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Beyond the Book Articles

Beyond the Book Articles

For every book we review, we also write a Beyond the Book article that focuses on a cultural, historical or contextual topic related to the book - a great tool for preparing for a book club discussion or for simply enhancing your reading experience. Search for topics of interest in our search bar, or browse the sample articles - companions to recently published books in both hardcover and paperback - below.

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The Life and Art of Pegeen Guggenheim

Beyond the book article for Costalegre
Costalegre's main protagonist Lara Calaway is based on real-life artist Pegeen Vail Guggenheim (1925-1967), daughter of wealthy New York art collector and socialite Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979). In her afterword, author Courtney Maum leaves a dedication to the not widely known artist: 'Pegeen: Your story wasn't told much. I hope you...

Microaggressions

Beyond the book article for So You Want to Talk About Race
In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo devotes a chapter to racial microaggressions, or everyday instances of racism. As opposed to macroaggressions, which encompass obvious racist behavior such as the use of racial slurs, microaggressions are subtle, sometimes unconscious and often seemingly unremarkable actions that contribute ...

Top of the Pops

Beyond the book article for Utopia Avenue
David Mitchell's novel Utopia Avenue centers around a fictional British pop band in the turbulent years of 1967 and 1968. Acts popular in both the United States and Britain included the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Who, the Supremes, the Byrds, the Kinks, Aretha Franklin… and ...

Vichy France During World War II

Beyond the book article for The Flight Portfolio
It is a well-known fact that France was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. Not only is this chapter in history covered in textbooks and classrooms, it is also frequently the subject of movies and novels. The simplified picture of France at this time would include patriotic French citizens gathering in secret to support the ...

Bees and Honey Across the Ages

Beyond the book article for The Beekeeper of Aleppo
In Christy Lefteri's novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the protagonist is a Syrian refugee seeking asylum in England (See Syrian Refugees and The Human Cost of War in Post 9/11 Conflicts). The novel brings to life the heart-wrenching challenges refugees endure as they flee their home country for a better life (See The Dehumanization of ...

The Uruguayan Military Dictatorship (1973-1985)

Beyond the book article for Cantoras
The small country of Uruguay (about the size of Missouri) is bordered by Argentina to the west, Brazil to the north, and the Atlantic to the south and east. Military rule began there in 1973 following a coup conducted in cooperation with then-president Juan María Bordaberry (1928-2011), and lasted for the following 12 years. During ...

Auschwitz-Birkenau Today

Beyond the book article for The Volunteer
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (the setting of Jack Fairweather's riveting history The Volunteer) was liberated by the Soviet Army on January 27, 1945. In 1946, Poland's Ministry of Culture and Art recognized the need to preserve the site of so much horror for memorial and educational purposes, and set to work on a museum. ...

The Democrats, Race and the 1994 Federal Crime Bill

Beyond the book article for How to Be an Antiracist
In How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi recalls his adolescence during the 1990s, frequently referencing comments made and policies enacted by President Bill Clinton. Author Toni Morrison famously called Clinton the 'first Black president,' a fairly controversial comment that was nevertheless frequently repeated by Clinton supporters ...

The Oldest Known Burial in North America: Anzick-1

Beyond the book article for The Distant Dead
The evocative prehistorical scene with which Heather Young opens The Distant Dead might be fictional but, as the narrator suggests near the end of the novel, it parallels some real-life archaeological discoveries. One of these is Anzick Boy, or Anzick-1, a Paleoindian child of one or two years old, found buried in Montana in 1968. ...

The Evolution of Air Travel and Airport Security

Beyond the book article for The Last Flight
The action in Julie Clark's novel The Last Flight begins as two women decide to switch identities at an airport and each board the other's flight. One of the two airplanes crashes into the ocean before reaching its destination.

Air travel is enormously popular in the United States and throughout the world. In 2019, over 4.5 billion ...

The Controversy Surrounding On the Origin of Species

Beyond the book article for The Darwin Affair
The publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species forever changed the way humankind thought of themselves and their place in the world. Almost immediately, the public took sides; you were either pro-evolution or anti-evolution. This caused considerable strife between notable public figures at the time, and also resulted in ...

The Playlist for Eleanor and Park

Beyond the book article for Eleanor & Park
In my review of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park, I suggest that if the novel were a song, it would be a punk rock song. I hold firm to that idea.

A brief (if incomplete) lesson on punk rock music: First, as is true with the birth of most genres of anything (music, art, architecture, etc.), pinpointing the beginning is tough, if not ...

Books Narrated from Beyond the Grave

Beyond the book article for Tokyo Ueno Station
Yu Miri's Tokyo Ueno Station is told from the viewpoint of Kazu, a ghost who wanders the grounds of the train station in which he lived out his final years. Though the book makes unique use of this framing device to explore its particular themes of poverty and homelessness, it is certainly not the only novel to feature a narrator who ...

La Bestia: A Perilous Journey for Migrants

Beyond the book article for We Are Not from Here
In Jenny Tores Sanchez's young adult novel We Are Not from Here, three Guatemalan teenagers embark on a dangerous journey to the United States, part of which takes place on top of La Bestia (The Beast). This is the commonly used name for the train that spans the length of Mexico frequently boarded by migrants seeking to bypass immigration...

Six Flags Amusement Parks

Beyond the book article for Crooked Hallelujah
In Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford, Justine dreams of riding the Big Bend roller coaster at Six Flags. Today, Six Flags is a large theme park company with locations throughout North America and also in China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Justine, who is living in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1974, is anticipating a...

Purim

Beyond the book article for The Book of V.
In The Book of V., Lily is a wife and mother living in modern-day Brooklyn and struggling to find her purpose in life. As she works to manage her relational roles, she is also working to understand her Jewish heritage and particularly the story of Esther, a young Jewish woman in ancient Persia who became queen and used her influence ...

Anna May Wong

Beyond the book article for Delayed Rays of a Star
Anna May Wong was a Chinese-American film star who worked in the entertainment industry from the 1920s to the 1960s. As a person of color, she experienced limitations in the roles she was able to play throughout her career due to discrimination and typecasting. Many recognize her today as an overlooked icon.

Wong was born in 1905 to ...

The Rise of Workplace Automation: 10 Shocking Facts

Beyond the book article for On the Clock
It's no secret that rapid innovations in technology have drastically changed the way we work. But are these changes always for the better? Here are 10 shocking facts about the rise of automation in the workplace, taken directly from the pages of Emily Guendelsberger's On The Clock.


  1. According to a 2013 study from Oxford University, 47 ...

Whitehead's Disturbing Inspiration: The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys

Beyond the book article for The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys sketches a horrific portrait of a brutal reformatory school, the Nickel Academy, where staff members routinely torture and terrorize the institution's teenage students. The events of the story are unsettling, and even more so given that Nickel is a fictionalized version of Florida's first juvenile ...

The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys

Beyond the book article for The Last Train to Key West
Chanel Cleeton's historical novel The Last Train to Key West is based on a real event that took place on September 2, 1935, now known as the Labor Day Hurricane (and sometimes called the Labor Day Storm), a Category 5 storm that killed between 400 and 600 people in the Florida Keys. It was the first recorded Category 5 hurricane to hit ...

Elizabeth Peratrovich and the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945

Beyond the book article for Of Bears and Ballots
In Of Bears and Ballots, Heather Lende reflects on the contributions of Elizabeth Peratrovich to Alaskan history during a community event celebrating the activist's life.

Elizabeth Peratrovich (1911-1958) worked tirelessly to achieve equality for Alaskan Natives. Those familiar with Peratrovich likely know of her role in passing the ...

Mauna Loa, the World's Largest Active Volcano

Beyond the book article for The Color of Air
Mauna Loa comprises more than half the landmass of the Big Island, the largest in the chain of islands that make up the state of Hawaii. The world's largest active volcano, it stands at 13,678 feet above sea level but reaches an astonishing 30,000 feet from the seafloor. To put this into perspective, this makes Mauna Loa's total height ...

Fake Science

Beyond the book article for The Great Pretender
In The Great Pretender, former New York Post investigative reporter Susannah Cahalan uncovers evidence that Stanford University psychologist David Rosenhan fabricated at least some of the details in his famous 1973 paper 'On Being Sane in Insane Places.'

If true, this certainly wouldn't have been the only time a high profile researcher...

Kurdish Women Fight for Freedom

Beyond the book article for Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
Kurdistan is a mountainous region that includes parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. The Kurds' territory was first partitioned between the Ottoman and Safavid Empires in the 17th century. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne at the end of World War I divided the region into its current configuration. Despite its geographic size and a ...

Minecraft and the Uncensored Library

Beyond the book article for Sleepovers
The story 'Mind Craft' in Sleepovers by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips is named for one character's incorrect way of referring to the video game Minecraft, which is a multi-platform 'sandbox game,' the term for a game that leaves the player relatively free to explore a setting without having to progress through it in a linear fashion. Minecraft...

Neurodiversity

Beyond the book article for Almond
The term neurodiversity refers to the diversity of human brains and minds — the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species. Neurodiversity encompasses both neurotypical individuals whose neurocognitive functioning is considered by societal standards to be 'normal,' as well as neurodivergent individuals who ...

Art Restoration and Conservation

Beyond the book article for The Stone Girl
In Dirk Wittenborn's The Stone Girl, the main character, Evie, is an art restorer who specializes in repairing statues. Art restoration is the professional process of repairing works of art that have been subjected to the effects of damage or age, including paintings, sculptures and architecture. The restoration of art is somewhat ...

Solastalgia, Eco-anxiety and Ecological Grief

Beyond the book article for The Future Earth
In The Future Earth, Eric Holthaus describes having climate-related depression. Over the last two decades, we have become more attuned to the mental effects of worry about the environment. In 2003, Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the word 'solastalgia,' a variation on 'nostalgia' that draws on the connotations ...

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Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Tokyo Ueno Station
    Tokyo Ueno Station
    by Yu Miri
    Kazu is a ghost, seemingly condemned to haunt one of Japan's busiest train stations, the grounds of ...
  • Book Jacket
    Delayed Rays of a Star
    by Amanda Lee Koe
    Amanda Lee Koe's Delayed Rays of a Star begins with a late-1920s photo of three women at a party in ...
  • Book Jacket: Sleepovers
    Sleepovers
    by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
    In Ashleigh Bryant Phillips' debut story collection, Sleepovers, it can be difficult to keep tabs on...
  • Book Jacket
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    by Christy Lefteri
    In Christy Lefteri's sophomore novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the author introduces readers to ...

Readers Recommend

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    The Voyage of the Morning Light
    by Marina Endicott

    A sweeping novel set aboard a merchant ship sailing through the South Pacific in 1912.
    Reader Reviews

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Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

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