Books to Get You Thinking

As we usher in the beginning of this new decade, it may be a good time to reminiscence on some of the great figures whom we lost in 2009 and on their works and contributions that have made a lasting impact in different fields. Through their writings, books and sound recordings, their thoughts, their vision and their legacy live on.

Paul Samuelson (May 15, 1915 – December 13, 2009) transformed and redefined the discipline of economics and academic thinking with his groundbreaking work that won him the Nobel Prize. Samuelson developed sophisticated mathematical models and theorems to analyze a wide range of economic problems including business cycles, and the effects of trade on consumers and manufacturing. Perhaps his most important contribution was the synthesis of the nineteenth century neo classical school of thought that focused on natural market equilibrium, with Keynesian economics that supported government intervention in situations of falling employment and income levels. At MCL you can find two of Samuelson’s books that have been widely used all over the world to understand the theoretical underpinnings of economics as a discipline.

A classic textbook in introductory Economics first published in 1948, and translated into multiple languages and with eighteen different editions published over time. A clear and lucid exposition of both macro and micro economic principles fused into compelling models of how the economic system works.

Foundations of Economic Analysis
First published in 1947 by Harvard University Press, the book draws largely on Paul Samuelson’s doctoral dissertation. Samuelson developed a clear mathematical exposition of consumer behavior, welfare economics and the dynamics of economic equilibrium and the book remains a classic work in the study of mathematical economics.

Walter Cronkite (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009) The legendary television anchor and journalist who was witness to and who covered a host of historic events ranging from the D- Day, the Nuremberg trials, the Vietnam War, the Apollo missions, and President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Our library system offers a host of documentary films made by Walter Cronkite as well as his wonderful autobiographical book where Cronkite recounts his incredible adventures on his different missions as a reporter and journalist. Enjoy them!

Legacy of War
Cronkite discusses the Marshall Plan and the exhaustive role played by the United States in rebuilding Europe after the Second World War.

Man on the moon
Walter Cronkite documents NASA’s long journey in space exploration, and the Apollo space missions. Cronkite captures and allows viewers to relive the excitement of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first steps on the moon in 1969.

Around America: A Tour of Our Magnificent Coastline
This engaging book is full of rich imagery and charming anecdotes about thousands of miles of America’s coastline. There are stories of times gone by and the history of the people inhabiting the Atlantic Seaboard as well as the beautiful Gulf and Pacific coasts. A truly engaging book for all armchair travelers and a treasure for those who enjoy sailing!

A Reporter’s Life
As a news anchor, war correspondent and journalist, Cronkite’s life was rich with experiences in covering some of the century’s most momentous events. In this memoir he recounts some of these stories with a style that is uniquely engaging and reflects the dry humor and crisp narrative that endeared him to generations of Americans.

John Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009). One of the great American writers of his time, John Updike has penned more than twenty novels, a number of short stories, poems and literary criticism. He has been a two time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as numerous other awards and honors. Updike was a prolific writer and at MCL you can find a rich collection of the writer’s works. Here are a few of his titles that you can enjoy:

Rabbit Run
The first in a four book series detailing the life and times of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a former high school basketball superstar who has a difficult time fitting into middle class suburban married life. Updike follows Rabbit’s travails over the following decades, in his subsequent sequels, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest.

A novel set in suburban New Jersey about an eighteen year old boy Ahmad, son of an Egyptian father and an Irish American mother. The novel builds up the estrangement, and feelings of cultural isolation experienced by Ahmad who is then drawn towards the mosque’s imam. Updike has researched extensively for this book and there are quotations from the Koran in Arabic throughout the book to add credence to his characters.

Endpoint and other poems
A beautiful collection of poems that the author wrote in the last few years of his life. Endpoint is comprised of connected poems written on different birthdays and in the final poem Updike confronts the reality of his illness. The collection includes poems that are reflections on nature and his extensive travels to distant lands.

Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism
A compilation of nonfiction prose that includes many pieces of literary criticism covering the works of Updike’s contemporaries such as Gabriel García Márquez and Margaret Atwood. Some of the pieces were published earlier in New Yorker but bringing them together in one place provides readers with a rich volume they can enjoy over time.

Wishing all our readers a Joyous New Year and many happy hours of reading!

- Nita Mathur


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