Arts & Culture


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The New Residential Colleges at Yale: A Conversation Across Time
Robert A. M. Stern ’65MArch with Gideon Fink Shapiro
Monacelli, $65

Stern, who was dean of the School of Architecture for 18 years, took himself and his firm on a deep dive into Yale’s gothic architecture and its Oxbridge roots in order to design Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges. This lavishly illustrated book documents that process thoroughly with essays, drawings, diagrams, and photographs.


What the Qur’an Meant and Why It Matters
Garry Wills ’61PhD
Viking, $25

About 1.6 billion people—roughly a quarter of the world’s population—consider themselves Muslims and follow the Qur’an. When religious historian Wills, a Christian, decided to read the Qur’an and learn what was actually inside, he found that the impressions of those who don’t read it are wrong: there are no 72 virgins, no duty to kill infidels, not even a reference to Sharia law. In what Wills terms a “conversation” designed to help overcome ignorance about Muslim belief, he asks, “Must we read the Qur’an? We’d better.”


Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do
John Bargh, the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology
Touchstone, $26

“Our conscious awareness feeds us a substantial, meaningful meal of experience,” says research psychologist Bargh. But under the cerebral surface is another kind of mind—an unconscious one—that Bargh has spent more than three decades unearthing. In a remarkable look at what brain science says about our hidden past, present, and future, Bargh, a genial tour guide (who intersperses his own work with abundant references to Led Zeppelin), aims “to put you in the DJ booth of your mind so that you hear better what is really going on and can start controlling the music yourself.”


Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches
John Hodgman ’94
Viking, $25

In this sort-of memoir, the comedian discloses “the awful truth about my dumb thoughts and feelings” and his journey to “the haunted forest of middle age.” There’s a brief nod to Yale and its “largely fictional” architecture, and longer accounts of Hodgman’s time in western Massachusetts (where he had to battle raccoons) and coastal Maine (whose frigid ocean waters “are made of hate and want to kill you”). In between is a poignant essay about caring for his dying mother, along with a wealth of true and insightful looks at life.


Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth behind Familiar Quotations
Garson O’Toole, a.k.a. Gregory F. Sullivan ’86PhD
Little A, $24.95

Consider the shortest short story Ernest Hemingway ever wrote: For sale, baby shoes, never worn. In just six words Hemingway, known for his spare prose, conjured up the sparest tale yet. Or did he? Apparently not, says Sullivan, whose website, Quote Investigator, offers witty and detailed examinations of “the dubious origins of familiar quotations.” In this book, he examines quotes supposedly by Yogi Berra, Mark Twain, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Gates, and many, many others, presenting their real history and how they came to be misattributed.


Alma Española
Isabel Leonard and Sharon Isbin ’78, ’79MusM
Bridge Records,, $14.99

In this uncluttered, direct, and deeply moving selection, two Grammy winners—operatic mezzo-soprano Leonard and guitarist Isbin, who is the founder and chair of Juilliard’s guitar department—perform twentieth-century Spanish songs by seven different composers. Most of these flamenco-infused tunes are better known from piano arrangements, so Isbin’s guitar versions are a revelation, in particular her five-minute instrumental rendition of Enrique Granados’s “Andaluza.”

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