Mass Bookshelf for June 2015

Here are the titles published by Massachusetts authors this month. Did we miss your book published in June 2015?  If so, email bookawards@massbook.org with the information.  Thanks!

CHILDREN/YOUNG ADULT

Jonathan David Kranz’s debut novel, Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea, connects two young adults who have both experienced a tragedy. Rachel’s brother, Curtis, tumbled to his death while riding a rollercoaster, whereas Ethan’s brother was said to have fallen into the ocean. Together, they undertake a search for deeper truths.

Ellen Mayer’s Red Socks is a short board book about a sock that goes missing while a mother dresses her baby. Descriptions of the articles of clothing and details of the day help establish conversational patterns to develop early language skills.

Bigtop Burning by Laura Woollett tells the story of how, on July 6, 1944, a fire broke out at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance in Hartford Connecticut. “Fascinating, devastating, and impeccably researched” (Booklist), this true tale intertwines a disaster story with elements of an unsolved mystery as it follows one family’s involvement in the tragedy.

FICTION

August Cole and P.W. Singer’s Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War explores the implications of a modern day cold war involving the United States, China and Russia. The battlefield expands beyond land, sea and air to outer space and cyberspace, and victory will depend not just on weapons of the future but lessons from the past.

Lynette D’Amico’s novella Road Trip takes readers along on a journey from Minnesota through Wisconsin as she plays with the theme of failed rescues, and the relationships that we leave behind.

Dinner with Buddha by Roland Merullo is the third novel of a trilogy in which ordinary American Otto Ringling is introduced to the wisdom of the East via road trips with his wise brother-in-law Volya Rinpoche, a spiritual teacher. Their adventures allow for a thought-provoking look at the larger questions of life that and lead Otto to a deeper understanding of himself.

NONFICTION

Cesar Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies examines what economic growth is and why it is achieved in some areas, such as California’s Silicon Valley, yet not in others – like the technology corridor alongside Route 128 in Massachusetts. “A mind-stretching, unconventional book that draws on information theory, physics, sociology and economics to explain economic growth and why it occurs in some places, not all.”(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

In The Theft of Memory, National Book Award winner Jonathan Kozol chronicles his father’s life and work as a specialist in brain disorders, including Harry Kozol’s narration of his descent into dementia at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Janet Surrey and Samuel Shem’s The Buddha’s Wife: The Path of Awakening Together presents the story of Princess Yasodhara, the wife Buddha left behind. Her path to spiritual enlightenment is one that transcends loss and grief not through solitary meditation but through relationships, within the bonds of community. The two-part book includes an historical narrative followed by a “how-to” reader’s companion.

In The Poetry of John Milton, Gordon Teskey illuminates the work of Milton, covering the full range of Milton’s development as a poet through three phases: the idealism of the poet in his twenties, the heavier-hitting works of his middle age and finally the “transcendental engagement” of Paradise Lost and the poems that followed it.

POETRY

Ralph Pennel’s poery collection, A World Less Perfect for Dying In, considers the theme of lost love while holding fast to a belief in beauty: “But I believe that we all, at the very least, should have some. Beauty, that is.” Notes poet Frannie Lindsay, “Ralph Pennel has reminded this reader that the single,  irrefutable craft of poetry is graceful connection.”

— Compiled by Kirstie David, Mass Center for the Book.

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