Join us for a reading with Sasha Sagan at Cambridge Public Library, interviewed on-stage by Harvard University chaplain Greg Epstein, from her new book For Small Creatures Such as We. Part memoir, part guidebook, and part social history, For Small Creatures Such as We is the first book from the daughter of Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan—a luminous exploration of Earth’s marvels that require no faith in order to be believed.
Sasha Sagan grew up in a secular home where she learned to appreciate the profound beauty of this world and beyond. Her distinguished parents—astronomer/educator Carl Sagan and award-winning writer/producer Ann Druyan of Cosmos and Contact fame—introduced her to a vast and fascinating cosmos and explained how the rigors of science revealed truths more wondrous than any religion, myth, or fable. They taught her that science was a way to see the world as it really is, not as we’d like it to be. Yet, with ancestral Jewish roots, Sagan also learned to rely on a range of rituals, both religious and secular, woven into the fabric of her daily life.
Sagan was just fourteen when her father died, a defining loss she explores in these pages. With the birth of her own daughter many years later, Sagan became determined to grow the solid secular foundation her loving parents provided. Sagan began a dual quest: to probe the meaning of life and to unveil the natural phenomena behind humanity’s most treasured occasions—from births to deaths, holidays to weddings, anniversaries to celebrations of every stripe. She hoped she, too, could find a worldview to pass on to her child.
Now she shares her discoveries in FOR SMALL CREATURES SUCH AS WE: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World, a road map for finding joy, overcoming loss, and creating our own rituals over the course of a year—and a life.
Part tender memoir, part guidebook, and part captivating social history, FOR SMALL CREATURES SUCH AS WE is Sasha Sagan’s illuminating debut. Inspired by her viral essay for New York Magazine’s The Cut, “Lessons of Immortality and Mortality from My Father, Carl Sagan,” this perceptive new work digs deeper into her family’s guiding philosophy, a gentle and intentional way of life that inspires her every day. For Sagan, this philosophy is perfectly crystalized in the book’s title, which she owes to a line from her parents’ bestselling novel-turned-feature-film, Contact: “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
Sasha Sagan holds a degree in Dramatic Literature from NYU. She has worked as a TV producer, filmmaker, editor, writer, and speaker in New York, Boston, and London. Her essays and interviews on death, history, and ritual through a secular lens have appeared in New York, O Magazine, Lit Hub, Mashable, The Violet Book, and elsewhere. She regularly speaks on ways science can inform our celebrations and how we mark the passage of time.
Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and MIT, and is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. He is the Convener for Ethical Life at MIT’s Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life, and a columnist on the ethics of technology at TechCrunch.
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.