29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Informational Book

The Black Belt Librarian by Warren Graham, 104 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/08/2014

Black Belt Librarian is a practical guide to making sure your library is a safe space, both for you and your patrons. Written not by a librarian, but by a security professional, this slender book is filled with tough questions and great advice. This should probably be required reading for anyone in a supervisory or managerial role and highly recommended reading for front-line staff. I, for one, am really glad I read it and am currently encouraging all of my colleagues to do the same.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Cookbooks, Fiction, How To's, Humor, Informational Book, Noelle, NonFiction

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris, 303 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/08/2014

Cute. Quirky. Weird. Adorable.  INAPPROPRIATE!  Charming. Hilarious. Delicious.  Those are just a few words that come to mind when reading this book, which was a great deal of fun.  If you’re familiar with Amy Sedaris, then you’d expect nothing less.

Are you lacking direction in how to whip up a swanky soiree for lumberjacks?  A dinner party for white-collar workers?  A festive gathering for the grieving? Don’t despair. Take a cue from entertaining expert Amy Sedaris and host an unforgettable fete that will have your guests raving.  No matter the style or size of the gathering-from the straightforward to the bizarre-I LIKE YOU provides jackpot recipes and solid advice laced with Amy’s blisteringly funny take on entertaining, plus four-color photos and enlightening sidebars on everything it takes to pull off a party with extraordinary flair.  You don’t even need to be a host or hostess to benefit-Amy offers tips for guests, too!  (Number one: don’t be fifteen minutes early.)  Readers will discover unique dishes to serve alcoholics (Broiled Frozen Chicken Wings with Applesauce), the secret to a successful children’s party (a half-hour time limit, games included), plus a whole appendix chock-full of arts and crafts ideas (from a mini-pantyhose plant-hanger to a do-it-yourself calf stretcher), and much, much more!

27. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Informational Book, NonFiction

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone, T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., 213 pages, read by Angie, on 01/26/2014

I recently watched the documentary Forks over Knives and decided to see what else the book had to offer. It is basically a narrative of the movie, but it still has some really good information on why you should change the way you eat. Forks Over Knives promotes a plant-based whole foods (vegan) diet. Doctors Campbell and Esselstyn have been researching the connections between nutrition and health for decades and their research has led them to this diet. Removing animal products and processed foods from the diet has been shown to greatly reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health issues according to their studies. The book highlights why the diet is better for you, the environment and animals. It also provides a lot of recipes to get you started. I’m not sure if I could ever go completely vegan, but it does make me think about what I eat and how I eat.

07. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Informational Book, NonFiction

How to find out anything by Don Macleod, 256 pages, read by Claudia, on 12/19/2013

In How to Find Out Anything, master 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.

Not your average research book, How to Find Out Anything shows you how to unveil nearly anything about anyone. From top CEO’s salaries to police records, you’ll learn little-known tricks for discovering the exact information you’re looking for. You’ll learn:

  • How to really tap the power of Google, and why Google is the best place to start a search, but never the best place to finish it.
  • The scoop on vast, yet little-known online resources that search engines cannot scour, such as refdesk.com, ipl.org, the University of Michigan Documents Center, and Project Gutenberg, among many others.
  • How to access free government resources (and put your tax dollars to good use).
  • How to find experts and other people with special knowledge.
  • How to dig up seemingly confidential information on people and businesses, from public and private companies to non-profits and international companies.

Whether researching for a term paper or digging up dirt on an ex, the advice in this book arms you with the sleuthing skills to tackle any mystery.

07. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Informational Book, NonFiction

Discover your optimal health by Wayne Scott Andersen, 240 pages, read by Claudia, on 12/12/2013

Go from surviving to thriving! Anyone who has ever lost weight only to ultimately gain it back will benefit from this life-changing breakthrough program that shows you not only how to reach and maintain your healthy weight, but how to create a life of renewed vibrancy and become as healthy as you can. Thousands of people worldwide have gone from discouragement to confidence by following this easy-to-use guide by Dr. Andersen, one of America’s most esteemed and compassionate practitioners of weight loss and optimal health. Discover Your Optimal Health teaches you how to live better, happier, and healthier into your eighties, nineties, and beyond.

From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools.
​In Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch argues that the crisis in American education is not a crisis of academic achievement but a concerted effort to destroy public schools in this country. She makes clear that, contrary to the claims being made, public school test scores and graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, and dropout rates are at their lowest point. ​She argues that federal programs such as George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top set unreasonable targets for American students, punish schools, and result in teachers being fired if their students underperform, unfairly branding those educators as failures. She warns that major foundations, individual billionaires, and Wall Street hedge fund managers are encouraging the privatization of public education, some for idealistic reasons, others for profit. Many who work with equity funds are eyeing public education as an emerging market for investors.
Reign of Error begins where The Death and Life of the Great American School System left off, providing a deeper argument against privatization and for public education, and in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, putting forth a plan for what can be done to preserve and improve it. She makes clear what is right about U.S. education, how policy makers are failing to address the root causes of educational failure, and how we can fix it.

​For Ravitch, public school education is about knowledge, about learning, about developing character, and about creating citizens for our society. It’s about helping to inspire independent thinkers, not just honing job skills or preparing people for college. Public school education is essential to our democracy, and its aim, since the founding of this country, has been to educate citizens who will help carry democracy into the future.

26. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Madeline, NonFiction

How to be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, 304 pages, read by Madeline, on 12/20/2013

Everyone knows someone who’s sick or suffering. Yet when a friend or relative is under duress many of us feel uncertain about how to cope.

Throughout her recent bout with breast cancer, Letty Cottin Pogrebin became fascinated by her friends’ and family’s diverse reactions to her and her illness: how awkwardly some of them behaved; how some misspoke or misinterpreted her needs; and how wonderful it was when people read her right. She began talking to her fellow patients and dozens of other veterans of serious illness, seeking to discover what sick people wished their friends knew about how best to comfort, help, and even simply talk to them.

Now Pogrebin has distilled their collective stories and opinions into this wide-ranging compendium of pragmatic guidance and usable wisdom. Her advice is always infused with sensitivity, warmth, and humor. It is embedded in candid stories from her own and others’ journeys, and their sometimes imperfect interactions with well-meaning friends. How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick is an invaluable guidebook for anyone hoping to rise to the challenges of this most important and demanding passage of friendship.

04. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, Graphic Book, Informational Book, NonFiction

Army of God: Joseph Kony's War in Central Africa by David Axe, Tim Hamilton, 128 pages, read by Courtney, on 11/25/2013

Joseph Kony is the most dangerous guerilla leader in modern African history.

It started with a visit from spirits. In 1991, Kony claimed that spiritual beings had come to him with instructions: he was to lead his group of rebels, the Lord’s Resistance Army, in a series of brutal raids against ordinary Ugandan civilians. Decades later, Kony has sown chaos throughout Central Africa, kidnapping and terrorizing countless innocents—especially children. Yet despite an enormous global outcry, the Kony 2012 movement, and an international military intervention, the carnage has continued. Drawn from on-the-ground reporting by war correspondent David Axe and starkly illustrated by Tim Hamilton, Army of God is the first-ever graphic account of the global phenomenon surrounding Kony—from the devastation he has left behind to the long campaign to defeat him for good.

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 , 218 pages, 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, 265 pages, 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, 304 pages, 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., 287 pages, 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, 192 pages, 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.

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

Dog sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior can Make you a Better Friend to your Pet by John Bradshaw, 352 pages, read by Kira, on 11/09/2013

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, 64 pages, 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, 348 pages, 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, 192 pages, 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, 240 pages, 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, 260 pages, 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, 80 pages, 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.