Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tempting Titles - Nonfiction 600s - 700s

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.

600s Health, Technologies, Home Economics

Charlatan: America’s most dangerous huckster, the man who pursued him, and the age of flimflam by Pope Brock

He truly had cojones: Dr. John Brinkley became fabulously wealthy in the 1920s and ‘30s by inserting goat testicles into herds of men anxious about their manliness. Easily outfitted with a diploma from the "Bennett Eclectic Medical College," Brinkley had more than a decade of quackery behind him when he was forced by poverty to settle down temporarily with a desultory practice in Milford, Kan. Then one day an exhausted farmer, concerned about the working order of his privates, expressed a fancy for "billy goat nuts." Eureka! The doctor fulfilled his wish. It was the genesis of the age of rejuvenation by gonad implantation. The testicular repairman had his finger on the pulse of America's organic members, and he made a splendid fortune. Imitators multiplied at home and abroad. Brinkley ran for governor of Kansas and began to notice "the resemblance between himself and the Son of God." To spread the good news, particularly of his profitable nostrums and medical manhandling, the bunkum medico operated a radio station just south of the Texas border, conveniently beyond the reach of the Federal Radio Commission and its "fuddy-duddy regulations." No matter what all those on-air testimonials claimed, the results were not good. Rejection and infection made Brinkley a mass murderer. His license was revoked and he lost the ball game. The winner was the AMA's redoubtable Dr. Morris Fishbein, associate of notables like Sinclair Lewis, Eugene Debs and H.L. Mencken, and himself a force of nature. With sprightly style, Brock (Indiana Gothic: A Story of Adultery and Murder in an American Family, 1999) exposes the randy rise of a master huckster and his fall at the hands of a relentless quack hunter. It's a fine account of medical fakery, congenital scientific stupidity and the habitual human appetite for being fooled and exploited. Wonderful American social history and lots of fun. (Kirkus Reviews)

The Game of My Life: a true story of challenge, triumph, and growing up autistic by Jason McElwain & Daniel Paisner

Slight but inspiring book about four minutes and 19 seconds in basketball that touched millions of lives. In the weeks following February 15, 2006, you couldn't turn on SportsCenter or a random TV-news magazine without seeing video clips of blonde, slender, smiling high-schooler Jason "J-Mac" McElwain sinking one bucket after another. Basketball-obsessed teenager McElwain, the autistic manager of the Greece Athena Trojans, got his chance to play on the final day of his team's season, with less than five minutes left in the game. Coach Jim Johnson led Jason to the scorer's table, and the sympathetic crowd went nuts. Most everybody in the stands would have been happy if McElwain made even a free throw, but he had bigger goals. He kept hurling up a shot virtually every time he got the ball. And they kept going in—to the tune of 20 points, 18 of which came from three-pointers. Next thing you know, the affable, unflappable Jason is doing the talk-show circuit, charming everyone within viewing range. As an inspirational and family-aid tool, his memoir is pitch-perfect. McElwain lucidly explains how he survived and ultimately thrived with autism, and the interjections by friends and family are properly gushing and moving. (Kirkus Reviews)

Your Inner Fish: a journey into the 3.5 billion-year history of the human body by Neil Shubin

For his first book, Shubin (anatomy, Univ. of Chicago) has written a lively little volume for a general readership on the evolutionary legacy, bequeathed to us by our ancestors, of our bodies. The author is especially qualified to address this topic: an evolutionary developmental biologist with groundbreaking research programs in both paleontology and developmental genetics, Shubin also teaches human anatomy to medical students. One of the main players of the book is Tiktaalik , a 375 million-year-old fossil fish from the Arctic that Shubin and his research team discovered in 2004. This fish, the fish of the book title, had fins but also is the earliest known creature to have a neck and wrists, features usually associated with land vertebrates such as ourselves. Other chapters on the hand, the head, general body plans, the teeth, the sense organs, and various ailments address their evolutionary origins and the evidence of their beginnings within our bodies. This book is a wonder-filled introduction to our evolutionary history. (Library Journal)

The Writing Diet: write yourself right-size by Julia Cameron

Unlike so many diet books, this cheery addition to the self-help shelves wasn’t written by a nutritionist or a fitness pro, but rather by a "creativity expert" who "accidentally stumbled upon a weight-loss secret that works" while teaching a creative "unblocking course." While this might sound like so much snake oil, the optimism and common-sense attitude of author Cameron (The Artist’s Way) are winning. Her system is both simple and inexpensive, promoting exercise, food journaling, and something called "morning pages," which are stream-of-consciousness passages dieters record after getting out of bed: "A day at a time, a page at a time, we become mindful, acutely attuned to our personal feelings." The second half of the book is filled with exercises, some more goofy than practical ("if your museum has a gift shop, buy yourself five postcards glorifying the body type you’ve got"), and stories detailing chronic overeaters paths’ to weight loss success. These stories are sometimes inspiring, sometimes repetitive, but should motivate dieters to give writing a try. (Publisher Weekly)

Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart and Wendy Kromer

WENDY KROMER’S cakes regularly grace the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, where she is a contributing editor, and have also been featured in many other publications and on television. In 2004, Wendy returned to her hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, and opened Wendy Kromer Confections, where she produces wedding and special-event cakes, decorated cookies, and custom-made sugar decorations. (Publisher supplied information)

Ruiz (Building an Affordable House) shares his 30 years of building and remodeling experience, showing how to renovate a house cost effectively. Using before, during, and after photographs; floor plans; and detailed drawings, he discusses planning and work involved in upgrading electrical and plumbing systems, replacing doors and windows, and updating every room of the home, including the exterior, with particular emphasis on bathrooms and kitchens. The thoroughness of Ruiz's information will allow the amateur to decide when to do the actual work and when to hire a professional, where to spend money and where to save. (Library Journal)

Krupp, style expert for the Today Show and former beauty director for Glamour, offers easy-to-follow, tried-and-true fashion advice for women well beyond their 20s. Presented in eye-catching, highly skimmable, fashion-magazine style, here's how to trade in the things that scream old lady (simply OL in the book) for a look that's younger and hipper (Y&H). Krupp is straightforward about the physical shortcomings of older age. Aptly (and sometimes rather brutally) she steers readers away from these OL pitfalls. She is quick to point out that fashion that works on 20-somethings looks ridiculous on older women (i.e., bare midriffs, go-go boots and tattoos). As much about what to do as what not to do, some of the tips are as easy as wearing pink lipstick, a bra that fits properly and hair with bangs. Others take more thought, time and money—like Botox shots, chemical peels and hair extensions. Whether high or low maintenance about their beauty routine, women of a certain age who want to compete in our youth-obsessed culture will treat this easy read with interest. (Publisher Weekly)

700s Art, Music, Sports, Entertainment

The house that George built: with a little help from Irving, Cole, and a crew of about fifty by Wilfrid Sheed.
Sheed (The Boys of Winter; Office Politics) has produced a loving, idiosyncratic look at the classic era of American popular song from the "piano era" of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin to the post-World War II era. In chapters focusing on individual composers, Sheed discusses (among others) Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Richard Rodgers. The essays are delightfully witty, perceptive portraits—certainly not full biographies. Sheed's love for the music shines on every page, yet he can also write in a slightly acerbic vein …it is a valuable commentary on an essential slice of Americana. (Library Journal)

Rostropovich : the musical life of the great cellist, teacher, and legend by Elizabeth Wilson.

London-based cellist Wilson, author of Shostakovich and Jacqueline du Pré, studied with acclaimed cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich (1927–2007) at the Moscow State Conservatory from 1964 to 1971. Noting that the Russian-born Rostropovich dominated the international concert scene for more than half a century, she adds, "For nearly as long as this, he has seemed to me like a personification of the cello itself." Her key source is Rostropovich, as she interviewed him in nine cities across Europe over a span of 10 years. Writing with an exacting precision and exhaustive research, she has succeeded in documenting all aspects of his life as a musician and teacher in meticulous detail, taking the reader on a soaring journey that highlights his days with Britten, du Pré (a voyage of discovery by equal masters, an inspired dialogue between two extraordinary artists), Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Other chapters cover his influence and teaching methods and include an insightful analysis of the metaphysical aspect of sound in his music. With arpeggios of anecdotes punctuating her personal memories, Wilson has composed a symphony of sentences, a definitive portrait of the master cellist certain to be greeted with a crescendo of applause from both book lovers and music lovers. (Publisher Weekly)

In analyzing the development of his stand-up comedy career, Martin considers to have written a biography of someone he used to know. With a preteen passion of becoming a master magician, he escaped domestic turmoil by working at a magic shop in Disneyland. Once he gained confidence in performing live, his eclectic brand of humor was honed at coffee clubs and in local theater productions. Along the way, Martin studied philosophy, which allowed him to observe comedy as social commentary. Within a few years, he stumbled into television writing, working for the controversial Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He was a regular guest on the Tonight Show, but it was his exposure on Saturday Night Live that catapulted Martin to success. In the early 1980s, he decided to leave stand-up comedy and become the film star we know today. Martin has always taken his life and the art of comedy seriously; his wonderful catchphrases (e.g., "Excuuuuse me"; "I'm a wild and crazy guy") will live on forever in our vocabulary. An intelligent biographical assessment. (Library Journal)

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