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Non-Fiction

Page history last edited by JanieH 15 years ago

All New Square Foot Gardening

by Mel Bartholomew

All New Square Foot Gardening revises the 1981 edition of Square Foot Gardening. A retired consulting engineer took up a new hobby: gardening. He challenged himself to find a better way to plant and grow vegetables and flowers, other than single-row gardening - tedious and wasteful - he thought. He then conceived the square foot garden (SFG) box. In simple terms, each portable 4x4 foot grid area consists of lightly watered compost, or organic matter, vermiculite and peat moss. Building boxes are amply illustrated and adaptable to any height. Physically challenged persons can enjoy this form of gardening. An easy-to-understand text, with many illustrations, tips and photographs invite the reader to a fun approach to gardening. Sources and websites are provided.

Reviewed by: T. Critchlow.

 

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips

"When the gods wish to punish us," remarked the Roman satirist Juvenal, "they grant our prayers." In this remarkable book, Phillips, a former Republican strategist, looks at the GOP hegemony he helped create and shudders. He argues that the American commonweal has been sacrificed to the narrow interests of religious zealots and powerful laissez-faire capitalists. Phillips finds some consolation in the belief that this Republican coalition is not sufficiently broad to hold power for much longer. An absorbing book: recommended. Reviewed by: D. Venturo

 

Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

 

A sleeping sickness in the early 1900s left many of those who were infected and survived with Parkinson-disease-like symptoms. Sacks details his encounters with a group of these patients at a medical home, and what happened when they were "awakened" by the miracle drug "L-dopa". The book was fascinating at times, but also a little long and technical. Reviewed by A.M.

 

Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro

Roger Fisher is the co-author of "Getting to Yes", the famous book from the Harvard Negotiation Project about how to manage conflict. In "Beyond Reason", Fisher and his colleague Daniel Shapiro focus on the role of emotions in conflict management. They identify the core concerns that motivate people: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status and role, and discuss in depth how our awareness of each of these concerns can help us in conflict situations. I liked the personal examples and practical suggestions included in each chapter. "Beyond Reason" is readable and clear - a great book to turn to whenever conflict seems imminent or emotions run high, and one I've purchased for my own bookshelf. Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the 1966 World Series that Stunned America by Tom Adelman

 

Representative of a fairly new genre that mixes sports and cultural history, Black and Blue contextualizes the Baltimore Orioles' 1966 championship season, which culminated in their four-game World Series sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, within the social and political ferment of the mid-to-late 1960s. If you enjoy recent history and baseball, this book is for you.

Reviewed by: D. Venturo


 

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell I thought this book about how we make intuitive split-second decisions was fun and interesting but rather light-weight. I was most intrigued by how divorce could be predicted by speech patterns and expressions and felt one could devote a whole book to this section (particularly if adoprting a facial expression can actually change one's emotions!). Reviewed by: J.A.

 

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad The author is a Norwegian journalist who, while reporting in war torn Afghanistan, befriended a proud bookseller, Mr. Khan. Mr. Khan had braved persecution during the communist and Taliban regimes to bring books to the people of Kabul. During the spring following the Taliban's flight, Ms. Seierstad, the author, was given the opportunity to live among the Khan family. In this book, the author provides unique insight into the everyday life of a middle class life, and in particular, into the plight of Afghan women. Far more than a journalistic account, this is a very personal and well written literary narrative, which reads like a novel. Moreover, the author donates a substantial portion of the royalties from this book to the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, which supports educational and healthcare initiatives in the country, so that purchasing helps free Afghan people in practical ways, as well as our understanding. Reviewed by: Carol Prevost

 

Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet Schor Juliet Schor has done it again! This book reveals the pernicious effects of the privatization and globalization (euphemisms for "corporatization") of American society. Waning fast is a sound regard for the public welfare; everywhere we praise the "business model." Corporations dictate even to children that which they should want; gone is community and government protection of the young and impressionable. What's good for corporations is good for America? -- here Juliet Schor says not!!! Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

The Boys Who Were Left Behind: The 1944 World Series Between the Hapless Browns and the Legendary St. Louis Cardinals by John Heidenry and Brett Topel

This book vividly recounts the only World Series to be played entirely in St. Louis. That year, the Cardinals, one of the two dominant National League teams of the 1940s, played the Browns in their only Series appearance ever and barely escaped with the championship in seven games. The Browns were a chronic second-division team that won their only American League pennant in 1944 because, with so many able-bodied players away fighting in WWII, the rosters of all the other teams in the league were even more depleted. The book is chock-full of delightful anecdotes about the players and the era. For example, when the Browns won the pennant, their manager, Luke Sewell, waxed philosophical: he argued that the Browns had not won the pennant on any single play or pitch, but "on a million pitches clear back to 1926 and beyond--every pitch in itself meaning something." Would that even one manager today were capable of such perspective! Recommended.

Reviewed by: D. Venturo

*Read an Exerpt

 

The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy

by Edward M. Hallowell

This is a lovely little parenting book, containing reasonable, useful suggestions. The author's affection for children in general and his own children in particular shines through. Anyone who wants expert tips on parenting would do well to read and profit from this enjoyable, helpful book.

Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers

by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Appiah, who is a professor of philosophy at Princeton, defines a cosmopolitan as a citizen of the cosmos. He believes that we need to act as "members of the global tribe we have become". His goal in writing this book is to "make it harder to think of the world as divided between the West and the Rest ... between "us" and "them". In his view, cosmopolitanism includes a commitment to pluralism and the recognition of our responsibility for every human being. Appiah, the son of a Ghanian father and an English mother, is a clear and convincing writer; reading this book is like listening to a lively conversation peppered with the author's fascinating personal anecdotes of his life in Ghana and elsewhere. Appiah dedicates the book to his mother, and tells a delightful story about her which illustrates her cosmopolitanism; I'll leave it to the reader to discover and enjoy this endearing tale!

Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

 

CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap: Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD Edward M. Hallowell

This practical book by the author of the well-known book on attention deficit disorder Driven to Distraction offers helpful hints and tips for adults on how to handle the crazy busyness that most of us face every day, all day. Highly recommended. Reviewed by: Jeanne

Hallowell, a psychiatrist who combines a private practice with a career at Harvard Medical School, offers information on ways to prioritize one's responsibilities and improve one's efficiency in order to achieve greater professional success and make room for the joys of family, friends, and hobbies. The book begins slowly; the first half consists of genial filler. But the second half is excellent, chock full of good suggestions on techniques for improving one's concentration and taking advantage of those special moments when one's mind is "in the zone." Recommended. Reviewed by: D. Venturo

 

Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge -- And Why We Must

by Kalle Lasn, Founder of ADBUSTER's Magazine

Extreme positions don't trouble author Kalle Lasn -- he in part dedicates this book to Philip Morris Inc., whom he pronounces his "mortal enemy" and, quite literally, "vows to take down." Lasn, founder of ADBUSTER's Magazine, is perhaps best known for his scathing spoof advertisements such as "Joe Chemo," his "TV Turnoff Week" scheduled for the April Nielsen ratings, and his TV spots that, despite tender of payment-in-full, almost all network and cable stations refuse to air (except for, oddly enough, CNN Headline News which took Lasn's money and ran his "Buy Nothing Day" 30-second TV spot). As anyone who has seen examples of his work knows, Lasn challenges corporate consumerism in arresting and disturbing ways. While this book isn't for everyone, if you relish caustic cultural iconoclasm, you'll find it thought provoking and highly entertaining.

Reviewed by: J.

 

Domus: Wall Painting in the Roman House Donatella Mazzoleni; essay and texts on the sites by Umberto Pappalardo; photographs by Luciano Romano I joined "Book Lovers" so that I could tell other readers about this magnificent book, which portrays wall frescoes of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Rome and other ancient cities. I asked the library to purchase it because I wanted to see the frescoes of Pompeii that are not easily viewed at the site. They are first photographed as part of the rooms in which they are situated. Next, they are shown up close, so that fresco details can be seen. Finally, the frescoes are blown up in exacting detail on special paper, so that one can see aspects of each painting as if it were under a magnifying glass. The photography is amazing, the commentary is excellent, and the book is pure pleasure!

Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

A Game of Shadows

by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams

The two authors, investigative reporters (not beat sports writers) for the San Francisco Chronicle, have produced a compelling, damning account of the use of performance-enhancing drugs by world-class athletes in a host of professional and amateur sports. The eagerness of athletes to treat themselves as beeves to be dosed with steroids, testosterone, human-growth hormone, and other banned and probably harmful substances emphasizes the narcissism, insecurity, and indifference that pervade the world of contemporary sports, as well as a willingness to risk one's health for the extraordinary salaries that celebrity athletes command. Well written and absorbing reading. Recommended.

Reviewed by: D. Venturo

 

Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating Walter Willett This excellent, well-written book explains what is wrong with the USDA food pyramid and why, gives useful information and tips for nutritious eating based on sound scientific evidence, and contains a great recipe for heart-healthy oatmeal cookies. Highly recommended for everyone concerned about eating well for good health and longevity.

Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

by Lynn Truss

Very British and a bit repetitive. A cute "take" on punctuation. Not quite a grammar book, but full of info, history, and lots of examples. While scolding us for sloppy punctuation, the author makes the point that communication is better and more clearly understood. Okay to read in small bits at a time.

Reviewed by: L.S.

 

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture Ariel Levy

All parents of teenagers (especially teenage girls) would do well to read this book if they want to understand today's sexual milieu (incomprehensible to many adults). In this insightful book, the author presents in stark and revealing terms the impact of the media and its skewed, commercial portrayals of sexuality on the young and impressionable. While one may not agree entirely with Levy's analyses and conclusions, her ideas nevertheless make for a very interesting read. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics is funny; it details very serious stuff in layman's terms and lays out the truth in a readable manner. Great for someone who does not know what economics is all about, but wants to know what economics is!

Reviewed by: Tony P.

 

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Fascinating theory with lots of evidence about the development of human civilization. A worthwhile read. Reviewed by: Daniel F.

 

Getting Old Without Getting Anxious: Conquering Late-Life Anxiety by Peter V. Rabin This recently published book presents excellent information on geriatric mental illness in a readily accessible format for family members and caregivers of the elderly. Its most important message is that mental decline, depression, and anxiety are not inevitable by-products of aging, but rather symptoms of illness of the mind and body that warrant prompt medical treatment no matter the age of your loved one. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey

This engaging memoir vividly recaptures Emerick's days as a recording engineer for EMI at their Abbey Road studios from 1962 to 1968, where he worked on many of the Beatles' albums--most notably Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. (At age 20, Emerick won an Emmy award for the recording of Pepper.) Emerick recounts how he was hired by EMI fresh out of school in 1962 at 15 and began almost immediately helping record the Beatles, who had just been signed by George Martin to their first professional contract. The book is full of engaging stories about the Beatles and Emerick's contributions to their distinctive (and evolving) sound, thanks to his (and Martin's and the band's) relentless striving for innovative recording techniques. The book is distinguished by the memorable character of its narrator. Quiet and self-effacing in the recording booth, Emerick nonetheless is a man with strong opinions about the Beatles, their music, and the colleagues and friends with whom he has worked. Eccentric, likable, and occasionally cranky, Emerick's voice makes this book a pleasure to read. Recommended. Reviewed by: David Venturo

 

Homeschooling the Teen Years Cafi Cohen Little was written, up to the 1980s, about the homeschooling practice for the 13- to 18- year old. This practical guide, with a helpful index, contributes experiences of over 100 homeschooling families from detailed surveys and from short surveys of 34 home-schooled teenagers. The author and husband homeschooled their 11-year old daughter and 12-year old son, who thrived on the experience and who entered their chosen colleges, graduated and went onto their careers. The book is divided into three parts. Part One prepares for the "Family's Learning Journey" and "learning assets of the teen years". Part Two is "A World of Resources"... the nitty gritty of the book covering basic questions. Part Three talks about "Keeping the Learning Journey Fun and Successful". Overall, invaluable tools include public library resources, the Internet and related technology. Focused parents and students will be ready for the learning and satisfying challenge.

Reviewed by: T. Critchlow

 

How to Negotiate Like a Child: Unleash the Little Monster Within to Get Everything You Want Bill Adler Jr.

If you're a negotiation book junkie, you'll want to read this one -- just to be sure you don't miss anything. Likewise, if you want a simple, cute introduction to tricks of the negotiation trade, you'll want to read this one. Otherwise, the book, while offering some interesting tips, is neither original nor insightful enough to be worth your time. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

 

Hubble: The Mirror On the Universe Robin Kerrod Wow! I don't know which are more amazing - the book's fabulous Hubble photographs of stars, galaxies, star nurseries, and other wonderful objects in the universe, or the equally astounding information it contains about our universe. The author's examples were helpful in understanding distances in space, positing an imaginary spaceship traveling at the speed of light. (It would take 25,000 years to reach the center of the Milky Way galaxy and 12 billion years to reach the farthest object we can see...) Kerrod also helped me to grasp scale. (The solar system is a billion times bigger than the earth, the Milky Way galaxy 100,000 times bigger than the solar system...) I enjoyed learning about quasars , blazars, machos and wimps! I learned about astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, who discovered an important law about the variable stars Cepheids (and seems to have been the only astronomer who didn't have anything named after her.) In the end, I kept returning to the magnificent photographs...

Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

The Idler Book of Crap Vacations: 50 Tales of Hell On Earth edited by Dan Kieran

When my family next tries to talk me into going on a vacation, this book will provide plenty of ammunition with which to shoot down virtually any trip proposal. I always knew travel was a terrible idea; now I finally have at my fingertips the humorous, horrible, and sometimes vile and vulgar anecdotes to prove it. I'm looking forward to reading the companion book, also edited by Kieran, Crap Jobs: 100 Tales of Workplace Hell.

Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

 

I'm Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown

If you're at all familiar with his show on food network, the style of writing and design of this book will be no surprise to you. Colorful and easy to read, with my diagrams and good recipies, it is a wonderful book to help you learn about different modes of cooking. Alton Brown is a different kind of chef, and his unique style shows through here. While most cook books just have recipies, he actually explains why certain things are done the way they are, which helps when you don't have all the ingredients a specific recipie calls for. Explaining the why, and not just the how to, it helps you improvise. Reviewed by: Kelly K.

 

An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore

Gore's book is the best I've read on the important topic of global warming and subsequent climate change. Striking graphs and graphics show the increase in wildfires and hurricanes in the last decade, the effects of a rise in sea levels worldwide, and the correlation of this and other data with increased CO2 in the earth's atmosphere. Before-and-after photos of glaciers and melting ice caps are stunning, and relevant facts are clearly presented. It's obvious that we need to change our ways and use energy more efficiently, but Gore reminds us that we've solved serious problems before, and the book ends with specific suggestions for change on individual, national and global levels. Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong

I expected this book to explain the beliefs of Islam, and it does give an overview of the basic tenets of that religion. However, as its title indicates, the book is really about the impressive history of the Islamic world over the centuries, from its beginnings in the seventh century, through the flowering of Islamic culture in the Middle Ages, down to the present time. Karen Armstrong tells the story of Muhammad, explains the division between Shia and Sunni Muslims, and portrays the sweeping movement of Islam over vast areas of the world. Her admiration for the contributions of Islam to human society is clear, yet she does not hesitate to question the oppressive ways in which this religion has been used. At the same time, she reminds the reader that many religions have been manipulated to further questionable ends, giving as examples the Crusades and the religious wars of Europe. This book helped me to distinguish between the positive goals of Islam and the ways in which it has been distorted. Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani with Ken Kurson

For the motivated reader who is interested in municipal workings, I recommend Rudolph Guiluiani's book, Leadership. It is a lengthy tome, and it can get rather tedious at times, but it does have some interesting and useful points for working in any organization. It's not something that I would bring to the pool; I tried and couldn't keep focused on it, but it makes for great reading if you are traveling by train or plane on business. You can feel like you are working while reading a paperback. Reviewed by: L. Kahn

 

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

by Immaculee Ilibagiza

This amazing tale of love, hope, and forgiveness reflects the author's Christian (Roman Catholic) faith in an inspiring manner. The author, a Rwandan who has since emigrated to New York, lost much of her Tutsi family, including her parents and two brothers, to murder in the Hutu genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The author tells the story of her own 91 days hidden with seven other women in a tiny bathroom in a Hutu pastor's home and her harrowing passage back to safety. Throughout this ordeal, the author maintains her ideals and faith, as well as her belief in the value of education, learning, self-control, and hard work. This book is appropriate for children in their late teen years as well as adults.

 

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

I thoroughly enjoyed Mayflower, a highly-readable history of the Plymouth Colony. It covers the period up to the end of King Philip's War and devotes much attention to the relationship between the English settlers and the Native American tribes. Although the book is definitely aimed at a popular audience and occasionally left me with questions, I learned a great deal and the book's modesty appealed to me - it seemed just the right length. I particularly enjoyed the description of the ocean crossing - the author clearly loves ships and the sea! Having read this book will greatly increase my pleasure the next time a visit New England. Reviewed by: J. A.

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt

The author developed the characters with the depiction of realism as I realized after visiting Savannah and speaking with the locals.

Reviewed by: Anonymous

 

Miracles on the Water

by Tom Nagorski

This factual depiction of the sinking of the ship " City of Benares" during WWII on its voyage from Liverpool to Canada, is based on written and oral accounts of survivors. Among the passengers were 90 evacuee children, sent to escape the constant bombing in England, some of whom are still alive today. Many of them shared their recollections with Tom Nagorski, a journalist and news correspondent whose own great-uncle was aboard the ship and survived the ordeal. The author has accomplished the amazing feat of interweaving the individual stories with such talent and detail that the account reads more like a fascinating adventure novel than historical non-fiction. Moreover, the courage and determination demonstrated during the experience constitute a true silver lining to this tragic event. This reviewer had a particular interest in both the event and the book, since her mother was supposed to be among the evacuee children (if not for a last-minute cancellation)and highly recommends this little-known story to all interested in WWII and/or survival stories.

Reviewed by: C. Prevost

 

My Kind of Place

by Susan Orlean

Great armchair traveling. Susan Orlean takes us places we’ll probably never go: an African music store in Paris and a taxidermy competition in Springfield Illinois. She also writes about fertility imagery in Bhutan, whales in Iceland, and a grocery store in Brooklyn. All in great detail with lots of humor. Easy to read one section at a time, then wait a bit before the next one.

Reviewed by: L. Sandburg

 

The Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout Fans of Nero Wolfe, Stout's stout detective, know that Wolfe's detective abilities depend on a full stomach. Luckily, Wolfe and his chef Fritz Brenner cook up delectable treats in each of the 73 mysteries. If you were tempted by the descriptions of Shad Roe with Creole Sauce, Green-Corn Pudding, or Hedgehog Omelet -- here's your chance. I enjoyed reading through the recipes, which certainly reflect the tastes of a previous generation. But I haven't actually tried any of them. Yet. Reviewed by: K.J.

 

Nice Girls Don't Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money by Lois P. Frankel.

Nice girls are raised to be quiet, passive, and giving in terms of time, money, and emotion. This book encourages women to be aggressive and take control of their finances. The author encourages risk taking and planning for wealth as opposed to simple financial survival. The author encourages women to demand salaries they deserve and to not be taken advantage of by employers as well as friends and family. Reviewed by: Cynthia B.

 

The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish-Arab Divide by Susan Nathan

An amazing read, Ms. Nathan is a brave and principled woman. Why are there not more books like this published? Part travelogue, part history, always insightful, and fearlessly written. Should be part of everyone’s curriculum.

Reviewed by: Mark S.

 

Oracle bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present by Peter Hessler

Peter Hessler is a gifted writer with a curious mind, a thoughtful approach to his subject and a sense of humor. His first book, "River Town", was a fascinating account of his years as a Peace Corps teacher of English in a small Chinese city on the Yangtze River. "Oracle Bones" is a continuation of Hessler's Chinese journey, as he explores both the tumultuous China of the 21st century and its mysterious past, exemplified by the oracle bones of Anyang. Along the way, Hessler reports on the progress of his former students and meets a host of memorable Chinese and "ethnic minority" individuals. A lovely, lively book! Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography by Paul Rusesabagina with Tom Zoellner

 

The autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, manager of the "Hotel Rwanda" (film title), is the story of a remarkable man. His instincts and actions saved the lives of many Tutsis and Hutus during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He modestly dismisses praise for his heroic acts of courage as "the normal thing to do." Paul's calm demeanor and ethical leadership provided a safe haven for refugees in the hotel in the face of violence and seemingly hopeless circumstances. It is an emotionally wrenching read. Reviewed by JED

 

Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart

by John Welwood

I wish I had read this book as an adolescent -- how I longed for such a book then! This book is a slow read -- it contains many insights into human longing and the psychology of love. While one might not always agree with the author's reasoning, conclusions, and emphasis, nevertheless the book is quite thought-provoking. I would like to read it again at greater leisure and share it with my daughter in her adolescence.

Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

 

Peterson's Plan for Getting Into Private Schools by Lila Lohr

This practical book by the former (and future -- after Judy Fox retires at the end of the 2006-07 academic year) head of Princeton Day School offers helpful hints and tips on how and why to apply to private school. Highly recommended for prospective private school applicants and their parents. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward has become a narrator of history as its being made at the highest levels of our government. Unfortunately, he shirks away from any critical analysis of the events he’s describing. Storytelling is vivid and informative. It’s a decent chronicle of the events, but at the same time it seems like an attempt by many players that President Bush is/was in charge and other were simply following his lead. Mr. Woodrow’s analysis would have helped. Reviewed by: Khalid A.

 

The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine

Although I recently heard the author of this book interviewed on National Public Radio, and was moderately impressed, I found the book itself much more impressive. It speaks directly to the concerns of a large number of Princeton area families who, through their affluence or contacts with affluent families, face unique risks in childrearing. While the book's title makes it sound negative and trendy, the contents are much better and more useful than that. In particular, Part 3 - Parenting for Autonomy offers sound information for effective and loving parenting that, had I the nerve, I would recommend to friends -- as it is, I'm making it required reading for my husband. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Pushed to the Edge: How to Stop the Child Competition Race So Everyone Wins by Donna Corwin

This recent parenting book contains a central message crucial to parents seeking to preserve their children's mental health -- love your children for who they are. Citing her own failures in this regard, the author makes clear the devastating consequences of pushing children to fit into the mold of the model student, athlete, etc. For any parent struggling to accept a child who is less of a scholar or an athlete, etc., than the parent would like, this book's message is invaluable. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

The Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky

The hot days of summer are a perfect time to read this bewitching account of the Eveny people, who herd and tend reindeer in the frozen lands of northern Siberia. The introduction, "Soul Flight to the Sun", describes the lovely midsummer ritual in which the Evenys imitate the imagined yearly "flight" of reindeer. (The author suggests that this ritual introduced the

concept of Santa's flying reindeer!) Vitebsky describes reindeer characteristics and comments on reindeer names (including "Bill Clinton" and "Margaret Thatcher"). He looks closely at the difficult lives of the herders, with their attendant tensions, isolation and even suicide. He comments on the difficulties created by last century's Soviet interference. Vitebsky explains customs such as "feeding the fire", and he accompanies the herders on some of their dangerous and nomadic journeys. Vitebsky's family eventually joins him and his wife and children heighten his sensitivity to the Eveny way of life. This is a complex, beautiful book. Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

Reject Me - I Love It! by Johl Fuhrman

It's a miracle this book was ever published. The author, a motivational speaker, has difficulty stringing words together in writing and never explains the basis of fundamental assumptions (such as that the reader is meant for success) -- and, yet, he has something here; for, we do grow from rejections. As the author puts it, "when we allow ourselves to have an attitude of gratitude, we can acknowledge that the most difficult rejections we received resulted in our greatest growth. We decided to be better rather

than bitter." Despite its labored writing and sometimes shaky reasoning, this book is recommended for salespeople and others who wish to experience greater success and happiness through changing for the better their attitude toward rejection. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

Suburban Sahibs by S. Mitra Kalita

An important anthology not only on Indians but also over a period of the American history. Reviewed by: A. Das Gupta

 

Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead by Tamara Draut

Strapped is a book addressing the issue and challenges facing the under 35 crowd today. The topics include the high cost of education, housing, and healthcare/child care as well as the decreases in relative income. This book is very slanted. It makes a lot of excuses as to why young adults have such a large amount of debt these days. The author points fingers everywhere except at the young adults to who are fiscally irresponsible. Reviewed by Cynthia B.

 

Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities

by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

What an entertaining book! While impressing upon the reader that we inhabitants of earth find ourselves surrounded by randomness, probabilities everywhere, the academic statistician author discusses with a surprising sense of humor such disparate subjects as coincidence, casinos, card games, crime, decision-making, medical studies, low probability events, polls, evolution, genes, viruses, the game show Let's-Make-a-Deal, computer spam, and quantum mechanics, even adding a cute quiz at the end for the reader who by the end of the book will have developed what the author terms "probability perspective." I've rarely encountered a book so useful and fun at the same time.

Reviewed by: J.

 

 

Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I found this book somewhat disappointing. (The author would probably suggest that my reaction is due to the mind's sensitivity to relative amounts.) Gilbert quotes or refers to hundreds of psychological studies to show that the literal and figurative blind spots of our minds often trick us, "seeing things that aren't really there and remembering things that didn't really happen". He comments on ways in which the imagination comes to erroneous conclusions.

He asks why we so often fail to know what will make us happy, and concludes that we accept bad advice, reject good advice, and seek information about the future from the wrong sources. The author does have a good sense of humor, many of his examples are instructive, and I now can use words such as "numbfeel", "presentism" and "nexting" in conversation! Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.

by Jeremy Mercer

If you've ever visited Shakespeare & Co., the famous bookstore in Paris across from Notre Dame, you've probably wondered about its history. The author of this lovely memoir tells the story - how George Whitman, a devotee of the original S&Co owner Sylvia Beach (now buried in Princeton Cemetery!) bought her book collection, folded it into his bookstore Le Mistral, and renamed the new store S&Co. Jeremy Mercer arrived there down and out, and was taken in by Whitman, who had a penchant for lost literary souls. Residents were expected to read a book from the collection each day! Mercer relates one delightful anecdote after another about his experience at Shakespeare & Co.: the eccentric characters, the cafe across the park, the pancake breakfasts, George Whitman himself. The story ends with a true "bookstore miracle".Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence -- From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Herman M.D.

Anyone interested in human psychology will find this book fascinating. It is beautifully written and speaks to the core of what it means to be a fragile human. The vulnerability of the human psyche, painstakingly portrayed in this book, has profound implications for almost every human endeavor from childrearing to criminal justice. Reviewed by: Jeanne

 

What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronsen

This is a good book for twenty- and thirty-something adults who have been struggling with the question of "What Should I Do With My Life". The author doesn't provide any direct answers because this is not a self-help book. Instead, the author interviews people who have struggled with this question as well and they don't know the answer either. It shows that the path the happiness and success isn't a straight line. Life is a struggle for all. Reviewed by: Cynthia B.

 

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story - With Wings by Mark Bittner

 

As a parrot lover, I was compelled to read the book, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, " by Mark Bittner. Perhaps I'm biased because I liked the subject matter so much, but I thought this was a wonderful book. The author wrote the story about his life and how the parrots came to change it. He was homeless and drifting for many years while trying to find meaning and spirituality. He managed to find a place to stay in a run-down house on Telegraph Hill where he encountered the wild parrot flock. He was enchanted by their antics and began to feed them. Eventually, he became at one with the flock, even taking in those who were sick. The book is an amazing combination of enjoying nature while living in an urban environment and discovering one's place in the world at the same time. The entire time I read the book, I felt like I was part of this paradise. I highly recommend it. Reviewed by: L. Kahn

 

The Woman at the Washington Zoo

by Marjorie Williams

This book was sharp, witty, and touching. Williams grew up in Princeton, which made this collection of her writings particularly interesting. The section on her fight wtih cancer was humorous and moving at the same time. What a loss of a wonderfully intelligent writer.

Reviewed by: Donna W.

Marjorie Williams was a brilliant young writer for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair and a book reviewer for the online magazine Slate. She was at the peak of her writing career when she discovered that she had a terminal illness. This book, edited by her husband Timothy Noah, is a collection of her political writing, which is clear, fascinating and startling. It also includes a devastating memoir about her illness. I loved the political profiles of Washington notables Gwen Cafritz, Barbara Bush, Vernon Jordan, and others. I was fascinated by the essay on the author's mother and delighted by the short essays on topics of ordinary life. The writings on her illness, included under the heading Time and Chance, are powerful, honest and thought-provoking. I recommend this book without reservation. Reviewed by: Francesca B.

 

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City; A Diary by Anonymous; translated by Philip Boehm

This book is unlike any other I’ve ever read. It is a diary written by a woman in Berlin during WW2. This book is so unique; it is of a German woman’s first hand account of the horrors of war. She describes the horrors suffered at the hands of the Russian army seizing control of her town. The German citizens were victims of the war, they had to survive starvation and the women of all ages were subjected to rape. The author produces great details. Reviewed by: Cynthia B.

 

 

The Woman's Workplace Survival Guide

by Sarah Kaip

This book provides a fair amount of information for today's working women. The book offers problems and situations women face in the office, and provides brief and simple strategies for dealing with them. Anyone confronted with sexual harassment should consult a more detailed book (or an employment attorney) rather than this book.

Reviewed by: Cynthia B.

 

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century

by Thomas L. Friedman

This book has been on the bestseller lists for quite a while and with good reason. Friedman has even issued an updated version. The first part of the book explains 10 "flatteners" that have led to the current state of globalization. These "flatteners" will not be news to anyone who reads the business press but Friedman brings his excellent writing skills to bear and he includes many very interesting anecdotes and examples to make the chapters worth reading even for those who are familiar with the general topic. One of the best chapters in the book is one of the last chapters and is titled "The Unflat World" and it explores all the anti-flatteners out there, such as people who are "too sick" or "too frustrated". This chapter in particular is wonderful food for thought and has been the starting point of some very interesting conversations.

Reviewed by: L.F.

Comments (2)

Anonymous said

at 3:10 pm on Aug 11, 2006

Francesca B.'s review of <u>Domus: Wall Painting in the Roman House Donatella Mazzoleni</u> inspired me to go looking for this book. It is really a gem. Check out these links for some pictures from Pompeii to get an idea of the amazing art that adorned the walls of the Roman villa:
[http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/thm_pchouse_38.jpg| **http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/thm_pchouse_38.jpg**]<br>
[http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/thm_pchouse_40.jpg| ** http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/thm_pchouse_40.jpg**]<br>
[http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/dirce.jpg|
**http://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/dirce.jpg**]
and also for a floor plan of a Roman house online:
[http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/house.html| **http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/house.html**]

JanieH said

at 10:38 am on Oct 5, 2006

Wow. That is amazing art! Thanks for sharing.

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