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YA Book Club POSTPONED! Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this Saturday's YA book club meeting. We will reschedule and post it here and on our social media as soon as we can. 

Aaron's Staff Picks

ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY

ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY

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What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of the new and familiar is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not. Computers, like us, confront limited space and time, so computer scientists have been grappling with similar problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us.

In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths show how algorithms developed for computers also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to peering into the future, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

ANNIHILATION

ANNIHILATION

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NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM ALEX GARLAND, STARRING NATALIE PORTMAN AND OSCAR ISAAC

The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world (Kim Stanley Robinson).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers--they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding--but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

BEAUTIFUL TROUBLE: A TOOLBOX F

BEAUTIFUL TROUBLE: A TOOLBOX F

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Elegant and incendiary. --Naomi Klein. Beautiful Trouble brings together dozens of seasoned artists and activists from around the world to distill their best practices into a toolbox for creative action. Sophisticated enough for veteran activists, accessible enough for newbies, this compendium of troublemaking wisdom is a must-have for aspiring changemakers. Showcasing the synergies between artistic imagination and shrewd political strategy, Beautiful Trouble is for everyone who longs for a more beautiful, more just, more livable world - and wants to know how to get there.
BLOCKCHAIN CHICKEN FARM: AND O

BLOCKCHAIN CHICKEN FARM: AND O

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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

A brilliant and empathetic guide to the far corners of global capitalism. --Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing

From FSGO x Logic: stories about rural China, food, and tech that reveal new truths about the globalized world

In Blockchain Chicken Farm, the technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China. Their discoveries force them to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative, and intolerant. Instead, they find that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalization but has actually innovated the technology we all use today.

From pork farmers using AI to produce the perfect pig, to disruptive luxury counterfeits and the political intersections of e-commerce villages, Wang unravels the ties between globalization, technology, agriculture, and commerce in unprecedented fashion. Accompanied by humorous "Sinofuturist" recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world.

FSG Originals × Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech's reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry's many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today.

CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ

CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ

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"This book was originally published in 1959 by Lippincott and in trade paperback editions in 1961 and 1997 by Bantam, and in 1986 by Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers"--T.p. verso.
CLOUD ATLAS

CLOUD ATLAS

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By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity.

Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.

But the story doesn't end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Praise for Cloud Atlas

"[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel's every page."--The New York Times Book Review

"One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is--and should be--read by any student of contemporary literature."--Dave Eggers

"Wildly entertaining . . . a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative."--People

"The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet--not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I've never read anything quite like it, and I'm grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds."--Michael Chabon

"Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent."--The Washington Post Book World

"Thrilling . . . One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step."--Boston Sunday Globe

"Grand and elaborate . . . [Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate."--Los Angeles Times

This is a great book for countering burnout or staving off existential dread.

This novel is a sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes triumphant relay-race toward and backwards in time.

The six interwoven stories of this book demonstrate that in every epoch, the structure of evil always transforms and always commands vast resources, but each time-trancending seed of goodness planted by every individual ultimately undermines that evil -- even if it takes centuries.

-Aaron

Collection of Essays

Collection of Essays

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George Orwell's collected nonfiction, written in the clear-eyed and uncompromising style that earned him a critical following

One of the most thought-provoking and vivid essayists of the twentieth century, George Orwell fought the injustices of his time with singular vigor through pen and paper. In this selection of essays, he ranges from reflections on his boyhood schooling and the profession of writing to his views on the Spanish Civil War and British imperialism. The pieces collected here include the relatively unfamiliar and the more celebrated, making it an ideal compilation for both new and dedicated readers of Orwell's work.

CRISIS CARAVAN: WHAT'S WRONG W

CRISIS CARAVAN: WHAT'S WRONG W

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In her controversial, no-holds-barred exposé Linda Polman shows how a vast industry has grown up around humanitarian aid. The Crisis Caravan takes us to war zones around the globe, showing how aid operations and the humanitarian world have become a feature of military strategy. Impassioned, gripping, and even darkly absurd, journalist Linda Polman "gives some powerful examples of unconscionable assistance...a world where aid workers have become enablers of the atrocities they seek to relieve" (The Boston Globe).

DAYTRIPPER

DAYTRIPPER

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The acclaimed Daytripper follows Bras de Olivias Dominguez during different periods in his life, each with the same ending: his death.

Daytripper follows the life of one man, Bras de Olivias Dominguez. Every chapter features an important period in Bras' life in exotic Brazil, and each story ends the same way: with his death. And then, the following story starts up at a different point in his life, oblivious to his death in the previous issue--and then also ends with him dying again. In every chapter, Bras dies at different moments in his life, as the story follows him through his entire existence--one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness. Each issue rediscovers the many varieties of daily life, in a story about living life to its fullest--because any of us can die at any moment.

Poignant, heartfelt and thoughtful, this comics landmark is one of the most transcendent pieces of graphic storytelling ever to hit the printed page. Brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba truly compose one of the industry's masterworks.

FOOD LAB: BETTER HOME COOKING

FOOD LAB: BETTER HOME COOKING

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Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that's perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac 'n' cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier? How to roast a succulent, moist turkey (forget about brining!)--and use a foolproof method that works every time?

As Serious Eats's culinary nerd-in-residence, J. Kenji López-Alt has pondered all these questions and more. In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don't work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new--but simple--techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, you will find out how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, how to make the crispiest, creamiest potato casserole ever conceived, and much more.

GALAPAGOS

GALAPAGOS

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"Galapagos" takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galapagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave new, and totally different human race. Here, America's master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry -- and all that is worth saving.

"Vonnegut is a postmodern Mark Twain... "Galapagos" is a madcap genealogical adventure." -- "The New York Times Book Review"

. "Beautiful.... Provocative, arresting reading." -- "USA Today"

GHOST WARS: THE SECRET HISTORY

GHOST WARS: THE SECRET HISTORY

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Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Directorate S, the explosive first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

To what extent did America's best intelligence analysts grasp the rising thread of Islamist radicalism? Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail? Comprehensively and for the first time, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll recounts the history of the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks. Based on scrupulous research and firsthand accounts by key government, intelligence, and military personnel both foreign and American, Ghost Wars details the secret history of the CIA's role in Afghanistan (including its covert operations against Soviet troops from 1979 to 1989), the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of bin Laden, and the failed efforts by U.S. forces to find and assassinate bin Laden in Afghanistan.

HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN SEVEN

HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN SEVEN

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Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. In making these things cheap, modern commerce has transformed, governed, and devastated Earth. In A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore present a new approach to analyzing today's planetary emergencies. Bringing the latest ecological research together with histories of colonialism, indigenous struggles, slave revolts, and other rebellions and uprisings, Patel and Moore demonstrate that throughout history, crises have always prompted fresh strategies to make the world cheap and safe for capitalism. At a time of crisis in all seven cheap things, innovative and systemic thinking is urgently required. This book proposes a radical new way of understanding--and reclaiming--the planet in the turbulent twenty-first century.
RIGHTEOUS MIND

RIGHTEOUS MIND

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The bestseller that challenges conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to conservatives and liberals alike--a "landmark contribution to humanity's understanding of itself" (The New York Times Book Review).

Drawing on his twenty-five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.

In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you're ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

This book outlines one of the most insightful theories into why liberals and conservatives almost literally speak different languages, and will help you understand and appeal to the "moral tastes" of those you're least likely to agree with politically so you can get through to them. Drawing from research across psychology (and specifically from moral psychology) the startling, fascinating, and often terrifying insights from studies outlined in this book justify the idea -- sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill -- that "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

-Aaron

SANDWORM: A NEW ERA OF CYBERWA

SANDWORM: A NEW ERA OF CYBERWA

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The true story of the most devastating cyberattack in history and the desperate hunt to identify and track the elite Russian agents behind it, from Wired senior writer Andy Greenberg.

"Lays out in chilling detail how future wars will be waged in cyberspace and makes the case that we have done little, as of yet, to prevent it." --Washington Post



In 2014, the world witnessed the start of a mysterious series of cyberattacks. Targeting American utility companies, NATO, and electric grids in Eastern Europe, the strikes grew ever more brazen. They culminated in the summer of 2017, when the malware known as NotPetya was unleashed, penetrating, disrupting, and paralyzing some of the world's largest businesses--from drug manufacturers to software developers to shipping companies. At the attack's epicenter in Ukraine, ATMs froze. The railway and postal systems shut down. Hospitals went dark. NotPetya spread around the world, inflicting an unprecedented ten billion dollars in damage--the largest, most destructive cyberattack the world had ever seen.

The hackers behind these attacks are quickly gaining a reputation as the most dangerous team of cyberwarriors in history: a group known as Sandworm. Working in the service of Russia's military intelligence agency, they represent a persistent, highly skilled force, one whose talents are matched by their willingness to launch broad, unrestrained attacks on the most critical infrastructure of their adversaries. They target government and private sector, military and civilians alike.

A chilling, globe-spanning detective story, Sandworm considers the danger this force poses to our national security and stability. As the Kremlin's role in foreign government manipulation comes into greater focus, Sandworm exposes the realities not just of Russia's global digital offensive, but of an era where warfare ceases to be waged on the battlefield. It reveals how the lines between digital and physical conflict, between wartime and peacetime, have begun to blur--with world-shaking implications.

THIS IS NOT PROPAGANDA: ADVENT

THIS IS NOT PROPAGANDA: ADVENTURES IN THE WAR AGAINST REALITY

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When information is a weapon, every opinion is an act of war.

We live in a world of influence operations run amok, where dark ads, psyops, hacks, bots, soft facts, ISIS, Putin, trolls, and Trump seek to shape our very reality. In this surreal atmosphere created to disorient us and undermine our sense of truth, we've lost not only our grip on peace and democracy--but our very notion of what those words even mean.

Peter Pomerantsev takes us to the front lines of the disinformation age, where he meets Twitter revolutionaries and pop-up populists, "behavioral change" salesmen, Jihadi fanboys, Identitarians, truth cops, and many others. Forty years after his dissident parents were pursued by the KGB, Pomerantsev finds the Kremlin re-emerging as a great propaganda power. His research takes him back to Russia--but the answers he finds there are not what he expected.

Blending reportage, family history, and intellectual adventure, This Is Not Propaganda explores how we can reimagine our politics and ourselves when reality seems to be coming apart.

From troll farms and Facebook groups toying with the cognitive biases of the masses to win elections to cyber attacks and information warfare, I found this book very easy to get through. Luckily, while allowing me to see snahpshots of those at the center of each of these individual areas of the mad world of the media today.

-Aaron

Tin Drum

Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum, one of the great novels of the twentieth century, was published in Ralph Manheim's outstanding translation in 1959. It became a runaway bestseller and catapulted its young author to the forefront of world literature.

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original publication, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, along with Grass's publishers all over the world, is bringing out a new translation of this classic novel. Breon Mitchell, acclaimed translator and scholar, has drawn from many sources: from a wealth of detailed scholarship; from a wide range of newly-available reference works; and from the author himself. The result is a translation that is more faithful to Grass's style and rhythm, restores omissions, and reflects more fully the complexity of the original work.

After fifty years, THE TIN DRUM has, if anything, gained in power and relevance. All of Grass's amazing evocations are still there, and still amazing: Oskar Matzerath, the indomitable drummer; his grandmother, Anna Koljaiczek; his mother, Agnes; Alfred Matzerath and Jan Bronski, his presumptive fathers; Oskar's midget friends--Bebra, the great circus master and Roswitha Raguna, the famous somnambulist; Sister Scholastica and Sister Agatha, the Right Reverend Father Wiehnke; the Greffs, the Schefflers, Herr Fajngold, all Kashubians, Poles, Germans, and Jews--waiting to be discovered and re-discovered.

UBIK

UBIK

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"From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from."--Lev Grossman, Time

Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business--deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in "half-life," a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter's face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all.

"More brilliant than similar experiments conducted by Pynchon or DeLillo."--Roberto Bolaño

We See It All: Liberty and Justice in an Age of Perpetual Surveillance

We See It All: Liberty and Justice in an Age of Perpetual Surveillance

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This investigation into the legal, political, and moral issues surrounding how the police and justice system use surveillance technology asks the question: what are citizens of a free country willing to tolerate in the name of public safety?

As we rethink the scope of police power, Jon Fasman's chilling examination of how the police and the justice system use the unparalleled power of surveillance technology--how it affects privacy, liberty, and civil rights--becomes more urgent by the day. Embedding himself within police departments on both coasts, Fasman explores the moral, legal, and political questions posed by these techniques and tools.

By zeroing in on how facial recognition, automatic license-plate readers, drones, predictive algorithms, and encryption affect us personally, Fasman vividly illustrates what is at stake and explains how to think through issues of privacy rights, civil liberties, and public safety. How do these technologies impact how police operate in our society? How should archaic privacy laws written for an obsolete era--that of the landline and postbox--be updated?

Fasman looks closely at what can happen when surveillance technologies are combined and put in the hands of governments with scant regard for citizens' civil liberties, pushing us to ask: Is our democratic culture strong enough to stop us from turning into China, with its architecture of control?

WHITE MAN'S BURDEN: WHY THE WE

WHITE MAN'S BURDEN: WHY THE WE

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From one of the world's best-known development economists--an excoriating attack on the tragic hubris of the West's efforts to improve the lot of the so-called developing world

In his previous book, The Elusive Quest for Growth, William Easterly criticized the utter ineffectiveness of Western organizations to mitigate global poverty, and he was promptly fired by his then-employer, the World Bank. The White Man's Burden is his widely anticipated counterpunch--a brilliant and blistering indictment of the West's economic policies for the world's poor. Sometimes angry, sometimes irreverent, but always clear-eyed and rigorous, Easterly argues that we in the West need to face our own history of ineptitude and draw the proper conclusions, especially at a time when the question of our ability to transplant Western institutions has become one of the most pressing issues we face.

WINNERS TAKE ALL: THE ELITE CH

WINNERS TAKE ALL: THE ELITE CH

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The New York Times bestselling, groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to change the world preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. An essential read for understanding some of the egregious abuses of power that dominate today's news.

Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can--except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. They rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; they lavishly reward "thought leaders" who redefine "change" in ways that preserve the status quo; and they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm.

Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? His groundbreaking investigation has already forced a great, sorely needed reckoning among the world's wealthiest and those they hover above, and it points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world--a call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.

This is a well-defended, scathing polemic on how those who brand themselves as the problem-solving good guys and have the marketing budgets to dominate the media with those brands are the ones benefiting from social failures in the first place. Giridharadas analyses specific examples of how these “winners” will do anything except address the root causes of inequality because doing so would undermine the power and privilege they love. If you’re looking for intellectual ammunition to debate against those who believe the downtrodden will be empowered by corporate messiahs like Bezos, Gates, or Musk, this is the book for you!

-Aaron

WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST

WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST

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The award-winning masterpiece by one of today's most honored writers, Ursula K. Le Guin!

The Word for World is Forest

When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters.

Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate against their captors, abandoning their strictures against violence. But in defending their lives, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.