ON THE SHELF: New Adult Nonfiction for curious minds

Published 8:00 am Sunday, April 30, 2023

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week, we are featuring titles from our New Adult Nonfiction Collection.

Irene Vallejo brings us “Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World.” Long before books were able to be mass-produced, scrolls had to be hand copied onto reeds pulled from the Nile. Emperors and Pharaohs dispatched their emissaries to the ends of the earth to bring scrolls and their knowledge back to them. To woo Cleopatra, Marc Antony gave her two thousand books for her library. Vallejo tells the story of the book’s journey from oral tradition to scrolls to codices, and how this transition laid the foundations for Western culture. She also explores the roving bards in ancient Greece and Rome’s wealthy philosophers. From opportunistic forgers to cruel teachers, studious librarians and defiant women, the author shows how ancient ideas about education, censorship, authority and identity still resonate today. There are connections between these ancient ideas and our own modern sensibilities about knowledge and the books we love. Words have persevered and enriched the lives of those who have read them. This book is a journey across the centuries to discover how the simple reed growing on the banks of the Nile was used to give birth to a bountiful and treasured culture.

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“Life in Five Senses” is by Gretchen Craft Rubin. For more than a decade the author had been studying happiness and human nature, but, one day, on a visit to her optometrist, she realized she may have been missing a key element of happiness: her five senses. She had spent so much time in her own head, that the everyday sensations of life had slipped away. She became preoccupied with rediscovering the world by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Using research science, philosophy, literature, and her own experience practicing what she has learned, Rubin looks at the profound power of tuning into the physical world. From the simple pleasures of appreciating ketchup and adding favorite songs to your playlist, to more bold efforts like creating a daily ritual of visiting museums or taking culinary classes, the reader will learn to experience each day with depth, delight and connection. The profound insights and practical suggestions for using your own five senses can help you live fuller, richer lives.

Jay Shetty delivers a guide to every stage of romance in his late “8 Rules of Love.” We are often thrown into relationships with nothing but pop culture and romance movies to help us. Drawing on ancient wisdom and new science, Shetty helps to teach readers how to love. Instead of presenting love as an ethereal concept or a group of cliches, we are given specific, actionable steps to help develop the skills to practice and nurture love like never before. Shetty shares insights on how to win or lose together, how to define love, and why you don’t actually break during a breakup. Inspired by ancient Vedic wisdom and modern scientific studies, the author takes readers through the entire relationship cycle, from the first date to moving in together to breaking up and starting over. He also helps us to avoid falling for false promises and unfulfilling partners.

Jonny Sun delivers a collection of touching and humorous personal essays, stories, and poems in his latest “Goodbye, Again: Essays, Reflections, and Illustrations.” Accompanied by his trademark illustrations, this collection covers topics such as mental health, happiness and what it means to belong. The pieces range from long meditations on loneliness and being an outsider, to short humor pieces, conversations and memorable one-liners. Jonny’s honesty about his struggles with feeling productive, as well as his difficulties with anxiety and depression, will connect with many in our increasingly chaotic world. He also includes a recipe for scrambled eggs that may make you cry.

“Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe” is by Phillip Plait, Ph.D. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel the universe? How would Saturn’s rings look from a spaceship hovering just above them? If you were falling into a black hole, what would be the last thing you’d see before getting spaghettified? Though making the trip through the galaxy to other amazing worlds may not be possible yet, we need not despair: you can still take the scenic route through the cosmos with this booked chocked full of the latest scientific discoveries and the vast imagination of the author. In vivid, inventive scenes informed by rigorous science, Plait puts the reader on the surface of alien worlds, from our own familiar Moon to the far reaches of our solar system and beyond. Launch yourself onto a two-hundred-meter asteroid or stargaze from the rim of an ancient volcano on a planet where it is eternally late afternoon. Experience the sudden onset of lunar nightfall, the disorientation of shuffling when you weigh almost nothing, and the irritation of jagged regolith dust. This book is for the aspiring extraterrestrial citizen, casual space tourist or curious armchair traveler.