Our staff's selection of good reads
The House on Dream Street by Dana Sachs (Algonquin, $22.95). In this passionate, perceptive memoir, Sachs describes falling in love with postwar Hanoi and coming to terms with the Vietnamese view of destiny.
Toil: Building Yourself by Jody Procter (Chelsea Green, $22.95). Through his daily reports of rain-soaked gloves, aching joints, and oddball co-workers, Procter's diary of a (sometimes) mad carpenter explores his ordinary life--and the very essence of aspiration--with extraordinary clarity.
Solitaire of Love by Cristina Peri Rossi (Duke University, $34.95). Stunning, erotic, paradoxical, and painful, this short novel (translated from the Spanish) describes the inner life of a man intoxicated by romantic obsession, alienated from the world, yet acutely alive.
Cleansing the Doors of Perception : The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals by Huston Smith (Tarcher/Putnam, $22.95). In essays spanning 40 years, a leading religious scholar looks with both caution and awe at the power of certain compounds to alter not only minds, but also the nature of faith and perhaps even the course of history.
The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller (Beacon, $26). The idea of an older, peaceful goddess culture may be appealing, but it has no factual basis--or so argues Eller in this engaging critique of a popular but perhaps self-defeating belief.
Anxious Intellects: Academic Professionals, Public Intellectuals, and Enlightenment Values by John Michael (Duke University, $49.95). By scrutinizing the ideal of objectivity so revered by intellectuals, Michael brings us face-to-face with our own personal and possibly skewed notions of truth--an insight crucial to living in our multicultural, multifaceted society.
Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck (North Point Press, $30). A stirring critique of what's gone wrong in how we build communities, coupled with wonderfully commonsense guidelines on how to make them better, from three architects who are doing just that around the country.
The Room Lit by Roses: A Journal of Pregnancy and Birth by Carole Maso (Counterpoint, $25). Amazingly right on, Maso's stream-of-consciousness musings about brand-new motherhood--especially the tumult of emotions that follow a birth--blew this brand-new mother away.