A few April favorites

One of the many pleasures of working in a library is seeing the latest books freshly unpacked from their boxes. I read glowing reviews for the books below and can’t wait to actually read them now that they are here on our shelves. Please check these out or choose your own new fiction or nonfiction favorites from our catalog.

The Double Life of Benson Yu by Kevin Chong

This fresh and unique work of metafiction follows writer Benson Yu as he loses control of his own narrative when he attempts to write the story of his upbringing in 1980s Chinatown. The novel begins with 12-year-old Benson (Benny) living in a housing project with his ailing grandmother and his odd neighbor Constantine, a man who believes he is a reincarnated samurai. When his grandmother is hospitalized, Benny manages to get by on his own until a social worker intervenes. Benny is reluctantly taken in by Constantine and soon an unlikely bond forms between the two. At least that’s the story our narrator wants to write. Benson is struggling with continuing the tale of young Benny and Constantine but he cannot help but interject from the present, slowly revealing a darker backstory. Benson must confront the demons he has spent his life avoiding to save himself … and Benny.

Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer

Claire Dederer is the author of Love and Trouble and the New York Times best-selling memoir Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses.

In this book, an expansion of the author’s Paris Review essay “What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men?,” Dederer asks if we can love the work of highly problematic men such as Ernest Hemingway, Roman Polanski, Miles Davis, Woody Allen or Pablo Picasso (pictured on the cover). The book poses questions about art and if it has a mandate to depict the darker elements of the psyche. Dederer explores the audience’s relationship with artists and asks how we balance our justifiable sense of moral outrage toward the artist with our equally undeniable love of their work. She wonders if an artist might need to be a monster in order to create something great. Monsters is certain to incite conversations about whether and how we can separate artists from their art.

The publishing trade journal Publishers Weekly raves “Dederer’s candid appraisal of her own relationship with troubling artists, and the lucidity with which she explores what it means to love their work, opens fresh ways of thinking about problematic artists. Contemplative and willing to tackle the hard questions head on, this pulls no punches.”

The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos by Jaime Green

Jaime Green, a science writer and teacher, has created a spellbinding exploration of alien life and the cosmos. She examines how the possibility of life on other planets shapes our understanding of humanity. One of the most powerful and enduring questions we ask about the universe is: Are we alone? While the science behind this inquiry is fascinating it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. This search for life on other worlds is a reflection of our values, our fears, and our enduring sense of hope. This book traces the history of our understanding of the cosmos from the days of Galileo and Copernicus to our contemporary quest for exoplanets. Along the way, the author includes insights from science fiction writers who construct worlds that in turn inspire scientists. This accessible work includes cutting-edge astronomy, philosophical inquiry and pop culture references ranging from “A Wrinkle in Time” to “Star Trek.” The author explores our evolving conception of the cosmos to ask an even deeper question: What does it mean to be human?

These are just a few of the many books you can find on our new books shelves on all three floors of the library. Please stop by and browse or feel free to ask us for recommendations.

Photo of Princeton Public Library bookshelves by the author.

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