Sunday, October 31, 2010

Housing Bomb

Imagine you are twentythree years old. You are working for a big Wall Street investment firm. You are being paid a high six figure salary. Your job is to pick and promote stocks you think will result in a sizeable profit for your clients and generate enormous fees for your employer. The problem is, you don't have a clue about what you are doing. You have never taken so much as a course in accounting let alone run your own business. You are terrified of being found out. You feel like a fake. Then, you discover that the whole office and potentially most of the building is filled with people just like you. Thus is the sobering reality laid out by Michael Lewis in his first book, Liar's Poker. The author had hoped his report of real life in the trenches would serve as a waring regarding the precarious, fragile, and wreckless nature of essentially the heart of capitalism in the United States. He was wrong.

Fast forward only a few short years and the entire U.S. economy is working its way through a financial catastrophe on par with the Great Depression. Some economists believe that we have yet to truly reach the bottom. It came as no surprise to Michael Lewis that Wall Street was the driving force.

In his excellent new book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis engagingly lays out the steps to the creation of the housing bubble and the colorful players who profited emensely from it as well as those who lost sums of money whose mass could equal that of a small planet. By far, this is the best book for understanding how this financial catastrophe happened in the first place. It also affords readers a chilling glimpse into the wildly irresponsible, ignorant, arrogant, and uttlerly greedy nature of Wall Street. Read it, and you will quickly understand why investors have lost faith in the financial markets and are buying up as much gold as they can get their hands. Speaking of which, do you have any old or unused jewelry you might want to sell?

Do you really own your house?
NPR Fresh Air Interview with Gretchen Morgenson

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chupacabra Is Not a Halloween Monster

University of Michigan scientists recently concluded that the legendary beast know as goatsucker in English and chupacabra in Spanish is a coyote with an extreme case of the mange, a skin condition caused by mites. The mite responsible for the extreme hair loss seen in "chupacabras syndrome" is Sarcoptes scabiei, which also causes the itchy rash known as scabies in people. Domestic dogs, like humans, have played host to the mites long enough to evolve the ability to fight off mange, but the condition is much more damaging to wild members of the dog family. The infected coyote is more likey to go after livestock or pets because they are too weak to hunt wild animals.

The city has a coyote trapping program. The city and county have received hundreds of calls to 311, the city's nonemergency help line, from people complaining about coyotes in Austin areas that include greenbelts, creeks and canyons. Those areas include Southwest Austin near the Travis Country subdivision, West Austin including Camp Mabry, and Northwest Austin.

Coyote tips
* Don't leave pet food outside.
* If you see a coyote, yell at it and throw sticks and rocks to scare it away.
* Call 311 to report coyote sightings or sounds of coyotes howling.
Source: Randy Farrar, Texas AgriLife Extension Service-Wildlife Services

The Library has two recent books about coyotes in urban areas:

Urban carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation
599.71756 Ur

Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia
591.756 De

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the city

The locals of San Fransisco call their city "the city. We want to keep our city "weird." There is a definite appeal to cities. but problems are created with rapid urbanization, such as health challenges, conflict, development and conservation. The City of Austin is now trying to plan for how Austin should grow, the Imagine Austin survey continues through December 3.

Here are 5 new book recommendations on cities - their meaning, history, and future.

The City and the City by China Miéville
A police detective is assigned to the murder of a young woman found in a park on the edge of Beszel, an old decaying city, situated in an unspecified area on the southeastern fringes of Europe. But Beszel does not exist alone; it shares much of the same physical space with Ul Qoma. Each city retains a distinct culture and style, and the citizenry of both places has elaborate rules and rituals to avoid the dreaded Breach, which separates the two across space and time. What the two cities share, and what they don't, is the evocative conundrum at the heart of The City & The City, a unique blend of fantasy, social consciousness, and a deep look into the meaning of cities. One staff member had trouble driving while he listened to the cd version.

The Great Cities in History by John Julius Norwich
This fascinating book devotes a few pages, between 2 and 6, to describe the lay-out and history of each of 70 important urban settlements from Antiquity to the 21st century, from Uruck to Shanghai.

Naked city: the Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin
As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, small boutiques, upscale food markets, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic restaurants, and family-owned shops. But the author argues that the emphasis on neighborhood distinctiveness has become a tool of economic elites to drive up real estate values and effectively force out the neighborhood "characters".

The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 by Joel Kotkin
The United States is growing at a record rate and, according to census projections, will be home to four hundred million Americans by 2050. This projected rise in population is the strongest indicator of our long-term economic strength, Kotkin believes, and will make us more diverse and more competitive than any nation on earth; however, he sees the growth in the suburbs and, increasingly in the Internet-connected world, to small towns and rural areas.

Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities are Changing the World by Jeb Brugman
Urbanist Brugmann draws on two decades of fieldwork and research to show how the city is now a medium for revolutionary change. Cities are becoming laboratories for solving major challenges of the twenty-first century: poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Job Lab

Every Thursday afternoon at 3 o'clock on the second floor of the downtown library, APL hosts a computer help and job lab. If you have questions about how a computer works, we'll try to answer them (as long as they're simple, like "How do I save a file?" or "How do I set up an e-mail account?"; we're not going to be able to re-load your BIOS or troubleshoot your motherboard), and if you need help looking for a job and filling out an application or polishing your resume, we can help there, too.

Computer/job lab has something for everybody: if you know your way around a computer, we offer an uninterrupted hour of time online to search job listings and create resumes and cover letters. If you need some help, we can show you web sites that list jobs, advise you on writing a resume, and help you set up an e-mail account. If you're starting from scratch, if you've never so much as touched a mouse, you can spend the hour on a computer tutorial and we can point you toward free and inexpensive classes in Austin--including those at APL--where you'll start right at the beginning: "Lesson 1: The Computer is Your Friend!"

Usually three or four people show up. If you attend, be patient. Helping two people at the same time who are at different levels of computer expertise is a challenge; more than two is just about impossible. And it's difficult dissapointing a customer who comes in thinking that we're going to be able to fill out all his forms, buy him a suit, and send him on an interview for a job he's sure to get. What we have for him is a dose of reality, I guess, of what a lot of effort lies ahead. But we also have a place to start.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Endangered Languages

A new language was identified this month. It’s known as Koro and it is spoken by 800-1200 people in a very remote part of India, called Arunachal Pradesh, a place you must actually have a special permit to enter. The people who speak it, the Koro, live in harmony with the Aka, a group that also lives there, which had led researchers to believe that the language was merely a dialect of Aka. However, after a recent expedition to the area, researchers found Koro to be its own distinct language in the Tibeto-Burman language family and began work to preserve it through recordings and documentation.

Koro is one of nearly 1,000 languages that may have 1,000 speakers or less. The Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the National Geographic Society have joined forces to create the Enduring Voices project whose goal is the preservation of nearly extinct languages - an effort to curb the estimate that half of the world’s 7,000 languages may be extinct by 2100. Enduring voices identifies "hotspots" of threatened languages, such as Papua New Guinea, and sends expeditions to these areas to record and document them. Languages like Koro are at risk of dying out due to factors such as language policies that favor one language over another. Indigenous peoples will slowly adopt the favored language in order to facilitate relations with official entities or to gain status; for example, there is more language diversity in the country of Bolivia than on the whole of the European continent. As a language becomes marginalized, less young people continue to speak it leading to its dying out.

But why bother preserving these near extinct languages? First of all, many of these endangered languages have rich oral traditions and no written form, so with the death of the remaining elders that speak the language, so dies the cultural concepts and expressions captured by that language. Those that are bilingual often know that there are things in their native language that cannot be adequately expressed in the other. By losing these languages we also lose another part of the story of what our brains can do. Through the study of language humans can increase their understanding of communication, memory, and the acquisition of knowledge. Finally, many indigenous cultures have a longstanding, complex relationship with nature and the insights and understanding they derive from this relationship could inform and impact the work of scientists.

Articles and Websites

Enduring Voices
Learn more about the project, the places most at risk of losing languages, and the reasons why we should be working to preserve languages.

'Hidden' Language Found in Remote Indian Tribe
Includes a video with a few Koro men and women where you can hear them speaking their language.

In the Search for ‘Last Speakers,’ A Great Discovery
Great NPR story about the discovery of Koro and recordings of various phrases spoken in Koro.

The Languages of Extinction: The World’s Endangered Tongues

UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
Really amazing tool where you can find out more about endangered and extinct languages around the world. You can search by number of speakers, geography, name of language, and more.

World’s 18 Most Endangered Spoken Languages

Books and CD

Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have To Tell Us

One Thousand Languages: Living, Endangered, and Lost

Voices of Forgotten Worlds
A CD of "traditional music of indigenous people"

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters In the Modern World

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NFL, Concussions, and Headaches

If you watch football, you have noticed that year after year the players are faster, stronger, and hit harder. While this makes the game arguably more alluring, it also makes the game more dangerous. Faster, stronger players hitting each other at higher speeds with greater force takes its toll on bodies. This past weekend three huge hits drew nationwide headlines and indignant calls for action. The NFL levied fines against the three players and sent notice to all thirty-two teams that enforcement of illegal hits will be ratcheted up. That's fine, but as many have pointed out, how can the NFL regulate the violence in an inherently violent game? The game is predicated on tackling (not to mention, I don't think the hits were technically illegal anyway).

I remember questioning my football habit in middle school after witnessing numerous too-violent hits. After a couple of weeks off, I was back watching. I have wrestled with watching football a few times since, but always return to the game. This season seems like the first time there exists a significant groundswell of folks who, although aren't ready to turn their backs on the game, are cognizant of the danger to the players. Dave Zirin wrote an excellent article on the subject recently. One passage, concering fans' consumption of the game, rings particularly poignant: "With each passing week, I hear from football fans saying that it's getting harder to like the game they love. They've spent years reveling in the intense competition and violent collisions so central to the sport, but this is the first time these NFL diehards feel conscious about what happens to players when they become unconscious."

Like most fans, I will continue to watch, but I will also support measures taken to protect players. Browsing the Austin Public Library catalog I came across numerous sports injury books that have been revealing. Although not completely about head injuries, the following books are helpful in understanding the complexities of sports injuries.

Sports Injury Prevention

Sports Injuries Sourcebook

The Anatomy of Sports Injuries

Mild Traumatic Brian Injury and Postconcussion Syndrome

The Austin Public Library also subscribes to numerous databases with informative articles. I read several helpful articles found in the database Consumer Health Complete.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm reading The Last Call by Daniel Okrent with an eraser in my hand. A previous reader marked up the book and I'm erasing as I go. Mostly she's underlined people's names and the titles of other books. She would have saved herself a lot of trouble if she'd just xeroxed the bibliography.

At least she wrote lightly in pencil. At least she didn't editorialize in ink or color passages with highlighter. Often people return library books covered with florescent yellow and green and comments in the margins. Once we charged a man a fee for writing all over a brand-new and expensive coffee-table book about antique silver. While he was paying the fine he said, "I thought you'd appreciate the corrections. I'm an expert, after all!"

Most library-book markers get bored and don't make it past the preface. Some are looking for specific information and so only a chapter or two are marked. Almost always, though, what the marker has marked isn't the important part. She'll pass over "Professor Einstein theorized that space and time are one" and highlight instead "Albert preferred wool socks". Brainiacs are not the ones writing in library books.

So if a book is marked in pencil, I get my Magic Rub (my favorite use of vinyl) and rub out as I read, and I imagine the borrower who made the marks coming to the library for this copy of this book, expecting to find graphite next to her favorite passages, and as I erase, I smile.

A book elaborately coded with multi-colored highlighters, however, we have to throw out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Native Plant Week

Native Plant Week is celebrated during the third week of October. Learning about native plants doesn’t have to be as dry as dust. There’s more to it than searching through botany field guides and memorizing names. A very good way to get to know native plants is by growing them. If you want to start your own plants from seed or from cuttings, read How To Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest. For ideas about which plants to use and how to arrange them, I recommend Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region By Region. The book begins with sample plans for each region of the state. The rest of the book is a species-by-species guide to plants, from the tallest tree to the lowliest ground cover.

The most visceral way to learn about native plants is to eat them. Before adding wild plants to your diet consult some local experts and books like Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest by Delena Tull. She tells us what can be eaten raw and offers guidance on how to prepare the rest. Tull helps you keep from dying by eating the wrong plants and helps you do some dyeing, using native plants. For stories about how people have used the plants found in Texas throughout history, try Remarkable Plants of Texas. The author has brought together information from a wide variety of technical and historical sources and synthesized it into very enjoyable chapters on 65 different plant species.

As with many things in life, you can’t learn all you need to know about using native plants from a book. In the Austin area we are blessed with local experts and organizations that can help us learn our native plants: by Eric Travis, managing librarian, Terrazas Branch

Re-read these APL blog entries about gardening and water conservation in Austin: Dry Gardening with the City of Austin, Dig Holes, Bamberger Ranch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Danger Mouse

Two great bands that played at ACL have recorded cds which the super-talented Danger Mouse produced – the Broken Bells and the Black Keys. He is also part of the Broken Bells duo and has recorded with Gnarls Barkley. Since 2005, Danger Mouse, as a producer and as an artist, has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards.

Does Danger Mouse ever sleep? In 2008 he produced Beck’s Modern Guilt. Following this year’s Broken Bells project with Shins' singer James Mercer, he had another collaborative effort, Dark Night of the Soul, where he teamed up with Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous. Guest stars included Frank Black (Pixies), James Mercer, the Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas (Strokes), Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega and more. The third project this year was the Black Key’s Brothers.

A few years ago Jay-Z got Danger Mouse to mash up his own Black Album with the Beatle’s White Album to create the Grey Album, which was Danger Mouse’s first hit. Then Danger Mouse was asked to produce the Gorillaz' second studio album, Demon Days.

I used to watch the very witty British cartoon series Danger Mouse back in the 1980s on Nickelodeon which was about an English mouse who works as a super hero/secret agent. Early in his career, Danger Mouse performed in a mouse outfit because he was too shy to show his face, and then took his name from the British cartoon character.

I have learned two lessons from his career – you can be shy and still reach your goals, and it helps to collaborate with other great talent.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Proust Was a Neuroscientist

Jonah Lehrer argues in Proust Was a Neuroscientist that Proust, along with eight other artists, made discoveries about the brain that took science decades to catch up with. In Proust's case, that memory is a process, not a repository. We don't remenber an event, we only recall the memory, so it's never quite accurate. Lehrer explains both the artistic and scientific concepts in such a way that anyone could understand. The book first examines the poet Walt Whitman, who saw the mind and body as inseparable. George Eliot, the novelist who believed human freedom arose from our ability to change, comes next. My favorite chapter was about Viginia Woolf, whose Clarissa Dalloway can't really hold a thought for more than a second, which is totally normal brain activity, a fact that made me feel better about my own scattered thoughts.

For further reading, 2010 books about neuroscience:

Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships
Curt Thompson

Bursts: the Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do
Albert-László Barabási

The Male Brain
Louann Brizendine

Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences
Thomas Armstrong

The Other Brain: from Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science
Douglas Fields

101 Theory Drive: a Neuroscientist's Quest for Memory
Terry McDermott

Pictures of the Mind: what the New Neuroscience Tells Us About Who We Are
Miriam Boleyn-Fitzgerald

Playing in the Unified Field: Rraising and Becoming Conscious, Creative Human Beings
Carla Hannaford

Wisdom: from Philosophy to Neuroscience
Stephen Hall

Friday, October 08, 2010

Welcome, ACL!

As someone who lives here and has for some time, the Austin City Limits Festival perhaps does not have the same allure as it does for others. I love music and I'm actually pretty envious of the people with tickets whom will be seeing some of my favorite artists this weekend, but the traffic, crowds, and influx of out-of-towners can, for me, turn that envy into impatience and mumbled curses. Nonetheless, I'm actually really excited to welcome those whom have come from high and low places to the beautiful city of Austin! Austin is so lovely, it is meant to be shared and thoroughly explored. So, if you're looking for things to do, places to see, and free internet to use, this little blog post is meant to be a big Austin Public Library welcome - and no library welcome would be complete without a rundown of the info you need to enjoy your trip:

Library Services:

  • The Austin Public Library is a perfect place for out-of-towners to stop in for free internet access and book and magazine browsing at any of our 21 locations. All you need is a photo ID to use one of our computers or just bring in your laptop to hook up automatically to our wireless connection.

  • Want to check out a book or two, like those Austin travel guides? Library cards are free to Texas residents that can show a photo ID and proof of current address.

  • Check out our very cool used bookstore, Recycled Reads.

  • Need help with anything or have questions about Austin? Ask a Librarian!

ACL Info:
ACL Website
Line-up info can be found here and you can also create your own printable schedule of the artists you want to see.

Austin City Limits, More Than Music
An article by the Austin Business Journal featuring some of the cool, non-food and non-music booths from "homegrown" companies you can expect to find at ACL.

PBS's Austin City Limits
The show that started it all. This Saturday the band Spoon will be playing on the show. Check out past artists on the show including clips from their performances and full episodes.

Getting Around:
As the ACL website encourages, respect the residents of Austin and do not park in the surrounding neighborhoods - use one of the many alternatives out there and don't worry about your car at all. For a complete list of transportation options, see the ACL website.

Austin Bike Shops
Listing of Austin area bike shops. According to the ACL website, this is the best mode of transportation to the Festival (and the healthiest)! You can even rent a bike from most of these shops, if you didn't bring yours along.

Austin Taxis and Taxi Alternatives

Capital Metro
Austin's public transit system; here's the info for the free ACL shuttles:

Capital Pedicab
You'll see them all around the downtown and Zilker park area this weekend

Transportation to and from Austin-Bergstrom Airport
All of your transportation options to and from ABI

Places to Go/Things to Do:
Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau
Info on shops, outdoor recreation, art and more

Austin, Texas
A guide to Austin from The New York Times

Best of Austin (2010)
The best of everything in Austin, from parks to pools to shopping, selected by the critics and readers of the Austin Chronicle

South Congress Avenue, Austin
This famous street is a major tourist attraction for its shops, restaurants, and atmosphere - you can read this article for free, but you must register with Texas Monthly (see the webpage for details).

Restaurants and Dining:
Austin360's Top 10 Restaurants

Austin Chronicle Restaurant Guide
Pick a type of food and the side of town you're on and you can pull up a list of all of the restaurants in the area complete with pricing info and a description.

Best Food & Drink in Austin (2010), Critics Picks
From the Austin Chronicle

Best Food & Drink in Austin (2010), Readers Picks

Where to Eat in Austin
From Texas Monthly

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

2010 Nobel Prize in Literature

***UPDATE*** Mario Vargas Llosa is the 2010 recipient of the Noble Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy said they chose the Peruvian writer "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individuals resistance, revolt, and defeat."

Below are some of the Nobel Laureate's most well-known novels.

The War of the End of the World

The Bad Girl

The Green House

The Time of the Hero

The Way to Paradise

I doubt American bookies offer odds on the Nobel Prize in literature. The British firm of Ladbrokes certainly does. I like the British approach: they bet on everything*. We here in the ole US of A primarily limit ourselves to sporting events. Who knew we could have been punting on whether Philip Roth's six decade output is more award-worthy than say Huraki Murkami's impressive but shorter career.

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature will be awarded tomorrow morning at 6:00. You may watch the award announcement here.

The going assumption over the past few years has been that the Swedish Academy shuns Americans, prefers non-English writing writers, and goes gaga for the politically oppressed. With that in mind, the smart money is firmly in Ngugi wa Thiong'o's corner. Don't hand Ngugi the check just yet though. Another soft rule to keep in mind is that the Academy does not like its announcement dampened. Since Ngugi wa Thiong'o has been championed over the past few days by so many around the world, he probably won't win.

*I do not gamble, but I get a kick out of betting companies offering odds on the Nobel Prize. Onto the odds! Sometimes Texan and all-the-time legend, Cormac McCarthy enters the announcement day as the odds-on favorite. Below are the top ten in the bookies' eyes and a selection of their notable books.

Cormac McCarthy 5/2
Blood Meridian

Ngugi wa Thiong'o 7/2
Wizard of the Crow

Haruki Murakami 6/1
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Tomas Transtromer 11/1
The Half-Finished Heaven

Ko Un 12/1
The Three Way Tavern

Gerald Murnane 12/1

Adonis 13/1
The Pages of Day and Night

Les Murray 15/1
The Biplane Houses

Joyce Carol Oates 15/1

Juan Gelman 15/1
Los Mejores Poemas de Amor II

Who is your favorite for the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature?

Monday, October 04, 2010


Halloween is coming around again. It was at this time of year almost 20 years ago that the electricity went out in my neighborhood, and my neighbor's kids didn't know what to do with themselves without television. It was the season for spooky stories, so to entertain them I told the scariest one I know. I got it from a book my grandmother had in her library and that I have now: Alfred Hitchcock's Stories for Late at Night. "The Fly" is in it. But the story that creeped me out more than "The Fly" was "The Whistling Room" by William Hope Hodgson.

It seems that long ago in a big lonely castle in Ireland, a jester sang a song about what a fool his king was, so the king cut out the jester's tongue. But that didn't stop the jester from whistling the song, and so the king executed him in a room in the castle--burned him in the chimney--and even as he died the jester whistled the song that angered the king.

Since then the room has sat waiting for a descendent of the king's to visit the castle, and when she came, the room became a giant bellows, whistling and hooning a ghastly ghostly version of the song, calling to the king's great-great granddaughter to come into the room...

Well, that was pretty scary when I was a kid, and it scared the neighbor's kids out of their wits, too, when I told it to them that night near Halloween when the lights went out. For a couple of weeks afterward, all I had to do was whistle at them to make them jump.

That book was a departure for Alfred Hitchcock. His movies aren't paranormal (The Birds could have been driven mad by radar or telephone wires or something entirely explainable) though they are definitely creepy. If you need to begin working on your creepy Halloween mood, the library has plenty of Hitchcock movies (below is an incomplete list):

And if you're looking for live Hitchock (and who isn't?), the Austin Playhouse will be performing The 39 Steps until October 30.

Blog post in homage to the man who designed Alfred Hitchcock's most memorable scenes, Robert Boyle, who died August 1, 2010, at 100 years.

Friday, October 01, 2010

2010 National Reading Group Month List

October is National Reading Group Month, which was founded to to promote reading groups and to just encourage reading in general. With a book club you can read a variety of books and go over questions that make you think about the plot and the characters. Reading contextualizes our life experiences and allows us to dream about the different forks in the road one can take. See the Library’s Good Reads page to find local book clubs.

To inspire you to read, here's a quotation from The English Patient - Hana is reading again, this time to herself: She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, her body full of sentences and moments, as if awaking from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams.

National Reading Group Month 2010 List

Blame by Michelle Huneven

The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle

Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Little Bee by Chris Cleve

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Molly Fox's Birthday by Deidre Madden

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

Room by Emma Donoghue

Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson