Jews Against Themselves by Edward Alexander ’57. How has history shaped renderings of modern Jewish political and societal issues in the media? Alexander’s essays dissect Holocaust denial, boycotts of Israel, blindness to antisemitism and other topics, striving to illuminate why some Jewish intellectuals seem to be ashamed of where they come from (Transaction Publishers, $24.95).

Book cover for "Toward a More Perfect University"

Toward a More Perfect University by Jonathan R. Cole ’64. As good as the American system of higher learning has become, there is still much to do to maximize its potential — so writes Cole, the John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University, provost emeritus and dean emeritus of the faculties. He analyzes, and offers suggestions for overcoming, the biggest challenges facing the modern university (PublicAffairs, $29.99).

Book cover for "The Baker's Tale"

The Baker’s Tale: Ruby Spriggs and the Legacy of Charles Dickens by Thomas Hauser ’67. Dickens’ encounter with an infant girl living in deplorable conditions in 1836 London provides the launch point for this novel that imagines what happened to her afterward. More than inspired by the English author, Hauser’s story channels his voice and the causes he championed (Counterpoint Press, $25).

Liberating Aesthetics for the Aspiring Artist and the Inspired Audience by Wayne Wild ’68. Wild’s book grew out of a course he teaches at the Berklee College of Music and aims to remedy what he calls the “stifling effect of a search for ‘meaning’ in works of art.” His prescription: Be instinctive. How does the art make you feel (Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., $74.95)?

Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors by William B. Bonvillian ’69 and Charles Weiss. “Legacy” here means established economic sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, defense, healthcare delivery and higher education. The authors contend these industries are suffering from a deficit of innovation and job creation, and they analyze the obstacles and offer solutions (Oxford University Press, $55).

Painting Central Park by Roger F. Pasquier ’69. See how this beloved landmark has inspired artists from Homer Winslow to Edward Hopper and Christo. The accompanying narrative — about the featured painters and the evolution of the park — adds another dimension to this volume, which seems destined for the coffee tables of New Yorkers and nature lovers alike [Editor’s note: See “Columbia Forum.”] (Vendome Press, $60).

The Porch of Common Prayer: A Meditation upon Happiness by Peter Tuttle ’71. The author ruminates on how he stumbled upon the privilege of being happy. More than a series of autobiographical musings, this book is a reflection on life and how happiness can be found in the simplest of places, without being purposefully chased or even sought (Back Shore Press, $19.95).

The Uncollected David Rakoff by David Rakoff ’86. Rakoff’s sharp, funny voice shines in this collection featuring essays, short fiction and a novel in verse. From discussions of the faded fame of Frank Sinatra to comedic rants about inconsiderate dog owners, this book gives readers the opportunity to discover the talents of the writer, who died in 2012 (Anchor, $15.95).

 Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World"

Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham ’89. Graham offers a cultural history of some of the architects and ideas that have influenced our built environments. Get educated about malls, monuments and the so-called castles in our midst — then go for a walk: You’re bound to see things in a new light (Harper, $29.99).

War in the Shallows: U.S. Navy Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam, 1965–1968 by John Darrell Sherwood ’89. Get “a glimpse of the humanity behind the hardware” in this rigorous work of history. By interweaving an account of the Navy’s involvement in Vietnam with interviews with veterans, Sherwood honors the soldiers’ sacrifice and highlights their impact on the conflict (Naval History and Heritage Command, $75).

 Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty"

Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty by Ben Ratliff ’90. Listen for pleasure and listen to more — with these tenets in mind, Ratliff lays out his guide for experiencing music today. The New York Times critic’s “strategy of openness” forsakes genre in favor of a freer sonic association. Who’d have thought Billie Holiday and Black Sabbath could be part of the same conversation (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26)?

Hangman’s Game: A Nick Gallow Mystery by Bill Syken ’90. Syken’s debut follows Gallow, a pro football player striving for the success he had in his youth. When the wrong man is accused as the mastermind behind a series of murders, Gallow is drawn into a whirlwind of trials and accusations. In this novel of sports and suspicion, how far will Gallow go for glory (Minotaur Books, $25.99)?

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler ’96, with art by Zack Giallongo. Surprise casting takes on new meaning in this graphic novel featuring a bear as Juliet and a rooster as Romeo. Bits of hilarity are paired with poignant realism as the animal characters act out a fresh version of Shakespeare’s tragedy (First Second, $12.99).

What Men Should Know About Women by Erica M. Loberg ’99. An early entry in this poetry collection declares: “Yeah, I’m a person / Ready to live / To tell / To think / To be.” Loberg makes good on her promise, writing with frankness and feeling about what it is to be a woman braving the terrain of love and sexuality (Chipmunka Publishing, $15).


The Ruined Elegance: Poems by Fiona Sze-Lorrain ’03. The author, who has lived in Europe, America and Asia, draws from every aspect of her broad perspective in this poetry collection. Lyricism and wisdom intertwine as she urges acute observation rather than an impossible search for exact truth: “Believe me, / answers are small” (Princeton University Press, $14.95).

— Aiyana K. White ’18