Don’t close your beach bag yet! There’s a chance to add to your reading queue with these newly released titles from Yale University Press, also part of our Freshman Reading recommendations for new and lifelong collegiate learners. Enter today with your Goodreads account for a chance to win Terry Eagleton‘s How to Read Literature, and paperback editions of Melissa Harris-Perry‘s Sister Citizen and Robert Utley‘s Geronimo! Sit back, relax, and open your mind to the ideas and stories of these eminently written books.
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Jeffrey S. Cramer, award-winning editor of six previous volumes of works by Henry D. Thoreau, offers yet another insightful look into Thoreau’s life and writings in Essays: A Fully Annotated Edition. This rich volume chronologically traces Thoreau’s contributions to periodicals, newspapers, and compendiums as well as his lectures. It recreates for modern readers the experience Thoreau’s readers had following his writings and development of ideas over time. Cramer’s abundant on-page annotations help guide the reader through the text, providing for even further insight into Thoreau’s writings.
Fans of Essays or Thoreau in general will also enjoy other works edited by Cramer. I To Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau presents all aspects of Thoreau’s life; from writer, thinker, and social reformer, to friend and neighbor. Cramer’s careful selection of passages taken from Thoreau’s journals spanning twenty-five years paired with helpful annotations, connect the journal passages to work published in Thoreau’s lifetime.
The Maine Woods: A Fully Annotated Edition tells the story of Thoreau’s journey from Concord to Bangor as he explores nature and wildlife and muses on the vulnerability of solitude in the wilderness. Thoreau’s interest in nature is further explored in Walden which records Thoreau’s experiment in simple living. In both volumes Cramer’s annotations once again help enrich the reader’s experience, allowing them to fully immerse themselves into Thoreau’s world.
So whether you are a die-hard Thoreau fan or just discovering his writings, Essays: A Fully Annotated Edition or any other Thoreau works edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer make great additions to any library.
Attention students who have gotten their summer reading assignments and probably haven’t thought about cracking them open yet, read this first.
In How to Read Literature, Terry Eagleton helps readers deepen their experience by asking seemingly obvious questions, and pointing out which questions we don’t ask of the books we read. Many readers are seduced into relating to characters and stories as if they are real. Eagleton teaches readers to understand the “literariness” of the story as well, giving them access to underlying layers of meaning.
In the book’s five chapters, openings, character, narrative, interpretation and value, Eagleton identifies five major elements experience that illuminate the meaning behind the formal techniques of literary works.
While one might think that a book that looks deeply into literary form requires prior knowledge, or a professor to explain the nuances, How to Read Literature needs no how to manual. Eagleton’s amusing voice carries you through the book, using examples from Shakespeare and Henry James side by side with examples from Harry Potter.
This friendly and authoritative guide will re-teach you how to read. Now get started on that summer assignment!
The ginkgo is a tree that has existed for 200 million years. They were around when dinosaurs walked the earth and have survived through ice ages and near extinction, its lineage connecting us to past worlds. Even a 200 year old tree has seen more generations than we ever could, offering a unique reflection on time. In Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot, Peter Crane, dean and professor at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, explores the vast history of the ginkgo as well as its medicinal, artistic, and religious importance.
Crane tracks the ginkgo from its origin, through its near extinction, to its resurgence, and finally to its ubiquitous presence in our lives today. This extensive history is explored through various means including the examination of fossils and references to the ginkgo found in literature dating as far back as 980 A.D. when it was mentioned by Tsan-Ning, a “learned monk” in the Ko Wu Tshu Than, or Simple Discourses on the Investigation of Things.
Scattered throughout this stimulating read are remarkable facts about the ginkgo that will stick with you long after the page has been turned. For instance, since ginkgos are resistant to disease, tolerant of pollution, and able to withstand extremes of heat and cold, they are now familiar in urban landscapes over much the world. From San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, to the streets of Manhattan, to the Meiji-Jingu Park in Japan, ginkgo trees can be found lining streets and bordering neighborhoods. The ginkgo has also been cultivated for a thousand years for its edible seeds, and many ancient trees are greatly revered by followers of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintoism. For as long the ginkgo has been prized for its edible seeds, it has also been valued for its medicinal qualities. Ginkgo is often associated with health and longevity, fertility, memory, and is used in the treatment of many ailments including lung and respiratory conditions.
After finishing Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot, don’t be surprised when you find yourself searching for a ginkgo around your neighborhood and enjoying all the trees around you just a little bit more.
Thanks to the insight of James Barilla’s new book, My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned with It, we at Yale University Press are sharing stories of our own backyards and the specially hidden, and often overlooked, secrets contained in each. To come along and share your own stories with us, follow My Backyard Jungle on Facebook or visit the My Backyard Jungle website .
One of the best aspects of my childhood home in Western Massachusetts is the lush, well-sized backyard, stretching back towards a thick forest; though it wasn’t large, it shielded us from any other neighbors or houses. Every morning while brushing my teeth, I eventually find myself at the bathroom window, gazing out over the backyard, whether it’s full of life and fluffy green leaves, or blanketed in snow patterns with the crossing tracks of various animals. I start by looking past the deck to the small brook bubbling all the way into the woods beyond, over the shed nestled amongst the trees lined by blueberry bushes and rhubarb leaves. Around the central island of trees standing tall, back to the patio, fire pit and eventually the deck, where the process begins again, most likely causing me to brush my teeth far longer than is normally recommended. Throughout the day, I can often find another member of my family simply admiring our small slice of paradise as well, soaking up its splendor.
While the backyard is definitely a place of beauty and solitude, it was also once a place of great adventure. As a child, my brother and I, and any number of neighborhood kids would venture out into the woods beyond, discovering all sorts of hidden treasures; like a huge fallen tree or an entire deer skeleton lying by the brook. Or on a particularly exciting day, another group of children from the other side of the woods waving a Canadian flag and defending their territory with pellets of mud. Forts were built and “landmarks” were established. Dinosaur bones were dug for in the old garden. It was a great place to be a kid, imagining all sorts of adventures.
In addition to beauty and adventure, the backyard also provides some interesting wildlife, which seems to have gotten a bit wilder in recent years. We have the usual rabbits, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, groundhogs, hawks and birds common to our region. Many deer with spotted fawns and the occasional antlered stag have traveled through the yard, feasting on any attempts at a garden and chomping off the heads of tulips, leaving only a line a slender stems. Often a brood of fifteen or so wild turkeys will meander through the yard, nibbling at this and that. Many a time I was prevented from recoiling the garden hose because a family of snakes, mom and babies both, would slither out from the rocks, causing me to promptly drop the hose and run in the other direction. Recently we have been host to a few more “wild” encounters, such as a mountain lion sauntering through the yard, and a reported bear sighting from the neighbors.
One memory in particular though will always stick with me, marking the beginning of the backyard’s approach to more “wild” times. It brings to mind some of James Barilla’s own encounters from My Backyard Jungle with the wildlife in his yard. In particular, the initial fear brought on by “the night visitor,” a pesky rodent heard rummaging between the walls of his house. A coyote spotting one day, a deer leg found in the front yard another, and things were getting a bit out of the ordinary. After dinner one night a strange yelling noise started coming from the woods, getting louder and louder. We gathered at the screen door leading to the deck trying to figure out what was causing it. A few moments later a few feet from the deck a young deer emerged from the woods, falling to the grass, bleating that awful noise. My first thoughts were grim. Coyote plus deer leg plus small struggling panicked deer could not equal anything good. The deer continued to stumble, and when it finally found its footing, decided to oddly start heading towards my father who was out on the deck. My father quickly ran inside replacing the screen door with the glass one, while the deer continued to come closer, beseeching us through the glass panes. From this close we could clearly see that the young deer was in no physical harm, but simply terrified, and staring at us like it expected us to help. After continuing to advance even closer still, the deer suddenly stopped, turned around and bounded through the yard and into the woods, lost from sight. After several minutes of bewilderment, we concluded that the young deer must have gotten separated from its mother and the rest of its herd, bringing about the panicked bleats and behavior. While this event turned out to be not very serious, it still remains one of my odder encounters with the other inhabitants of our backyard.
In the end, my backyard provides a nice balance of features. We get our own private sanctuary without being miles from civilization. We get a taste of wild animals without anything really threatening being the norm. We have to upkeep the yard but can let the woods beyond be naturally wild. We can go on great adventures and still be home in time for dinner. While my backyard jungle has been more “backyard” than “jungle,” it has still been host to some exciting events and has always provided a taste of all that Mother Nature has to offer.
Cara Borelli is a Yale University Press intern who recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Communication Design. She now really misses her backyard.
We’re a little late getting started with sharing our Summer Reading list with you—can you really blame us with the New England summer thus far?—but there’s still plenty of books for us to talk about this month!
With updates to our Freshman Reading catalog, we’ll sponsor a Goodreads giveaway for Melissa Harris-Perry’s Sister Citizen, and release the Yale Press Podcast episode for Richard Sennett’s Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation. Along with Terry Eagleton’s signature topic: How to Read Literature and the paperback publication of Robert Utley’s award-winning biography of Geronimo, there’s plenty of titles to pack your beach bags.
We’ll release the book trailer for Ivan Brunetti’s Aesthetics: A Memoir, combining Brunetti’s work as artist, editor, and teacher, into an explanation of his creative process, artistic trajectory, and obscure interests. This eye-popping account is filled with drawings, doodles, ephemera, and sketches spanning multiple decades, and we’re sponsoring an Aesthetics contest to celebrate publication!
New titles from the Margellos World Republic of Letters bring new conversations, such as that between Arturo Fontaine and Megan McDowell, author and translator respectively of La Vida Doble, a tale of violence, lofty ideals, and moral ambiguity set in the darkest years of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. And in breaking literary news, poets Ghassan Zaqtan and Fady Joudah have been awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize for Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, just as Adonis and Khaled Mattawa won two years ago for their selection of Adonis’s poetry for our literature in translation series.
And our long-awaited personal stories, inspired by James Barilla’s My Backyard Jungle, make us want for a life outdoors; new adventures await us at home every day, and you can follow more updates from Barilla’s wildlife habitat with My Backyard Jungle on Facebook. Stay tuned, as always, for more book news!