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Laura's Staff Picks

CONTROL OF NATURE

CONTROL OF NATURE

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The Control of Nature is John McPhee's bestselling account of places where people are locked in combat with nature. Taking us deep into these contested territories, McPhee details the strageties and tactics through which people attempt to control nature. Most striking is his depiction of the main contestants: nature in complex and awesome guises, and those attempting to wrest control from her - stubborn, sometimes foolhardy, more often ingenious, and always arresting characters.

ENDURANCE ANNIV/E

ENDURANCE ANNIV/E

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The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. When their ship was finally crushed between two ice floes, they attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization.

In Endurance, the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age.

INVISIBLE GORILLA

INVISIBLE GORILLA

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Reading this book will make you less sure of yourself--and that's a good thing. In The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, creators of one of psychology's most famous experiments, use remarkable stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate an important truth: Our minds don't work the way we think they do. We think we see ourselves and the world as they really are, but we're actually missing a whole lot.

Chabris and Simons combine the work of other researchers with their own findings on attention, perception, memory, and reasoning to reveal how faulty intuitions often get us into trouble. In the process, they explain:

- Why a company would spend billions to launch a product that its own analysts know will fail
- How a police officer could run right past a brutal assault without seeing it
- Why award-winning movies are full of editing mistakes
- What criminals have in common with chess masters
- Why measles and other childhood diseases are making a comeback
- Why money managers could learn a lot from weather forecasters

Again and again, we think we experience and understand the world as it is, but our thoughts are beset by everyday illusions. We write traffic laws and build criminal cases on the assumption that people will notice when something unusual happens right in front of them. We're sure we know where we were on 9/11, falsely believing that vivid memories are seared into our minds with perfect fidelity. And as a society, we spend billions on devices to train our brains because we're continually tempted by the lure of quick fixes and effortless self-improvement.

The Invisible Gorilla reveals the myriad ways that our intuitions can deceive us, but it's much more than a catalog of human failings. Chabris and Simons explain why we succumb to these everyday illusions and what we can do to inoculate ourselves against their effects. Ultimately, the book provides a kind of x-ray vision into our own minds, making it possible to pierce the veil of illusions that clouds our thoughts and to think clearly for perhaps the first time.

LAB GIRL

LAB GIRL

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National Bestseller

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

A New York Times Notable Book

Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Lab Girl is her revelatory treatise on plant life--but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist. In these pages, Hope takes us back to her Minnesota childhood, where she spent hours in unfettered play in her father's college laboratory. She tells us how she found a sanctuary in science, learning to perform lab work "with both the heart and the hands." She introduces us to Bill, her brilliant, eccentric lab manager. And she extends the mantle of scientist to each one of her readers, inviting us to join her in observing and protecting our environment. Warm, luminous, compulsively readable, Lab Girl vividly demonstrates the mountains that we can move when love and work come together.

Winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Science Books & Film Prize for Excellence in Science Books

Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, TIME.com, NPR, Slate, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews

MY SISTER THE SERIAL KILLER

MY SISTER THE SERIAL KILLER

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NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 WOMEN'S PRIZE

Korede's sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola's knife. Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.

PRAC WISDOM

PRAC WISDOM

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A reasoned and urgent call to embrace and protect the essential human quality that has been drummed out of our lives: wisdom.

In their provocative new book, Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe explore the insights essential to leading satisfying lives. Encouraging individuals to focus on their own personal intelligence and integrity rather than simply navigating the rules and incentives established by others, Practical Wisdom outlines how to identify and cultivate our own innate wisdom in our daily lives.

TRAFFIC

TRAFFIC

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A New York Times Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year
The Washington Post - The Cleveland Plain-Dealer - Rocky Mountain News

In this brilliant, lively, and eye-opening investigation, Tom Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots. Traffic is about more than driving: it's about human nature. It will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us, and it may even make us better drivers.

VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD

VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:

Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR's On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS

WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS

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"Transcendent." --The New York Times Book Review

"Flawless. . . another masterpiece from an author who seems incapable of writing anything that's less than brilliant." --NPR

From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and 2019's Gingerbread comes an enchanting collection of intertwined stories.



Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret--Oyeyemi's keys not only unlock elements of her characters' lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In "Books and Roses" one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers' fates. In "Is Your Blood as Red as This?" an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. "'Sorry' Doesn't Sweeten Her Tea" involves a "house of locks," where doors can be closed only with a key--with surprising, unobservable developments. And in "If a Book Is Locked There's Probably a Good Reason for That Don't You Think," a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi's tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.