Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Elizabeth Gilbert, 2015

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.  Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

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Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Max Tegmark, 2017

How will Artificial Intelligence (AI) effect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human?  The rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology - and there's nobody better qualified to explore that future better than Max Tegmark, an MIT professor who has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial.  This book empowers you to join what may be the most important conversation of our time.  It does not shy away from the full range of viewpoints or from the most controversial issues - from superintelligence to meaning, consciousness and the ultimate physical limits on life in the cosmos.

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Grief Cottage

Gail Godwin, 2017
Gail Godwin’s new novel is part coming-of-age story, part ghost story. Eleven year-old Marcus goes to live with his great aunt, Charlotte, an artist who lives on a small South Carolina island.  Marcus is highly intelligent ,extremely observant and possesses a vivid imagination.  Charlotte, a self-taught painter, recounts the history of an abandoned cabin on the North End.  Her nephew is fascinated by the dreadful story of an entire family, including a youngster, who perished years ago during a hurricane.  Marcus visits the “Grief Cottage” each day.  Eventually, he believes he sees the ghost of the drowned boy.  This discovery both excites and terrifies him. Grief Cottage follows Marcus through adulthood and touches the reader with an unsentimental investigation of grief, remorse and hidden memories.

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Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue, 2016

With controversy about immigration driving politics in the United States and Europe, a beautifully-crafted novel that looks at the day-to-day life of a family from Africa. Jende Jonga, an immigrant from Cameroon, uses connections to come to the U.S. to make a better life for his wife and son.  He finds an ideal job, working as a chauffeur for Mr. Edwards, a banking executive.  Jonge loyalty allows him an entrĂ©e into the banker’s personal life. Unfortunately, the year is 2007 and the financial crisis is about to explode and topple Wall Streeters, including Jonge’s boss.  Jone loses his job and is forced to work several low-paying kitchen jobs to support his family.  The most intense drama of the book is in the effect this has on both couples—the haves and not-haves.  No matter what one feels about the pros and cons of immigration policy, Mbue’s sensitive portrayal of two families will personalize the issue. 

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Yaa Gyasi, 2016

This is an extraordinary book by a young African-American novelist.  The title is taken from an old African-American belief that death allows an enslaved person’s spirit to travel back to Africa.  Gyasi follows the lives of two sisters—Effia and Esi—from the West African nation of Ghani.  Effia marries an English officer and stays in Africa, while her sister is captured by her own people and sold to the British as a slave and sent to America..  Each chapter is told by the descendants of the sisters and represents a generation for each.  This bold format reads like separate stories.  Gyasi’s genius is in telling the saga so that the bloodlines intersect to the present day.

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Self Portrait with Boy

Rachel Lyon, 2018

A compulsively readable and electrifying debut about an ambitious young female artist who accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death--an image that could jumpstart her career, but would also devastate her most intimate friendship. One day, in the background of a self-portrait, Lu accidentally captures on film a boy falling past her window to his death. The photograph turns out to be , the best work of art she's ever made. It's an image that could change her life...if she lets it.  Set in early 90s Brooklyn on the brink of gentrification, Self-Portrait with Boy is a provocative commentary about the emotional dues that must be paid on the road to success, and a brilliant debut from novelist Rachel Lyon.

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Laura McHugh, 2017

When Arden Arrowood was four years old, her two-year-old twin sisters were stolen from the front yard of their hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, on the Mississippi River while Arden watched. Twenty years later, she returns home to confront the darkest part of her past. As the mystery unravels, the novel explores the reliability of memory, the stories we tell ourselves, and the power of love 

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The War that Saved My Life

Brubaker Bradley. Kimberly, 2015

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him  So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

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