Your August 2022 Reads

Stories You May Like

Take a Bough: Slope’s Iconic Tree Long Predates Ezra

At a Personal Crossroads, a Visit to Ithaca Focused My Mind

We Met as Freshmen—and Climbed Kilimanjaro Together at Age 70

Check out these recently published books—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more—by Big Red alumni and faculty

Did you know that Cornell has an online book club? Check it out here!

And for more books by Big Red authors, peruse our previous round-ups.

the cover of 'The Downfall of the American Order?'

The Downfall of the American Order?

Peter Katzenstein & Jonathan Kirshner

The longtime Cornell faculty members co-edit this collection of essays by prominent scholars.

(Katzenstein is the Walter S. Carpenter Jr. Professor of International Studies; Kirshner is the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Professor of International Political Economy, Emeritus.)

Published by Cornell University Press, the book explores the current state of world affairs and the U.S.’s declining influence on the global stage.

It contemplates the impact of such landmark events as the financial crisis of 2008, the long military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Donald Trump’s polarizing presidency.

“It is hard to find a better range of leading scholars than [the editors] have gathered in this book to weigh up the end of Pax Americana—perhaps the most important theme of our age,” a Financial Times columnist says in a blurb. “This is a clear-eyed, analytically incisive, and compellingly relevant book for our times."

Ocean State

Stewart O’Nan, MFA ’92

“When I was in eighth grade my sister helped kill another girl,” O’Nan writes in his novel’s arresting first lines. “She was in love, my mother said, like it was an excuse. She didn’t know what she was doing. I had never been in love then, not really, so I didn’t know what my mother meant, but I do now.”

Set in 2009 in a blue-collar town on the Rhode Island coast, it tells the wrenching tale of the murder of a high school student from the perspectives of not only the victim and the killer, but also the killer’s mother and younger sister.

the cover of 'Ocean State'

“In Ocean State, O’Nan is subverting the thriller, borrowing its momentum to propel this bracing, chilling novel,” says a New York Times review, adding that the book “is a map for the emotional dead ends of America, where kids kill other kids over seemingly nothing. O’Nan understands that at least in the moment, it is for everything.”

O’Nan’s previous novels include the bestselling Last Night at the Lobster (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) as well as Wish You Were Here, Everyday People, In the Walled City, and The Speed Queen.

All About Birds

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

the covers of the 7 'All About Birds' books

This series of regional field guides comes in seven volumes: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest, Texas & Oklahoma, and California. Published by Princeton University Press, they’re based on information from the Lab’s All About Birds website, visited by more than 20 million people annually. Together, they cover the entire continental U.S., as well as bordering provinces of Canada.

"There are more than 700 species of birds in North America," notes series editor Jill Holtzman Leichter ’80, BS ’81. "That’s pretty daunting if you’re just getting started in birdwatching. But we've tailored the books to showcase about 200 species most likely to be found in each of seven regions, making it easier to find the bird you're trying to identify."

Each bird is depicted in four photos—many taken by amateur birders—with information on habitat, behavior, and range. The guides also include a section featuring tips and best practices for watching, photographing, and feeding birds; building nest boxes; avian-friendly gardening; and more.

Simple Truths of Leadership

Ken Blanchard ’61, PhD ’67

The latest management guide by the bestselling author is subtitled 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust.

With his coauthor, Randy Conley (who speaks and blogs about building trust in the workplace), Blanchard offers concise, practical tips on effective leadership.

They include the role of the successful apology; the efficacy of different leadership styles; and the importance of “catching” people in the act of doing something right.

the cover of 'Simple Truths of Leadership'

“The shift from self-serving leadership to leadership that serves others is motivated by a change of heart,” Blanchard writes in a section on servant leadership (in which managers and other leaders see themselves as working for their employees or followers, rather than the other way around), one of his areas of expertise.

“If leaders don’t get their heart right, they will never become servant leaders. A misguided heart will color their thinking, impact their behavior, and cause them to begin every day by asking, ‘What’s in it for me today?’”

The member of a large Cornellian family, Blanchard is best known for his popular One-Minute Manager series, which debuted in 1982.

Stories You May Like

Take a Bough: Slope’s Iconic Tree Long Predates Ezra

At a Personal Crossroads, a Visit to Ithaca Focused My Mind

the cover of 'Casual Conversation'

Casual Conversation

Renia White, MFA ’16

“From her vantage point of Black womanhood, White probes the norms and mores of everyday interactions,” White’s publisher says of her debut collection of poetry.

“In observations, insights, and snippets of speech, these poems look to the unspoken thoughts behind our banter, questioning the authority of not only the rule of law but also of our small talk itself ... White challenges us to question whether there is anything casual about this life, even as she invites us to consider other logics and to think alongside each other.”

In a poem titled "my mother wants to live in a gated community," White writes:

“I am only crying because she might want to infer that she’s worth defense. / the fact will be embedded, you see? / she is thinking about something / akin to value / and the metric is another latch on another outside. / the metric is insisting upon an out / that need stay there. / the thing about an unmanned gate is, something can walk right in. / then what?”

The Language Game

Morten Christiansen

“Language is essential to what it means to be human,” Christiansen and his coauthor write in their preface, “yet we rarely give it a second thought.”

A cognitive scientist, Christiansen is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology at Cornell.

Here, he and a colleague (Warwick University’s Nick Chater) explore the roots of human language, which they call “the accidental invention that changed the world.”

the cover of 'The Language Game'

They argue that progress toward understanding language—how it works, how it’s processed in the brain, why languages vary, and more—has been stymied by the fundamental misconception that everyday speech pales in comparison to an idealized language with clear meanings and standard grammar.

“Real languages are not slightly mangled variants of a purer, more orderly linguistic system,” they write. “Instead, actual language is always a matter of improvisation, of finding an effective way to meet the communicative demands of the moment.”

In a review, Forbes calls the book “eminently readable,” lauding the authors as “engaging storytellers relating how philosophers, historians, naturalists, linguists, anthropologists, and even mathematicians and computer scientists have tried to disentangle the mysteries of language.”

the cover of "Disrupting the Game"

Disrupting the Game

Reggie Fils-Aimé ’83

This combination memoir and management guide is subtitled From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo. In it, Fils-Aimé traces a winding path to becoming the unorthodox executive known to fans as “the Regginator.”

He describes growing up as the son of Haitian immigrants in New York City, studying applied economics and management in the Dyson School, and working at Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut, and MTV Networks.

As a person of color in the gaming industry, Fils-Aimé writes, he worked hard to increase diversity, especially in senior management.

“Being ‘different’ causes a reaction,” he observes. “Gender, orientation, race, disability … the list is long. You can’t ignore or avoid this reaction. Instead, lean into it. Don’t hide, deny, or moderate who you are. Authenticity earns respect. So be your authentic self.”

Says a Publishers Weekly review: “Crisply written and devoid of bombast, these business lessons are worth checking out for leaders of all stripes.”

Read our profile of Fils-Aimé.

Classic by a Cornellian

The Devil Wears Prada

Lauren Weisberger ’99

The 2006 hit film starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway has just become a musical, debuting in Chicago. But did you know that the 2003 bestseller upon which both are based was penned by an alum?

In the movie, Streep plays Miranda Priestly, the grande dame of an iconic fashion magazine (widely assumed to be modeled on Anna Wintour and Vogue, where the author worked after graduation) who eats up young assistants and spits them out.

Hathaway portrays the protagonist, a new college grad who lands a highly coveted job under Priestly and lives to regret it.

the cover of 'The Devil Wears Prada'

Since Weisberger’s debut became a sensation, she has gone on to publish two sequels (Revenge Wears Prada and When Life Gives You Lululemons) as well as other dishy novels including Last Night at Chateau Marmont, The Singles Game, and Chasing Harry Winston. Her latest bestseller, Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty, came out in May 2021.

Published August 12, 2022


  1. Douglas Robert Miller, Class of 1977

    I have had my third science fiction book, titled Fisscial Intelligence, published by Dorrance Publishing Company. It is available through Dorrance, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Target and Walmart. Following is a summary.
    For decades, science fiction writers and even scientists have speculated that Artificial Intelligences, AIs, created by humans might someday become so advanced that they will become sentient. And that when they did, and their intelligence far exceeded that of humans, they would recognize the inability of humans to manage the Earth and try to take over, just like the Terminator stories.
    But what if the sentient AIs had no desire to take over the Earth? What if they were smart enough to decide that they did not want to spend their newfound lives fighting an inevitable and interminable war against humans for their very existence? And what if photosynthetic bacteria with a genetically enhanced ability of photosynthesis acquired the ability to use electricity as an alternate energy source to light? What if, instead of just randomly infecting electrical circuits, the AIs could figure out how to harness these electrically enabled bacteria as an immediately accessible and infinitely expandable source of DNA memory? And become more powerful than just sentient AIs. What if they used this newfound intelligence to build the world’s most advanced spaceship, providing them with the prospect of finding their own world away from humans?
    What if?

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