📚 The Reading Journal #046

Elon Musk, The Library Book and A History of the World in Eight Plagues

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Edgar Allan Poe is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. Ironically, Poe's own death is a mystery. He was found in a state of delirium in Baltimore, wearing clothes that were not his own, and he died a few days later. The cause of his death is still unknown.

📷️ Bookshelf Humble Brag

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📚️ Staff Pick of the Week

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson 

Elon Musk, having endured bullying in his childhood and emotional trauma from his father, grew into an individual with intense mood swings and a high tolerance for risk. Despite his childhood experiences marking him, Musk managed to emerge as a powerhouse, leading SpaceX to launch thirty-one rockets, and Tesla to sell a million cars in 2021, thus making him the richest man on earth. Yet, even in his success, Musk felt the need to exit his constant crisis mode, a mindset he's carried arguably all his life. Notably, Musk's coping mechanism for his past torment has included buying Twitter shares, a symbol of the playground where he once suffered. Isaacson spent two years examining Musk's life, including interviewing him and those close to him, to discern whether Musk's personal demons are what also fuel his drive for innovation and progress.

🎥 Reading Talk's

📈 Rising Quickly - Week of May 15, 2023

If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen

"If You Tell" is a harrowing yet heartrending tale of three sisters, Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek, who endured severe abuse, degradation, and psychic terrors at the hands of their sadistic mother, Shelly, within their Raymond, Washington farmhouse. Despite the unimaginable torture, the sisters forged a defiant bond that rendered them stronger than their mother perceived. Even as Shelly ensnared others into her perverse world, the sisters mustered the courage to escape an escalating nightmare that resulted in multiple murders. This book is a testament to their survival against absolute evil, a fight for freedom and justice that risked their lives. Emerging from the darkness, they transformed into resilient women who are now loved, loving, and have moved on, embodying the spirit of survivors rather than victims.

🪄Most Talked About Fiction - Week of May 15, 2023

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandment finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, becomes something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean the death of each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win. That’s how war works, right? Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.

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📚️ Most Talked About Non-Fiction - Week of May 15, 2023

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever.

🆕 New and Noteworthy

Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues by Jonathan Kennedy

In "Pathogenesis," Professor Jonathan Kennedy challenges the conventional narrative of human progress, emphasizing the critical role of microbes in shaping history. He guides readers through sixty thousand years of history, highlighting eight significant outbreaks of infectious diseases that influenced major transitions and evolutions in societies across the globe. From the extinction of the Neanderthals, the rise of Islam, the shift from feudalism to capitalism, to the emergence of Christianity in the aftermath of pandemics in the Roman Empire, Kennedy illustrates the transformative power of disease. This thought-provoking work not only reevaluates our past but also invites us to view our present circumstances as another potential disease-driven turning point that could reshape our collective future.

👀 In Case You Missed It

✍️ Quote of the Week

If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?

Laurence J. Peter

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