Staff Picks - 2012 July

The July 2012 Staff Picks can also be viewed or printed as a PDF
Staff Picks July 2012 (530KB)
Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks & the Hidden Powers Of the Mind by Alex Stone. Stone, a writer, editor, physicist and - magician - reveals the hidden world of magic and magicians in this entertaining, provocative book. He writes about his training as a sleight-of-hand artist and also the impact of magic on psychology, math, neuroscience and physics. A terrific read! ~ Louise Jones

This engrossing book delves into the fascinating and secret (and sometimes silly) world of the professional magician, but really catches fire when it talks about the nature of perception and how these prestidigitators are able to pull the wool over our eyes by literally controlling our minds. ~ Erik Barnum
An Unmarked GraveAn Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd. WWI nurse Bess Crawford realizes that a body awaiting burial was murdered, not a victim of the Spanish flu or battle wounds. Her investigation takes her from the battlefields of France to the British countryside, putting herself and those she holds dear in danger. ~ Sarah Teunissen That Deadman DanceThat Deadman Dance by Kim Scott. Scott brings the unspoilt wilds of 19th century Western Australia to life in this brilliant historical novel about the first contact between white settlers and Aborigines - as seen through the eyes of a young boy. ~ Charles Bottomley Ed the Happy ClownEd the Happy Clown by Chester Brown. Vampires, pygmies and fecal matter - the ghastly reek of 1980s underground comix lives again in this scatological early opus from the celebrated cartoonist behind Louis Riel and Paying for It. ~ Charles Bottomley
The Neruda CaseThe Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero, translated by Carolina de Robertis. A stylish mystery in which a young private detective is sent on a case, which takes him around the world. His client is the famous poet and hero of Chile, Pablo Neruda. A delightful and enjoyable read, filled with intrigue, glamorous characters and exotic places. ~ Sarah Knight
Rules of CivilityRules of Civility by Amor Towles. The brilliant atmosphere of 1930's New York City is the powerful setting for this grand story. Great original characters, with their unique agendas, weave and bob through the neighborhoods of Manhattan and through intricate and intertwining relationships. A splendid, smart and intensely satisfying read. ~ Karen Frank
With My BodyWith My Body by Nikki Gemmell. A beautiful account of an unnamed Australian mother's desire to reclaim her autonomy and sexuality in the midst of domesticity, carpooling and PTA meetings. The recollection of her first love is empowering, heart wrenching and ultimately satisfying. I absolutely love this book. ~ Jess Krawczyk
The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and DeathMansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore. Perceptive, smooth survey of evolving American attitudes about birth, life and death during 150 years of immense scientific advancement - and how they became enmeshed with politics. As usual Lepore delivers stimulating insights and her writing sparkles. ~ Bill Lewis Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy CityJerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle. Israel without hysterics! These wonderful cartoons from a year spent in the Holy City are beautifully observed. A thoughtful, memorable journey always alive to the humans behind the issues. ~ Charles Bottomley Memoirs of a RevolutionaryMemoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge . Serge witnessed the curdling of the Russian Revolution from the inside - but never lost his own belief in freedom and equality. A powerful, vivid account from the 20th century's ground zero. ~ Charles Bottomley
CronkiteCronkite by Douglas Brinkley. Much more than a tell-all about an insatiably curious college dropout who outworked nearly everyone and achieved great success. It's also a chronicle of a century of tumultuous change as reported by a man with a fine sense of what was important - and the difference between right and wrong. ~ Bill Lewis Man of WarMan of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment by Charlie Schroeder. Appalled by his lack of historical knowledge, Schroeder spent a year educating himself by becoming a reenactor, from the Roman Legion to Vietnam. His adventures are both laugh out loud funny, at times sobering, but always a delight. ~ Sarah Teunissen Slaughter on a Snowy MornSlaughter On a Snowy Morn by Colin Evans. An ambitious district attorney sees a grisly double murder as his ticket to bigger things. Small matter, at least to him, that the man awaiting execution for the crime in Sing Sing is innocent. This is a gripping, true-life story of justice thwarted and betrayed. ~ Alden Graves
Into Dust and FireInto Dust And Fire: Five Young Americans Who Were First to Fight the Nazi Army by Rachel Cox. The World War II generation is fast disappearing and each day more stories are lost; except when a skilled and motivated researcher decides to ask questions. This is a beautiful, evocative, almost wistful story but with a careful realism that prevents it from becoming sappy or sentimental. ~ Bill Lewis Mrs. Robinson's DisgraceMrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale. In 1858, one year after a new act of Parliament legalized divorce, Henry Robinson sought to divorce his wife after he discovered her erotic diary. The case, especially Isabella Robinson's sexual longings made public, shocked the nation and revealed the true nature of many Victorian marriages. ~ Louise Jones The Blood of HeroesThe Blood of Heroes: The 13- Day Struggle for the Alamo – and the Sacrifice that Forged a Nation by James Donovan. A carefully researched account of the extremely complex political situation in Texas that led to the siege of the crumbling Spanish mission. Donovan puts human faces on some legendary figures, although even they seem overshadowed by the towering image of Texas itself. ~ Alden Graves
We Are AnonymousWe Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson. How safe is your password? The incredible story of how hackers brought Scientology and the CIA to their knees. A true-life thriller that will keep even the computer illiterate up past their bedtime. ~ Charles Bottomley Days of Destruction, Days of RevoltDays of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco. In post-crash America, slavery thrives while the underclass is herded into internal colonies. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Hedges and cartoonist Sacco uncover a truth far more shocking than any science fiction. A contemporary call to arms. ~ Charles Bottomley
MeanderMeander: East to West, Indirectly, Along a Turkish River by Jeremy Seal. The word meander comes from this slow, winding river that Seal follows by foot and canoe. An illuminating book of travel, people and history. ~ Louise Jones
Hidden Gardens of ParisHidden Gardens of Paris: A Guide to the Parks, Squares, and Woodlands of the City of Light by Susan Cahill. You'll want to jump on the first plane to Paris and wander the many secret green spaces Cahill describes. A charming book with lovely photographs and recommended amenities near each entry. ~ Louise Jones