When the year took off, I decided to reach for a book that was a bit out of my comfort zone, a sci-fi thriller coming in at almost 500 pages. By Jan. 3, the absolute force that is Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir tore through my expectations and sat itself as the best book that I had read in a while. "How could anything top this?" I wondered. Seventy-one books later, Project Hail Mary continues to pull me into its orbit anytime I get the chance to talk about it.
Ryland Grace, a schoolteacher, wakes up on a spaceship after an induced coma and can't remember how he got there, or what his mission is. In fact, he quickly finds that his crewmates didn't survive. Ryland eventually comes to the extinction-level threat that his mission is supposed to take care of, and tries to figure out how he's going to do this alone. Or will he? This imaginative thrill of a book is all about connection and hope. Science and engineering concepts here are smooth in getting through and easy to digest. No book is without its few faults, but the reading experience was charming and made infinitely better when I had the chance to tune into the audiobook, which is narrated by Ray Porter. Don't miss out on this hilarious and thought-provoking adventure. —Ana Quiñones, BSPH '21 (MPH)
I made an author discovery this year when I picked up Sanora Babb's book, Whose Names Are Unknown, originally written in 1939 but shelved due to publication of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Now, as I am able to find her other works, I find her descriptions of hunger, poverty, and loneliness so applicable to our world today. She lived what she writes about, so she brings insider knowledge to her narratives. The world of her characters becomes real with her descriptions of odors, sounds, and sights. Ordinary life becomes mysterious and magical. —Pamela Magnuson, Nurs '71 (Cert)
Next up: What was your all-time favorite meal? Send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Icebreaker" in the subject line.
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