What We Are Reading Today: ‘Nature’s Compass’

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Updated 06 December 2023
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Nature’s Compass’

Authors: James L. Gould & Carol Grant Gould

We know that animals cross miles of water, land, and sky with pinpoint precision on a daily basis. But it is only in recent years that scientists have learned how these astounding feats of navigation are actually accomplished. With colorful and thorough detail, “Nature’s Compass” explores the remarkable methods by which animals find their way both near home and around the globe. The Goulds discuss how animals navigate, without instruments and training, at a level far beyond human talents.


What We Are Reading Today: A Death in the Rainforest

Updated 22 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: A Death in the Rainforest

Author: Don Kulick

As a young anthropologist, Don Kulick went to the tiny village of Gapun in New Guinea to document the death of the native Tayap, an endangered Papuan language.

“A Death in the Rainforest” takes readers inside the village, revealing what it is like to live in a place carved out like a cleft in the middle of a tropical rainforest.

This book offers insight into the impact of white society on the farthest reaches of the globe — and the story of why this anthropologist realized finally that he had to give up his study of this language and this village.

An engaging, deeply perceptive, and brilliant interrogation of what it means to study a culture, the book takes readers into a world that endures in the face of massive changes, one that is on the verge of disappearing forever.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Moon That Turns You Back’

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Updated 22 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Moon That Turns You Back’

  • The book contains various poems, some experimental, some soaked in grief, some documenting the mundane, but always with a purpose. She perhaps sums it best when she writes: “I remember so you can forget”

Author: Hala Alyan

The first time I heard Palestinian-American artist Hala Alyan speak was when she acted in the starring role in Lebanese-American filmmaker Darine Hotait’s 2015 short film, “I Say Dust.”

In those 15 minutes of beautifully shot frames, you visually travel through time, space and various emotional states as Alyan leads the way.

Both Hotait and Alyan were deliberate in showcasing their Arab-centric stories of belonging and identity. Alyan’s fierce eyes were kind but intense on the screen; her movement was soft but firm and when she spoke, she left you speechless — but in the best way.

In the film, she was the epitome of poetry, and now you can explore Alyan’s words further with her latest work, a book of poetry titled, “The Moon That Turns You Back,” which was published in March this year.

For the past decade or so, Alyan has explored stories of complexities of identity and the impact of displacement, especially in relation to the Palestinian diaspora. In this latest collection, her writing takes us through Brooklyn, Beirut, Palestine and places that exist in between or in fragmented memories.

Alyan said that she does not have just one middle name, she has six, and not a single one of those are her mother’s. She writes evocative and concize lines such as “A city full of men still has a mother,” and “every time I tell the story, I warp it,” and her poetry is vividly descriptive with lines such as “lipstick like a sliced finger.” She also writes relatable lines such as “I’m terrible at parties, secrets and money,” and “a body is a calendar of breaths.”

The book contains various poems, some experimental, some soaked in grief, some documenting the mundane, but always with a purpose. She perhaps sums it best when she writes: “I remember so you can forget.”

Alyan is an adjunct assistant professor of applied psychology at New York University after earning her doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. She has also published several novels and well-received essays. She won the Arab American Book Award in 2013 and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2018.

 

 


What We Are Reading Today: Plankton: A Worldwide Guide

Updated 21 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Plankton: A Worldwide Guide

Authors: Tom Jackson & Jennifer Parker

“Plankton” are the unsung heroes of planet Earth. Passive drifters through the world’s seas, oceans, and freshwater environments, most are invisible or very small, but some are longer than a whale. They are the global ocean’s foundation food, supporting almost all oceanic life, and they are also vitally important for land-based plants, animals, and other organisms. “Plankton” provides an incomparable look at these remarkable creatures, opening a window on the elegance and grace of microscopic marine life.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Pox Romana’

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Updated 20 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Pox Romana’

Author: COLIN ELLIOT

In the middle of the 2nd century AD, Rome was at its prosperous and powerful apex. The emperor Marcus Aurelius reigned over a vast territory that stretched from Britain to Egypt.

The Roman-made peace, or Pax Romana, seemed to be permanent. Then, apparently out of nowhere, a sudden sickness struck the legions and laid waste to cities, including Rome itself. This fast-spreading disease, now known as the Antonine plague, may have been history’s first pandemic.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘What – Reason Behind Every Desire’

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Updated 20 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘What – Reason Behind Every Desire’

  • “The book’s strength lies in its blend of research and relatable examples, making complex theories accessible to a wide audience,” Ghaffar told Arab News

Author: Abdul Ghaffar

In his second book, “What – Reason Behind Every Desire,” Saudi author Abdul Ghaffar takes readers on a journey through the depths of human desires, exploring the underlying motivations that drive us.

Ghaffar, a Riyadh resident, offers a fresh perspective on the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of fulfilment.

Ghaffar’s first book was “Why – Reason for Every Action,” and in his new work he is equally eloquent and thought-provoking as he delves into the fundamental question of why we want what we want. Drawing from psychology, philosophy, and his own life, Ghaffar skillfully unravels the intricate layers of our desires, shedding light on the subconscious forces that shape them.

Through engaging storytelling and astute analysis, Ghaffar encourages readers to reflect on their own desires and consider the deeper meanings behind them.

“The book’s strength lies in its blend of research and relatable examples, making complex theories accessible to a wide audience,” Ghaffar told Arab News. “The inspiration came from my deep curiosity about the reasons behind desires and motivations. I believe that understanding the ‘why’ behind our desires is crucial for personal growth and fulfillment. The impetus behind this work was the desire to provide readers with a valuable perspective on this topic, empowering them to make more conscious choices in life.”

Whether discussing the role of societal norms in shaping desires or exploring the concept of desire as a form of self-expression, the author has maintained a captivating narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

Moreover, “What – Reason Behind Every Desire” offers some practical insights and actionable steps for readers to better understand and navigate their desires.

Ghaffar’s writing is lucid and concise, ensuring that even complex concepts are presented in a simple manner.

The book has been nominated for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Non-Fiction, Self-Help category, Ghaffar said, adding: “To be acknowledged by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group is truly humbling.”