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Books

Cover for The Mind-Body Problem
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The Mind-Body Problem
with a new foreword by Jane Smiley
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Renee's problem, according to her friend, is that she thinks "the male sexual organ is the brain." Dissatisfied with her marriage to a mathematical genius, Renee struggles to reconcile her intellectual and physical desires in a startlingly sexy and mordantly funny tale about the life of the mind.
Why We Love It
This first novel by MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Rebecca Goldstein is a wonderful and rare thing—a novel of ideas that also happens to be hilarious, a story of sex and desire that grapples with the Big Questions. At the same time, Renee's situation will be familiar to anyone who's grasped at something higher but felt pulled back toward the familiar.

The book was a sensation when it first appeared, earning a spot on The New York Times Best Seller list and a cult following that lasts to this day. But we thought Renee deserved a wider comeback. Her psychological acuity, frankness, and erudition are irresistible—from the way she skewers the pettiness of Princeton's academic elite to her account of growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community. And her brutally honest examination of women's sexuality and the struggle to matter are as powerful and true today as they were 30 years ago.
Cover for The Kreutzer Sonata
The Kreutzer Sonata
Leo Tolstoy
A gentleman murders his wife in a fit of jealous rage after she begins an affair with a talented musician in Tolstoy's controversial novella about the collision between sexual desire and moral restraint.
Why We Love It
Riveting, horrifying, and radically frank about all things sexual, The Kreutzer Sonata is also a passionate examination (you might even say interrogation) of the relationship between men and women and the extremes of physical and spiritual love. We love the way it seems to be in dialogue with The Mind-Body Problem: like Renee, Posdinicheff has a knack for distilling these timeless philosophical concerns into recognizable human drama, albeit with radically different conclusions.

We won't blame you if you're deliciously horrified by Posdnicheff's dim view of sexual equality and humanity's potential for improvement, but we think you'll find that the raw intelligence and verve of his narrative makes him an entrancing companion. And as he hurtles toward the violent climax of his tale, you might find yourself reluctantly rooting for him, even as you shrink away from your own, conflicting, desires.