The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning, BEN FOSS, JD '03, MBA '03; Ballantine Books, $27. Since the dyslexic brain learns differently—connecting the sound of language to written words is difficult—one key, notes the author, is to emphasize "ear reading" over "eye reading." To that end, Foss, whose own experience with dyslexia informs this guide, invented a mobile device that photographs texts and reads them aloud. He emphasizes that dyslexia is not a disease to be cured and asserts that dyslexic people tend to have innate skills in verbal, social, spatial, kinesthetic, visual, mathematical or musical pursuits. As a successful entrepreneur and public speaker, Foss demonstrates his point.
The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, LINDSAY TAM HOLLAND, '99; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99.
A high school teacher in Mountain View, author Holland notes that the pressure on young people to figure out who they are and where they fit in is enormous. The balkanized contemporary U.S. high school provides the backdrop for the title character's struggle with cultural identity in this well-observed YA novel. Vee's Chinese father and Texan mother won't talk about their past or family history. So what's an imaginative sophomore to do but invent a grandfather (with the aid of Wikipedia), setting in motion a series of events culminating in an improbable adventure on the other side of the globe.
Unafraid: A Novel of the Possible, JEFF GOLDEN, MA '82; Hellgate Press, $18.95.
What if John F. Kennedy had survived Lee Harvey Oswald's bullets 50 years ago? On that premise, the author rewrites history via imagined excerpts from a JFK biography draft and its writer's interviews with—and critiques by—Caroline Kennedy. Among the intriguing might-have-beens: Fidel Castro pays a social visit to Hyannis Port, and JFK picks Martin Luther King as vice-president; achieves Middle East peace through unthinkable tactics; and masterminds a new world organization called United Economies.
Havana Requiem, PAUL GOLDSTEIN; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26.
Law professor Paul Goldstein constructs a tale of human tumult, corporate furtiveness and murder from the unexpectedly noirish realm of copyright. This is Goldstein's third novel featuring attorney Michael Seeley, who's smart, self-destructive, bold and haunted. When Seeley takes the case of Cuban composers who have lost ownership of their music, he's quickly confronted with threats to his career, his safety and his sobriety—all of which seem to prey on his solitariness. It all plays out from leather-and-wood-finished conference rooms to the shantytowns of Cuba.
The Forgetting Tree, TATJANA SOLI, '87; St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99.
Named one of the New York Times Book Review's 100 Notable Books for 2012, the author's second novel explores the depths of a woman's love for her California ranchland and determination to keep it despite a family tragedy, broken relationships and devastating illness. Soli mines themes of loss, betrayal, culture clashes and reconciliation in an elegant, lyrical style that bears touches of magical realism.
The Devil's Interval, LINDA LEE PETERSON, '71; Prospect Park Books, $14.95.
The author of The Stanford Century and other nonfiction turned her hand to whodunits with Edited to Death (2005). In this second appearance of Maggie Fiori, a feisty San Francisco magazine editor who can't resist sleuthing even as it rocks her marriage, she's on a quest to find out if a likeable limo driver on Death Row really murdered his socialite lover—and if not, who did. A clever, breezy narrative dishes up generous helpings of sex, jazz and local Bay Area color.
'We've reached a point where personality factors have overtaken economic indicators in explaining the liberal-conservative spectrum running through public opinion.'
—AVI TUSCHMAN, '02, PhD '08, in Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, Prometheus Books, $24.95.
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Data is from the past two weeks.