5 Books On My TBR Shelf I’m Excited About (Week 5)

I’ve accepted that my TBR shelf is out of control, so let’s talk about what I’m excited to read!

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1. The Devil in the White City 
by Erik Larson
Publish Date: February 11, 2003
# of Pages: 447
Goodreads Rating: 3.99

Description (from Goodreads): Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

Why am I excited to read this book?: I’ve wanted to read this book ever since it was released! Honestly, I’m not sure why I haven’t read it yet. Every time I see the cover, I think to myself, “Oh yeah, I’ve got to read that book!”


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2. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publish Date: March 16, 2010
# of Pages: 269
Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Description (from Goodreads): In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world–no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew–a reclusive, real-life gentle giant–she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes–which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar . . . Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

Why am I excited to read this book?: I added this book to my TBR shelf forever ago because it got rave reviews from my friends. The book sounds enchanting and sweet.


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3. How We Believe by Michael Shermer
Publish Date: October 1, 2003
# of Pages: 368
Goodreads Rating: 3.96

Description (from Goodreads): Recent polls report that 96 percent of Americans believe in God, and 73 percent believe that angels regularly visit Earth. Why is this? Why, despite the rise of science, technology, and secular education, are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before? Why do people believe in God at all?

These provocative questions lie at the heart of How We Believe , an illuminating study of God, faith, and religion. Bestselling author Michael Shermer offers fresh and often startling insights into age-old questions, including how and why humans put their faith in a higher power, even in the face of scientific skepticism. Shermer has updated the book to explore the latest research and theories of psychiatrists, neuroscientists, epidemiologists, and philosophers, as well as the role of faith in our increasingly diverse modern world.

Whether believers or nonbelievers, we are all driven by the need to understand the universe and our place in it. How We Believe is a brilliant scientific tour of this ancient and mysterious desire.

Why am I excited to read this book?: I absolutely love this type of book. I think understanding human nature and what makes people tick is fascinating. I currently have this book on my library wish-list, so I’m hoping they get it in stock at some point!


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4. Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique 
by Michael S. Gazzaniga
Publish Date: June 24, 2008
# of Pages: 464
Goodreads Rating: 3.99

Description (from Goodreads):
One of the world’s leading neuroscientists explores how best to understand the human condition by examining the biological, psychological, and highly social nature of our species within the social context of our lives.

What happened along the evolutionary trail that made humans so unique? In his widely accessible style, Michael Gazzaniga looks to a broad range of studies to pinpoint the change that made us thinking, sentient humans, different from our predecessors.

Neuroscience has been fixated on the life of the psychological self for the past fifty years, focusing on the brain systems underlying language, memory, emotion, and perception. What it has not done is consider the stark reality that most of the time we humans are thinking about social processes, comparing ourselves to and estimating the intentions of others. In Human, Gazzaniga explores a number of related issues, including what makes human brains unique, the importance of language and art in defining the human condition, the nature of human consciousness, and even artificial intelligence.

Why am I excited to read this book?: Similar to the last book, I find the human condition compelling. Why do people think the way they do? What makes humans unique from other animals? I find this subject so interesting!


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5. Flush 
by Carl Hiaasen
Publish Date:  September 13, 2005
# of Pages: 263
Goodreads Rating: 3.87

Description (from Goodreads): Bestselling novelist Carl Hiaasen is back with another hysterical mystery adventure for young readers, set in the Florida Keys.

Noah’s dad has a little problem with anger control. He tried to stop the Coral Queen casino boat’s illegal dumping . . . by sinking the boat. But his bold protest fizzles: within days the casino is back in business, and Noah’s dad is behind bars and out of action.

Now Noah is determined to succeed where his father failed. But even though pumping raw sewage into the waters of the Florida Keys is both gross and against the law, turns out it’s near impossible to catch the flusher—especially when he’s already bamboozled the prosecutors, the local press, and even the Coast Guard.

But Noah’s got a few allies. There’s his little sister, Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a half-soused ex-mate of the Coral Queen who is willing to testify . . . for a price; and Shelly, a bighearted bartender with even bigger biceps.

Okay, so the odds aren’t good. But Noah has an ace up his sleeve—a plan so crazy it just might stop the polluting, save the beaches, and prove to the world that it’s the owner of the Coral Queen, and not his dad, who is full of . . . crud.

Why am I excited to read this book?: I was introduced to Carl Hiaasen in high school by one of my best friends. His books are hilarious. Flush is geared towards a younger audience, but it sounds cute. I’d like to read it; maybe I can pass the recommendation along to my own children someday.


Let’s Talk!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

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