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: Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts, 320 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs

When We Cease to Understand the World

By Benjamin Labatut
New York Review of Books
Sept. 28, 2021

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From the publisher: This is a book about the complicated links between scientific and mathematical discovery, madness, and destruction. Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger–these are some of luminaries into whose troubled lives Benjamín Labatut thrusts the reader, showing us how they grappled with the most profound questions of existence. They have strokes of unparalleled genius, alienate friends and lovers, descend into isolation and insanity. Some of their discoveries reshape human life for the better; others pave the way to chaos and unimaginable suffering. The lines are never clear.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  That vast gray area between fact and fiction is blended beyond belief in this fascinating book. While getting a crash course in diverse abstruse subjects, the fluid writing brings complicated theories and revelations within an easy grasp for the reader. Moral dilemmas and ethics aside, and with bon mots flying, we get to know each genius in a way that leaves us begging for more. A totally unexpected read that leaves one reeling and reflecting. 

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The Weather Detective: Rediscovering Nature’s Secret Signs

By Peter Wohlleben
Dutton Books
June 5, 2018

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From the publisher: At what temperature do bees stay home? Why do southerly winds in winter often bring storms? How can birdsong or flower scents help you tell the time? These are among the many questions Wohlleben poses in his newly translated book. Full of the very latest discoveries, combined with ancient now-forgotten lore, this book helps you read nature’s secret signs and discover a rich new layer of meaning in the world around you.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  The title is a wee bit misleading, there’s not much “detecting” in this book. However, there is a wealth of knowledge gleaned from “observing” weather, nature and gardens.  Reading this book is like visiting one’s wizened neighbor, that one that has the spectacular garden. We are inspired to step back and listen quietly as they offer tidbits of advice and some opinionated views. Written from an Eurocentric experience, it is still a great book for the budding gardener or for the accomplished naturalist regardless of where they live.

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Water, Wood & Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town

By Hannah Kirshner
March 29, 2022

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From the publisher: An immersive journey through the culture and cuisine of one Japanese town, its forest, and its watershed–where ducks are hunted by net, saké is brewed from the purest mountain water, and charcoal is fired in stone kilns–by an American writer and food stylist who spent years working alongside artisans. Taking readers deep into evergreen forests, terraced rice fields, and smoke-filled workshops, Kirshner captures the centuries-old traditions still alive in Yamanaka.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  Kirshner puts her finger to her lips to shush us, her eyes wide with quiet awe, and then slowly she pulls back a curtain to show us this magical place that she has discovered. But it’s much more than a physical place. In a small town in the rain-soaked mountains of Japan we peek over her shoulder as she navigates the culture of the area. She commits her keen sense of study to engage with artisans, learning more than craft from each one. Time and artistry are honored in this hamlet; and her affection for the people she encounters is clear and enjoyable. We learn to relish the process of making, of creating both objects and nourishment. This book emphasizes that it is the journey, not the destination, that is important.

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