Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Have you ever lost your keys, forgotten where you put your glasses, or have a name on the tip of your tongue but cannot seem to call it up from the depths of your memory? If you are like author and science journalist Joshua Foer (yes, he is the brother of Jonathan Safran Foer) you probably forget everyday things but have some incredibly vivid memories. Why is that? Foer investigates the science behind memory building. His journey begins at the U.S. Memory Championship and propels him into a world that quickly becomes a near-obsession.
Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult by Jayanti Tamm. This poignant and fascinating true story details Tamm’s childhood growing up in the Sri Chinmoy cult. Tamm’s parents, who met in the Guru’s apartment and were subsequently married, violated the rule enforcing celibacy (even between married couples.) Rather than expel the offending couple, the Guru Chinmoy decreed that the unborn child was “The Chosen One.” Thus begins Tamm’s life as a child messiah of sorts living one life within the strict boundaries of the cult and another as a young woman trying to find her identity. Her desire to remain a part of the Guru’s inner circle and her competing will to live a normal life will keep you rapt until the very last page and leave you wanting to know more about this amazing woman.
Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. In this fictionalized memoir, Alice Liddell looks back on her life as, most famously, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice’s relationship with the author (whose real name was Charles Dodgson) was complicated to say the least. As a thirty-something year old mathematics professor at Oxford, his obsession with seven-year-old Alice would be deemed almost criminal by today’s standards. What is most interesting about Alice was her life after Wonderland and her struggles to define herself as more than ‘Alice.’
“Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey ” (2011; 80 minutes). Viewers need not be children, parents, nor Muppet fans to fall in love with the shy, soft-spoken man behind Elmo. Kevin Clash grew up in a rough area outside Baltimore and dreamed of one day working with Jim Henson and the Muppets. Despite the odds and the pressure to do something more typical for a teenage boy, Kevin pursued his passion and has been working as a professional puppeteer ever since. His story is inspiring and unexpected. On Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm Darien Library will be showing the film and hosting a Q&A with the director and a young puppeteer who is featured in the movie.
Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst. This is WASP dysfunction at its’ very finest. Jeanne’s father was convinced he could pull their family out of their gentile poverty and restore their social position by writing the Great American Novel. He moved the family from St. Louis to the North Folk of Long Island to do just that. But for her parents it’s always 5:00 somewhere. When Jeanne grows up, she too discovers that writing can be a salvation but only if she too is willing to put down the bottle. At times side splittingly funny, at other tragic this is a wonderful memoir.
Burn Down The Ground by Kambri Crews. Think The Glass Castle. With deaf people. Kambri is the hearing child of deaf parents. When the book opens she is visiting her father in a maximum security prison. How did he get there? And how do Kambri and her brother overcome their challenging childhoods. This is a fascinating look at a usually closed culture.
The Good American by Alex George. One hundred years in the life of an immigrant family who end up settling in the small town of Beatrice Missouri. This is heartwarming story and its quirky characters will stay with you for a long time after you close the book.
The Darlings by Cristina Alger. This amazing first novel fictionalizes the economic crisis of 2008. The Darlings are a 1% family thrust into a regulatory investigation after a tragic event. Will the family be able to withstand it? The Darlings will be on everybody’s lips this spring and summer.