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A SALAMANDER’S TALE: My Story of Regeneration—Surviving 30 Years with Prostate Cancer By Paul Steinberg C’70 (Skyhorse, 2015, $24.99.) Diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer at 35, and facing surgical castration at 42, Steinberg—a physician and psychiatrist—had to turn over his physical health to the medical establishment, then start searching for a higher meaning in life. Still very much alive three decades later, his memoir celebrates life in a way that is at once raw, funny, profane, and uplifting. Buy this book

BORDERLANDS USA: Or, How to Protect the Country by Car By Ben Batchelder WG’90 (Earthdog Press, 2014, $14.99.) After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Batchelder decided to show his support for his country by returning from abroad (where his job had kept him for most of the previous seven years) and driving around the perimeter of the Lower 48. On those offbeat roads and paths, he talked with an uncommon range of people (including the late John Updike) and came to know his country in new and unpredictable ways. Buy this book

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PLANT SENSING & COMMUNICATION By Richard Karban Gr’82 (University of Chicago Press, 2015, $35.) Plants sense many aspects of their environment—from light and chemicals to temperature and sound—and respond accordingly, even exchanging information with other types of organisms. Karban, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, examines the cues plants emit and respond to, as well as the ways that they and the organisms with which they communicate change as a result. Buy this book

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RELATIVELY INDOLENT BUT RELENTLESS: A Cancer Treatment Journal By Matt Freedman, faculty (Seven Stories Press, 2014, $19). “Yesterday my colleagues and students gave me this sketch book to fill up over the next two months while I undergo radiation and chemo therapy,” begins Freedman, a fine-arts professor at Penn’s School of Design. Every day, with unblinking observations in words and drawings, he chronicled his 2012 treatment for adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer that had spread from his tongue to his neck and lungs. Buy this book

CATCH US IF YOU CAN By Marc Feinstein W’76 (Oldbrook Books, 2014, $23.95.) It’s 1967 and high-school freshman Gene Gennaro is in love with basketball, girls, and rock and roll. Then a terrible family tragedy strikes, and suddenly those comforts aren’t enough for the dark new world he has entered. Buy this book

OVERCOMING OCD: A Journey to Recovery By Janet Singer with Seth J. Gillihan, faculty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, $35.00.) Daniel Singer’s parents worried that he would never again be able to function in society because of his severe OCD. Now, after seven therapists, 10 medications, and a nine-week stay at a residential treatment program, he is a college graduate working in his chosen field. His story is also a guide to OCD and its treatment and diagnoses, as well as its effect on families. Gillihan is a clinical assistant professor of psychology in Penn’s psychiatry department. Buy this book

WHY GREATNESS CANNOT BE PLANNED: The Myth of the Objective By Kenneth O. Stanley EAS’97 and Joel Lehman (Springer, 2015, $29.99.) Not all pursuits require an objective to justify their existence, argue Stanley (associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Central Florida) and Lehman. When Stanley noticed that AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms could do amazing things even when they had no explicit objectives, he realized that everything from personal dating to education to the evolution of the human brain could benefit from that insight: to achieve our highest goals, we must be willing to abandon them. Buy this book

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GHOST FLEET: A Novel of the Next World War By P. W. Singer and August Cole C’97 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, $21). In their debut thriller, Cole and Singer envision the technological possibilities of a 21st-century conflict between the United States, China, and Russia. The new weapons of battle include robotic drone strikes and a cyber-war fueled by Silicon Valley billionaires. Cole is a writer, analyst, and former defense-industry reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Buy this book

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