Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death

Have you noticed how every new nonfiction book has a long involved title? It's always something pithy, followed by a colon and then some elaborately long descriptor. The Emerald Mile: the epic story of the fastest ride in history through the heart of the Grand Canyon. An Invisible Thread: the true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive and an unlikely meeting. Lawrence in Arabia: war, deceit, imperial folly and the making of the modern Middle East. The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death. Poker, Beef Jerky and that's a title! How could you not be intrigued by that?

Purportedly, The Noble Hustle is about Colson Whitehead's quest to compete in the World Series of Poker in 2011. However, it really is an odd mixture of memoir, travelogue, self-reflection and (only-a-little bit) poker manual. You don't need to play poker to appreciate Whitehead's musings and mutterings. Just go along for the ride as Colson, along with his friends, his coach and his personal trainer, navigates the world of high stakes poker.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Serendipity and Small Houses

Serendipity means I run into this book on the New Books Shelf:  Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building And Living Well In Less Than 400 Square Feet.  This came after the conversation at home about building an addition on to our house that would be about 150 sq. feet and I didn't think anyone would ever want to rent that small of a space.  Evidently, I am wrong, and this book inspires one to think about how much space you really need, and how many things you own.  And it all led me down the rabbit hole of tiny houses so that I found Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter - Scaling Back in the Century by Lloyd Kahn.  Which reminded me how much I love all of Lloyd Kahn's previous books on home built shelter and why I had to actually own this book, not just check it out of the library and renew it the maximum number of times.  And it led to the DVD Tiny: A Story About Living Small about building a tiny house in Colorado.  One of the people interviewed in that documentary had a near-death experience and decided to build her own tiny house and live smaller which brings me to the latest book on my reserve list: The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir.  And don't get me started on that 100 Thing Challenge as an offshoot of all this tiny home building.  Or the bicycle tour of Little Free Libraries.  No books on those topics yet, but I'll be ready to reserve them once some authors get busy and write them!  And yes there are reserves on all of these books - just add your name to the list and you can be pleasantly surprised when they arrive.
~More Books

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier

When I lived in Northern California, a friend and I visited another friend who lived in Humboldt County. I remember being warned to look up in the trees before even thinking about smoking outdoors. At that time, the local law enforcement would wait for unsuspecting college kids to light up in the woods and then rappel down from trees to bust them - or so the story went. The other thing I remember about that trip was seeing the absolutely wonderfully crazy Kinetic Grand Championship - formerly known as the Kinetic Sculpture Race. Imagine two to five people racing over 40 miles in a bike sculpture that also needs to be able to move through sand and float on water. For these reasons and more, when I saw Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier by Emily Brady I knew I wanted to read it.

The book centers on four different people: Mare - an older hippie, Crockett - a younger grower, Emma - a student who grew up in Humboldt, and Bob - a deputy sheriff who patrols all of the southern part of the county (usually by himself). Mare is interested in growing marijuana for medicinal use, Crockett wants to make as much money as he can before cannabis is legalized in the state and the black market is killed. Emma is trying to understand why so many of the young people she grew up with have died. And Bob realized a long time ago that the country's War on Drugs was a complete waste of time and money. Each person's stories are interspersed with the others to tell the larger story of what life is like for those who live in Humboldt. Brady spent more than a year living in the county doing research and gaining trust from the inhabitants. This is a compelling book with memorable characters and stories.

- Sarah

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Unreal City

“On Black Mesa we, as a society, are engaged in destroying some of our oldest sustainable Native American cultures so that people in Phoenix and Las Vegas can water their hundreds of golf courses, swim in swimming pools, and pretend they live in a desert miracle.”
Unreal City: Las Vegas, BlackMesa, and the Fate of the West by Judith Nies is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Arizona. She describes how public officials partnered with coal, utility and water industries to monopolize resources under the Hopi/Navajo reservations to fuel development in Las Vegas, Phoenix and California. Described as a ‘centuries-old land dispute’ between two tribes, Nies insists, “It is actually an example of a global phenomenon in which giant transnational corporations have the power to separate indigenous people from their energy-rich lands with the help of host governments.”

The history of corruption uncovered is deep and detailed. She ties together shady partnerships hidden behind the Hoover Dam, Central Arizona Project, and the Navajo Generating Station power plant near Black Mesa – all touted as heroic public works projects created to serve local communities while they were secretly generating huge profits for private corporations.  Read Unreal City  and you will discover a history unwritten in the pages of mainstream textbooks.

~ Betsy

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Deportation of Wopper Barraza

In The Deportation of Wopper Barraza, aimless Wopper Barraza drifts and drinks and, after his fourth drunk driving arrest, is deported to Mexico. His father views it as an opportunity for Wopper to rebuild the family rancho, and dispatches his son with a map and suitcase bulging with appliances and clothing to distribute among the locals. After arriving in La Morada, the luckless deportee discovers a squatter has planted the family fields and built a house on the Barraza land. Soon the squatter's daughter is sleeping in Wopper's bed, and maneuvering him to a political appointment on the platform of modernizing La Morada. But opposition is fierce and talk is treacherous, as Wopper navigates through the hidden agendas and artifice of small town politics. Told through multiple voices - including his pregnant American girlfriend and his parents - Wopper's deportation is a lively journey across multiple borders and cultures.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Letters of Note

Forget the totally dull cover; the promise of the subtitle, "An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience" rings refreshingly true. Spanning a wide range of centuries and cultures, Letters of Note delivers a fascinating mix of politics, art, science, history and human emotion expressed through letters, faxes, postcards, and even a message carved on a layer of birch bark circa 1400 B.C.

Paradoxically - in a culture of instant everything and e-mail ephemera, where letters may be relegated to Paleolithic artifact status - former copywriter Usher (master of the widely popular blog, Letters of Note) proudly admits his love for purchasing, studying, collecting and treasuring this form of expression. These letters are culled from his vast resources. They are often presented in facsimile, and then transcribed so that the penmanship is perfectly intelligible. Sidebars feature background information on the letter writer and recipient, and place the letter within historical context. Writers include both celebrities as well as many unknown correspondents.

A few of my favorites -

A letter from Queen Elizabeth to President Eisenhower, which includes her recipes for drop scones (serves 16.)

Iggy Pop's life-changing advice to a young fan.

Clyde Barrow's praise to Henry Ford - "I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one."

Annie Oakley's letter to President William McKinley as the Spanish-American War loomed, promising "a company of fifty lady sharpshooters at your disposal."

Correspondence between 12 year old Jim Berger and Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright had designed a home for Jim's father and Jim asked Wright to design a dog house for Eddie - his Labrador Retriever. He proposed paying for the architectural plans from money earned from his paper route.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: The Wolf

In a typical good guy/bad guy situation, you hardly expect to find yourself rooting for the organized crime families of the world. In The Wolf by Lorenzo Carcaterra, it's organized crime vs. terrorists. Vincent Marelli, head of US operations and our "hero", is the leader of the organized crime council, a group of international crime bosses. When his wife and daughters are killed in an airplane hijacking, Marelli convenes a meeting of the council to declare war. While there is a personal stake in discovering the perpetrators behind his family's deaths, he is also convinced that the chaos of worldwide terrorism threatens the financial stability of the organized crime empire.

Back and forth go the bad guys and the really bad guys with hardly a single policeman or anti-terror official to be found. It is quite entertaining to see the vast amounts of information Marelli and his gang can dig up with their unlimited funds. There is certainly no red tape and the bureaucracy is of an entirely different nature. The Wolf is a quick and easy read, unique in that the author pits two criminal enterprises against each other. You don't have to care about law enforcement, governments, or regular people. Just embrace la famiglia.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Great Geek Reads

Looking for some fiction that's not just literate, but also 1337? Try these! 

Book CoverReady Player One by Ernest Cline is the great American video game novel. Its plot is basically a cheesy video game plot: will the main character dodge obstacles, evade the nefarious supervillain, escape dungeons, and save (well, okay, meet) the princess? But then its setting is a meta-commentary on video games: the world plays a giant virtual reality game. That's where the schools, jobs, and fun are now, leaving a bleak wasteland of "meatspace" behind. Hidden within this game are Easter eggs and challenges (some of which involve meticulous recreations of classic video games themselves) that the hero has to find and solve. And yes, the audiobook is totally read by Wil Wheaton.

Book Cover
Book CoverYou by Austin Grossman and Codex by Lev Grossman are by pop-culture savvy twin brothers who perfectly capture the rarely-delivered promise of infinite possibility in gaming culture. You draws on years of real-world video game design experience, while Codex boasts the Da Vinci Code-esque appeal of delving into a secret world's mysterious ancient texts.

Book CoverMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan takes Codex and raises it one: what if Google got its hands on one of those ancient mysteries? Throw in some great bookstore-employee anecdotes, references to geek arcana from ancient Apple hardware to Ruby data visualization to typography, and you've got a perfect e-Read.

Book CoverDown and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (also available as a free download on the author's website) takes you on a hilarious and mind-bending adventure in a post-capitalist Disneyworld, where reputation is everything.

Book CoverRedshirts by John Scalzi is fun for Trekk[er|ie]s who always wondered about the inner lives of the semi-interchangeable, frequently disposable "Redshirts." It will also appeal to the better-socialized (I kid, I kid!) who can gloss over the in-jokes for a lightweight sci-fi caper.

And let's throw one more bonus mention to Andy Weir's addictive debut The Martian, which Elizabeth reviewed recently. It's basically Island of the Blue Dolphins meets Gravity. Does it have geek cred, you wonder? Let's just say that an ASCII chart is of pivotal plot importance, and leave it at that.

Are any of your favorites missing? Nerd rants welcome in the comments!

Happy reading,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: Talking to the Dead

Talking to the Dead is the first book in a new series by Harry Bingham.  Fiona Griffiths is a policewoman in Cardiff, Wales.  As the most junior member of her investigative unit, her job is to do what she is told.  Fiona is intelligent, efficient, and intense.  She also has a problem with following orders.

When Janet Mancini, a former prostitute, and her six year old daughter, April, are found murdered in a squalid drug house, Fiona is determined to solve the crime.  Janet has definitely been trying to make a better life for herself and her daughter.  She has a job, a nice apartment and is described as a loving and caring mother. Why were they even at the drug house? Things just do not add up in Fiona’s mind, especially when a credit card belonging to a missing billionaire is found with their bodies.  Although Fiona has been assigned to another case, she ignores orders and investigates the murders. She feels close to little April and wants to solve her murder. After all, Fiona, like April, knows what it is like to be dead.

The heroine in this book is as intriguing as the mystery she solves. Fiona has many secrets and the reader will enjoy the twists and turns in this tale. Talking to the Dead is recommended by the Mystery Book Club at Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Library.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places

“You don’t know jack about heat.” (My patience with northern friends wears thin in the summer when they complain about steamy temperatures). “There’s nothing you can tell me about heat. I live in Tucson-- I wrote the book.

Well, maybe I didn't actually write it—but biologist Bill Streever did. It's called Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places and it’s well worth reading. Streever comes at the subject of heat from every angle you can imagine--and some that you probably can’t--including science, geography, history, physiology, and culture, and he has something intriguing to say about everything. In a style reminiscent of Bill Bryson he moves seamlessly from one hot topic to the next, and I found myself following eagerly. Factoids abound, and they are endlessly fascinating! A hike through Death Valley leads to ruminations on the effects on the human body of heat exhaustion and dehydration (the eyelids and lips disappear, the nose shrinks but the tongue hardens and swells. Don’t leave home without your water bottle). This naturally reminds him of the story of Pedro, who 100 years ago was lost in the deserts of southern Nevada and wandered eight days without water, surviving by chewing on cactus and pulling the stingers off scorpions so he could suck out their moisture.

With an easy narrative voice Streever takes us from peat bog people to Charles Dickens in a coal mine, from firebombs in Dresden to volcanoes in Hawaii, from the invention of matches to the invention of microwaves. It's all a tasty gumbo of science, anecdotes, radical travelogs and Streever's own, personal (and sometimes  jaw-dropping) heat-oriented experiments, like drinking crude oil and  fire walking.

It seems odd that the last word on heat should come from an Alaska resident (Streever lives in Anchorage) but he comes by his interest honestly. His previous book, Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places, was a NYT bestseller.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Michael Moss's absorbing, well-researched book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us will cause you to look at your Lunchables, Oreos, and Kool-Aid in a brand new way. This book doesn't lectures about the value of leafy greens or call for the abolishment of Twinkies. But it does provide fascinating insights into the processed food industry: how companies carefully select the most appealing proportion of salt, sugar, and fat, and then advertise their products to reach their target audience. What makes ice cream so delicious? Why is it nearly impossible to eat just one potato chip? What happens to our bodies and inside our brains when we too frequently indulge in sugary, salty treats? Salt, Sugar, Fat will inspire concerned curiosity about the way the processed food industry has come to monopolize our palettes, and opens up the possibility that there might be a better way to eat.

~Queen of Books

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: The Good Food Revolution

The Seed Library Book Club recently met to discuss Will Allen's The Good Food Revolution. Will Allen is the CEO of Growing Power, a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing healthy food and building stronger communities. Allen's Milwaukee farm is a model of urban food production that inspires people around the world. The Book Club met at the perfect location for the topic - Tucson Village Farm, a working urban farm dedicated to reconnecting young people to healthy food by teaching them how to grow and prepare fresh produce.

The Good Food Revolution is part memoir, part history lesson and part social commentary. Allen sets his family's story in the context of historical events, revealing how experiences and opportunities were shaped by social and political realities. Allen's resume is strangely varied: professional basketball player, salesman, fast food manager, and disco entrepreneur. Over the years, the pull of his agricultural roots proved stronger than any corporate ties. Eventually, Allen dedicates all of his considerable energy to an urban farm. The book raises many issues for discussion, including food justice, health disparities, race relations, and poverty. A reader must be impressed with and inspired by Allen's drive, perseverance and commitment to improve the health of his community.

The next Seed Library Book Club is August 23, 2014 @ St. Gregory's Community Garden. We will read Animal, vegetable, miracle: a year in food by Barbara Kingsolver. You might enjoy previous book club selections including Farm City: the education of an urban farmer by Novella Carpenter and Seed To Seed: a growing revolution to save food by Janisse Ray.

Please check the catalog for many more titles available as a Caboodle for your book club.

~ Susannah

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More Books About Bikes

I try to read a variety of books, but sometimes my brain just gets stuck on a topic and those books just leap to the top of the list.  Of course, it also helped that there was a display of books at the Main Library about bikes for an entire month - oh the joy!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Walter Dean Myers: 1937-2014

Last week, the YA world lost one of its greats, Walter Dean Myers. He wrote poetry and prose. he wrote books about war, about love, about drugs, about growing up African-American in America. Most of all, he wrote books that didn't shy away from difficult or harrowing topics.

Just a few of his over 100 books:
Monster - about a 16-year-old boy on trial for murder
Fallen Angels - Ricky signs up for the Army because he can't afford college. Little does he know that the Vietnam War is ramping up.
Sunrise Over Fallujah - explores the invasion of Iraq from the perspective of another young Army private, Robin, who is the nephew of Ricky from Fallen Angels
What They Found: Love on 145th St - Short stories in verse format pull you into the world of Harlem and all the complex family, friend, and lovers' relationships there.

Myers started publishing in 1968 and was still writing at the time of his death. We will miss him, but we still have his books.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Community Picks

The Community Picks bookshelf is a popular place to find out what other folks in Tucson like to read. It's time to share a few more titles to add to your reserve list!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: The Death of Bees

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell is not about bees, but it is about death. After Marnie (15) and Nelly (12) discover their parents have died, they say good riddance to the drug-addled negligent mother and abusive father who made their lives miserable. The girls bury them in the backyard and hope the social workers will leave them alone. If they can keep their secret until Marnie turns 16, she’ll be old enough to take custody of her sister and they’ll be free.

Interspersed with bits of humor, this dark coming of age story takes place in Glasgow as Marnie and Nelly connect with their gay neighbor Lennie, who is grieving the loss of his partner. The saga unfolds in alternating chapters from each of their perspectives. Lennie assumes the girls’ parents have run off again, as was their tendency, but he starts to get suspicious as time goes on. Their maternal grandfather turns up, as well, and threatens to destroy what little sense of peace the three have finally found.

Marnie starts off as a tough spitfire who grows to accept her own vulnerability, while Nelly—a bit autistic with a Queen’s vernacular—discovers that she needs to step up and be the caregiver sometimes. You can’t help but root for each of them, clever and fierce in their own ways, as they try to forge a path against the cyclical traps of poverty and abuse. 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Swerve

"Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness." The Constitution carries these words, in part, because Thomas Jefferson was influenced by his reading of an ancient Roman classic, "On the Nature of Things." Jefferson owned multiple editions and translations, to which he referred in his correspondence. Before and after him, De Rerum Natura (the original title) influenced powerful thinkers from Galileo to Freud, Darwin to Einstein to Sir Thomas More. Many of the concepts are remarkably modern, and some seem dangerously radical even today.

The Swerve tells two stories. The first is an Indiana Jones-like epic of Poggio Bracciolini, papal secretary and book hunter, who discovered a very old manuscript in a secluded monastery in 1417. He recognized it as De Rerum Natura, one of the great lost classics written by Titus Lucretius Carus around 50 BCE. Poggio Bracciolini's discovery rescued the manuscript, and the newly-invented printing press saw it widely disseminated among the learned. In the end, it changed the world.

This is the second story found inside the covers of The Swerve, "How the World Became Modern." The poem gave voice to the cultural swerve of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Many of its thought-experiments have since been validated by modern science (the existence of atoms) and philosophy.

The book celebrates a universe unfolding with infinite splendor, in the absence of harmful illusions, destructive fantasies and cruel distortions. Reading The Swerve is eye-opening and challenges one's comfortable assumptions."The Nature of Things" carried society through that troubled era when we stepped out of the Dark Ages and into the Age of Reason. Arguably, that conflict continues to this day. The library also carries the very readable Penguin edition of "The Nature of Things" for those interested in further exploration.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The New Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook summer temperatures fuel your appetite for outdoor cuisine, The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook will soon be your go-to source for inspired grilling and barbecue. This volume collects more than 200 recipes from the archives of the New York Times. Included are recipes of notable food writers including Mark Bittman, Craig Claiborne and Florence Fabricant as well as recipes from famous chefs such as Jacques Pepin, Alfred Portale and Susan Spicer. Recipes run the gamut for all food courses beginning with starters, moving on to burgers, pork, lamb and poultry, fresh vegetables, breads and desserts. Wondering if something can be grilled? Chances are, Mark Bittman has it covered (or uncovered) in "101 Fast Recipes for Grilling." Following deserts is a chapter devoted to the essence of great barbecue - marinades, rubs and sauces and a concluding chapter with 20 complete menus.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: Find Momo

One of the great things about working in a library is having ample opportunities to discover great books by accident.  I often find books that I want to read or look at when looking for items to put out on display.  This is how I came across Find Momo by Andrew Knapp.  Momo is a border collie who is in every single picture of this photography book.  In some pictures he is quite easy to find; in others – not so much.  He may be behind a rock, on a roof, or sitting in the middle of a very cluttered room.  He is very good at hiding.

As someone who likes puzzles and never quite grew out of Where’s Waldo, this is the perfect book for me. While my actual reading time is quite limited these days, it’s nice to check out a book that I can open to any page to give my brain some quick fun.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: Suspect

Sometimes reading fiction helps one figure out the mysteries of life.  After reading Suspect by Robert Crais, I now know why our dog Shiba happily pushes me out the door every morning when I go to work but whines pitifully when my husband leaves. I am not a member of Shiba's pack!

This is the story of Maggie and Scott.  They have been matched to become partners in the LAPD K-9 Platoon.  Maggie and Scott have a lot in common.  Maggie, a military working dog, lost her handler in a roadside attack in Afghanistan.  Maggie was wounded in the attack and was returned to the United States to heal. Scott, a young policeman, is also healing. He was wounded and his partner, Stephanie, was killed when they unexpectedly came upon what appeared to be a contract killing. That crime has not been solved.

Maggie and Scott have a lot to learn.  They must heal both emotionally and physically.  They must learn to trust.  They must become pack.  As pack, they can face the future. Together, Maggie and Scott can solve the crime.

I have always enjoyed Robert Crais's books because of the action and suspense.  I especially enjoyed Suspect because of Maggie.  Crais manages to make her a compelling character without anthropomorphism. The information about K-9 and military dog training was fascinating.   If you would like to learn even more about military dogs, read the article, "The Dogs of War", in the June 2014 issue of National Geographic Magazine.  Pack is everything!

~Gilby G

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Book Review: The Wives of Los Alamos

“We’re moving to the desert,” their physicist husbands told them. Explanations were thin on the ground, but still the young wives said goodbye to friends, offered vague reasons to parents they would not be permitted to see again for years, and they traveled--from cities and university towns, and from as far away as Europe--to the stark New Mexico outpost that was their new home. Some of them were pregnant and most had children in tow, and they would raise their young families in unfinished houses surrounded by barbed wire, where the water ran cold when it ran at all. Their clothes were all wrong, their heels were too high, and they were not prepared for the harsh turn into isolation and military secrecy that their lives had taken. Even less were they prepared for the horrendous truth of their husbands’ mysterious “project” when it was a secret no longer.

 The Wives of Los Alamos is the mesmerizing fictional account of how the wives adapted, survived and thrived—or not—in a largely unknown episode of  the second World War. Fans of Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic will enjoy the choral nature of TaraShea Nesbit’s narrative.  Delivered in the first person plural voice it is as much poetry as it is prose, and it speaks eloquently to the shared experience of women in a community born of hardship and fueled by determination. 


Monday, April 28, 2014

Looking for the next Gone Girl?

Book Cover

If you liked Gone Girl, you'll have to check out Peter Swanson's first novel The Girl with a Clock for a Heart. Judging by the reserve list, many of us loved Gone Girl and then told all of our friends that they had to read it too. The Girl with a Clock for a Heart has the same sort of edgy suspense, with lots of plot twists that will keep you compulsively turning the pages late into the night.

George Foss is a forty-year old man living an orderly, if rather uneventful, life. His one true love, Liana Decter, was his first girlfriend in college. After only one semester, she disappears under a cloud of suspicion and with a warrant out for her arrest. Twenty years later, Liana turns up in George's local bar and says she needs a favor. Instead of calling the police, George is drawn into Liana's complicated circumstances. Swanson skillfully steers the reader back and forth in time between their college days and the current action, keeping the reader speculating until the very last page.



Monday, April 21, 2014

How To Live Well Without Owning A Car

In case you weren't aware, April is Bike Fest month and there have been all kinds of fun bike oriented events happening around town - including a Stevie Nicks ride where folks dressed up and danced to her music at various locations. This week is Pedal The Pueblo with even more opportunities to bike around, win prizes and generally enjoy Tucson on two wheels. Which is a roundabout way of bringing me to this book I recently found on the shelf: How To Live Well Without Owning A Car by Chris Balish.
I will give the caveat that some of the information is a bit dated, as this book was published in 2006.  But the sentiment still holds true. There are some huge financial reasons to go car-free or car-lite, let alone the environmental and health benefits. I really enjoyed all the little snippets from folks across the country talking about how much they have saved -many folks bought houses instead of cars with their savings, and will be mortgage free at very young ages, or will be able to retire in their 50's, or are able to live quite well only working part-time. There are also a wide range of folks who are car free - it's not just young students, but middle-aged IT folks and management consultants and scientific copy editors. And I like the idea of going on group shopping trips with friends who do have a car - you get the opportunity to buy items in bulk, or larger objects, while visiting with your friend - win-win! After reading this book I'm not sure I'm fully ready to go car-free, but it definitely gave some ideas to ponder.  Check out to find fun bike events for the next few weeks!
~More Books

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Community Book Picks

As I thought, the Community Picks display at the Main Library is constantly needing to be restocked. It seems that everyone loves to see what other Tucsonans are reading. It's time to share a few more titles with you from the Community Picks Bookshelf and to remind you to please send your picks in - it's exciting to see the book you suggested on display! Respond to this post or send an e-mail to with your first name, your favorite title, author and a few words or a sentence explaining why you love this book (or books, send a bunch). As long as the book is available in the library we'll add it to the ever-evolving display. And if you're a pencil and paper person, we do have forms available to fill out as well.
Let's start with Patrick's suggestion of Peter Heller's The Dog Stars. A post-apocalpytic story with loss and reconnection, a pilot and his dog - how can you resist? Next, Margaret suggests The Heist by Janet Evanovich. Think James Bond in heels and if that floats your boat you are set to enjoy a new series. And we'll end with an anonymous pick that has been remarkably popular, Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England - I can't keep this one on the shelf.  It immediately gets checked out whenever I get a copy of it out there.  
Let us know what you enjoy reading and grab a few minutes of fame!
~More Books


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: All Joy and No Fun

Before venturing into librarianship, I worked with young kids in a Montessori school and studied child development. I'm still fascinated with research and insight into the workings of these demanding yet lovable little creatures. While you wait for the highly recommended All joy and no fun: the paradox of modern parenthood by Jennifer Senior (which explains how children influence their parents), you might consider a few other eye-opening books. 

Nurtureshock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman challenges conventional wisdom by revealing the results of studies showing why siblings bicker, why too much praise can backfire, and why sleepy kids simply can’t learn very well.

Bringing up bébé by Pamela Druckerman exposes the wisdom of French parenting. Their newborns sleep through the night! Their kids sit patiently in restaurants! And they somehow avoid all the guilt inducing reflexes that American parents seem to stew on. A former Wall Street Journal reporter who ends up raising her kids in Paris, Druckerman shares the keys to relaxed parenting that still yields boisterous, curious and creative kids (who don’t interrupt your conversations!)

My husband enjoyed Homegame: an accidental guide to fatherhood by Michael Lewis (author of The Big Short, Moneyball and The Blind Side). This guy can tackle any subject. The book is riddled with humorous anecdotes about the disparities between real life experiences and the social expectations dads face today. You will laugh. Out loud. Uncontrollably.

~ Betsy

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Burial Rites Burial Rites, Agnes Magnusdottir's story begins in her Icelandic prison cell and ends on a frigid January morning in 1830 - her head impaled on a stake and her body buried in an unmarked grave as a warning to all harboring ill-intent. The trial had been swift; Agnes, a neighboring farmhand and his fiancee were found guilty of murder. The punishment severe; Agnes and the farmhand were sentenced to death, the other woman to life imprisonment. But what drove Agnes, a 34 year old servant and field hand documented as having an "excellent intellect, and strong knowledge and understanding of Christianity," to assist in the brutal stabbing death of her employer?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lost Cat

Lost Cat : A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology celebrates the power of curiosity in felines and their human companions with style, wit and wisdom.

A long-time resident of San Francisco, author Caroline Paul is at home 24/7 slowly recuperating from injuries sustained in a plane crash with kitties Tibby and Fibby supervising her convalescence in their own distinctive styles. But suddenly Tibby disappears, only to return five weeks later looking definitely a bit plumper, silkier, and even a bit sleeker. The vet confirmed a full 1/2 lb. of extra avoirdupois (or in  Tibby's view, avoirdupaws.) Where had he been? And would he leave again for another grand sojourn? Caroline was desperate to find out, so "Operation Chasing Tibby" commenced. Weeks later, using both tried and true methods and brand new technologies - fliers, a noted tied to his collar, a pet psychic, an animal communications class, a GPS tracking device and a special CATCAM - Caroline had her answers.

The short text is packed with ink and wash drawings by Caroline's partner, Wendy McNaughton. They are fantastic, hilarious and whimsical - the purrfect illustrative catnip to the narrative.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Earthly Delights

Book Cover

Corinna Chapman, heroine of Kerry Greenwood's Earthly Delights, thought that she had left life’s complications far behind her when she packed her suitcase. After exiting her high-stress accounting job and her toxic relationship to pursue the dream of starting her own bakery, all Corinna wanted was a simpler way of living centered on building a small business and creating tasty treats. The reality isn’t quite that simple.

Before she knows it, she finds herself transplanted to a highly irregular apartment building in a gritty Melbourne district with tenants including a professor, two aspiring daytime TV actresses, a witch for hire, and a gardener. She’s also been receiving mysterious, threatening letters in the mail at her new address. As if this chaos were not enough, all kinds of unusual people have started to pop up at the bakery--one of them nearly dies outside the shop, and another (more handsome) stranger turns out to be a private investigator. Are any of these odd developments related, and if so, how?

Readers will find that Corinna’s new life contains all the ingredients for adventure, danger, and fun. This is a great, light read with plenty of mystery, romance, and--most importantly--recipes. Especially recommended for fans of Greenwood’s Miss Fisher Murder Mystery series; while the Corinna Chapman mysteries do have a contemporary setting, the same wry wit and sharp humor carry over without missing a beat.