So…I went back to Commonwealth Books. I know, I know, I have a problem. But in my defense, this time it wasn’t for me. I was looking for graduation presents for my friends.
(Ok, fine, it was a little bit for me too. What can I say, books are my crack.)
I think books make great gifts, new or used, especially when you take the time to write a note inside. Thanks to the diverse selection at Commonwealth Books, I was able to find something for each of my friends: the doctor, the economist, the infectious disease preventionist, and the linguist.
Here’s what I found. And if you like this, I did another haul a couple of weeks ago which I wrote about here.
Mountains Beyond Mountains by: Tracy Kidder
Blurb: “In medical school, Paul Farmer found his life’s calling: to cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. Tracy Kidder’s magnificent account shows how one person can make a difference in solving global health problems through a clear-eyed understanding of the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems, and disease. Profound and powerful, Mountains Beyond Mountains takes us from Harvard to Haiti, Peru, Cuba, and Russia as Farmer changes people’s minds through his dedication to the philosophy that ‘the only real nation is humanity.'”
The Ghost Map by: Steven Johnson
Blurb: “This is a story with four protagonists: a deadly bacterium, a vast city, and two gifted but very different men. One dark week a hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of great terror and human suffering, their lives collided on the streets of London.”
Barriers to Riches by: Stephen L. Parente and Edward C. Prescott
Blurb: “Why isn’t the whole world as rich as the United States? Conventional views hold that differences in the share of output invested by countries account for this disparity. Not so, say Stephen Parente and Edward Prescott. In Barriers to Riches, Parente and Prescott argue that differences in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) explain this phenomenon. These differences exist because some countries erect barriers to the efficient use of readily available technology. The purpose of these barriers is to protect industry insiders with vested interests in current production practices from outside competition. Were this protection stopped, rapid TFP growth would follow in the poor countries, and the whole world would soon be rich.
Lost Languages by: Andrew Robinson
Blurb: “Maybe it’s the possibility of ‘speaking with the dead,’ of hearing the voices of long-silent peoples and civilizations. Perhaps it’s the puzzle solver’s relish for the challenges posed by breaking codes. Whatever the reasons, undeciphered ancient scripts have long tantalized the public. Lost Languages investigates the most famous examples, leading us back to a far-distant past obscured by the ravages of time and haunted by code breakers hungry for glory. The book begins with an incisive description of decipherment techniques and tells the stories of three great decipherments: Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 19th century, the Mayan glyphs of Central America, and the Linear B clay tablets of the Minoan civilization of Crete in the 20th century. Then it tackles the important scripts still awaiting their decipherers.”
There you have it – a wide range of topics that are still only the tip of the iceberg of what Commonwealth Books has to to offer.