Staff Pick

A path-breaking astrophysicist, Seager “spent my life searching for lights in the dark.” Then her husband died and she was plunged into a new kind of darkness, one that left her feeling like a rogue planet: adrift in the universe with no sun to orbit. As that metaphor conveys, Seager was centered by more than loss, and in this bracingly honest memoir, she puts her personal catastrophe in the largest possible context, intertwining her struggle to adjust to grief and raise her two young sons alone with her ongoing search for life in the cosmos. The challenges are formidable, often turning the rational scientist into a mess of tears and panic. But sustained by her passion for the stars (“the places where science and magic meet”) and helped by her children and the Widows of Concord (a group of bereaved women who support each other with regular get-togethers, practical advice, and the exchange of recipes, clothes, and dating tips), Seager slowly comes to terms with the pain, anger, and confusion of her new role, discovering truths she articulates with often heartbreaking lucidity: “when you lose someone,” she says,” you don’t lose them all at once, and the dying doesn’t stop with their death. You lose them a thousand times in a thousand ways. You say a thousand goodbyes.”

The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576259
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Crown - August 18th, 2020

Staff Pick

Nunez’s extraordinary technique might be summed up in the first line of her mesmerizing novel: “I went to hear a man give a talk,” an unnamed narrator states, aptly introducing a narrative woven of stories, conversations, and ruminations, one in which the listening is no less important than the telling. Nunez’s narrator is expert at both, and her profiles of passing acquaintances—a woman at her gym, her Airbnb host, even her host’s cat—are as vivid and engaging as those of her oldest friends, like her ex, a misanthropic public intellectual obsessed with the climate crisis and her best friend from college, a sharp woman with a dark sense of humor and a daughter estranged nearly from birth. Each story is told—mostly—without judgment, and all are mined for what they suggest about how to live. And how to die, which may or may not be the same question, as Nunez’s protagonist discovers when she agrees to help her college friend end her “battle” with cancer, a partnership that opens new directions in their relationship and leads not only to pathos but to unexpected moments of humor. As with her National Book Award-winning The Friend, there is a lot to think about here, but Nunez couches her deft novel of ideas within a full gamut of emotions.

What Are You Going Through: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593191415
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Riverhead Books - September 8th, 2020

Staff Pick

As you might expect from a writer fluent in cardinal since age six, Nezhukumatathil’s essays are brimming with intimate scenes of natural life, each presented with exuberant prose that mingles scientific exactitude (the stunning pink of the dragon fruit is due to “a rind chock full of lycopene”) with unabashed whimsy (a gray cockatiel is “about three apples tall” and a piece of quartz tastes “like campfire smoke”). As much vivid snapshots as impeccably crafted prose, these brief pieces draw on fable, travel, and memoir to introduce plants and animals ranging from dancing frogs and the impossibly cute smiling axolotl to the more familiar monarch butterfly and flamingo. Linking each creature to the stages of her life--from her childhood as the rare brown person in overwhelmingly white communities, through the loneliness of college, her marriage (to a man who understood the charms of the foul-smelling corpse-flower), motherhood, and career as a teacher and award-winning poet— Nezhukumatathil illuminates the essential bonds between people and the beautiful, singular, awesome—wonderful—flora and fauna we share this planet with. While recognizing the troubles of this divided time, Nezhukumatathil’s first foray into prose is a genuine and whole-heartedly upbeat book.

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313652
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020