Staff Picks

Staff Picks

Staff Picks

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

As a fan of historical fiction and the Revolutionary War, this book was an obvious pick for me to read. The fact that it featured a woman of the times was a plus. The authors did a magnificent job of putting the reader into the late 18th century with all the concerns and issues of the times. Their extensive research was obvious. I enjoyed the presentation of the war from a northerner’s perspective since my southern upbringing was probably a little skewed. I suggest you add this to your Books to Read list. ~Beverly, HH

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I expected Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl (a Longwood Gardens Community Read 2018 selection) would be dry but that I would feel virtuous for reading it. Instead, it was an engrossing and very funny memoir.  Jahren was an English major once, and though she left that course of study in the past, she retained an understanding of how to write really well. Chapters about the biology of trees, plants and soil alternate with stories about Jahren’s  life and career, her passion for studying the natural world and her quirky lab partner Bill Hagopian, who supplies some of the book’s funniest moments. Lab Girl is the latest in Longwood’s unbroken streak of choosing compelling non-fiction that reads like the very best novel. ~Mary, HH

Downsizing

No, this is not Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. There are comic moments, however, in this sci-fi drama in which director Alexander Payne examines what happens when a Norwegian scientist (Rolf Lassgard) finds a solution to the human impact on the planet: shrink volunteers down to five inches tall to reduce human consumption and waste. Financially strapped Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) decides that shrinking him and his wife Audrey (Kristin Wiig) will both help the planet and let them live more comfortably than they do as full-sized people. However, once downsized, Safranek finds that even utopia has problems, and that paradise for some is punishment for others. "Downsizing" features an excellent international cast, including Damon, Wiig, and Lassgard, Christoph Waltz as an opportunistic Serb, and Hong Chou as a Vietnamese dissident. ~Kathryn, CCL

The Big Ones by Lucy Jones

Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones examines major natural disasters from around the planet, starting with Pompeii and ending with the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. She provides the geological background for these events, but she also analyzes how the various communities responded to these disasters and how these responses provide lessons for the future. While the science is fascinating, the main takeaway from this book is how important it is for communities to have disaster preparedness plans for future events and to possibly work on mitigating risks before the next big one hits. A timely book, especially in light of the current volcanic eruption in Hawaii. ~Jenna, CCL

Logan Lucky

A low-key and well-acted comedy that centers around a carefully planned heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  It's rated PG-13, and is funny without being crude. ~Meredith, CCL

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