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Sara's Staff Picks
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Just in time for the holidays, this short cookbook has new and traditional sweet and savory cheese ball recipes. If you are inclined, take the time to copy the cheese-ball-sculptures; it will definitely amuse your friends and family. While I'm not one to spend much time on presentation (solely due to lack of skill), the recipes themselves are really good on their own. Amazon posts numerous positive and satisfied reviews for this title, so take a look.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
This book was far outside my normal reading, and that novelty may be a large contributing factor towards how much I enjoyed it. Gideon Smith & the Mechanical Girl is a Steampunk novel, set, of course, in Victorian England – specifically 1890. The author, David Barnett, presents an alternate history that includes Pulp-Adventurers, Bram Stoker, Elizabeth Bathory, Frog-man Mummies, Jack the Ripper, an Automaton, and many more amusing or terrible characters.
The story revolves around 20-something Gideon Smith who is trying to solve the disappearance of his fisherman father. In the course of this, he is swept up into incredible conspiracies and he encounters fantastic Steampunk technology. This is definitely just a light albeit exciting read, and I easily imagined the exploits being put to film. A word of warning, however: one character regularly engages in swearing, mock-swearing, and sexual language, so if that is a problem you will want to steer clear.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
If you like musing over a book's not-so-clear-cut ending for days afterward, you may love The Other Typist, too. The entire story is presented from Rose’s first-person perspective. Rose works as a typist at a New York City police precinct during Prohibition, transcribing criminals’ confessions. Alone for most of her life, she eventually begins a surprising and close friendship with the appealing and attractive new hire, Odalie. Rose, who values and self-describes herself as mousey and plain, is fascinated by everything about Odalie; she recounts being drawn into Odalie’s world: one fraught with glitz, deception, and, ultimately, murder. You will definitely want to talk about this book with someone else who has read it.
I loved the writing and pacing in The Other Typist. This is Suzanne Rindell’s debut novel, and I look forward to more from her.
Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013)
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I had long heard of Mary Roach's titles but never tried one. Gulp fell into my lap when a coworker heard about it and placed it on hold for me, figuring I would like it. I can see why Mary Roach's writing is so popular: she mixes great, science-y information with a fantastic sense of humor that is typically presented in tongue-in-cheek or dry asides as well as side-splitting footnotes. Gulp explores the digestive and excretory systems and some of the little-known research and researchers working in these areas. If you like science and also think a book like "What's Your Poo Telling You" is funny, chances are good that you will love this, too. I laughed and laughed and cringed and laughed.
Mary Roach's other titles are
She is also editor of The Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2011
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
This recipe book is separated into “Savory” and “Sweet” sections, as well as an “And More” section that incorporates popcorn into meals (I have never done anything from that last section). The very beginning of the book talks a little about popping corn, including how to make your own microwave popcorn in paper lunch bags if you don’t own a popper or don’t like to make it on the stovetop.
From the “Savory” section, some of my favorites are the Herbes de Provence Popcorn, Chai Spice Popcorn (I find this sweet), Spicy Buffalo Popcorn, Chile Lime-Tequila Popcorn, and Gorgonzola and Green Onion Popcorn. From the “Sweet” Section, all I ever made was the Nice Sugar and Spice Popcorn (I preferred the Chai Spice) and the Candy Cane Corn.
Popcorn kernels are pretty much the only snack that I buy, so I love trying different recipes with it. Most all of them are quick and easy, consisting of popping the corn, stirring in the ingredients, and sometimes baking on a sheet to dry and set the flavors.
What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness, and Hope (2011)
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The Immigrant Advantage recounts 7 separate cultural traditions observed by some members of immigrant groups after coming to America: the Vietnamese Money Club; the Mexican Cuarentena; South Asian Assisted Marriage; Korean and Chinese Afterschools; West Indian Multigenerational Households; Barrio Stoops, Sidewalks, and Shops; and Vietnamese Monthly Rice. Traditions such as these, the author argues, comprise part of the explanation for “the ‘immigrant paradox,’ the growing evidence that immigrants, even those from poor or violence-wracked countries, tend to be both physically and mentally healthier than most native-born Americans” (inside flap).
A common thread through these traditions was the inherent practice of tapping into and relying on the resources and social support of personal relationships (friends and family) and community (online doesn’t count!). In addition to the overt, desired benefits that initiated observing such traditions, greater overall health, well being, satisfaction, and connectedness was a regular byproduct. I often have felt saddened that there are essentially zero cultural or ethnic traditions that were passed down through either my mother or father’s families. I found this most surprising on my father’s side, as he is 100% of his ethnicity but was raised only to ‘speak American.’ Perhaps because of that, I enjoyed learning about the richness of these selected traditions and how the author attempted to incorporate some of them into her own life.
leading scientists explore the brain, memory, personality, and happiness (2011)
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The Mind is very similar in structure to one of my earlier staff picks: Future Science. Editor John Brockman presents contributions from some of the world’s leading scientists on the workings of the brain and aspects of human consciousness, development, memory, and learning.
In one of my favorite essays -- You Can’t be a Sweet Cucumber in a Vinegar Barrel -- Philip Zimbardo discusses what happens to people in toxic environments, and also the shared qualities of “heroes” who demonstrate an ability to rise above toxic, abusive, or unjust environments and actively work to stop them.
Another favorite is Amazing Babies by Alison Gopnik -- a researcher I had already discovered in a TedTalk titled “What do babies think?” Amazing Babies does include some of the same information presented in her TedTalk.
Other favorites from The Mind are
I highly recommend this book to those interested in neuroscience, and developmental and behavioral psychology.
the surprising new science of psychological change (2011)
Monday, November 19, 2012
This is definitely one of my favorites; it is not, however, a self-help book (if you peruse Amazon reviews, many readers’ expectations were defied and disappointed by that fact – most likely due to a misinterpretation of the sub-title). Rather, Redirect presents the practice of story-editing to effect successful interventions in personal and social issues. The first chapter describes story-editing and how it can help turn negative thinking patterns into healthier ones (there are clear parallels to cognitive-behavioral therapy). This act of redirecting or, in some cases, making sense of a situation, can be accomplished through three different methods: “the writing exercise, in which people reinterpret a problem by writing about it; story prompting, in which people are directed down a particular narrative path with the hope that it will bump them out of a self-defeating thinking pattern”; and the “do good, be good approach, which involves changing people’s behavior first… In other words, people’s behavior shapes the personal narratives they develop” (17). Don’t be fooled, though; this book is not positive thinking, touchy-feely fluff; it investigates numerous scientific studies and also points out the lack of a scientific framework and analysis for many popular interventions (for example, the D.A.R.E. program).
Quite notable to me in the first chapter was the author’s look at CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing), commonly used for a time with first-responders. The author points out that controlled studies have repeatedly found that CISD worsens the stress and outcomes in an individual who was peripherally or directly involved in a traumatic event. “In short, one reason CISD fails is that it makes it harder for people to take that step back and gain some perspective on what happened. Forcing people to talk about the traumatic event right after it happened can even solidify memories of it, which makes it harder for people to reinterpret the event as time goes by” (13-14; emphasis mine).
Each successive chapter focuses on one specific issue – parenting, teen violence, academic improvement, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. – and investigates current, popular interventions and their non- or even ill-effect, contrasting them with simple story-editing interventions. The author repeatedly points out the importance of scientific, validly constructed intervention strategies that incorporate control populations to produce accurate evaluations of efficacy. The story-editing interventions are designed and implemented along such guidelines, producing results that are extremely valuable and encouraging. One of my favorites was an extremely simple intervention with struggling college freshman who sat through a one-time, thirty-minute “session in which students learned that lots of people struggle academically at first but then improve their grades. [There was] no attempt to delve into participants’ academic history, inquire about their study habits, or counsel them on how to manage stress. In fact, participants didn’t even know that the purpose of the study was to help them improve their academic performance” (16). The results -- compared not only to the no-intervention control group, but also a control group enrolled in the standard, intensive study-skills program that many colleges employ for such students -- were astounding: very small measurable difference between the control group and the study skills group, but the story-editing-intervention students experienced huge academic improvement over the course of their college careers. “…These results are particularly dramatic considering how small and seemingly inconsequential the intervention was – the students took part in a thirty-minute psychology experiment in which they were shown some statistics and saw brief videotapes about other people’s grades” (17).
Other passages I found particularly interesting:
I’ll leave it to you to read the book if you want to know the author’s stated findings on that last bullet point.
The essential guide to culinary creativity, based on the wisdom of America's most imaginative chefs (2008)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
One night I was preparing dinner from a recipe and, tasting it, realized it needed something. I added an ingredient to a small portion of it – an ingredient I didn’t particularly like – and found it was the perfect flavor foil. This was a particularly favorable feat because I did not even consult my copy of The Flavor Bible but, instead, mentally retrieved its explanation of balancing flavors and considered how I could emphasize or ‘push’ the existing taste to a brighter level. My friend Anne can, amazingly, throw things together off the top of her head and it always tastes fantastic. After a particularly simple but yummy lunch with Anne, I decided I wanted to be able to cook like she -- something she said she’d learned from her mother. However, I wanted guidance to avoid making horrible concoctions and wasting food.
The Flavor Bible is a somewhat strange book to review and recommend. Aside from the first 2 chapters that are comprised of only 33 pages, you don’t read it straight through; the text is most useful in browsing fashion. The first two chapters explain the chef’s mindset. Chapter 1, Flavor = Taste + Mouthfeel + Aroma + ‘The X Factor’ : Learning to Recognize the Language of Food, deals with balancing flavors and understanding how various senses come into play to affect flavor. The first chapter also includes chefs’ personal strategies that not only give specific tips, but also show, in action, what they are considering and pursuing when creating new recipes. Chapter 2, Great Cooking = Maximizing Flavor + Pleasure by Tapping (Body + Heart + Mind + Spirit): Communicating via the Language of Food, discusses the importance of thinking about the occasion, weather, seasonality, weight (heavy or light), volume, and function. While the second chapter was not quite as practical as the first, it was interesting to learn that things I would have considered peripheral to a meal actually had an impact on – or could even aid in – planning, preparation, and the overall experience.
Chapter 3, pages 35 – 374, provide flavor-matching lists. For example, I can look up fennel and find a list of ingredients/flavors that go well with it. If something is listed in bold, it is a pairing frequently recommended by expert chefs; BOLD CAPS means it’s highly recommended; BOLD CAPS* (with an asterisk) means it’s stellar. That’s it. Lists of ingredients. Some entries include classic Flavor Affinities (e.g., fennel + lemon + mint + olive oil + olives + orange; plums + cinnamon + orange; plums + bay leaf + vanilla). Often there are Tips such as “Use to finish a dish” (fennel pollen) or “Gets firmer with longer cooking” (mushrooms -- Portobello). There might also be Techniques such as “Add early in cooking” (cloves), “Add at the end of the cooking process” (tarragon), or “Dry-heat cooking” (pork -- chops).
This is absolutely a time-intensive book, so if you are looking for quick meal ideas, this is definitely not it. If you enjoy spending a lot of time paging through cookbooks and would like to venture into creating some of your own recipes, this is a perfect resource.
(2001 - 2012)
Monday, September 3, 2012
This summer the latest and most-likely last (hopefully not!) installment of the Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen), was released. The 8 books follow Artemis’ adventures with the Fairy world: dwarves, trolls, goblins, centaurs, pixies, and more; they all live under the earth’s surface but pop up every now and then. Artemis is a young, criminal mastermind, determined to steal Fairy gold to fund the search for his missing father and to refill the family fortune’s rapidly emptying coffers. He comes face to face with elf Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon unit and hilarity ensues. I particularly love Butler, Artemis’ bodyguard and best friend; Foaly, the centaur; Mulch Diggums, the dwarf… Really, they are all fantastic. I highly recommend listening to the books on audiobook (I technically haven’t read a single book in the series). However, if you do listen there is an edition of the sixth book that, if you get it, will bring an unwelcome shock: there is a different reader and, by this time, the characters are supposed to sound a particular way (be sure to get this one)! The standard reader, Nathaniel Parker, does an excellent job and provides the perfect -- and necessary -- Irish accent.
Audio/books in the Artemis Fowl series are available both in the Children’s and Teen sections, but, of course, I recommend them also for adults who like Fantasy and love to laugh at extraordinarily likeable characters (even the bad-guys are likeable). I also highly recommend two of Colfer’s books outside the Artemis Fowl series: Airman and Half-Moon Investigations – again, perfect for listening. (My husband for some reason didn’t really like Half-Moon, but my sister and I both laughed and laughed!) Each of these also have a great audiobook reader. In my opinion, you should stay away from Plugged, Colfer’s ‘adult’ book. I hated it and stopped listening after the second disc; the characters were all highly unsavory, unlikeable, and the storyline was not at all compelling.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I frequently read in subject ‘clumps.’ Upon reading an interesting fact or blurb, I typically search for more books and articles in that area until my interest has run its course. In this case, what sparked my inquiry into restrictive eating disorders was, for me, a very unusual source. Though it is extremely uncharacteristic for me to read celebrity auto/biographies, I did read Portia de Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness: a story of loss and gain (2010). I had been watching “Arrested Development” DVDS from the Library and absolutely loved the show; so when I saw she had written a book, I quickly placed a hold on it and was pleased and surprised by how much I liked it. With a strong, consistent voice, de Rossi presents her thought-life as she developed her eating disorder and progressed into full blown anorexia and recovery. As I read more on the subject, the following three books came out on top.
All four of these books ultimately aim to explore what it means -- and the difficulty in the struggle -- to become healthy and whole. They are not “how-to” manuals for eating disorders. Rather, they cause you to think about the voids you may feel and the importance of dealing with those issues straight-on rather than acquiring self-destructive behaviors. They also will help you understand the thought-processes and impetus behind someone you love who is living with an eating disorder.
My Search for the Perfect Pizza (2003)
Monday, June 18, 2012
Peter Reinhart is a major American authority and writer on bread baking. I came across American Pie several years ago while searching the Library catalog for anything else by Reinhart. Since I regularly made homemade pizza, it immediately appealed to me. A week later I purchased my own copy.
American Pie is one part food travelogue (The Hunt) and one part recipe book (The Recipes). The Hunt begins with Reinhart having pizza from his favorite childhood pizzeria; he is incredibly disappointed to realize, however, that it isn’t at all as good as he had remembered. ‘“Maybe,” I said to myself,” it was never as good as I thought it was, just the best I’d been exposed to during my sheltered youth.”’ Reinhart begins looking for a better pizza, and, as he shares his search with others, he is continually met with the objection “But you can’t say something is the best until you’ve tried…” This begins his quest to find, what to him is, the perfect pizza. His journey takes him to Genoa, Rome, and Naples, as well as all across America. Reinhart provides an incredibly interesting and mouth-watering overview on the different aspects of regional pizza, as well as the nature of great pizza and the people and quality ingredients that make it happen. I guarantee if you read the first half you will be dying to make some of the pizzas that follow in the second half.
The Recipes consists of “The Family of Doughs,” “Sauces and Specialty Toppings,” and “The Pizzas.” Because my husband and I love thin crust, first I decided to try the Roman Pizza Dough – an ultrathin dough that typically is not served in the states. I liked it; but it was, incredibly, too thin and crispy for my husband: it almost had the texture and snap of a Wheat Thin cracker without the greasiness. I also adopted Reinhart’s basic recipe for Sautéed Mushrooms, altering it minimally by adding a bit of thyme. In “The Pizzas” section, both my sister and I raved over the Onion Marmalade, Walnuts, & Blue Cheese Pizza. (If you try it, load the onion marmalade thickly on the dough! That recipe is also how I discovered I no longer despised Blue Cheese.)
Until I read American Pie, I used my 1985 edition of Carol Field's The Italian Baker for my go-to pizza dough recipe. Though it is good in a time pinch, it does not compare to the slow, cold-rise dough recipes in American Pie, or, for that matter, my all-time favorite: Sourdough Pizza Crust from King Arthur. (Though easy, the sourdough recipe requires a significant time investment for the best result.) Another thing I learned from American Pie: crank up the heat for homemade pizza – 465 is now the absolute lowest I go.
Essays from the Cutting Edge (2011)
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Future Science is the first installment in what editor Max Brockman hopes will be an annual collection; it consists of essays by young scientists who, for the first time, are presenting to a general reading audience the scientific hypotheses they are pursuing in their scholarly research. Nearly every essay is accessible (I skipped 2 of the 18 due to lack of interest). Brockman's editing gives you more than would be found by simply reading the abstract and conclusion from the full, published, scholarly reports; it also preserves the scientists' voices and excitement for their subject matter.
I loved this book for its variety of topics coupled with detailed overviews that gave me a clear understanding of the theses and research. I must admit that there was a strong weight toward psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral evolution; however, for me that was a perfect fit. When looking through the table of contents, The Emergence of Human Audiovisual Communication sounded like it would be a real snoozer, yet it turned out to be one of my favorite essays. Asif F. Ghazanfar explained that we communicate within a specific frequency range; this consists of the speech signal, rhythmic facial movements (singular to humans), and rhythms in the auditory regions of a listener's brain: all of them cycle at 3 - 8 Hz (cycles per second). Trust me, it's really interesting when you read the entire essay. Other favorites dealt with developmental and behavioral psychology, often related to children (Children's Helping Hands; Nurture, Nature, and the Stress that is Life). Another surprise favorite discussed the relevance of looking for life in other planets' vast oceans where, as seen in deep hydrothermal vents within our own ocean depths, life could be based on chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis.
Monday, April 2, 2012
In Good Graces, the story of Sally and Troo O'Malley picks up the next summer with a lot of new developments: the Milwaukee Zoo -- and Sally's beloved gorilla, Sampson -- is moving out of her neighborhood to a new location on Bluemound Road. A cat burglar is prowling the neighborhood. An orphan is missing, and a grown daughter has disappeared, too. To top it all off there's a bully on the loose and out for revenge, unless Troo can get her own revenge first. Once again Sally O'Malley is trying desperately to keep her sister safe as she also tries to unravel all the mysteries on Milwaukee's Vliet Street.
Initially I was worried this title would follow the same track as Whistling (I must admit, I didn't have the heart for the same type of plot line); however, I was happily surprised as events unfolded and "aaalll was revealed!"
The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2011)
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Introverts are often indirectly told that their very way of being is a ‘condition’ or a ‘shell’ out of which they need to emerge. Susan Cain explores the fallacy of this and other beliefs about the introverted temperament in her fascinating book Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking. Introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating; many introverts are even quite sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, and coffee. Extroverts recharge their batteries by socializing, while introverts recharge by being alone.
The author explains the benefits of an introverted temperament, not to claim superiority over extroversion, but simply to assert the inherent value of the introvert in a culture that, for the past century, has highly valued, promoted, and rewarded extroversion. Cain discusses America’s shift (in the early 1900s) from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Later, Cain presents evidence that a large proportion of the most beloved and successful leaders of social movements or admired heads of corporations displayed strong introvert characteristics: from Gandhi and Rosa Parks, to Stephen Wozniak of Apple. “Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions” (57).
Cain also discusses the benefits of ‘introverted’ environments; for example, creation and innovation most often spring from solitude, not collaboration. Online collaboration was an interesting and singular exception to this rule, allowing people to work in solitude, to unleash their creativity, and to submit their work and ideas in a medium that also allows them to engage and disengage at will.
I highly recommend this book if you, as an introvert, would like to understand yourself more, or if you, as an extrovert, want to understand better a spouse, child, or other loved one. The book is about appreciating the qualities and gifts that introverts have to offer, and how to use that understanding to fully value and meaningfully connect with one another.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Victoria is a young woman whose only way of connecting with others is through a language no one knows. When Victoria was 10, Elizabeth, one of her foster mothers, shared with her the near-forgotten language of flowers: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, red roses for love… thistles for hate and distrust of human beings.
Victoria has just aged out of the foster care system. Broken and bruised, among her memories of the many foster and group homes she’s lived in there is only one of a happy home; yet, the memory of her home with Elizabeth also brings with it the very deepest wounds, ones of betrayal and regret. Now Victoria is living in a city park, scrounging daily for food, when she sees a woman, Renata, struggling to carry loads of flowers into her floral shop. When Renata is presented with Victoria’s talent for flower arrangement she takes her on. Victoria listens to the stories of the customers who come into the shop and communicates back to them in the language of flowers – a language that speaks powerfully into their lives as she explains the arrangements she has created for them. And then one day she encounters someone who seems to know her language without aid of translation; and he is trying to speak to her. Like Elizabeth, he brings to Victoria’s life great gifts and great pain. Now Victoria has to learn whether someone as broken as she has anything but pain and brokenness to offer and receive from the world.
I love fiction and the power of story, but I nearly always read only non-fiction because it’s difficult to find stories that engage me or even make me want to finish them at all. I read this book in three sittings; it’s a powerful story of mothers and daughters, brokenness and redemption. A debut novel for the author, I look forward to future titles!
A Journey Through the Madness Industry (2011)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
In The Psychopath Test, journalist and filmmaker Jon Ronson delves into the definition of insanity, eventually coming to question the methods that are currently utilized for diagnosing psychopaths –- methods which, in many cases, require nothing more than a score of 30 or more on a 20-point checklist of characteristics common to psychopaths: things like glib and superficial charm, grandiosity, manipulative behavior, and lack of remorse. When Ronson is interviewing a psychopathy researcher, as she expounds on psychopathic characteristics he asks her if there is anything she wants to be sure is shared with his readers. “Tell them,” she says, “if now you are sitting there worried that maybe you are a psychopath, that means you aren’t.” I had been worried!
Ronson’s investigative journey is fascinating. The psychopaths he encounters and the scientists bent on identifying them lead him to wonder whether there is a danger in defining people exclusively by their most extreme characteristics and whether, by ignoring the rest of the person, rampant mistaken diagnoses are occurring.
Monday, October 31, 2011
The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 features all the recipes demonstrated on all 10 seasons of their show of the same name. The beauty of this and all other publications by America's Test Kitchen is that you not only get recipes that have been tested over and over and have proven, in my kitchen, to always be successful; you are also provided with kitchen science, ingredient, and equipment tips. You'll not only learn to make a delicious dish, but you will learn cooking principles and secrets that will grow you as a chef. If you love to cook, or wish you were a better cook, ATK is a perfect resource for you!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
If you consider yourself an outdoorsperson or know someone who loves hunting, fishing, camping or outdoor gear, you will likely enjoy the humor of Patrick F. McManus. His life stories and musings are a mix of truth and exaggeration featuring many memorable characters, like mountain-man-old-timer Rancid Crabtree, and Crazy Eddie Muldoon: a great child-inventor who always had a new, 'good idea' of how to 'surprise' his parents. ("And guess what, Pat! You get to test the deep sea diving outfit! Don't that sound fun?!")
Listening to these stories on audiobook makes for even greater hilarity. Look for McManus's titles read by Norman Dietz* -- they are exemplary in execution and perfect for road trips; you'll laugh yourself to tears. The titles that follow fall into McManus' outdoor humor collection; I have listed my favorite stories from each publication. These books can be read in any order.
1. A Fine and Pleasant Misery (1978)... Further Teachings of Rancid Crabtree; The Great Cow Plot; The Mountain Man.
2. They Shoot Canoes, Don't They? (1981)... Skunk Dog; The Hunter's Dictionary; Tenner Shoes.
3.* Never Sniff a Gift Fish (1983)... Blowing Smoke; Running on Empty; The Mountain Car; The Bush Pilots; Backseats I Have Known.
4.* The Grasshopper Trap (1985)... Trailer Trials; The Grasshopper Trap; First Knife; Stone Soup; Gunrunning.
5. Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs (1987)... The Mountain; Not Long For This Whirl; A Really Nice Blizzard; Rubber Legs and White Tail-Hairs; Nude, With Other Wildlife; What's in a Name, Moonbeam?; Throwing Stuff.
6. The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw (1989)... Kid Brothers and Their Practical Application; Garage-Sale Hype; The Tin Horn; Never Cry "Arp!".
7.* Real Ponies Don't Go Oink! (1991)... A Good Deed Goes Wrong; A Good Night’s Sleep; Teenagers From Hell; Secret Places; Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink!; Crash Dive!; The Road Hunter.
8.* The Good Samaritan Strikes Again (1992)... Ah, Sweet Poverty!; Mean Gifts; The Kelly Irregulars Learn to Cry.
9. How I Got This Way (1994)... The Blue Dress; Warped Camshaft; Another Boring Day.
10. Into the Twilight, Endlessly Grousing (1997)... Mountain Men; Work and Other Horrors; Faint Heart; Cereal Crime.
11.* The Bear in the Attic (2002)... The Bear in the Attic; Culinary Magic; Just Like Old Times; Leakage; The Last Honest Man.
12. Kerplunk (2007; unfortunately, this audiobook reader is very difficult to enjoy)... Silent But Deadly; The Ideal Life.
Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness (2002)
Monday, August 15, 2011
Explores the prevalence of Dissociative Identity Disorder, popularly known in its most extreme form as multiple personality disorder. Dr. Stout, a psychological trauma specialist, conveys how small things we interpret as distraction, spacing out, or situational fatigue are physiologically and behaviorally not different from an abused individual’s experience of dissociation or hypnotic trance. Events in our life that we may not quantify as abusive or traumatic affect us; our brains catalog traumatic experiences and trigger "dissociative" coping strategies even for things we may label as insignificant. The “severity” of an event is irrelevant; the presence of fear, for whatever reason, and a desire to escape it causes our brain to develop coping mechanisms. Future feelings of fear that our brain processes as similar trigger those mechanisms and, consequently, end those feelings. Stout’s explanation and accounts of this idea are fascinating reading.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Hobgoblins kidnap Henry Day when he is 7 years old, leaving an imposter in his place. Each Henry tries to adjust to his new life. Living in the forest with other stolen children who are also waiting to switch places, the 'real' Henry struggles to piece together fragmented memories of who he was. Meanwhile, the 'imposter' continually fears discovery and cannot forget that he is living a life that doesn’t belong to him; he eventually seeks out the truth of who he was before he too had been stolen and exiled to live in the forest as a hobgoblin (long before he stole Henry's life). Their quests to each recapture their true identities eventually converge.
Very interesting story of the Changeling myth and the struggle to discover and shape our identities as we move from childhood to adulthood.
The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL (2011)
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar and humanitarian whose work took him to Rwanda, Albania, Mexico, India, Croatia, Bolivia, and Cambodia, recounts his unexpected decision to join the Navy SEALS. “We can certainly donate money and clothing, and we can volunteer in the refugee camps. But in the end these acts of kindness are done after the fact. They are done after people have been killed, their homes burned, their lives destroyed. Yes, the clothing, the bread, the school; they are all good and they are all much appreciated. But I suppose we have to behave the same way we would if any person – our kids, our sisters, brother, parents – were threatened. If we really care about these people, we have to be willing to protect them from harm”(64). Very well written, Greitens also includes his BUD/S training, deployment experiences, and founding The Mission Continues.
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