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Summer reading: 8 books by Emory faculty to add to your list

Emory Report

Ready to relax with a good book? Whether you're in the mood for thoughtful poems, intriguing novels or compelling nonfiction, Emory faculty authors have you covered.

Ready to relax with a good book? Whether you're in the mood for thoughtful poems, intriguing novels or compelling nonfiction, Emory authors have you covered. 

Emory faculty published 118 books in 2016 — on topics ranging from poetry to physics, pastoral care to public health — and 2017 is already shaping up to be a busy year.

Here are eight recent books written or translated by Emory professors to add to your summer reading list: 

 

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide

By Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies

As protests roiled Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown, a young black man, by a white police officer, many commentators focused on "black rage." Carol Anderson saw something else. In a Washington Post op-ed that quickly went viral, she argued that the crisis was sparked by "white rage against progress," rather than "black rage against cops."

Her book-length exploration of the topic, “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide," came out in May 2016 and won this year's National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Praised by the judges as "a searing critique of white America’s systematic resistance to African American advancement," her persuasive scholarship traces white opposition to black progress from the Civil War to the present.

 

The Transmigration of Bodies, by Yuri Herrera

Translated by Lisa Dillman, senior lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese 

With echoes of "Romeo and Juliet" set against the violence of contemporary Mexico, Yuri Herrera's "Transmigration of Bodies" follows its hero, The Redeemer, as he is called upon by two feuding families to broker peace in a city ruined by a plague.

Lisa Dillman won the Best Translated Book Award for fiction for her rendering of Herrera's "Signs Preceding the End of the World"; her July 2016 translation of "The Transmigration of Bodies" from Spanish into English has won praise from the Los Angeles Times and other critics. Her translation of Herrera's "Kingdom Cons" was published June 13.

 

The Borrowed World

By Emily Leithauser, visiting assistant professor of English

"The Borrowed World," Emily Leithauser's first collection of poems, won the 2015 Able Muse Book Award and was published by Able Muse Press in July 2016. Praised for its unified content, carefully cultivated style, quiet authority and precise descriptions, "The Borrowed World" explores themes of loss and isolation. 

Two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey describes "The Borrowed World" as "an elegant meditation on inheritance, the vagaries of love and loss, familial relations — with all the devastating implosions within — and our relationship to the past filtered through the flawed lens of memory." 

 

My Search for Ramanujan: How I Learned to Count

By Ken Ono, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics

By all counts, Ken Ono is an acclaimed mathematician — unraveling mysteries from the late Indian math genius Ramanujan, chatting about pi with Neil deGrasse Tyson, visiting the White House and serving as the math consultant on a movie about Ramanujan. But that didn't always seem the likely path for the boy who disappointed his "tiger parents" by giving up violin in favor of racing bicycles, then dropping out of high school.

In his memoir, "My Search for Ramanujan: How I Learned to Count," Ono — writing with Amir D. Aczel — chronicles his childhood as the son of Japanese immigrants, his deep fears of failing to live up to their exceedingly high standards, and how he eventually found his way to a successful math career, guided by various mentors and by the story of Ramanujan, who endured significant struggles and whose work now informs Ono's own.

 

Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World

By Benjamin Reiss, professor of English 

In "Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World," Benjamin Reiss explores how socially constructed rules for human sleep — from when we should sleep to where and with whom we should do it — turned a universal human experience into a cause for worry and frustration.

"What is strangest about these expectations and social rules is that for all of their power today, at most times and in most places in human history, practically no one followed any of them," Reiss notes in the introduction to the book, published in March 2017 to widespread media coverage. Combining insights from history, literature and science, "Wild Nights" explores the diversity of sleep and the impact of efforts to tame it.

 

The Inner Workings of Life: Vignettes in Systems Biology

By Eberhard O. Voit, professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in systems biology, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University

The field of systems biology — which uses mathematical biology and computational analysis to examine the highly connected systems that make up living things, beginning at the molecular level — has potentially far-reaching implications for our understanding of life.

With chapter titles like "I'd rather be fishin,'" and "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades," Eberhard Voit's "The Inner Workings of Life: Vignettes in Systems Biology" presents this complicated science in terms that non-experts can find both understandable and intriguing. As Voit explains in the foreword (dubbed the "Appetizer"), this is not a college textbook. Instead, it's a "curling-up-in-a-hammock-with-milk-and-cookies-in-a-summer-breeze read or maybe a deep-thoughts about the secrets of life at midnight with scotch and candlelight treatise."

 

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

By Frans de Waal, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology

Many of the traits that humans have used to separate ourselves from animals — such as our use of tools or our sense of self — have come into question as we learn more about what other species can do. Frans de Waal's "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" examines research on dolphins, crows, parrots, wasps, chimpanzees and other animals to challenge our ideas about animal intelligence.

Praising the book as "thoroughly engaging, remarkably informative and deeply insightful," Publisher's Weekly notes that de Waal "teaches readers as much about humankind as he does about our nonhuman relatives." Published in April 2016, it is now available in paperback.

 

Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems 1995-2015

By Kevin Young, University Distinguished Professor

Longlisted for the National Book Award and named one of the New York Times' 10 "Best Poetry of 2016" titles, Kevin Young's "Blue Laws" draws from his nine published books and adds a variety of uncollected or unpublished poems. The title, Young explains in the preface, "comes from the traditional, often unenforced laws that restrict behavior on the Sabbath, but also speaks to the blues music that informs America's and my own."

Exploring topics from the personal to the political, "'Blue Laws' demonstrates why Kevin Young is one of the most important poets of his generation," the Washington Post declares. 

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