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Shelf Life

Bird of Another Heaven
James D. Houston, MA ’62
Alfred A. Knopf
$25.95

A saga with both sweep and intimacy, this novel by former Stegner fellow Houston explores the political, cultural and economic forces that led to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States. Sheridan Brody, a Bay Area radio talk show host, discovers that his great-great-grandfather sailed from Hawaii to the mainland with Capt. John Sutter. Brody pieces together the 1891 story of his great-grandmother, half Hawaiian and half American Indian, who was the consort of Hawaii’s last king, David Kalakaua.

Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human MindExtraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind
Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, PhD ’74
Bantam Books
$26

Psychoanalyst Mayer recovered a stolen harp in 1991 in Oakland after a dowser in Arkansas told her where to look—an inexplicable incident that launched her into a 14-year exploration of anomalous experiences. Mayer examines paranormal research (including some conducted by the CIA) and new neuroscience and physics in this book, which she finished just before her death on January 1, 2005.

Shakespeare's SonnetsShakespeare’s Sonnets
Samuel Park, ’98, MA ’98
Alyson Books
$24.95

Formerly a one-act play that Park wrote at Stanford, this story follows 1948 Harvard student Adam Standridge, “heir to one of New England’s oldest fortunes.” His picture-perfect engagement and scholarly ambitions are threatened when he is caught having sex with a man in a Widener Library toilet stall. In the midst of the scandal, a course on Shakespeare’s sonnets becomes Adam’s refuge, and the place where he must choose between great expectations and the life he truly desires.

100 Semesters: My Adventures as Student, Professor, and University President, and What I Learned Along the Way100 Semesters: My Adventures as Student, Professor, and University President, and What I Learned Along the Way
William M. Chace
Princeton U. Press
$24.95

Chace spent 40 of the eponymous semesters as a Stanford English professor before becoming president of Wesleyan and later Emory. He didn’t start out knowing much about higher ed: in high school he had eyes only for West Point and the Quaker-influenced Haverford. His autobiography incorporates critiques of tenure battles, institutional marketing and big-time athletics.

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern WorldThe Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World
Randall Stross, MA ’78, PhD ’82
Crown
$24.95

Most people know that Edison invented the electric light bulb, but fewer realize that he lit up a room with his personality. Stross, a business professor at San Jose State, considers him the first great celebrity of the modern era and shows how the inventor who racked up 1,093 U.S. patents also created an estimable public image that brought him further business opportunities.

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn'tThe No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t
Robert I. Sutton
Warner Business Books
$22.99

Business School professor Sutton believes that jerks should not be office fixtures like the water coolers we discuss them around. With case studies and statistics, Sutton suggests ways for dealing with or ousting mean-spirited people. One tenet: character can be measured by “the difference between how a person treats the powerless versus the powerful.”

The MailboxThe Mailbox
Audrey Shafer, MD ’83
Delacorte Books
$15.95

Crusty Vietnam veteran “Vernon Culligan was as good as dead to the town of Drayford, Virginia,” so when he actually dies, his 12-year-old nephew and foster child Gabe is able to conceal the fact that he has been orphaned. Shafer, an associate professor of anesthesia at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, fashions an intricate plot, complete with a mysterious benefactor, in this touching novel for readers 8 to 12.

A Needle in the Right Hand of God: The Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Making and Meaning of the Bayeux TapestryA Needle in the Right Hand of God: The Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Making and Meaning of the Bayeux Tapestry
R. Howard Bloch, PhD ’70
Random House
$25.95

Bloch, a French professor and director of the humanities division at Yale, offers a comprehensive look at the world’s most famous textile. Opening with an account of the Battle of Hastings, Bloch shows what the 230-foot embroidery has done for continental national identities at its creation and in successive ages.

Slow Is Beautiful: New Visions of Community, Leisure and Joie de VivreSlow Is Beautiful: New Visions of Community, Leisure and Joie de Vivre
Cecile Andrews, EdD ’84
New Society Publishers
$16.95

A founder of the neighborhood-based sustainable community Phinney EcoVillage in Seattle, Andrews writes that a “culture of connection” is needed to combat Americans’ soul-draining materialism. Life in the slow lane, she argues, produces greater individual happiness and protects the planet.

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