As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. >> Click here for more SunLit
This week’s bookstore: Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St., Fort Collins
Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them
By Antonio Padilla
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
From the publisher: For particularly brilliant theoretical physicists like James Clerk Maxwell, Paul Dirac or Albert Einstein, the search for mathematical truths led to strange new understandings of the ultimate nature of reality. But what are these truths? What are the mysterious numbers that explain the universe? In this volume, the leading theoretical physicist and YouTube star Antonio Padilla takes us on an irreverent cosmic tour of nine of the most extraordinary numbers in physics, offering a startling picture of how the universe works.
From Kelvin, bookseller: This book attempts to explain certain and specific numbers, fantastically small to the fantastically large and a few in between, but this is not mere mathematical history, as interesting as that topic might be. Padilla shows how these numbers, which in our struggle to comprehend them can seem unreal and outside the realm of possible relevance, in fact are necessary and fundamentally part of our universe, our world, and our lives.
The Rise and Reign of the Mammals
By Steve Brusatte
From the publisher: We humans are the inheritors of a dynasty that has reigned over the planet for nearly 66 million years, through fiery cataclysm and ice ages: the mammals. Our lineage includes saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, armadillos the size of a car, cave bears three times the weight of a grizzly, clever scurriers that outlasted Tyrannosaurus rex, and even other types of humans, like Neanderthals. Indeed humankind and many of the beloved fellow mammals we share the planet with today—lions, whales, dogs—represent only the few survivors of a sprawling and astonishing family tree that has been pruned by time and mass extinctions. How did we get here?
From Zane, bookseller: Have you been hitting the fantasy/sci-fi pretty hard for a while and would like a great nonfiction palate cleanser? Do you want to feel like an excited elementary schooler learning cool science facts for the first time and dying to tell all your friends? I’ve been having so much fun with this book and don’t know who I was before I learned about the humble Thrinaxodon, little burrowing hero of the evolutionary mammal line. If you aren’t wanting to spring for a hardcover, Brusatte also wrote “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs”, which is out in paperback.
The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity
By David Graeber and David Wengrow
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
From the publisher: For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike — either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the 18th century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.
From Julie, bookseller: Read it to challenge your understanding of human history and enjoy the evidence-based myth-busting of an astounding anthropological and archaeological collaboration.