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Spring 2024 Book Roundup

March 28, 2024
By Gabriela Trauttmansdorff ’26

As the sun comes out, the flowers begin to blossom and the spring season is in full force, what better way to take advantage of the long-awaited pleasant weather than by reading an engaging book? Below are some newly released titles by William & Mary alumni.

Return of the Silent Sovereign: A Space Fantasy of War, Passion and Second Chances by Judith Raine Baroody ’75

Baroody follows her first two books, “Paris Gold” and “Casablanca Blue,” with her first sci-fi novel, “Return of the Silent Sovereign.” When a high-ranking star fleet admiral goes through a time portal to become a child again, she is given another chance to save her planet, which has been torn apart by 1,000 years of war. The story, which combines elements of “Star Trek,” “Wonder Woman” and “Romeo and Juliet,” invites you to wonder “What would you do if you had a second chance at life?”

Tampa Bay: The Story of an Estuary and Its People by Evan P. Bennett Ph.D. ’05

The newest volume of Bennett’s “Florida in Focus” series delves into the environmental history of Tampa Bay, Florida, exploring human interactions with the region's ecology over its 2,000-year history. It discusses the natural resources that attracted settlers, the impacts of trade and industry, and efforts to address environmental damage caused by dredging, pollution and red tides. Despite challenges, the book highlights ongoing efforts by environmentalists, policymakers and citizens to restore the bay's balance with nature, offering hope for other fragile coastal areas. The first book to examine the history of the Tampa Bay region, Bennett’s work provides a fresh perspective on Florida’s historic treasure trove.

From the Stars to the Moon by Priya Chhaya ’04

“From the Stars to the Moon” is the second installment in a collection of children’s books Chhaya is releasing in honor of her four nieces and nephews. Using a lighthearted, engaging tone, Chhaya tells the tale of Mr. Dragon, who is desperate to make it from the stars to the moon in time for Mr. Dino’s birthday party. To solve his dilemma, Mr. Dragon recruits a girl named Siana and her friends to help fix his spaceship and get him to the moon as fast as possible!

Centers of Progress: 40 Cities That Changed the World by Chelsea Follett ’12

Where does progress happen? How do stories of civilization reveal more about the story of a city? How have cities influenced the modern world? These are the questions Follett seeks to answer in her newest piece of writing. A policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty & Prosperity and the managing editor of Human​Progress​.org, Follett is known for her work in educating the public about centers of progress around the world. This book covers a diverse range of these cities, from ancient Athens to Song dynasty-era Hangzhou, and discusses what political, cultural and economic factors led to increased prosperity. Through her research, Follett comes to the conclusion that what makes a place fertile ground for progress is relative peace, intellectual freedom and an open flow of cultural ideas. By understanding what historical conditions have prompted progress, as a society we can understand how to stimulate innovation in the future.  

By the Numbers: Numeracy, Religion, and the Quantitative Transformation of Early Modern England by Jessica Marie Otis ’03

Research by Otis, an assistant professor of history and the director of public projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, led her to the publication of this groundbreaking book. In the early modern period, English society experienced a significant shift in understanding mathematical concepts, leading to profound changes in thought and behavior. This transformation, explored for the first time in Otis’ book, saw rising literacy rates and the spread of printed materials revolutionize numerical practices and education. Ordinary people began to use numbers to explain abstract phenomena, reflecting broader European cultural shifts like the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. “By the Numbers” chronicles how numbers became integral to the English understanding of the world.

Dolley’s Trolley: A Bulldog’s Adventures by Rob Perks ’92

Perks has authored a children’s book about his beloved English bulldog, who is obsessed with riding on anything with wheels. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue.

If I Promise You Wings by Angela Small ’94 (A.K. Small)

After the success of her first novel in 2019, “Bright Burning Stars,” which was later made into a film with Amazon Studios, Small is back with a new release: “If I Promise You Wings.” The story centers around 17-year-old Alix Leclaire, a feather artist who helps create wings for the dancers at Moulin Rouge. However, she remains haunted by the death of her best friend, Jeanne, and these memories prompt her to start taking wild risks. From thievery to forbidden romance, Alix’s journey will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Small explores themes of grief and morality, asking the question: Is it worth risking everything to achieve the life you want?

The Ivory Tower, Harry Potter, and Beyond edited by Lana Whited M.A. ’81

Whited follows up “The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter” with this new collection of essays that analyzes J.K. Rowling’s previous books, films and other media. From “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” to “The Cursed Child,” Whited highlights some of Rowling’s most popular works and how they were influenced by previous literature such as Classical epics and Shakespearian comedies and tragedies. As Rowling’s relationship with the public has become more complex since the initial release of the Harry Potter series, Whited also explores how the fandom has developed with the rise of social justice efforts. Whited’s look into the complicated legacy of the Harry Potter universe and its creator provides a fresh perspective on a decades-long phenomenon.