|The August 2010 Staff Picks can also be viewed or printed as a PDF
Staff Picks August 2010 (580KB)
Hard to believe that in the age of Facebook, cell phones, and e-readers, we are lucky enough to have pockets of the earth's surface that still possess a significant degree of raw natural madness and magic. The Tiger, A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, is a book to grow on for sure. Not just a book about a Tiger gone rogue, not just a book about our human collision course with nature - this is one of those books that raises an entire sidebar of philosophical questions about our precious ecological systems and how our interpretations, our reactions, are so very critical now. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker
Jaws with claws and an unnerving penchant for settling old scores. A small village in a remote part of Russia is terrorized by a rogue, man-eating Amir tiger. A fascinating mixture of history and sociology woven around the hunt for the animal. You will never look at a tiger in quite the same way again. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
|Tour de Lance: The Extraordinary Story of Cycling's Most Controversial Champion by Bill Strickland. In 2009, 37 year old Lance Armstrong decided to return from retirement after a multi-year absence from his prior seven year dominance of the Tour de France. Besides the interesting snippets of backstory- Strickland has been around Lance and the inner working of the upper levels of competitive cycling for years- the real fascination is watching one of the dominant figures of sport adapting to the new realities of his older body as he tackles- with a staggering degree of success- his epically challenging "come back Tour". ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine||Ethan Allen & the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Richard C. Smith. Concise yet comprehensive. Dozens of illustrations, photos, and maps. Smith has produced a book about the stunning May 1775 capture of the "Gibraltar of the North" that will appeal to local and visiting history buffs. A delightful combination of history and guide book. ~ Reviewed by Bill Lewis||The Joy of Keeping a Root Cellar: Canning, Freezing, Drying, Smoking and Preserving the Harvest by Jennifer Megyesi. Is your garden overflowing? Are you tempted by the abundance of vegetables at local farmer's markets? Here's a way to enjoy fresh produce all year, with complete instructions for building and maintaining a place to store it. Now's the time to begin. ~ Louise Jones|
|Zoo Story by Thomas French. What is the real purpose of zoos and are we really doing the best we can to preserve the species in them? The answers are as complex as the animals and keepers themselves. French explores these issues in this emotional, journalistic story. ~ Reviewed by Krysta Piccoli||The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America by Toby Lester is the story behind the first map – in 1507 – that identified the New World as America. Lester shows how maps reveal a civilization's perception of itself. Engrossing, readable, exciting, fastidiously researched. ~ Louise Jones||Who Is Mark Twain? edited by Robert Hirst. Hirst, general editor of the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley, has selected 24 previously unpublished essays, stories and sketches by the American master. Witty, biting and as relevant today as when Twain wrote them. ~ Louise Jones|
|Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America by Christina Snyder. Humans have been enslaving other humans throughout history and this fascinating new study of captivity practices among southern Native Americans is both enlightening and important on many levels. Snyder traces the way Indian slavery changed over a 1,000-year period from the early Mississippian Period through the Age of Jackson. A remarkable, thought provoking book. ~ Bill Lewis||Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson. This book is inspiring, funny, down to earth. Plus it's a great read and good information for environmentalists or just people curious where to start, about how little changes can make a big difference, not just to the Earth, but to your entire life. ~ Krysta Piccoli||
OLD FAVORITESCooper's Creek: Tragedy and Adventure in the Australian Outback by Alan Moorehead. A new edition of Moorehead's splendid account of the 1860 expedition into the unexplored wilds of Australia's unmapped interior. ~ Louise Jones
|Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between by Theresa Brown, RN. Former Tufts writing professor Brown shares experiences, stories and insights from her first year as a hospital oncology nurse. Riveting. ~ Cynthia Richards||Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System by Roberto Saviano, translated by Virginia Jewiss. A chilling, riveting look at the brutal crime networks in Naples, where control of the transportation of art, clothes, drugs and toxic waste disposal have a major effect on the global economy. Saviano is a topnotch investigative reporter. ~ Sarah Knight|
|Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch. An undeniable classic. Jon Clinch has somehow found a way to infuse his words with DNA and create real living and breathing characters that will stay with you long after you close this evocative and incredibly insightful novel. ~ Reviewed by Erik Barnum||The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt. As a new hardcover,
this was a favorite of several of our booksellers, among them Karen
Frank: A marvelous thirst quencher for anyone who is feeling
deprived of "High Victoriana." The story and characters share a
richness and artistry which makes one wistful for the relevance of
"truth and beauty" to everyday life of this period.
A masterpiece! This is a luscious, brilliant, intelligent saga about family, friendship and survival, as well as testing the boundaries of society in a time of great cultural change. ~ Reviewed by Liz Barnum
|City of Veils by Zoë Ferraris. In the author's second engrossing novel set in Saudi Arabia, the body of an iconoclastic young Saudi woman is found and the investigation into her murder reveals the religious and cultural barriers that separate the sexes in the modern Arab world. ~ Louise Jones||The Debba by Avner Mandelman. David Starkman returns to Israel from Canada to solve the murder of his father, who has left an unusual request - that David put on a performance of The Debba, a play that caused havoc among both Jews and Arabs years ago. Intriguing, well written, absorbing. ~ Sarah Knight||The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. Another staff favorite in hard cover, this book is the inner monologue of the main character and narrator, Paul Chowder. Almost nothing happens. The main focus is poetry. No thanks, right? I like books where stuff happens. I don't do much poetry. And yet - I laughed until I cried. ~ Stan Hynds|
|Layover in Dubai by Dan Fesperman. On a stopover in Dubai, an American businessman's associate is murdered. Soon Russian mobsters, corrupt policemen and other corporate types are after him. What's going on? Fast paced fun read in an exotic locale, which makes for a great beach book. ~ Sarah Knight||Wild Punch by Creston Lea. You don't read these stories, you experience them. They're tough. They're understated. They're perceptive. They're kind. They'll stay with you like your own memories. ~ Emelia Burditt||BodyWorld by Dash Shaw. Shaw is one of the edgiest cartoonists working right now. His latest magnum opus is a head-frying trip that reads like Philip K. Dick writing an Archie comic. Tune in and turn on! ~ Charles Bottomley|
Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco. Syjuco's prizewinning debut is a literary mystery set in his native Philippines. Searching for his mentor's final manuscript, a young writer uncovers his country's messy, modern soul. ~ Charles Bottomley
Kassandra and the Wolf by Margarita Karapanou. This short novel is a hypnotically disturbing collection of 56 vignettes told from the perspective of a young girl, whose narrative pushes the boundaries between fantasy and reality. It inhabits a world of self-imposed silence, prowling the darkest corners of human experience. ~ Cheryl Cornwall.
Blind Justice and Murder in Grub Street by Bruce Alexander. Reissues of the first two of the late Alexander's outstanding series set in London in the 1760s, featuring a real historical figure: the blind justice Sir Henry Fielding, founder of the Bow Street Runners police squad – and brother of the novelist Henry Fielding. ~ Louise Jones
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