The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
Fernando Pessoa was many writers in one. He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology, and horoscope. When he died in 1935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, an astonishing work that, in George Steiner’s words, “gives to Lisbon the haunting spell of Joyce’s Dublin or Kafka’s Prague.” In “The Book of Disquiet,” Pessoa came as close as he ever would to autobiography. The fragments that make up “The Book of Disquiet “record in disjunct entries a vast interior landscape and daily minutiae, making for a discontinuous, gently unhinged monologue in daybook form. A self-deprecating reflection on the sheer distance between the loftiness of feelings and the humdrum reality of life, The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century and a classic of existentialist literature.
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
In a rare blend of scientific insight and writing as elegant as the theories it explains, Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of 11 dimensions where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy. Green uses everything from an amusement park ride to ants on a garden hose to illustrate the beautiful yet bizarre realities that modern physics is unveiling. Dazzling in its brilliance, unprecedented in its ability to both illuminate and entertain, The Elegant Universe is a tour de force of science writing-a delightful, lucid voyage through modern physics that brings us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.