I was that weird kid who always had her face buried in a book -- walking around the house, in the car, at the park, in the lunchroom. Other children were alright, but I'd  rather be reading. (All of the early warning signs of an English major.) My mom used to force me to "go out and play." I would pout about it, then hide a book under my shirt and sprint into the backyard thinking she was a real sucker. Some things never change. The leaning towers of unread books in my house are a sure indication of my addiction, but I've learned to live with it, and I now know I am not alone.   (The picture is of me at Mother Goose's grave in Boston.)


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The River: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525521877
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - March 5th, 2019

It’s easier to get into a kayak from a dock than the shore, and you know what to expect from a Peter Heller novel, right?  Wrong.  On both.  Get ready to grip the sides and find your balance, because this isn’t just another beautifully written novel.  Full of invigorating panoramas and thrills, Heller once again captivated me from page 1.  Jack and Wynn know that kayaking in the Canadian wilderness isn’t for the faint of heart, and they are certainly up to the task.  But they don’t count on charting a course around a sudden, raging forest fire, picking up a severely injured woman, or avoiding drunk brutes along the way.  Pretend that Die Hard (the movie) was written by Wendell Berry and you've got it.  If you appreciate both, the way that I do, you're going to want a copy for every friend you've got.

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The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501197048
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - April 23rd, 2019

When your computer just won't stop crashing, the only SURE fix is to turn it off and turn it back on again.  And Heather is tired of her crippling depression crashing her life.  She is so tired, in fact, that she is willing to try a controversial new therapy that uses propofol (aka "The Michael Jackson drug") to induce a coma in its participants.  This is not sleep.  This is a coma.  Heather's brain is, in short, dead for 15 minutes, twice a week, and then resuscitated.  If you can not imagine what would drive someone to such a drastic measure, imagine that you are drowning.  Now imagine that a life ring is right in front of you.  How badly do you want to grab that ring?  For Heather, that ring is suicide.  It's the only way out of drowning.  I didn't say it was logical.  In fact, it's downright horrifying.  The sheer terror of the compulsion to kill herself every day is what drives her to the radical decision to attempt a literal reboot.  It changes her life forever.  The candor of the writing, combined with the desperate hopefulness of its author is inspiring.  Inner struggles are difficult to convey, and I applaud Heather for her ability to bring light and clarity to such a dark, difficult illness.  Read it, share it, start a discussion with the people around you.  This is a wonderful reminder that you just never know what someone might be struggling with.

For a full and fascinating account of the trial, click here.  And to see the effects of the propofol on blood flow (rCBF regional cerebral blood flow), view the image below.  Woah.