Written for anyone who cares about preschool education in this country, The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups offers terrific insights into the world of children—the delight of imaginative play, the allure of nature, the power of emotion.
If the teen years are a difficult passage, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood seeks to map the journey, at least as it relates to girls. Lisa Damour divides this "tangle" into seven strands (parting with childhood, harnessing emotions, etc.) and offers wisdom drawn from her research and experience to help parents and, really, anyone who has girls in their care to understand and assist the process. Her advice is clear-headed, to the point and often surprising.
“Together and alone, we need literature as the California valleys need rain,” muses David Denby, author of Great Books (1996) and staff writer for The New Yorker. But, he wondered, in an age of texting and tweeting, are teens still reading complex literary works? And can an appetite for serious reading be developed in high school?
In a recent Salon interview, Georgetown University professor and political analyst Michael Eric Dyson asked, “[H]ow do you carry out a criticism of those with whom you disagree without losing your humanity or questioning theirs in the process?” He answers his own question in The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. Driven by the hopes Obama raised with his historical rise to power, Dyson delivers a provocative scrutiny of a presidency as complex as the ongoing issues of race, and he does so with grace and wary empathy.
Chris Offutt has made a remarkable career for himself as an award-winning author and screenwriter (“True Blood,” “Weeds”). In his stunning new memoir, he turns to the complex legacy of his father, Andrew Offutt, a prolific writer of pulp science fiction and pornography. And by “prolific,” we’re talking more than 400 paperbacks of series fiction, with titles like Blunder Broads and The Girl in the Iron Mask. (The complete bibliography in the back of the book is worth a perusal for its less family-friendly titles.)
Prominent NPR talk show host Diane Rehm’s memoir, On My Own, is a plainspoken but passionate account of the death from Parkinson’s disease of her husband of 54 years and of her journey through the first year of widowhood.
Of all the weird twists in the 40-year drama of building the Washington Monument, perhaps the oddest was in 1855, when a band of rebels staged a coup and seized the project, largely because the board overseeing the construction had accepted a commemorative stone from Pope Pius IX. The Know-Nothing Party faction didn’t give back the monument until 1858.
On a hot summer night in 2009 in Seattle, a 23-year-old man crept through the bathroom window of the home of 39-year-old Teresa Butz and her partner, 36-year-old Jennifer Hopper. The pair awoke to find the stranger standing over their beds with a knife; he proceeded to rape and stab the women repeatedly.
Historical figures tend to become one-dimensional in our minds over time. We remember Princess Diana’s beauty and generosity, Andy Warhol’s artistic genius and George Gershwin’s unmistakable melodies, but we don’t always acknowledge their personal struggles. Veteran journalist Claudia Kalb asks us to do just that in Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder, a collection of 12 seemingly disparate stories of luminaries in architecture, science, politics and more.
In 1979, Iran became a revolutionary theocracy. Since then, to the outside world, the country has been identified with repression, false confessions, brutality, torture and worse. But as journalist Laura Secor demonstrates in her compelling, enlightening and often disturbing Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran, there is another aspect of the country’s modern history, a “revolutionary impulse as complexly modern as the society that produced it.”