Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

November 7, 2011

Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.

Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.
by Peck, Don
330.973 PEC

What happens to a generation coming of age during a recession?

First appearing in article form under The Atlantic headline, where it received a 2011 Media for Liberty award, Pinched offers its reader some history and economic policy along with solid investigative journalism. Comparing the modern Tea Party to the populist movement of the 1890’s, Peck begins with similarities before shifting his attention to the rise of women in the workforce, bemoaning the lack of civic virtue in today’s elite, and tracing the decline of the suburban environment as unique aspects of the current recession. Going forward, his policy prescriptions will please and offend in equal measure as he recommends tax reform, entitlement reform, spending decreases, immigration reform, vocational training programs, and unemployment wage insurance programs (just to name a few).

Pinched is at its strongest, however, when Peck’s background in journalism asserts itself. His report on the long term effects of economic recessions makes for sobering reading. He valiantly argues for swift and decisive action at a moment in time when restraint would seem to be the more prudent course.

— Recommended by Chris Murray, Haughville Branch

 

October 31, 2011

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
by Shapiro, James S.
822.33 AB SHA

Mark Twain and Henry James held each other in contempt, but they had at least one thing in common. They both knew that William Shakespeare didn't write those plays and poems. Helen Keller agreed. Sigmund Freud, too, though he disagreed with the other three about who did write the stuff. Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, have been the chief contenders for authorship (the new movie Anonymous is pro-Oxfordian) and Contested Will relates the history of the conspiracy theory that supported each one.

A major component of each theory is the assumption that all writing is autobiographical. Will didn't have the variety of experiences that would have allowed him to pen those plays. A more snobbish component is the belief that you have to be a gentleman, go to university and all that, to be as creative as whoever this Shakespeare person was. Will was the grammar-school-educated son of a glove maker.

The passion with which anti-Shakespearean views have been held (Freud foisted a pro-Oxfordian treatise on some poor soul whom he was supposed to be analyzing) gives this book a charge, as does author Shapiro's presentation of the case for Shakespeare. Go, Will!

— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology

 

October 24, 2011

Blood Oath

Blood Oath
by Farnsworth, Christopher
FIC FAR

This is a political thriller with a twist. Nathaniel Cade is the ultimate secret weapon known only to the President of the United States and his personal staff. Nathaniel was bound to the President by a blood oath over 160 years ago. This oath forces him to follow the Presidents every command. Zach Barrows is a young man on the political fast track until the President assigns him to a secret new job; special handler for Cade. Cade’s mission is to protect the American way of life from forces both domestic and abroad. This is not an easy job, but what can you expect when you are the President’s Vampire?

— Recommended by Judy Clem, Garfield Park Branch

 

October 17, 2011

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire At The Gates Of Tassajara

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire At The Gates Of Tassajara
by Busch, Colleen Morton
363.370979476 BUS

Tassajara, the oldest Zen monastery in the U.S., may be known to some readers for its cookbooks including the Tassajara Bread Book. Located east of Big Sur in the Ventana wilderness area, it is accessible only by way of a winding unpaved road. In the summer of 2008 dry lightning storms in the region sparked what would become one of the largest wildfires in U.S. history.

Fire Monks is both the gripping tale of a particular fire and an inside look into the heart of a community or sangha. A Zen student herself, Busch tells the individual stories of a handful of monks who defied an evacuation order to stay and fight the fire. This book caught my attention partly because the classic Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean is a favorite of mine and any book about wilderness firefighting owes something to it. Fire Monks did not disappoint.  It conveys the excitement and urgency of the time as well as elucidating the Buddhist way of paying attention and being fully present in the moment.

— Recommended by Sue Kennedy, Irvington Branch

 

October 10, 2011

Hard Ground

Hard Ground
by O'Brien, Michael
362.5 OBR

When Hard Ground caught my eye one day I felt compelled not only to look at the photographs but to read the accompanying text by the photographer Michael O’Brien and companion short poems by Tom Waits. The book is a series of portraits of many homeless people, most of whom are posing for the camera. O’Brien was originally inspired by a homeless man he met in Miami at the start of his career in the 70’s -- he wanted to find out the story of the man’s life and what led him to become homeless. The portraits are hard to look at in some cases, but very compelling. They remind us that the face of homelessness is changing as more women and children and teenagers join the population. The portraits also remind us that each of these people is an individual, and not just a member of a faceless group of "bums". If you are a fan of the great photographer Diane Arbus, you will like this book.

— Recommended by Joan Harvey, Central Library