Michelle Recommends

MichelleRecs1Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age – W. Bernard Carlson

Here’s the thing: I may never again want to hear the words commutator, stator or rotor, but I will very probably never get enough of Nikola Tesla. Most everyone has heard the name, but aside from his innovative work with AC and polyphase systems, how much is known about the man’s many other inventions? His life? A thimbleful, maybe. Tesla held close to 300 patents in 26 countries, worked on everything from unmanned torpedo boats to laser beams to x-rays, and won the Edison Medal in 1917. (During Tesla’s younger years, his local library gave him books to classify because they couldn’t keep up with his insatiable appetite for literature!) Well-written and scrupulously sourced, I struggled only with the chapters that offered a step-by-step look at the creation process of Tesla’s early inventions. (Science-minded folks will likely love the attention to detail.) Carlson has on his hands an informative and engaging biography that reveals not only so many remarkable layers of the man himself, but also the time in which he lived and shaped and was in turn shaped by.

The Gods of Olympus: A History – Barbara Graziosi

Graziosi follows in the footsteps of the gods of Olympus as they journey from Greece to Rome to Egypt, encountering, in their own time, Christianity and Islam, and on occasion merging with Near Eastern astral traditions. It’s a fascinating account, one that satisfies by briefly but authoritatively touching on the individuals and events that carried the gods into modern times: Homer and Herodotus, Alexander the Great, Socrates (and Plato and Aristotle), Caesar and Octavian Caesar jr. Augustus, Malatesta, and so on. The Gods of Olympus: A History is a shouldn’t-be-missed title for mythology buffs and ancient history junkies alike.

The Enchanted: A Novel – Rene Denfeld

This is a story about prisoners: those locked behind bars that can be gripped and clanged, and those who find themselves in a cell of their own making. It’s also about connections: how they’re forged; how we’re shaped by them; and, finally, why we choose to hang onto some connections, often those that are inexplicable or frightening, once they’re realized. Now, this short book packs a brutal punch; awful and sickening things happen, many of which the reader is witness to. The answer to Okay, but is it enjoyable? is not a straightforward one. What I can tell you is this: at times, the writing sings; and you just might find something–likely in The Lady’s story arc–that makes wading through the awful stuff worthwhile.

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