This Random World

This Not-So Random Reading List!

There’s nothing more alluring than the promise of possibility! In THIS RANDOM WORLD by playwright Steven Dietz, characters face the hilarious and sometimes harrowing coincidences and consequences of life. In this not-so-random collection of books and movies provided by The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, these same ideas of fate are brought to the forefront.

Take a chance and check one out at the library today!

 

NONFICTION | CHANCE & RANDOMNESS IN DAILY LIFE

The Drunkard’s walk: how randomness rules our lives by Leonard Mlodinow

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In this irreverent and illuminating book, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, change, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious cases, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance. The rise and fall of your favorite movie star of the most reviled CEO–in fact, of all our destinies–reflects as much as planning and innate abilities. Even the legendary Roger Maris, who beat Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, was in all likelihood not great but just lucky. And it might be shocking to realize that you are twice as likely to be killed in a car accident on your way to buying a lottery ticket than you are to win the lottery. How could it have happened that a wine was given five out of five stars, the highest rating, in one journal and in another it was called the worst wine of the decade? Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how wine ratings, school grades, political polls, and many other things in daily life are less reliable than we believe. By showing us the true nature of change and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives fresh insight into what is really meaningful and how we can make decisions based on a deeper truth. From the classroom to the courtroom, from financial markets to supermarkets, from the doctor’s office to the Oval Office, Mlodinow’s insights will intrigue, awe, and inspire. Offering readers not only a tour of randomness, chance, and probability but also a new way of looking at the world, this original, unexpected journey reminds us that much in our lives is about as predictable as the steps of a stumbling man fresh from a night at the bar.

 

Fluke: the math of myth and coincidence by Joseph Mazur

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A mathematical guide to understanding why life can seem to be one big coincidence-and why the odds of just about everything are better than we would think. What are the chances? This is the question we ask ourselves when we encounter the strangest and most seemingly impossible coincidences, like the woman who won the lottery four times or the fact that Lincoln’s dreams foreshadowed his own assassination. But, when we look at coincidences mathematically, the odds are a lot better than any of us would have thought. In Fluke , mathematician Joseph Mazur takes a second look at the seemingly improbable, sharing with us an entertaining guide to the most surprising moments in our lives. He takes us on a tour of the mathematical concepts of probability, such as the law of large numbers and the birthday paradox, and combines these concepts with lively anecdotes of flukes from around the world. How do you explain finding your college copy of Moby Dick in a used bookstore on the Seine on your first visit to Paris? How can a jury be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that DNA found at the scene of a heinous crime did not get there by some fluke? Should we be surprised if strangers named Maria and Francisco, seeking each other in a hotel lobby, accidentally meet the wrong Francisco and the wrong Maria, another pair of strangers also looking for each other? As Mazur reveals, if there is any likelihood that something could happen, no matter how small, it is bound to happen to someone at some time. In Fluke , Mazur offers us proof of the inevitability of the sublime and the unexpected. He has written a book that will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered how all of the tiny decisions that happen in our lives add up to improbable wholes. A must-read for math enthusiasts and storytellers alike, Fluke helps us to understand the true nature of chance.

 

BOOKS | PARALLEL LIVES & COINCIDENCE

The Lower Quarter by Elise Blackwell

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A man murdered during Katrina in a hotel room two blocks from her art-restoration studio was closely tied to a part of Johanna’s past that she would like kept secret. But missing from the crime scene is a valuable artwork painted in 1926 by a renowned Belgian artist that might bring it all back. An acquaintance, Clay Fontenot, who has enabled a wide variety of personal violations in his life, some of which he has enjoyed, is the scion of a powerful New Orleans family. And Marion is an artist and masseuse from the Quarter who has returned after Katrina to rebuild her life. When Eli, a convicted art thief, is sent to find the missing painting, all of their stories weave together in the slightly deranged halls of the Quarter.

 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE ” The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

 

The Boys by Toni Sala

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The once-bucolic Catalonian village of Vidreres has been ravaged by a harsh recession, and now two of its young men have died in a horrible car crash. As the town attends the funeral, a banker named Ernest heads to the tree where they died, trying to make sense of the tragedy. There he meets a brutish trucker, who in between Internet hookups and trips to prostitutes has taken a liking to Iona, the fianc#65533;e of one of the dead boys. Iona might be just what he needs to fix his tawdry life,but she’s mixed up with an artist who makes frightening projects. Masterfully conjuring the voices of each of these four characters, Toni Sala entwines their lives and their feelings of guilt, fear, and rage over an unspeakable loss. Long known as one of Spain’s most powerful authors, Toni Sala is at his mischievous best here, delivering a sinister, fast-moving tale laced with intricate meditations on everything from social networks to Spain’s economic collapse to the mysterious end that awaits us all. The Boys is a startlingly honest vision of the things we’ll do in order to feel a little less alone in this world.

 

Human Acts by Han Kang

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Amazon, 100 Best Books of 2017 The Atlantic , “The Best Books We Read in 2017” San Francisco Chronicle , “Best of 2017: 100 Recommended Books” NPR Book Concierge, 2017’s Great Reads Library Journal , ” Best Books of 2017″ Huffington Post , “Best Fiction Books of 2017” Medium , Kong Tsung-gan’s “Best Human Rights Books of 2017” From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian , a “rare and astonishing” ( The Observer ) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed. The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice. An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.

 

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

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The long-awaited sequel to The Winshaw Legacy, the novel that introduced American readers to one of Britain’s most exciting new writers–an acerbic, hilariously dark, and unflinching portrait of modern society. The novel opens in the early aughts: two ten-year-olds, Alison and Rachel, have a frightening encounter with the “Mad Bird Woman” who lives down the road. As the narrative progresses through time, the novel envelops others who are connected to the girls: Alison’s mother, a has-been singer, competing on a hit reality TV show; Rachel’s university mentor confronting her late husband’s disastrously obsessive search for a German film he saw as a child; a young police constable investigating the seemingly accidental and unrelated deaths of two stand-up comedians; the ludicrously wealthy family who hire Rachel as a nanny–under whose immense London mansion Rachel will discover a dark and terrifying secret. Psychological insight, social commentary, vicious satire, and even surrealist horror are combined in this highly accomplished work to hold up a revealing, disquieting mirror to the world we live in today.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

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In autumn 1943 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, an unnamed narrator befriends Holly Golightly. Holly likes to shock whoever will listen with carefully selected tidbits from her personal life and her outrageous viewpoints on the world. She spends her days and nights socializing with wealthy men who take her to clubs and restaurants, giving her money and expensive presents. The narrator is fascinated by her curious lifestyle. But this country girl turned New York cafe society girl has some secrets, and over the course of a year, she slowly reveals her true self to the narrator.

 

MOVIES | PARALLEL LIVES & COINCIDENCE

Slacker

A day in the life of Austin, Texas, as the camera roams from place to place, providing a brief look at a talkative taxi passenger, a UFO buff, a JFK conspiracy theorist, an elderly anarchist who befriends a man trying to rob his house, a serial television set collector, and a woman trying to sell a Madonna pap smear. Feelings of social exclusion and political marginalization drive conversations as the overeducated, the social misfits, the outcasts, and the oddballs discuss social class, terrorism, joblessness, and government control of the media.

 

Short Cuts

A loosely connected collage of southern California characters cope with various emotional crises in Robert Altman’s freely adapted version of Raymond Carver’s short story collection.

 

Serendipity

In this irresistible romantic comedy, Jonathan and Sara meet unexpectedly, then part without expectation when Sara decides to leave their relationship to chance. Will fate draw them together in the course of one magical evening?

 

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