07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present by John W. O'Malley S.J., read by Angie, on 07/04/2014

This book covers the history of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from its inception to the present day pope. The history of the Jesuits is an interesting and controversial one. They were disbanded by the Catholic Church at one time and made many enemies throughout history. They also did a lot of good as their missions spread throughout the world and they opened thousands of schools and universities. The book is written by a Jesuit priest and his bias does show through. The Jesuits are never shown in anything but a positive light and their controversies are always glossed over. The book was interesting but I think a more unbiased look at the Jesuits would have been just as interesting if not more so. 

I received this book from Netgalley.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson, read by Madeline, on 06/15/2014

Non-fans regard Céline Dion as ersatz and plastic, yet to those who love her, no one could be more real, with her impoverished childhood, her (creepy) manager-husband’s struggle with cancer, her knack for howling out raw emotion. There’s nothing cool about Céline Dion, and nothing clever. That’s part of her appeal as an object of love or hatred with most critics and committed music fans taking pleasure (or at least geeky solace) in their lofty contempt. This book documents Carl Wilson’s brave and unprecedented year-long quest to find his inner Céline Dion fan, and explores how we define ourselves in the light of what we call good and bad, what we love and what we hate.

19. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Self Help · Tags:

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease by Daniel E. Lieberman, read by Kira, on 06/16/2014

humbod  Fabulous HominidTimelinediabetesWhats-the-Paleo-Diet-3book!  The first half recounts the changes in human physiology, from the time we first diverged from apes (chimpanzees specifically) to modern times. Dr Lieberman discusses the physical adaptations and what they mean for the way our bodies function.  Then he takes this history of the human body and shows us evolutionary mismatches between our physiology and our modern lifestyle, first starting with the foods we eat, and then discussing our bodies needs to be physically active, that we were born to run/walk long distances, and that our bodies suffer if we fail to be active.  For example he notes that people that run barefoot, rarely suffer foot injuries, in contrast to runners that wear shoes (barefooters also hit with the ball of the foot first, unlike shod runners who strike with their heel).  Type II Diabetes, Heart disease, and cancer are discussed in detail.  I found it especially interesting how our bodies process different types of foods, how damaging starches and carbs are, compared to protein, fat, fiber, and how the composition of what you eat, affects whether it is sent for fat storage, whether it triggers insulin shock or absorbed slowly and more healthily.

This is the first in a series of four books that explore unexpected animal bonds. In this book you’ll meet four unlikely pairings, including Billy and Lilly. Billy the boxer adopted Lilly the goat when she was abandoned by her mother. Billy and Lilly are rarely apart since Billy has taken on the role of Lilly’s protector, caretaker, and constant companion. This and the other stories in this book will enchant readers and empower them to devour the more text-heavy “grown up” style of the book, while still keeping the story easily digestable for a hestitant reader.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information.

21. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, History, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction, Science · Tags: ,

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny, read by Marsha, on 05/19/2014

livesThis most excellent book is both sad and fascinating at the same time.  I could hardly put it down.  In fact, I have started writing stories about each of the people featured in the book, using fiction to fill in the gaps that nonfiction couldn’t find answers for.  The authors do a wonderful job of painting ten portraits of people who spent decades of their lives in a state hospital for the mentally ill.  Using the items found in their long abandoned suitcases along with interviews from a few staff members and medical records, the authors try to piece together the life of each person before and during their stay at Willard State Hospital in New York.  Along with the chapters on the individuals, the authors provide interesting factual information about what it took to admit someone to such a place, how they were treated during their stay, and what the diagnoses were at the time.  The book focuses on the early part of the 20th century, before deinstitutionalization became a way of doing business.  The ease with which an individual could be locked away for decades of his or her life is staggering.  I hope that by writing more about these individuals I can do some justice to their lives, which would have been forgotten had it not been for Penney and Stastny.

20. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation by Vicki O. Wittenstein, read by Angie, on 05/19/2014

How can you resist a title about human medical experimentation? This short little book was full of all kinds of information on medical experiments done on people with and without their knowledge. The majority of the experiments took place during the last century but there were a few from the 19th century mentioned. The book covers everything from Nazi concentration camps to radiation experiments during and after WWII to the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments. I think the most disturbing information however was the fact that there are still questionable experiments being done today. Regulations are much stiffer here in the United States so drug companies are outsourcing their medical experiments to 3rd world countries. I was fascinated by everything talked about here, but I did wish there had been a little bit more detail about some of the instances.

showThis book, a follow-up to Steal Like an Artist, continues Kleon’s advice on creativity by encouraging artists everywhere to show their work.  This particular volume discusses the value of sharing work in online communities through blogs and other social media.  Not only does the artist make work public in this way, but he or she also shares with others a bit about process and how the work is made.  I found this book to be just as valuable a resource as the first and have already read it twice.  It is inspirational and will have artists everywhere wanting to get up and share what they do with others.  As Kleon notes, the world owes us nothing.  We have to give selflessly in order to get and this book will show the reader how.  I highly recommend Kleon’s work to artists of all kinds.  Create–share.  What a fun cycle to be in!

15. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman (Author), Annie Crawley (Photographer), read by Angie, on 05/15/2014

This is the type of nonfiction I really enjoy reading (maybe I just have the mind of a middle schooler!). It is on a fascinating subject I know little about. It contains all kinds of useful information with lots of pictures. And it isn’t so long that I lose interest. 

Plastic Ahoy is all about a scientific expedition called SEAPLEX that traveled out into the Pacific Ocean to investigate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The scientists onboard wanted to learn how the plastic was affecting the marine life. They investigated whether marine life was using the plastic and garbage as habitats, whether the marine life was consuming the plastic and what happened when it did, and if it was affecting the phytoplankton in the ocean. The book follows three scientists through their experiments and conclusions. It was very educational, but entertaining and interesting at the same time.

10. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Informational Book, Inspirational, NonFiction

Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers by Penny Kittle, read by Angie, on 05/09/2014

I had the pleasure of listening to Penny Kittle talk about Book Love at a conference recently. Her passion and dedication to introducing books to teenagers was inspiring. This book just continues that inspiration. If I had a teacher like Mrs. Kittle in high school I think I would have had a blast. Kittle discusses how most high school students are not readers and do not read at the level to prepare them for their future. Instead of cramming classics and class reads down their throats (which they don’t read any way), Kittle advocates finding the right books for the right kids and building their stamina for reading. She intersperses her philosophy and teachings with stories of her students. These stories are amazing. The fact that she gets so many non-readers to become readers is a testament to her love and resilience. I am not a teacher, but a librarian, and I found all kinds of ideas for books to connect with reluctant readers. Of course, most reluctant readers don’t find their way to the public library, but when they do I might be better prepared. I wish this book was required reading for all high school teachers. I would recommend it to all those interested in getting kids to read.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants by Colman Andrews, read by Madeline, on 04/30/2014

A vivid portrait of a life lived in food, from renowned food writer and critic Colman Andrews, a founding editor of Saveur, James Beard award winner, and author of the classic cookbooks Catalan Cuisine and The Country Cooking of Ireland

For Colman Andrews, restaurants have been his playground, his theater, his university, his church, his refuge. From his Hollywood childhood through his days in the music business, his first forays into restaurant reviewing, and his ever-evolving career as a food writer and magazine editor—not to mention the course of his obsessive traveling and complicated personal life—he has seen the world mostly from the dining room. Now, in My Usual Table, Andrews interweaves his own story with intimate tales of the seminal restaurants and the great chefs and restaurateurs of our time who are emblematic of the revolutions large and small that have forever transformed the way we eat, cook, and feel about food.

In sixteen chapters, each anchored by the story of his love affair with a cherished restaurant, Andrews evokes the unforgettable meals he has eaten over a lifetime, and the remarkable people with whom he has shared them, tracing the evolution not just of our restaurants but our whole food culture. Beginning with a postwar childhood spent in the banquettes of Chasen’s, the glamorous Old Hollywood hangout where studio heads and celebrities rubbed shoulders, Andrews charts a course through the psychedelic ’60s, when both he and Americans at large fell for the novel “ethnic” food at spots like neo-Polynesian Trader Vic’s or Mexican institution El Coyote. As Andrews began traveling for his burgeoning writing and magazine career in the ’70s and ’80s, he spent countless hours in the family-run cafés of Paris and trattorias of Rome. The timeless dishes so common on their menus, focused on local and seasonal ingredients, would not only come to profoundly influence Andrews’s palate, but also transform the American foodscape forever. Andrews’s unparalleled access to the world of food positioned him perfectly as an intimate witness to the rise of revolutionary restaurants like Spago and El Bulli.

From Andrews’s usual table, he has watched the growth of nouvelle cuisine and fusion cuisine; the explosion of the organic and locavore movements; the rise of nose-to-tail eating; and so-called molecular gastronomy. The bistros, brasseries, and cafés he has loved have not only influenced culinary trends at home and abroad, but represent the changing history and culture of food in America and Western Europe. And all along the way, Andrews has been right there in the dining room, menu in one hand and notebook in the other.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley, read by Madeline, on 04/05/2014

Through the compelling stories of three American teenagers living abroad and attending the world’s top-notch public high schools, an investigative reporter explains how these systems cultivate the “smartest” kids on the planet.

America has long compared its students to top-performing kids of other nations. But how do the world’s education superpowers look through the eyes of an American high school student? Author Amanda Ripley follows three teenagers who chose to spend one school year living and learning in Finland, South Korea, and Poland. Through their adventures, Ripley discovers startling truths about how attitudes, parenting, and rigorous teaching have revolutionized these countries’ education results.

In The Smartest Kids in the World, Ripley’s astonishing new insights reveal that top-performing countries have achieved greatness only in the past several decades; that the kids who live there are learning to think for themselves, partly through failing early and often; and that persistence, hard work, and resilience matter more to our children’s life chances than self-esteem or sports.

Ripley’s investigative work seamlessly weaves narrative and research, providing in-depth analysis and gripping details that will keep you turning the pages. Written in a clear and engaging style, The Smartest Kids in the World will enliven public as well as dinner table debates over what makes for brighter and better students.

28. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: How To's, Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

How to Find out Anything by Don MacLeod, read by Tammy, on 04/30/2014

how to find In How to Find Out Anything, researcher Don MacLeod explains how to find what you’re looking for quickly, efficiently, and accurately—and how to avoid the most common mistakes of the Google Age.

He starts by explaining what a regular Google search (as the most popular and search engine) is good at and what it is not. He also shows you some tips to improve Google’s ability to find what you are really looking for. He also emphasizes that while Google may be the best place to start a search it is not the best place to end it.

He shares websites that let you tap into the knowledge on the “deep web” or many websites and databases that have reliable information available but that will not be found by a Google search.

In spite of having attended several training sessions on the deep web, MacLeod’s book has some that I had never heard of before. He also had some tips for searching Google that I was unaware of such as how to limit your search by country of origin of the website.

27. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Business, Informational Book, NonFiction, Rachel, Science

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier, read by Rachel, on 04/27/2014

THE DAZZLING NEW MASTERWORK FROM THE PROPHET OF SILICON VALLEY

Jaron Lanier is the bestselling author of You Are Not a Gadget, the father of virtual reality, and one of the most influential thinkers of our time. For decades, Lanier has drawn on his expertise and experience as a computer scientist, musician, and digital media pioneer to predict the revolutionary ways in which technology is transforming our culture.

Who Owns the Future? is a visionary reckoning with the effects network technologies have had on our economy. Lanier asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industries-from media to medicine to manufacturing-we are facing even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth.

But there is an alternative to allowing technology to own our future. In this ambitious and deeply humane book, Lanier charts the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow. It is time for ordinary people to be rewarded for what they do and share on the web.

Insightful, original, and provocative, Who Owns the Future? is necessary reading for everyone who lives a part of their lives online.

blueprintA Blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds is full of delightful ideas for escaping into one’s own imagination.  However, it also provides lots of useful tips for dealing with negative emotions you might come across.  Take the negative emotions into various rooms of the castle to deal with them.  That is the essential meat of the book.  There are rooms to express love, creativity, happiness and other positive emotions.  The reader is encouraged to have fun building these mental rooms and is given some great starter questions for building each room.  The author also encourages physical manifestations such as drawings of the rooms and conversations with different aspects of the reader’s personality.  Very enjoyable and lots of great ideas.

 

19. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football: Make-or-Break Moment by Carla Killough McClafferty, read by Angie, on 04/17/2014

This was a fascinating look at the connections between football and concussions. The first thing you read about in the book is the history of the sport of football. One of the things I found most interesting was the fact that conversations about the dangers of concussions with football players started at the beginning of this game. Football has always been a dangerous sport and it started out even more dangerous than it is today. I knew players didn’t start out with the padding and helmets of today. What I didn’t realize was that they started out with no padding or helmets and that it was a fairly common occurrence for players to die. From the time football started in the 1890s to when it was reformed in the 1900s it seems between 10-20 players died each year as a result of injuries sustained playing football. The fact that the game persists to this day is astounding!

The other thing I found really interesting was the fact that brain injuries are so very common among all ages of football players. The book gets into the science pretty heavily which I think will go over some kids heads, but they will understand the injuries and deaths that football players have sustained. Concussions and football have been in the news a lot lately, but the connection actually started in the 1980s. Repeated concussions and repeated blows to the head without concussion have resulted in dementia, ALS, Alzheimers, and death among football players. And it isn’t just the professional players that have to worry about it. Brain damage has even been found in high school and college football players. The fact that we let our boys start playing at a very early age and then have them continue into their teens means they are likely to get hit thousands of times. This means there is a greater chance they will sustain brain damage or injuries. I’m glad I never played football, but I worry about those who have and will.

17. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Informational Book, Marsha, NonFiction

Bookworks by Sue Dogget, read by Marsha, on 04/17/2014

bookworksBookworks is a text about bookbinding and gives a lot of information about different methods of putting books together.  To begin, I should mention this may not be the best book for a complete beginner.  Some of the diagrams are rather unclear as are the instructions.  The author seems to assume the reader has done some bookbinding prior to picking up her text.  This is not to say the book is all bad, however.  There is a marvelous section accordion folding that I have not seen in other texts of this nature.  It has a lot of different ideas for using the said folds for various applications.  Dogget also keeps the number of bindings she tries to teach to a minimum, thus not overwhelming the reader with all the different ways available to bind a book.  The areas I feel could be improved include embossing covers and cutting recesses.  These features were glossed over and I feel she could have spent more time with them.  There are lots of great ideas in here, including a method for making a clasp for a diary you won’t want to miss.  It is worth picking up Bookworks and giving it a look.

Spirit AnimalsThe Secret Power of Spirit Animals gives some information on not only learning which animal is the reader’s totem, but also what characteristics those with that totem possess.  Part I is about connecting with a spirit animal and exploring to find out which animal is the reader’s totem.  It also describes topics such as familiars and techniques for working with spirit animals.  In Part II, 200 spirit creatures are described more in depth.  The information given includes characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, how to use the creature’s power, and symbolic meanings of seeing that creature either in a dream or the real world.  Part II makes up the bulk of the book.  As a reader, I myself was hoping to see more information in Part I.  Though some history and mythology is touched on from around the world, it would be nice if the author had gone more in depth with the human-animal connection through time.  Regardless, this is a nice book for those of us who are just curious about the subject matter and want a taste of what spirit animals are all about.  Part II reads much like a dictionary and would be better used as a resource than as something read from beginning to end, but it is still interesting if the reader decides to dive in and read it from cover to cover.  There is a lot of information crammed into each entry and some of the entries made me want to research those animals more thoroughly.  A good book for basic information, but wish it included some resources for further discovery.

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Rookie Yearbook Two by Tavi Gevinson, read by Courtney, on 03/27/2014

Can I just say how much I love Rookie? Loooove it. And it makes me really happy that a good deal of the online-only magazine is being published in these “Yearbook” editions. The format is identical to the first Yearbook, but the depth and breadth of the subject matter is fresh and relevant. Rookie tackles things that most other teen magazines wouldn’t dare to. Faith, sexuality, art, music and activism are all given equal weight and credibility. The fashion spreads are moody and creative (and refreshing free from brand names and prices; something I’ve always found particularly irritating about most magazines). Themed playlists and colorful art abounds throughout. There’s not a single teenaged girl I wouldn’t recommend this to. In fact, I think most adults should check it out too. I know I learned a thing or two. And boys? If you want to understand girls a little bit more, consider this a really good starting point.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham, read by Madeline, on 03/30/2014

Sharing expertise gleaned from more than two decades as a library security manager, Graham demonstrates that libraries can maintain their best traditions of openness and public access by creating an unobtrusive yet effective security plan. In straightforward language, the author shows how to easily set clear expectations for visitors behavior, presents guidelines for when and how to intervene when someone violates the code of conduct, including tips for approaching an unruly patron, offers instruction on keeping persistent troublemakers under control or permanently barred from the library, gives library staff tools for communicating effectively with its security professionals, including examples of basic documentation. The Black Belt Librarian arms librarians with the confidence and know-how they need to maintain a comfortable, productive, and safe environment for everyone in the library.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, History, Informational Book, NonFiction

Poop Happened! by Sarah Albee, Robert Leighton (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 03/31/2014

Poop is not just funny for kids. Some adults (**cough** **cough**) find this topic just as interesting. Everybody does it and no one wants to talk about it, but the history of how people eliminate waste is fascinating. Poop Happened takes the reader on a journey through history; the history of poop and what people have done with it. I found it especially interesting to learn that sanitation-wise things were much better during Egyptian and Roman times than they were for a thousand years after. There was a lot of waste just sitting around during the middle ages and no one seemed to know what to do about it.

The first time I read this book we sat in the library reading excerpts from this book for a long time and just couldn’t put it down. It is fascinating, informative and addicting. You have probably always wondered what they did for bathrooms back in the old days…well this book will tell you in all the gross detail. And you probably didn’t really want to know!

For instance, once a knight had his armor on it didn’t come off for anything and it was his squires job to clean it at the end of the day. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted that job! I guess you really can’t stop a battle to take off a hundred pounds of armor to go to the bathroom, but can you imagine sitting in that all day!

In Renaissance France the ladies’ dresses were so big they could barely sit down much less squat over a chamber pot so they had maids who would hold sponges under their dresses while they did their business. Yet another job I wouldn’t want. During that time period corners and hallways were also fair game for bathroom usage. I always thought of it as a very elegant time but I bet the bottom of your dress was pretty gross! And that everything smelled disgusting!

There are other awesome facts like these in this book. I highly recommend it. It is written so that you don’t have to read it cover to cover; you can flip through and pick different eras or pages to pour over. But the information is definitely worth the read. I was educated and entertained and I still think back on the book and what I learned and laugh! This is also a book I like to recommend to reluctant readers or kids who like gross facts. It is one that will suck you in!