02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Crafts, Informational Book, Kira, Memoirs, NonFiction

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee casts off the yarn harlot's guide to the land of knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee , read by Kira, on 11/28/2013

castoff froganatomy-of-a-knitter1  knit steph Stephanie Pearl-McPhee uses the format of a travelogue to humorously describe knitter’s foibles (including the STASH). She also incudes a number of quizzes so you can find out what type of knitter, stasher, etc. you are.  It was quiet funny and I actually learned a few things I hadn’t know (I am Not a tumblr_loylymBblY1qcg6wqo1_500process knitter).

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

Perv: the Sexual Deviant in All of Us . by Jesse Bering, read by Kira, on 11/27/2013

Jesse Bering asks thoughtful questions in this examination of what acts or even thoughts are considered deviant in our culture.  Are you ready to label someone deviant because you’re grossed out by the thought of their behavior, or because you’re concerned about the harm to the individual (or animal)?perv.rscreen-shot-2013-10-16-at-7-59-03-amperv-the-sexual-deviant-in-all-of-us  Nope, its Not 50 Shades of Gray.images  He draws a distinction between pedophilia and hebephilia (attraction to physically mature teenagers).  He asks us to make choices that actually improve children’s lives, and not prioritize moralizing.  Bering uses both logical arguments as well as scientific research.

29. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Inspirational, Noelle, NonFiction, Self Help · Tags: ,

The Lost Art of Compassion by Lorne Ladner, read by Noelle, on 11/27/2013

Western culture has long sidelined compassion as the province of the saintly or the overly naive. To our great detriment, we have overlooked one of our most powerful inner resources for creating a life of happiness and contentment. In The Lost Art of Compassion, clinical psychologist and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Lorne Ladner rescues compassion from the margins, and demonstrates its direct and powerful benefits for our day-to-day lives. Until recently Western psychology focused almost exclusively on working with unhealthy emotions and relationships, turning very little of its research or expertise toward understanding positive emotional states. While interest in positive psychology is just dawning in the West, the cultivation of compassion has been a cornerstone of Tibetan Buddhism, studied and developed for over a thousand years. The Lost Art of Compassion is the first book to incorporate the Tibetan Buddhist teachings most suited to Westerners and provides a crucial perspective that is sorely lacking in Western psychology. Bringing together the best contributions of psychology and Buddhism, Dr. Ladner bridges the gap between East and West, theory and practice, in this user-friendly guide for getting through each day with greater contentment and ease. The Lost Art of Compassion offers ten methods for cultivating joy and contentment, bringing directly applicable wisdom to everyday situations. The result is a highly practical, engaging guide that weaves together these two disciplines and encourages readers to reclaim this neglected path to happiness.

27. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science · Tags:

Gifts of the Crow: how perception, emotion, & thought allow smart birds to behave like humans by John Marzluff & Tony Angell., read by Kira, on 11/26/2013

giftscrow   corvids5-500x666This book describes the multiple and unexpected intelligences of corvids aka the crow family.

Tony-Angell crowCorvids outscore dogs and equal primates on a number of dimensions, with their tool use, and understanding that other creatures have minds (minds that can be deceived) capabilities.  Also, Corvids engage in play, from repeatedly sliding down snowbanks, to using a piece of bark to surf the air via updrafts.  They recognize individual humans, and have been know to gift humans with small tokens,

Initially, I really wanted a New Caledonian Crow for a pet (they seem to be the brightest of the lot).  However, after reading the sections where the crows mob other individual birds, and mercilessly tease other animals, I changed my mind.  The authors present a very balanced look at corvids, including the limitations of corvids as demonstrated by the research.  Some of the sections on how corvid brains function, shed light on human brains (yes, these avian dinosaurs show convergent evolution with humans).

Very interesting.corvidstackweb

 

Tony-Angell-2corvidmap

13. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, History, Informational Book, NonFiction, Teen Books

Unsettled: The Problem of Loving Israel by Marc Aronson, read by Angie, on 11/12/2013

Marc Aronson takes a look at the history of Israel and what it means to be Jewish in Israel. This is not a straight-forward historical book, but a personal soul-searching by the author. He does a lot of back and forth between the ideal Israel and the actual Israel. He also compares Israel to America and American Jews to Israeli Jews. Even though he does touch on some controversial topics in this book, it is still more of a personal journey about why Aronson does not live in Israel and what he wishes it was. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be and was a little difficult to read. Aronson never really comes to any conclusions, just back and forth on the topics he discusses.

DOG SENSE dsugroup dogsense John Bradshaw (not to be confused with the guy who wrote about the family), challenges the conventional wisdom that dogs need to be dominated.  He examines the myth that wolves live in a strict hierarchy with submission and dominance displays.

He contends that the wolves that had been studied, were captive wolves confined much closer together than what wolf groups experience in nature – also that the wolves that were studied were American Timber wolves, NOT the European Grey Wolf, the closest Canid ancestor from which ALL domestic dogs have descended (he explores the genetics of domestic dogs, and though it would have been possible to domesticate other canids – jackals, coyotes, dholes, foxes).

He notes that in the wilderness, groups of wolves form around familial bonds, with the supposed alpha pair, being the parents of the others in the group.

Bradshaw then outlines why punishment is ineffective in training animals (including dogs).

 

24. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Science

Fossil Fish Found Alive by Sally M. Walker, read by Angie, on 10/24/2013

The coelacanth was a fish that many thought had went extinct 70 million years ago. No fossils of this fish have been found since then. Imagine the surprise when a live specimen was found in 1938. It turns out the coelacanth is not extinct at all but lives off the southern coast of Africa and India. Since 1938 researchers have been looking for and studying these amazing fish. There are still lots of things we don’t know about the coelacanth, but researchers and ichthyologists are still looking for answers. Sally Walker did a great job detailing the hunt for these prehistoric fish. The way this book was written really builds anticipation for each discovery. I loved the many photos and illustrations and the details included by Walker. Highly readable nonfiction.

10. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Informational Book, NonFiction, Science

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, read by Angie, on 10/09/2013

Mary Roach is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. Not only are the subjects she chooses to write about fascinating, but her writing style is both humorous and educational. She takes topics that most people don’t think about or want to think about, like dead people and digestion, and makes you want to learn more. I am always amazed at the people she finds to interview, the resources she uses and the topics she chooses to discuss. Gulp is all about our digestive system from one end to the other. Your average person doesn’t really want to know that much about the processes of the alimentary canal. As long as things are working properly we are ok in our ignorance. Not Mary; she wants all the dirty little details and she wants to share them with us. After reading several of her books I really do believe poop might be one of her favorite subjects since she incorporates mention of it in a lot of her books. I learned many things in this book: cows chew a mouthful of food up to 40 times; rats and rabbits eat their poop to get needed nutrients and without it their growth will be stunted; Elvis died due to an enlarged colon and constipation. Seriously! There is a disease that causes your colon to not push things through which causes it to be enlarged and you to have constipation. There are documented cases of 28 inch colons (average is 3 inches or so). Elvis could change waist sizes by several inches depending on whether he had gone to the bathroom that week. While these things might seem like stories you would read in the National Enquirer, Roach backs them all up with research studies and interviews of scientists. I will definitely continue reading everything she chooses to study as I haven’t found a clunker yet.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Informational Book, NonFiction

What Dogs Want: A Visual Guide to Understanding Your Dog's Every Move by Arden Moore, read by Courtney, on 08/24/2013

In theory, this is a great book. For those who don’t know the first thing about dog’s body language, this is a good primer. It’s a fairly concise pictorial guide divided up by types of behavior (gestures, sounds, etc.) that describes the action/behavior, tells why your dog does it and what a vet’s recommendations for addressing that behavior are. My main problem is that, much like humans searching WebMD, every behavior might start to be seen as cause for concern. Seriously, there’s a bit on “Why does my dog pant?” with a warning about what to do for dogs who might pant too much (without describing what might be considered excessive). Another fun one: dogs moving in their sleep (shocking conclusion: dogs dream! advice: let them dream! warning: it could be a seizure!).
So, yeah. If you want to know why your dog is doing things you probably already know the answer to, but just really want validation anyway, this is the book for you. I may have picked up a thing or two from this book, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the fact that it didn’t really seem to address any of the behaviors my mutts were displaying (i.e. the reason I checked this book out in the first place).

30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science, Self Help

The Autistic Brain : Thinking across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek, read by Kira, on 09/28/2013

Temple Grandin does for Autism what Susan Cain did for Introversion.  Grandin shows us the strengths associated with Autistic and Asperger’s syndrome, citing research showing superior ability to focus on details.  She suggests that we quit seeing only the deficits, but acknowledge that some characteristics are actually strengths.  Her attention is limited to high-functioning  end of the spectrum while, the lower end of the spectrum is given short shrift.  She backs up most of her arguments with scientific research (though a few times, she just says “That doesn’t make sense” without showing why).  IntertempleGesting, but not as enjoyable asclaire-danes-and-temple-grandin_original Anibrainmals in Translation.

30. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Bryan, Informational Book, NonFiction

Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier by Emily Brady, read by Bryan, on 09/28/2013

Emily Brady presents a look at the marijuana “industry” in Humboldt County, California.  She focuses on a few characters and chronicles their lives as growers in this very secretive community.  The book builds towards California’s legalization vote in 2010.  Although Brady makes her views clear throughout, it isn’t overbearing and people on both sides of the issue should be able to read it without too much discomfort.

27. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, NonFiction, Tammy

The Black Belt Librarian: Real-World Safety & Security by Warren Graham, read by Tammy, on 09/08/2013

black belt librarianThis brief book shares real world experience and provides examples for training, reporting, and procedures. The author worked as a library security manager for more than twenty years and shares what he learned worked well for his library and what did not. He gives library staff tools they can use if the library has a security staff or not. He shows how to easily set clear expectations for patron behavior and how to intervene when someone violates that code of conduct. This book provides practical real-world advice and aims to be confidence building for staff. The author’s goal is for all library staff to be able to maintain a comfortable, productive and safe environment for all patrons and staff in the library.

 

Lee Berger has spent his entire life looking for the next big adventure and that quest paid off in 2008 when he discovered a cave in South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind. The cave, Malapa, contained bones from an ancient species of hominids, perhaps the oldest ever found. The Australopithecus Sediba bones of five beings were found in the cave, some nearly complete. The bones tell the story of a species that contained both human and ape characteristics and changed the way scientists think about evolution. This is an immensely readable account of Berger’s discovery and its implications to the scientific community. Our origins are fascinating and mysterious and this book will just wet your appetite to know more about human evolution and our ancient ancestors.

10. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Informational Book, NonFiction, Poetry

Cowboy Up!: Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood, Jan Sonnemair, read by Angie, on 09/10/2013

The rodeo comes to life in this book. We live through an entire rodeo from setup to takedown. Each event is introduced by the rodeo announcer, a poem gives life to the event, and an explanation is given on the event. We learn about sheep riding, bronco busting, barrel racing, steer wrestling and rodeo clowns. The history of the rodeo is given as is its importance in Native American and Western culture. This book is very informative and interesting. It will make you want to go see a rodeo!

03. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction, Science

The Cancer Chronicles : Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery by George Johnson, read by Kira, on 08/31/2013

canc chronThis book starts out interesting enough.  Did you know they’ve found cancer in Dinosaurs brains? and that mammals are more likely to get cancer than reptiles.  But it ends there.  No mysteries were unlocked, no important information to take away.  I was really hoping for something along the lines of Racing to a Cure, where the author looks at a type of vaccine, where they take your fighter blood cells, expose them to the cancer and then inject them back in your body, and the fighter blood cells, then do a much better job of attacking the cancer.

This book didn’t leave you with any take-away information (just stuff you likely already knew).canchron

When Michelle Obama came to the White House she decided to start a garden. She was inspired by the Victory Gardens of times past and community gardens. She wanted the White House Garden to be America’s Garden. She wanted to start a dialog about eating fresh and local and to inspire others. The White House Garden became very successful and its message has been heard in schools and communities across the country. This book details how the garden was planned and implemented, what activities have occurred because of the garden and how other gardens and communities have sprung up around the country. There are wonderful tips about planting and the different plants that you can grow in your garden. I was especially inspired by the stories of schools who have changed the food they serve to kids and by the story of the food bus that now delivers fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods without access to fresh foods. Michelle Obama narrates this book along with a host of others including kids, community leaders, private organization volunteers and chefs. Truly inspiring!

29. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Janet, NonFiction

Haunted Ozarks by Janice Tremeear, read by Janet, on 08/28/2013

Haunted Ozarks     We live in an area of the Ozarks that has a very interesting history.  Some people who lived here before are not content to be forgotten.  The lay of the land is so varied that many types of living arrangements have developed through the years. From the earliest man living here, about 10,000 BC, to the present, many groups of people have had experiences that have left a busy history in this region – the Mound Builders, the Baldknobbers, and the Jessie James gang, to name a few.  There have also been happenings that involved many people, such as the Civil War and the Trail of Tears.  It seems that when some people die untimely, their spirit remains in that area.  Many stories are Indian legends.    Every county has at least one place where the restless bodies are known to be seen or heard, things are moved, or one feels the presence of another body.  Many homes are named in this story: Ha Ha Tonka, Leeper Mansion near Chillicothe, Houston House at Newburg, the Iberia Academy, the Kendrick House at Carthage, and Ozark Avalon were a few.  There are also many castle-like homes which have haunted legends.  Along with the stories are old sayings and superstitions listed.  This is a very interesting book with lots of historic information.

01. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Steal the Menu: A Memoir of Forty Years in Food by Raymond Sokolov, read by Madeline, on 07/31/2013

Four decades of memories from a gastronome who witnessed the food revolution from the (well-provisioned) trenches–a delicious tour through contemporary food history. When Raymond Sokolov became food editor of The New York Times in 1971, he began a long, memorable career as restaurant critic, food historian, and author. Here he traces the food scene he reported on in America and abroad, from his pathbreaking dispatches on nouvelle cuisine chefs like Paul Bocuse and Michel Guérard in France to the rise of contemporary American food stars like Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, and the fruitful collision of science and cooking in the kitchens of El Bulli in Spain, the Fat Duck outside London, and Copenhagen’s gnarly Noma. Sokolov invites readers to join him as a privileged observer of the most transformative period in the history of cuisine with this personal narrative of the sensual education of an accidental gourmet. We dine out with him at temples of haute cuisine like New York’s Lutèce but also at a pioneering outpost of Sichuan food in a gas station in New Jersey, at a raunchy Texas chili cookoff, and at a backwoods barbecue shack in Alabama, as well as at three-star restaurants from Paris to Las Vegas. Steal the Menu is, above all, an entertaining and engaging account of a tumultuous period of globalizing food ideas and frontier-crossing ingredients that produced the unprecedentedly rich and diverse way of eating we enjoy today.

01. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

Gun Guys: A Road Trip by Dan Baum, read by Madeline, on 07/05/2013

Here is armed America, land of machine-gun gatherings in the desert, lederhosened German shooting societies, feral-hog hunts in Texas, and Hollywood gun armories. Whether they are collecting antique weapons, practicing concealed carry, or firing an AR-15 or a Glock at their local range, many Americans love guns, which horrifies and fascinates many other Americans, and much of the rest of the world. This book explores from the inside the American love affair with firearms. The author is both a lifelong gun guy and a Jewish Democrat who grew up in suburban New Jersey feeling like a “child of a bitter divorce with allegiance to both parents.” In this book he grabs his licensed concealed handgun and hits the road to meet some of the 40 percent of Americans who own guns. We meet Rick Ector, a black Detroit autoworker who buys a Smith & Wesson after suffering an armed robbery, then quits his job to preach the gospel of armed self-defense, especially to the resistant black community; Jeremy and Marcey Parker, a young, successful Kentucky couple whose idea of a romantic getaway is the Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun Championship in Bowling Green; and Aaron Zelman, head of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The author also travels to New Orleans, where he enters the world of a man disabled by a bullet, and to Chicago to interview a killer. Along the way, he takes us to gun shows, gun stores, and shooting ranges trying to figure out why so many of us love these things and why they inspire such passions. In the tradition of the books Confederates in the Attic and Among the Thugs, he brings an entire world to life. Written equally for avid shooters and those who would never touch a firearm, this book is more than a travelogue. It gives a fresh assessment of the heated politics surrounding guns, one that will challenge and inform people on all sides of the issue. This book goes beyond gun politics to illuminate the visceral appeal of guns; it is a journey through American gun culture, in search of Americans who love their guns.

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Informational Book, Lisa, NonFiction

Wolves and Other Wild Dogs by Mary E. Reid, read by Lisa, on 07/29/2013

Questions and answers explore the world of wild dogs, with an emphasis on wolves.