"If you think it's expensive

to hire a professional to do the job,

wait until you hire an amateur."

~ Red Adair

Have you noticed that some of the latest professional careers sound fake? Last week, after reading the obituary of futurologist, Yorick Bluenfeld, I went down an internet rabbit hole. I had never heard of a futurologist. Also called futurists, prospectivists, foresight practitioners, and horizon scanners, they "are people whose specialty or interest is futurology or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on Earth in general." (definition from Wikipedia)

Here is a short list of the other professions I learned about on my journey:

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Industrial Psychologists

Face Feelers/Sensory Scientists

Video Game Testers

Waterslide Testers

Legal Bank Robbers

Iceberg Movers (Who've existed since 1911... the year the Titanic sunk.)

Professional Apologizers

Paper Towel Sniffers

Bicycle Fishers (They literally pull bicycles out of bodies of water.)

I discovered Red Adair, because of his profession as an American Oil Well Firefighter. If you are a John Wayne fan, you may remember his story from the movie, Hellfighters. Adair prevented multiple air pollution disasters throughout his life, and had what I would call an extremely unenviable occupation. Capping oil wells in 80 mph winds and 70 foot waves? No thanks - but man, I send a huge thanks to the people who do it! If you have a little-known profession, I'd love to hear about it. Reply back to this email with your profession, title, and a 2-3 sentence job description. I'll share the results next week!

Staff Reviews This Week From Karen McCue:

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese from Penguin Random House

From the NYT best-selling author of Cutting for Stone, this saga spanning seven-plus decades is another masterpiece. I waited almost a year after it was available until finding the perfect time to savor all 736 pages, and I did not want it to end.

The novel begins in the year 1900 with 12-year-old Mariama traveling from one coast of South India to the other to wed a 40-year-old widower in an arranged marriage. The man, Big Appachen, owns and runs Parembil, his Malabar Coast home and estate, a 500-acre property surrounded by water. He is appalled when he discovers that Mariama is just a child and their immediate future is rearranged so that she will grow up in his house caring for his young son, Jojo, learning to cook and keep house as a cherished member of the family. As she comes of age, Mariama earns the honorific of Big Ammachi and celebrates the births of a daughter and later a son. She also learns of her husband’s curse: “the Condition” that afflicts a member of each generation is death involving water. Parembil is in a land of water. Tragedy inevitably does strike Big Ammachi’s family.

In 1919 Glasgow, Scotland, young Digby Kilgour struggles to support his mother and aspires to become a doctor. Upon completing his studies, and after his mother’s death, he joins the Indian Medical Services. Through his medical tenure in Madras he builds associations with members of the Royal Service, other British ex-pat families, and importantly, a Swedish doctor who is an eminent researcher treating victims of leprosy and also founded a safe community for lepers. Through a tenuous connection he is eventually involved with a cherished member of Big Ammachi’s family.

The parallel stories continue through historically atmospheric generations of world wars; British Raj and the end of British Rule in 1947; Naxalite insurgency; and the surging growth of Big Ammachi’s estate, township, political prowess and family. As her granddaughter, Mariamma, questions her heritage, a revelation ties the stories together.

Mystical threads weave throughout the author’s meticulously chronicled history; technical medical research; and sociological accuracy. Big Ammachi intuits something in her daughter, who is never named other than Baby Mol (baby girl). Her husband’s dead wife’s spirit lives in the basement. The elephant, Damodaran, is a protective family member. Charming and eerily prescient – this is writing at its best.

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry from Simon and Schuster

What was the British government thinking when they named the evacuation of over 800,000 children during the Blitz of WWII, "Operation Pied Piper?" Did no one remember the outcome of that Grimm fairy tale?

In 1940, 14-year-old Hazel Linden and her 5-year-old sister, Flora Lea are evacuated from their home in London.

In their new temporary home, their sponsor family – widowed Bridie Aberdeen and her teenage son, Harry - welcome them to the idyllic countryside of Oxfordshire. Regardless of the fortunate circumstances, Hazel and Flora Lea miss their mother and their urban home, and Flora grows increasingly anxious. Hazel creates stories to comfort Flora and they take on an invisible underground world of their own called Whisperwood, accessed only by them through shimmering doors in the forest next to a river of stars.

Hazel, Flora, and Harry enjoy their companionship and the freedom of the woods surrounding their rural cottage; the girls’ mother visits from London; and life during the war as they know it goes on until the day that Hazel is distracted during a picnic by the River Thames and Flora disappears. Only her teddy bear remains on the riverbank, and after days and then weeks of investigating, the police determine Flora has perished by drowning.

Twenty years later, Hazel is unpacking boxes in the London bookstore where she works and comes upon a rare manuscript called Whisperwood and the River of Stars, complete with beautiful and familiar illustrations. She opens the book and reads the exact words she whispered to her young sister hundreds of times 20 years prior. Is Flora alive?

Part historical, part mythical, this novel depicts the many outcomes of families separated by the circumstances of war. This NYT best-seller is a surprisingly compelling read.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Next Events Not to Miss:

Start Planning Your Summer!

Found on the Shelf

Animal Portraits by Lucie Brunellière from Union Square and Co.

This book is striking. It's also intentional, and we love that! The pairings of animals are meant to inspire conversation, to compare and contrast, and to highlight commonly mistaken identities. Brunellière pairs armadillos with duck-billed platypuses, llamas with camels, tigers with lions, and mice with elephants against stark black and brown backgrounds that make for a remarkable visual experience for babies, toddlers, and animal enthusiasts alike! Click for larger inside images.

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