourge of communism, but saw in Hitler and Mussolini “men we could do business with,” if not in fact saviors. And there were others who saw the Nazi and fascist threat as malign, but tended to view communism as the path to salvation. Churchill and Orwell, on the other hand, had the foresight to see clearly that the issue was human freedom—that whatever its coloration, a government that denied its people basic freedoms was a totalitarian menace and had to be resisted.

In the end, Churchill and Orwell proved their age’s necessary men. The glorious climax of Churchill and Orwell is the work they both did in the decade of the 1940’s to triumph over freedom’s enemies. And though Churchill played the larger role in the defeat of Hitler and the Axis, Orwell’s reckoning with the menace of authoritarian rule in Animal Farm and 1984would define the stakes of the Cold War for its 50-year course, and continues to give inspiration to fighters for freedom to this day. Taken together, in Thomas E. Ricks’s masterful hands, their lives are a beautiful testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it can take to stay true to it, through thick and thin.

Churchill and Orwell is a perfect gift for the holidays!

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Now in paperback

Priestdaddy

By Patricia Lockwood.

NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2017

SELECTED AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR:
The Washington Post * Elle * NPR * New York Magazine * Boston Globe * Nylon * Slate * The Cut * The New YorkerChicago Tribune

“Affectionate and very funny . . . wonderfully grounded and authentic.  This book proves Lockwood to be a formidably gifted writer who can do pretty much anything she pleases.” – The New York Times Book Review

From Patricia Lockwood—a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice—a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about balancing identity with family and tradition. 

Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide.

In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother.

Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.

Now in paperback

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: A Novel

By Lisa See. From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, “one of those special writers capable of delivering both poetry and plot” (The New York Times Book Review), a moving novel about tradition, tea farming, and the bonds between mothers and daughters.

In their remote mountain village, Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. For the Akha people, ensconced in ritual and routine, life goes on as it has for generations—until a stranger appears at the village gate in a jeep, the first automobile any of the villagers has ever seen.

The stranger’s arrival marks the first entrance of the modern world in the lives of the Akha people. Slowly, Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, begins to reject the customs that shaped her early life. When she has a baby out of wedlock—conceived with a man her parents consider a poor choice—she rejects the tradition that would compel her to give the child over to be killed, and instead leaves her, wrapped in a blanket with a tea cake tucked in its folds, near an orphanage in a nearby city.

As Li-yan comes into herself, leaving her insular village for an education, a business, and city life, her daughter, Haley, is raised in California by loving adoptive parents. Despite her privileged childhood, Haley wonders about her origins. Across the ocean Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. Over the course of years, each searches for meaning in the study of Pu’er, the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for centuries.

A powerful story about circumstances, culture, and distance, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond of family.

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Artemis

By Andy Weir. Augmenting her limited income by smuggling contraband to survive on the Moon’s wealthy city of Artemis, Jazz agrees to commit what seems to be a perfect, lucrative crime, only to find herself embroiled in a conspiracy for control of the city.

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Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

By Ibram X. Kendi. A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists.

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Lab Girl

By Hope Jahren. Lab Girl (now in paper) 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 on nature enliven every page of this extraordinary book. Lab Girl opens your eyes to the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal. 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.

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

By Nathalia Holt. Traces the pivotal achievements of the elite female science recruits at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where in the mid-twentieth century they transformed rocket design and enabled the creation of the first American satellites.

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For All of Us, One Today

For All of UsBy Richard Blanco, 2013 inaugural poet

For All of Us, One Today is a fluid, poetic account of Richard Blanco’s life-changing experiences as the inaugural poet in 2013. In this brief and evocative narrative, he shares the story of the call from the White House committee and all the exhilaration and upheaval of the days that followed. For the first time, he reveals the inspiration and challenges – including his experiences as a Latino immigrant and gay man – behind the creation of the inaugural poem, One Today, as well as two other poems commissioned for the occasion (Mother Country and What We Know of Country), published here for the first time ever, alongside translations of all three of those poems into his native Spanish. Finally, Blanco reflects on his new role as a public voice, his vision for poetry’s place in our nation’s consciousness, his spiritual embrace of Americans everywhere, and his renewed understanding of what it means to be an American as a result of the inauguration. Like the inaugural poem itself, For All of Us, One Today speaks to what makes this country and its people great, marking a historic moment of hope and promise in our evolving American landscape.

Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper

HoneybeeBy Marina Marchese

New in paperback!

“Surpassing the predictable “how I changed careers” memoir of finding the good life, Marchese’s informative guide is packed with facts about everything from pollination to harvesting, life cycles to historical lore, nutritional benefits to gourmet flavor combinations, medical applications to unusual varieties.” —Booklist

In 1999, Marina Marchese fell in love with bees during a tour of a neighbor’s honeybee hives. She quit her job, acquired her own bees, built her own hives, harvested honey, earned a certificate in apitherapy, studied wine tasting in order to transfer those skills to honey tasting, and eventually opened her own honey business. Today, Red Bee Honey sells artisanal honey and honey-related products to shops and restaurants all over the country.

More than an inspiring story of one woman’s transformative relationship with honeybees (some of nature’s most fascinating creatures), Honeybee is also bursting with information about all aspects of bees, beekeeping, and honey including life inside the hive; the role of the queen, workers, and drones; pollination and its importance to sustaining all life; the culinary pleasures of honey; hiving and keeping honeybees; the ancient practice of apitherapy, or healing with honey, pollen, and bee venom; and much more.

Recipes for food and personal care products appear throughout. Also included is an excellent, one-of-a-kind appendix that lists 75 different honey varietals, with information on provenance, tasting notes, and food-and-wine pairings.

Proof of Heaven

Proof of HeavenBy Dr. Eben Alexander

A scientist’s case for the afterlife…

Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion – and in essence makes us human – shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.

Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.

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