Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tempting Titles - Nonfiction - 800s - 900s

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.

800s Literature

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard

Bayard (Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?), a professor of French literature at the University of Paris openly (if not entirely convincingly), confesses to having neither the time nor the inclination to do much reading. Yet he is all too aware that in his profession, one is often expected to have read the literature one is teaching or talking about with colleagues. In this extended essay, a bestseller in France, Bayard argues that the act of reading is less important than knowing the social and intellectual context of a book. He is so convinced of this that he claims there is great enjoyment—and even enlightenment—in discussing a book one has not read with someone equally unfamiliar with it. Despite appearances, Bayard's volume is not a self-help book or a bluffer's guide to great literature, but instead serves to warn people not to try to impress others with how much they have read. The truth is, most of the time they're fibbing and there are many gradations between total reading and complete nonreading, he declares, including hearing about a book, skimming it and forgetting its contents. A little too much impenetrable psychoanalytic jargon sometimes threatens to overwhelm Bayard's argument, but Bayard's at least partly tongue-in-cheek argument about not reading is well worth reading. (Publisher Weekly)

Good Dog, Stay by Anna Quindlen

"The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed," writes Pulitzer-winning author Quindlen about her beloved black Labrador retriever, Beau. With her trademark wisdom and humor, Quindlen reflects on how her life has unfolded in tandem with Beau's, and on the lessons she's learned by watching him: to roll with the punches, to take things as they come, to measure herself not in terms of the past or the future but of the present. Heartening and bittersweet, this book honors the life of a cherished and loyal friend and offers listeners a valuable lesson: Sometimes an old dog can teach a person new tricks.-- (Publisher description)

"Four woofs for Quindlen! But a dog doesn't have to be old to teach. If only more humans would understand us." This from Taz, who, somewhat embarrassingly, insists he just reads the following for the articles.

Howl: a collection of the best contemporary dog wit from the editors of The Bark.

The second literary salvo from The Bark magazine (after Dog is my Co-Pilot), a mostly-miss compendium of dog-related scribblings, opens with a spectacularly unfunny standup routine performed by a dog named Gracie. ... Those with fortitude will be rewarded, albeit sparingly. Marc Spitz's essay on how his dog changed his life, riddled with pop culture references and self-deprecating humor, is truly a joy. Kinky Friedman's all-too-short piece on the trials and tribulations of sharing a bed with animals will have dog lovers smiling and nodding in recognition, and Nancy Cohen's "The Seven Month Itch" masterfully incorporates the multitude of nicknames owners have for their companions in a story about the search for the cure for a rash. Unfortunately, the gems are all too few. (Publisher Weekly)

900s Geography, Travel, History

The Smart Traveler’s Passport: 399 tips from seasoned travelers by Erik Torkells

A nifty, chunky, pocket-sized guide, offers a wealth of travel-related tips from the silly to the sublime. Organized into nine chapters that cover trip planning, packing, travel-time, safety, lodging, transport, spending, sightseeing and connecting with fellow travelers and family. From suggestions for using Ziploc bags to an unusual use for a Frisbee both savvy and novice travelers will find all sorts of information that will help ease the discomforts—and enhance the delights—of any journey. (BookPage Reviews)

A Man’s Life: dispatches from dangerous places by Mark Jenkins

Jenkins, widely-published travel writer and author (The Hard Way: Stories of Danger, Survival, and the Soul of Adventure), is always up for a challenge, wherever it may be. He’s been almost everywhere, frequently at his peril, and these captivating essays take readers up the most forbidding mountains, through ice caves in Greenland, along India’s "road of blood," and into Afghani war zones, proving Jenkin’s courage, conviction and humanity along the way. (Book jacket)

The Geography of Bliss: one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world by Eric Weiner

Part travelogue, part personal-discovery memoir and all sustained delight, this wise, witty ramble reads like Paul Theroux channeling David Sedaris on a particularly good day. Intent on finding the happiest places on Earth and learning what makes them that way, globe-trotting NPR correspondent Weiner discovers some surprises. ... The author's pronouncements on the nature of happiness are not exactly world-shaking: It depends on cooperative relationships and community; it has spiritual value; it can be attained as a conscious choice. But the author's conclusions are hardly the point—as with all great journeys, getting there is at least half the fun. (Kirkus Reviews)

Autonauts of the Cosmoroute: a timeless voyage from Paris to Marseille by Julio Cortazar

New translation of a whimsical 20th-century travelogue. In 1982, eminent Argentinean writer Cortázar embarked on a 33-day journey with wife Dunlop. Their plan? To travel the autoroute from Paris to Marseille, a distance usually covered in a single day, in a beloved red VW camper van nicknamed Fafner, or "Dragon." They vowed not to leave the autoroute until they reached their destination; to take advantage of motels, restaurants or gas station shops en route; and to stop twice a day, camping at every second rest stop. The couple were anti-explorers in a mundane landscape, slowing down a journey that had been modernized and sped up. What emerges from their trip is a playful, surprisingly intimate account of a marriage in all its ranging vicissitudes. (Kirkus Reviews)

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison

In this fun, fearless memoir, Allison shares his experiences taking "guests" through the African wilderness, trips that often don’t go quite as planned-due especially to the unpredictability of the animals around them. Allison is a skilled, funny and vibrant storyteller, dishing arcane bits of wisdom. (Book jacket)

Slicing the Silence: voyaging to Antarctica by Tom Griffiths

As the climate changes and polar ice caps shrink dramatically, author and environmental historian Griffiths provides essential background for understanding how we reached the current state of meltdown. Griffiths weaves journal entries from his own voyage to Australia's Antarctic stations in 2002–2003 with extended chapters on the history of human exploration in Antarctica. (Publishers Weekly) Tags: travel, South Pole, ecological adventure

Alexander the Great Failure: the collapse of the Macedonian Empire by John D. Grainger

A low-key, authoritative look at the factors that ushered Alexander the Great to power, then brought his empire crashing down. (Kirkus Reviews)

Byzantium: the surprising life of a medieval empire by Judith Herrin

Drawing on letters, journals and other primary documents from both political figures and ordinary citizens, Herrin splendidly recreates an empire whose religious art, educational curriculum, tax and legal systems, and coronation rituals preserved the best of the empire’s pre-Christian Greek past while at the same time passing along advances to the rest of the world. Herrin’s history is hands-down the finest introduction to Byzantium and its continuing significance for world history. (Publishers Weekly)

Lincoln and Douglas: the debates that defined America by Allen C. Guelzo

Guelzo gives us an astute, gracefully written account of the celebrated Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858. These seven debates between two powerful attorneys and statesmen, Abraham Lincoln and Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, starkly defined the stakes between sharply different positions on slavery and union on the eve of civil war and offered examples of serious, deeply reasoned exchanges of views rarely seen in American politics. (Publishers Weekly)

America 1908: the dawn of flight, the race to the pole, the invention of the Model T, and the making of a modern nation by Jim Rasenberger

Nearly one century ago, a year full of inspiring, thrilling, sad and sordid events left Americans eyeing the future with a remarkable optimism. Rasenberger demonstrated a knack for capturing the zeitgeist in a nation determined to grow, and his unique talent is on display again in his take on a year for which he makes a compelling case: More than any other year in the 20th-century's initial decade, 1908 portended America's destiny. (Kirkus Reviews)

The Teapot Dome Scandal: how big oil bought the Harding White House and tried to steal the country by Laton McCartney

A probing study of a scandal that spread even deeper than the standard histories claim—and one that has plenty of lessons for today. (Kirkus Reviews)

Forgotten Continent: the battle for Latin America’s soul by Michael Reid

The forgotten continent -- The Latin American conundrum -- The seed of democracy in the land of the caudillo -- Cold War and revolution : the United States and the left reject democracy -- Failed reformers, debt-ridden dictators : the right rejects democracy -- The rise and fall of the Washington consensus -- The populist challenge -- The reformist response -- Changing societies -- Evolving states -- The stubborn resilience of flawed democracies -- The loneliness of Latin America (Table of Contents) ... A vivid, immediate, and informed account of a dynamic continent and its struggle to compete in a globalized world. (Book jacket)

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