Book Groups Spring 2024

Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

by Richard Rhodes

This book tells a remarkable story of science history: how a ravishing film star and an avant-garde composer invented spread-spectrum radio, the technology that made wireless phones, GPS systems, and many other devices possible. Rhodes weaves together Hollywood’s golden era, the history of Vienna, 1920s Paris, weapons design, music, a tutorial on patent law and a brief treatise on transmission technology. It is a remarkable narrative adventure about spread-spectrum radio's genesis and unlikely amateur inventors collaborating to change the world.

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard

by Douglas W. Tallamy

Nature’s Best Hope, chosen as the 2024 selection for Peoria Reads. shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard.

Universities On Fire: Higher Education in Climate Crisis

By Bryan Alexander

Current studies of climate change trace the likely implications across a range of domains, from agriculture to policy, urban design, technology, culture, and human psychology. However, few books have predicted or studied the effects of the climate crisis on colleges and universities. How will the two main purposes of education―teaching and research―change as the world heats up? Powered by real-world examples and the latest research, Alexander assesses practical responses and strategies by surveying contemporary programs and academic climate research from around the world. He establishes a model of how academic institutions may respond and offers practical pathways forward for higher education.

Storythinking: The New Science of Narrative Intelligence

By Angus Fletcher

Every time we think ahead, we are crafting a story. Every daily plan―and every political vision, social movement, scientific hypothesis, business proposal, and technological breakthrough―starts with “what if?” Linking causes to effects, considering hypotheticals and counterfactuals, asking how other people will react: these are the essence of narrative.

This book explains how and why our brains think in stories. Angus Fletcher, an expert in neuroscientific approaches to narrative, identifies this capacity as “storythinking.” He demonstrates that storythinking is fundamental to what makes us human. Artificial intelligence can perform symbolic logic, rational deduction, and mathematical calculation, but it is incapable of deliberating in narrative.