Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership by Lewis Hyde
A provocative new book argues against the ownership of ideas and turns to the Founding Fathers in defense.
In Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership, MacArthur fellow and Kenyon College professor Lewis Hyde attacks the very idea of “intellectual property”—or the use of copyright laws to claim ownership of ideas. Hyde traces the concept of copyright from its origin in 18th-century England, when it was considered a “temporary monopoly privilege” granted as an incentive to invent and lasted only 14 years, to modern day America, where it is considered a basic right and can last 70 years after the creator’s death—and sometimes longer. Although the book focuses on the Founding Fathers, Hyde is as intellectually omnivorous as he was in his 1983 cult classic The Gift, drawing examples from ancient China as well as the Creative Commons and contemporary Iraq. The result is a persuasive argument that the very terms of the current debate over intellectual property are relatively recent, reductive, and harmful to artistic creativity and the expansion of knowledge. Slate called Common as Air “thoroughly stimulating” and the actress Anna Deavere Smith calls it “essential reading.”
Doubles by Nic Brown
Just in time for the U.S. Open, a journey into the life of former doubles champion Slow Smith, now in a slump.
It’s rare to find a novelist who has written sports fiction so true that it’s endorsed by the players of that very sport, but Nic Brown has done that with Doubles, his new novel about tennis player Slow Smith. Tripp Phillips, 2006 Open men’s doubles semifinalist, calls Doubles a “refreshing and surprisingly precise take on the daily grind of the pro tennis tour.” The novel follows Slow Smith, a former doubles champion himself, now stuck in a slump after believing himself to be responsible for the car accident that put his wife in a coma. While Slow recovers in his hometown, his old lifelong partner, Kaz, tours the world. Library Journal gave the novel a starred review, saying Brown “ may be the John Updike for the new generation.”
Moscow Sting by Alex Dryden
Thriller with similarities to John le Carre’s greats with a female narrator is delivered by British journalist Alex Dryden.
It’s almost a classic Cold War-style thriller, except this time with a twist: British journalist Alex Dryden delivers the story of a female KGB agent in Moscow Sting. When a former British spy is poisoned by a Russian assassin, his ex-boss wants revenge and his widow, Anna, has some of the answers—but she may not be so forthcoming. Dryden, who uses a pseudonym after his years working in intelligence, “dramatizes his concern about Moscow’s expansionist ambitions with skill and ambition,” says The Guardian. Moscow Sting, Dryden’s second novel, has already been compared with some of spy master John le Carré’s great works.
Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption by Scott Simon
A moving memoir about adopting and a look at other stories by the NPR host.
Part memoir, part journalism, Scott Simon’s new book Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other intertwines the story of his and his wife’s adoption of two daughters with the stories of other people who have adopted or were adopted themselves. He speaks with Steve Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, who also adopted two daughters; with fashion designer Alexander Julian, who embraced a son he never knew he had; with sportswriter Frank Deford, who adopted a daughter from the Philippines; and with many others. Simon brings his wit and curiosity that's on display on NPR’s Weekend Edition. John Lithgow describes the book as “Every page offers up some hilarious, heartfelt, or heartbreaking moment. This is a surprising, powerful, important book.”
Higher Education; How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money by Andrew Hacker & Claudia Dreifus
A damning indictment of our colleges and universities you can’t afford not to read.
Too complacent for too long, America’s institutions of higher education are due for a major wakeup call, say Hacker and Dreifus in their fascinating new book. All those with college experience will find in Higher Education a harsh assessment of the value of their investment, and anyone looking to send their children or grandchildren off to college any time soon will use this as a necessary guide. Both respected college professors and prolific writers, the authors have supreme insight to the higher-education industry and their writing exudes experience. Full of startling facts and statistics, Hacker and Dreifus have reignited the debate over what exactly we expect from a college degree and what those four years really represent. A book that the Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame called “essential,” Higher Education is just that. You just may find out something you didn’t know about your own alma mater.