Fabulous mortician extraordinaire and founder of the Order of the Good Death Caitlin Doughty is back with another book, this one specifi cally designed to educate and create a more honest engagement with death. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? (W.W. Norton, $25.95) includes answers to more than fifty questions posed to Doughty by her young fans. The kids are great at getting to the heart of any matter, even death, in the most straightforward fashion, hence their no-nonsense queries such as, “why do we turn colors when we die?” and “what happens when the cemetery is full?” Doughty is equally candid in her answers, bringing both her expertise and her engaging writing style to brief and fascinating chapters. The essays are accompanied by wonderfully macabre and quirky drawings by Dianné Ruz, making this book a great library addition for readers of any age.
Letters from an Astrophysicist (W.W. Norton, $19.95,) by Neil deGrasse Tyson, is exactly what the title says it is: a collection of correspondence, via letters, emails, and social media posts, between the director of the Rose Center’s Hayden Planetarium and members of the general public. As you would expect, a lot of those missives contain science-related questions—including Tyson’s role in demoting Pluto—but many also concern hope, fear, religion, and even parenting. As Tyson notes, “there’s a longing we’ve all experienced at one time or another: the search for meaning in our lives; an evergreen urge to understand one’s place in this world and in this universe.” Addressing matters both philosophical and astronomical, his responses are relatable, thoughtful, and funny; reading them, you will be amused and charmed—and you will most definitely learn something new.
The wonderfully prolific Bill Bryson has taken us on trips around Europe and across America; he’s sent us Notes from a Small Island and showed us what life is like Down Under. But this time out, he launches us on a different kind of adventure—taking us on a journey within ourselves. As charming and funny as ever, in his new book, The Body (Doubleday, $30), the inimitable Bryson explores, head to toe, what we’re made of, examining certain body parts, explaining their purpose, and showing us how it all works. Can you believe that just six elements—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus—comprise 99.1 percent of us? And these can be easily found and purchased, so that if you want to build your own Benedict Cumberbatch, it will cost you around $150,000. But here’s the thing: you won’t be able to do it (massive shame, I know!) because even though we are all made of the same basic elements that can be found in a pile of dirt, we are all beautifully unique and special. This book will educate, entertain, caution, and delight you.