What We Are Reading Today: Homesick by Jennifer Croft

Updated 28 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Homesick by Jennifer Croft

Homesick, by the award-winning translator Jennifer Croft, is a coming-of-age story that includes all the “firsts” readers might expect from a narrative about identity formation: First loss, first love, first foray toward independence. 

“It’s a complex portrait of a young Oklahoma woman’s development of a rich and exacting interior life,” Emily Rapp Black said in a review for The New York Times.

“It’s also a visual love letter to family, language and self-understanding, and the myriad ways in which these realms overlap and complicate one another,” said the review.

It added: “Like the writers W. G. Sebald and Teju Cole, who use images to supplement and contextualize ideas, Croft introduces each of her short chapters — some are only a single paragraph — with dreamlike snapshots taken by her or her mother of streets, buildings, birthday parties and everyday moments, to mysterious and engaging effect.”

In Croft’s book, “words function as networks of secret shapes that both guide and confound her, often in the same moment,” said the review. 

“Words owe their very existence to distance, although their deepest purpose is to overcome it,” Croft writes.

What We Are Reading Today: Dark Data by David J. Hand

Updated 21 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Dark Data by David J. Hand

In the era of big data, it is easy to imagine that we have all the information we need to make good decisions. But in fact the data we have are never complete, and may be only the tip of the iceberg. 

Just as much of the universe is composed of dark matter, invisible to us but nonetheless present, the universe of information is full of dark data that we overlook at our peril. 

In Dark Data, data expert David Hand takes us on a fascinating and enlightening journey into the world of the data we don’t see, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Dark Data explores the many ways in which we can be blind to missing data and how that can lead us to conclusions and actions that are mistaken. 

Examining a wealth of real-life examples, from the Challenger shuttle explosion to complex financial frauds, Hand gives us a practical taxonomy of the types of dark data that exist and the situations in which they can arise, so that we can learn to recognize and control them. 

In doing so, he teaches us not only to be alert to the problems presented by the things we don’t know, but also shows how dark data can be used to our advantage, leading to greater understanding and better decisions.