Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Books

Library Journal: This book proves once again that Robinson's (2312; Antarctica; The Years of Salt ane Rice; "Mars" trilogy) fascination with the human condition and mankind's journey transcends easy genre labels. This journey begins in undated prehistory when ice still covers the land to the north. Loon begins his wander naked and alone in the cold fourth month of the year at the new moon. By surviving and returning to camp in style at the full moon he becomes a man of the Wolf pack. His apprenticeship to Thorn, the pack's shaman, also intensifies. At the great annual gathering of many packs, Loon meets and falls in love with Elga. The following summer, after the two have married, Elga is kidnapped by a clan of northerners who live between the sea and ice. There is a natural cadence to these lives that is reflected in Robinson's prose, whether describing grand adventures, intimate moments, or the work of the pack through the wheel of the seasons. VERDICT Despite all his previous accolades, this may be Robinson's best work to date, focused so sharply as it is on the simplest way of being human. His fans as well as fans of Jean Auel or those who simply enjoy a great wilderness tale will be delighted.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

The American master's first novel since Winter's Bone (2006) tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations.

Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident?

Alma thinks she knows the answer-and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair. Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long-standing rift with her own son. By telling her story to her grandson, she finally gains some solace-and peace for her sister. He is advised to "Tell it. Go on and tell it"-tell the story of his family's struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.

"Author of the bestseller Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism, Cart applies his considerable expertise as columnist and critic for Booklist to identifying 200 exceptional adult books that will satisfy a variety of young adults' recreational reading tastes. Reflecting the notoriously choosy reading interests of today's older young adults, this useful book:

  • Features only the best of the best - no cheesy star bios or chick lit lite here
  • Covers a wide range of genres, from graphic novels and real-life adventures to romance and speculative fiction
  • Includes numerous read-alikes and related-titles lists, making it a great tool for both collection development and readers' advisory
  • Makes finding a great book easy, with multiple indexes and thorough annotation Cart's roundup of high-quality titles, put together with insight and obvious affection, spotlights hundreds of great books for a hard-to-satisfy audience."

In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of insects has taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket’s wings to this unfathomable and exact seventeen-year beat.

In listening to cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Music is the first book to consider the radical notion that we humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved. Completing the trilogy he began with Why Birds Sing and Thousand Mile Song, David Rothenberg explores a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound—the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species. Bug Music continues Rothenberg’s in-depth research and spirited writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores insect influences in classical and modern music, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide.

This engaging and thought-provoking book challenges our understanding of our place in nature and our relationship to the creatures surrounding us, and makes a passionate case for the interconnectedness of species.

In 2012, voters in Colorado shocked the political establishment by making the use of marijuana legal for anyone in the state twenty-one years of age or older. In the wake of that unprecedented victory, nationally recognized marijuana-policy experts Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert revisit the "Marijuana Is Safer" message that contributed to the campaign’s success--as the first edition of this book predicted it would in 2009. In this updated and expanded edition, the authors include a new chapter on the victory in Colorado and updates on a growing mountain of research that supports their position.

Through an objective examination of marijuana and alcohol, and the laws and social practices that steer people toward the latter, the authors pose a simple yet rarely considered question: Why do we punish adults who make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol? For those unfamiliar with marijuana, Marijuana Is Safer provides an introduction to the cannabis plant and its effects on the user, and debunks some of the government's most frequently cited marijuana myths.

More importantly, for the millions of Americans who want to advance the cause of marijuana policy reform--or simply want to defend their own personal, safer choice--this book provides the talking points and detailed information needed to make persuasive arguments to friends, family, coworkers, elected officials and, of course, future voters.

Gloria Swanson defined what it meant to be a movie star, but her unforgettable role in Sunset Boulevard overshadowed the true story of her life. Now Stephen Michael Shearer sets the record straight in the first in-depth biography of the film legend.

Swanson was Hollywood’s first successful glamour queen. Her stardom as an actress in the mid-1920s earned her millions of fans and millions of dollars. Realizing her box office value early in her career, she took control of her life. Soon she was not only producing her own films, she was choosing her scripts, selecting her leading men, casting her projects, creating her own fashions, guiding her publicity, and living an extravagant and sometimes extraordinary celebrity lifestyle.

She also collected a long line of lovers (including Joseph P. Kennedy) and married men of her choosing (including a French marquis, thus becoming America’s first member of “nobility”). As a devoted and loving mother, she managed a quiet success of raising three children. Perhaps most important, as a keen businesswoman she also was able to extend her career more than sixty years.

Her astounding comeback as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard catapulted her back into the limelight. But it also created her long-misunderstood persona, one that this meticulous biography shows was only part of this independent and unparalleled woman.

What does it mean to live against a wall? In this ambitious first person narrative, Marcello Di Cintio travels to the world’s most disputed edges to meet the people who live alongside the razor wire, concrete, and steel and how the structure of the walls has influenced their lives. Di Cintio shares tea with Saharan refugees on the wrong side of Morocco’s desert wall. He meets with illegal Punjabi migrants who have circumvented the fencing around the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. He visits fenced-in villages in northeast India, walks Arizona’s migrant trails, and travels to Palestinian villages to witness the protests against Israel’s security barrier.

From Native American reservations on the U.S.-Mexico border and the “Great Wall of Montreal” to Cyprus’s divided capital and the Peace Lines of Belfast, Di Cintio seeks to understand what these structures say about those who build them and how they influence the cultures that they pen in. He learns that while every wall fails to accomplish what it was erected to achieve – the walls are never solutions – each wall succeeds at something else. Some walls define Us from Them with Medieval clarity. Some walls encourage fear or feed hate. Some walls steal. Others kill. And every wall inspires its own subversion, either by the infiltrators who dare to go over, under, or around them, or by the artists who transform them.

In recent years neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to "sleep on a problem," today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings,and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep, neuroscientist Penny Lewis explores the latest research into the nighttime brain to understand the real benefits of sleep. She shows how, while our body rests, the brain practices tasks it learned during the day, replays traumatic events to mollify them, and forges connections between distant concepts. By understanding the roles that the nocturnal brain plays in our waking life, we can improve the relationship between the two, and even boost creativity and become smarter. This is a fascinating exploration of one of the most surprising corners of neuroscience that shows how science may be able to harness the power of sleep to improve learning, health, and more.

6 comments:

Jon DeepBlue said...

Very interesting selection. I would read all of them... if only I had time!

When I go the the library, I still take out tons of books and documents only to read 20-30% of them before I have to return them!

:)
Hugs
Jon

whkattk said...

There are some interesting books in this selection. I may be spending some more money to add them to my already over-taxed bookshelves!

becca said...

these all look and sound good

Writer said...

I'm right with you, Jon. Which is why I've put a limit to how much I allow myself to checkout. :)

Writer said...

whkattk, instead of buying books, buy a new bookshelf. And then buy more books! :)

Writer said...

I thought so too, becca. :)