Franklin, Missy & others. Relentless Spirit: The Unconventional Raising of a Champion. Dutton. Dec. 2016.320p. ISBN 9781101984925. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781101984932. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR
Having won five medals—including four golds—at the London Olympics, Franklin will be one of the highest-profile members of the U.S. Olympics team in Rio this summer. Meanwhile, she’s just gone pro after delaying that move for a few years so that she could attend college. Here she joins with her parents to explain how she trained, how she managed her schooling, and what it took to find the right facilities, coaches, and support network.
Hustvedt, Siri. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women. S. & S. Dec. 2016. 576p. ISBN 9781501141096. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781501141119. SOCIAL SCIENCE/WOMEN’S STUDIES
A celebrated novelist most recently of The Blazing Word, a New York Times Notable Book that was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Hustvedt here explores in nonfiction topics she often explores in fiction, e.g., art, feminism, neuroscience, and how we perceive the world. The eponymous first part of this three-part volume of essays considers the perceptual and gender biases that apply as we judge art, literature, and the larger world. The second part, “The Delusions of Certainty,” examines the putative split between the mental and the physical and how the two realms are related, while “What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition” looks at what neurological disorders have to tell us about ourselves.
Sobel, Dava. The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars. Viking. Dec. 2016. 336p. ISBN 9780670016952. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780698148697. CD/downloadable: Penguin Audio. SCIENCE/HISTORY
A former New York Times science reporter, Sobel first came to our attention with Longitude, the 1997 British Book of the Year, and achieved No. 1 New York Times best seller status a few years later with Galileo’s Daughter. Here she chronicles the contributions made by women at the Harvard College Observatory from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. She starts with the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, who served as so-called human calculators; moves to recent graduates of the new women’s colleges like Wellesley, Smith, and Vassar, hired in the 1880s; then roars up to 1956 and the appointment of Dr. Cecelia Helena Payne to the astronomy department as the first ever female professor at Harvard. Their work largely entailed examination of the glass photographic plates that captured the stars each night (hence the title) and totaled a half million plates in the era Sobel studies.