Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Roughhouse Friday

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Jaed Coffin, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2019

Growing up in rural Vermont with an American father and a Thai mother who met during the Vietnam War, Coffin, an assistant professor of creative writing in the College of Liberal Arts, never felt quite at home. His sense of dislocation only intensified after his parents divorced and his father remarried and started a new family. In fact, it wasn’t until he happened upon a local boxing club in Sitka, Alaska, a year out of Middlebury College, that he finally found a place where he felt like he fit. Encouraged by a local coach, Coffin learned to fight and began participating in the area’s monthly “Roughhouse Friday” competition, a barroom boxing show to determine the best boxer in the Juneau area. A chronicle of the year he won the Roughhouse Friday middleweight title, Coffin’s memoir of the same name pulls no punches in the weighty themes it tackles: love and longing and loss, violence and the nature of masculine identity.


Fear is Fuel

Patrick Sweeney ’89, Rowman and Littlefield, February 2020

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In his 30s, after tackling elite-level athletics and the high-tech startup world, Sweeney encountered a pair of challenges that he wasn’t sure he had the tools to prevail over: a rare form of leukemia, and the fear that accompanied it. Conquering his illness was a wake-up call, and Sweeney quickly realized that fear, rather than being an emotion to avoid, was a power that could be harnessed to heighten emotional intelligence and drive ambition, courage and success. Today, Sweeney is an in-demand “fear guru” and adventurer who works with companies like Google, eBay and Intel to help employees tap into their courage and creativity. In “Fear is Fuel,” he offers a practical guide that instructs everyday readers, business and military leaders, activists, humanitarians and educators on a unique path toward translating fear into optimal living. The path to a fulfilling life, he argues, is not to avoid fear but to recognize it, understand it, harness it — and unleash its power.


Adagio for Su Tung-p’o

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Rob Jacques ’66g, Fernwood Press, December 2019

The subtitle for Jacques’ second poetry collection, following 2017’s “War Poet,” is “poems on how consciousness uses flesh to float through space/time.” Ancient Chinese poets like Su Tung-p’o, he explains, loved ambiguity, loved paradox, and would have loved the puzzling, reality-defying entanglements that frustrate and fascinate us today. Jacques hears these poets and invokes their lines in a meditative tempo — an adagio — that ponders the meta-physical conjoining of life and love with eternity.


Preserving Old Barns

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John Porter ’71, Peter Randall Publishers, September 2019

Barns tell an important story about the history of agriculture in New Hampshire, and it’s hard to imagine a more knowledgeable resource about their construction and rehabilitation than Porter. He grew up working in 1850s barns and spent four decades as a dairy specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension, helping Granite Staters retrofit their old barns and build new ones to meet the changing demands of the industry. A “must-read” reference for barn owners and barn lovers, “Preserving Old Barns” provides a practical understanding of the history and function of old barns as well as information about preservation techniques.



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Michelle Schaub ’96G, Charlesbridge Publishing, February 2020

Schaub’s third book for young readers marries poetry and science in a collection that highlights a dozen different STEM fields and the children who love them. In fun, read-aloud language, the rhyming text weaves in information about each branch of science, from astronomy to physics to chemistry to geology.


Cook, Taste, Learn

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Guy Crosby ’64, Columbia University Press, December 2019

From the ability to control fire to the emergence of agriculture to modern science’s understanding of what happens at a molecular level when we apply heat to food, cooking what we consume is one of the activities that makes humans unique. In “Cook, Taste, Learn,” food scientist Crosby, the former science editor for “America’s Test Kitchen” and an adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, offers a lively tour of the history and science behind the art of cooking, with a focus on achieving a healthy daily diet.