Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tempting Titles - Nonfiction 200s - 300s

Here, in usual Dewey Decimal System order from your librarian book selectors, are some Tempting Titles of recent nonfiction books the library has either ordered or received in the past few months. Click on any title or image link to go to the online catalog and place a request for the book to be held for you when it becomes available.

200s Religion

Few of the recent books on atheism have been worth reading just for wit and style, but this is one of them: Paulos is truly funny. Despite the title, the Temple University math professor doesn't actually discuss mathematics much. In this short primer (“just the gist with an occasional jest”), Paulos tackles 12 of the most common arguments for God, including the argument from design, the idea that a “moral universality” points to a creator God, the notion of first causes and the argument from coincidence, among others. Along the way, he intersperses irreverent and entertaining little chapterlets that contain his musings on various subjects, including a rather hilarious imagined IM exchange with God that slyly parodies Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God . “Why does solemnity tend to infect almost all discussions of religion?” Paulos asks, clearly bemoaning the dearth of humor. This little book goes a long way toward correcting the problem, and provides both atheists and religious apologists some digestible food for thought along the way. (Publishers Weekly)
In this thought-provoking study, Bard College professor Chilton (Rabbi Jesus) asks how the Abrahamic faiths have understood Genesis 22, the story of the binding of Isaac. All three religions include a strand of interpretation that reads the binding of Isaac as valorizing the sacrifice of human life. Some rabbinic texts, for example, suggest that Abraham did in fact nick Isaac’s neck, shedding the boy’s blood, and that Isaac offers a model for “the necessary readiness for martyrdom.” Christianity has seen Isaac as prefiguring Jesus’ crucifixion, and Christians, too, find in both these sacrificial stories an approval of martyrdom. In Islam, Chilton finds a range of interpretations, some of which gradually make Ibrahim “more and more aggressive, to the point that Allah could only prevent the slaughter... by miraculous means.” These interpretations appear to underwrite violence, but Chilton also finds within Jewish, Christian and Islamic sacred texts a corrective: a clear insistence that God does not want human beings to sacrifice ourselves or our children. Today’s violent fundamentalists, Chilton claims, overlook those correctives and take their cues from readings of Genesis 22 that seem to favor human sacrifice. Chilton produces yet another creative and very relevant historical account. (Publishers Weekly)

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: what’s so good about the good news by Peter J. Gomes.
Once again, we are graced with a delightfully reflective volume by renowned preacher Gomes (Christian morals, Harvard; The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart ), who here deftly and elegantly weaves a spiritually rich narrative examining the nuances of Jesus-centered thinking and biblical understanding in the contemporary American landscape. In 11 chapters divided into three parts—"The Trouble with Scripture," "The Gospel and the Conventional Wisdom," and "Where Do We Go from Here?"—he creates a finely crafted statement about Jesus's role in a modern world rife with social, political, and economic problems. Personal vignettes, early American history, and current events accent the text. Gomes's relaxed yet intellectual style promotes the progressive message upon which he strikes in his later chapters (e.g., in "A Gospel of Hope"). (Library Journal)

New York Times best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Wills (history, emeritus, Northwestern Univ.; What Jesus Meant ) provides another splendid book for the educated general public. Here, he analyzes the four Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, insisting that the church deliberately "gives us four different takes on the central mystery" of Christ, which remains inexhaustible. He observes that Mark emphasizes Jesus's role as sufferer; Matthew systematically presents his teachings; Luke stresses the healing aspects of his mission; and John keeps always in mind his divinity. Wills also explains the parallelism between biblical Jewish and Christian Scripture and the use of symbolic language in the Gospels to reveal the meaning of biblical events ... (Library Journal)

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine spirituality for Protestants by Dennis L. Okholm

Readers might not think that poverty, chastity and obedience would be attractive to the common Protestant, but Okholm, a theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, will make them think twice. ... He finds in Benedictine monasticism a helpful path to holiness, and he avoids idealizing or romanticizing the monastic life. ... The author invites readers to integrate some monastic practices into their daily lives and stresses that this does not involve cloistering themselves—these practices are both ordinary and sacred. He also provides an excellent example for Catholics and Protestants alike to dig deeply into the Christian tradition and find how both can spiritually benefit from the other. (Publishers Weekly)

Head and Heart: American Christianities by Garry Wills

In this learned, impassioned jeremiad, Pulitzer Prize–winning Wills (What Jesus Meant, 2006, etc.) traces two styles of Protestantism throughout American history and sounds the alarm about evangelicalism. During the Revolutionary era, the Enlightenment religious culture, which made possible the disestablishment of churches and gave birth to Transcendentalism, valued reason and tolerance. Evangelical emotionalism, on the other hand, which came to prominence in the religious revivals of the early 19th century, emphasizes feeling and teaches people to know God with their hearts rather than to scrutinize religion with their brains. The history of American Christianity, suggests Wills, can be viewed as a tug of war between those two impulses. Some of the freshest material here is the author's discussion of the mid-20th-century "great truce between the religious communities," in which different religious groups adopted an ecumenical friendliness and the nation seemed to settle into a comfortable state of being politely "Judeo-Christian." ... Despite his pessimism about the current administration, the author concludes on a hopeful note. Evangelical passion and Enlightenment intellectual rigor are not mutually exclusive, he says. Indeed, they are often present in the same church. (Kirkus Reviews)

300s Social sciences, economics, law, rights, education

Zoom: the global race to fuel the car of the future by Vijay Vaitheeswaran and Iain Carson

Cars and oil wrote the history of twentieth-century American capitalism. After a century of prosperity and power, the industries that shaped America more than any others are now at a crossroads. The age of oil and cars is giving way to something new. (First chapter excerpt)
"A stirring call to arms urging Americans to demand that the government act now to meet the challenges of global warming and to tackle the country's addiction to oil. ... A timely, authoritative book written in a punchy, easy-to-read style." – (Kirkus Reviews)

The Wall Street Journal Complete Identity Theft Guidebook: how to protect yourself from the most pervasive crime in America by Terri Cullen

Introduction: it could happen to you -- Preventing identity theft -- What is identity theft, anyway? -- Thinking like a thief -- Vigilance is the best protection -- The vital document : your credit report -- A closer look at an excellent, bad and average credit report -- The tech wars -- Life after identity theft -- Getting your identity back -- Easing the emotional pain -- Identity theft in pop culture -- Appendix One: Sample letters -- Appendix Two: Identity theft logs -- Appendix Three: The laws that protect you (Book's chapters)

Never Enough by Joe McGinnis

McGinniss (Fatal Vision) has produced another page-turning true-crime blockbuster. This surreal story of successful investment banker Robert Kissel and his compulsive-shopper wife Nancy living the seemingly perfect "expat" life in Hong Kong with their three children features plenty of money, sex, and greed. In 2003, Nancy and the kids spent time in Vermont during the SARS scare in Hong Kong. Rob suspected that she was having an affair there with a stereo installer, which he confirmed via a hired detective. He ordered her and the kids back to Hong Kong and then suspected that Nancy was poisoning him. His body was found soon after. Nancy was tried and convicted of his murder in Hong Kong, where she awaits appeal. Family squabbles ensued over custody of the children and their $20 million trust fund. In a bizarre subsequent chapter to this story, Rob's brother Andrew was found murdered in his home shortly after his own wife and kids had moved out. ... While the book's title may refer to the Kissel family's approach to life, it could also be the cry of McGinniss fans who love his way with such stories. (Library Journal)

The Associates: four capitalists who created California by Richard Raynor

"...a first-rate look at the little-known story behind the creation of America's first continental railroad-the story of Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and Leland Stanford, founder of the university that bears his name...The associates were unscrupulous, savvy profiteers, whose motives were driven solely by a lust for riches and whose success usually came at the expense of others. After usurping engineer Theodore Judah's campaign to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific, the foursome capitalized on anti-Chinese sentiment, hiring desperate Chinese to do hazardous work in inhumane conditions for substandard wages. They later sanctioned murder yet successfully painted themselves as philanthropists thanks to the journalists and historians in their pockets. Amid a story of greed and ruthlessness, Rayner offers a fascinating glimpse into the growth of the U.S., illustrating how these determined if ruthless men revolutionized transportation and greatly influenced the expansion of California. ...Entertaining and well written, Rayner's book will appeal to readers interested in history as well as business.." (Publishers Weekly)

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