Zócalo Answers One Big Question of Summer 2021: ‘What Should I Read?’

From Senator Alex Padilla to Philanthropist Tim Disney, Our Friends Share the Books They're Diving Into

What will the summer of 2021 hold? Pods are out, but is wedding season in? Masks are no longer required outside, but when do we need them? We can hug our friends and family… right? At Zócalo, we don’t promise clear-cut answers, but we pride ourselves on asking smart people the right questions. So, as we do every summer, we turned to a group of friends and contributors—from a U.S. senator and a chancellor to a playwright, a materials scientist, and a designer—to recommend their favorite recent nonfiction books. They …

In Venezuela, Dystopian Fiction Hits Close to Home | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Venezuela, Dystopian Fiction Hits Close to Home

J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise Shows What Happens When a Liberal Democracy Crumbles and Its Worst Vices Take Over

There’s a certain absurdity that comes with trying to explain—in calm, simple, and objective words—a life that has become too strange to be real. At least, that’s how I feel …

The Fictional Maps That Fill Us With Wonder

From Kerouac to Brontë, Writers Have Imagined Intricate Geographies

“Maps are like good books,” writes historian of exploration Huw Lewis-Jones. They “are transporting: filled with wonder, possibility, adventure. … They allow us to escape to another place whenever we …

Were Mr. Darcy and Boo Radley Anti-Social Misfits—or Autistic?

How Fiction Can Reframe a Misunderstood Mental Condition

Is autism cool?

It is in literature, as novels featuring characters on the autism spectrum have become so frequent that they’ve spawned a new genre: “autism lit,” or “aut lit.”

Many of …

How Mermaids Became a Real Problem for Scientists

Discovery Channel “Documentaries” About Mythical Creatures Erode Public Trust in Science and Government

“If NOAA is lying to us about the existence of mermaids then they’re definitely lying to us about climate change.”

It was August 2014 and I was flying home from the …