Pageviews last month

Monday, December 20, 2010

Afternoon Book Discussions

Join us once a month, on a Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, to discuss a fiction or non-fiction book selection. Coffee, tea and cookies are served. Books are available at the Circulation Desk four weeks before the discussion date. Our schedule is:

January 19th
“Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books”, by Aaron Lansky

February 16th
“Friday Night Knitting Club”, by Kate Jacobs

March 16th
“Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love”, by Dava Sobel

April 20th
“Three Junes”, by Julia Glass

May 18th
“The Lost Painting”, by Jonathan Harr

June 15th
“Art of Racing in the Rain”, by Garth Stein

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Part character study, part mystery; this book, written by Maggie O’Farrell, will have you wondering how an intelligent, albeit highly strung young woman could be entrapped in a mental institution for over sixty years. The title character, Esme Lennox, spends her childhood in India and then returns to Scotland with her family. The family views the adolescent as hard to handle and a misfit in proper society. Circumstances lead to her being committed to Cauldstone Hospital. Years later, her great-niece Iris Lockhart is notified that the hospital is closing and Esme is being released. Iris never knew of the woman’s existence; her grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. Here is a conundrum that evolves into something more.

The narrative, told in turn by Iris, Esme, and Kitty, gives depth to the characters. The plot briskly advances towards the conclusion. The reader will be indignant at the ease with which misbehaving women can be locked away for life. Will justice be done?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Plain Truth

Here is another gripping novel from Jodi Picoult, featuring an ethical dilemma and the steps to its resolution. A dead newborn is found in a barn on the property of an Amish farmer. Evidence leads to the baby being the child of the farmer’s daughter, Katie Fisher. Katie is accused of murdering the child. High profile lawyer Ellie Hathaway, in the throes of an emotional crisis herself, decides to defend Katie.

The story combines an in-depth observation of Amish culture with the elements of a legal thriller. As the author enables us to view the various characters’ perspectives as to what is right and wrong, we also find ourselves becoming emotionally involved with the story. After several twists and turns in the plot, the reader is presented with a complex ending.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy

Author Carlos Eire presents a memoir of his upper middle class childhood in Cuba, spanning the years between Batista’s rule and the ascension of Fidel Castro. Eire describes his early youth as one of privilege and enjoyment; the reckless pleasures of rough play activities with his friends and father is contrasted with the strict religious education he receives from the monks at his school. His family members and friends are depicted lovingly and humorously; the portrayal of his father the judge who believes that he is the reincarnation of King Louis the Sixteenth is hilarious. The characterizations of people that Eire does not like explode with rage.

As Castro comes into power, Eire’s family finds that their range of freedoms narrows. In 1962, their parents send Carlos and his brother Tony to the United States during Operation Peter Pan, where they endure life-altering changes. Eventually their mother joins them but their father remains behind in Cuba.

Eire’s lyrical prose accentuates the emotional timbre of his account, allowing the reader to empathize with his plight.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

Meteorology was a new science at the turn of the twentieth century in the United States; yet at times it seemed to be more art than science. The National Weather Bureau was an industrious government department, but corruption and petty jealousies were endemic. Into this mix came Isaac Cline, an intelligent man yet one who was overconfident in his forecasting abilities, believing himself to know exactly how the weather would behave.

One of the deadliest hurricanes ever to occur in the United States, and one that caught residents by surprise when it struck Galveston, Texas in 1900 is a main character in this suspenseful non-fiction story, written by Erik Larson. The book is based upon Cline’s letters, telegrams and reports and the written accounts of several of the survivors. The storm caused at least six thousand deaths and a massive loss of property. The reader will be on the edge of his seat as this real-life drama plays out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Jan’s Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s, written by CBS News correspondent Barry R. Petersen, is the story of his wife Jan Petersen, their marriage, and what happened after they discovered Jan was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 55.

Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health and Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss, written by television’s Leeza Gibbons and based on her experiences coping with her mother Jean’s illness. Progressing through more than ten years of decline first at home and then at a nursing home dementia unit, the reader learns both about diseases involving memory loss as well as how caregivers can care for themselves physically and emotionally.

The Thousand Mile Stare: One Family’s Journey through the Struggle and Science of Alzheimer’s, written by Gary Reiswig, chronicles a family’s slow realization that their family members carried the gene for early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and their participation in research studies.

Last of His Mind: a Year in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s, written by John Thorndike, is a memoir of the novelist John Thorndike and his father Joe, a former writer and editor. At the age of 92, Joe is sliding into the mental and physical problems of Alzheimer’s disease. He doesn’t want to move into a nursing home, so his son moves in with him. Over the following year, John experiences many insights and emotional highs and lows while caring for his father.

100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss is written by former CNN medical correspondent and syndicated “Eat Smart” columnist Jean Carper. She presents 100 medical, nutritional and lifestyle practices that could help prevent memory loss diseases.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

Prolific writer/humorist Bill Bryson treats baby boomers and others to his experiences growing up during the 1950s and 1960s. As the youngest child of journalist parents, Bill grew up in Iowa during simpler times, when the United States was king of the consumer world and the fear of nuclear bomb attack was managed with practice air raid drills. Cigarette smoking, sex, movie theaters, country fairs, and baseball are just some of the topics Bryson examines with humor and a touch of nostalgia.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Space between Us: A Novel

Written by Thrity N. Umrigar, this is the story of two women in modern day India; Sera, an upper-middle class Parsi housewife and Bhima, her long-time servant. Although they are separated by class and circumstance, the two have both endured hardship and sorrow in their lives. Though Bhima has worked in Sera’s home for many years, and they enjoy a companionship based on Sera’s family and household needs, there still is that division of class that precludes such things as Bhima’s sitting on the furniture and using household dishes and utensils.

Sera is the widow of an abusive man who finds joy in sharing her home with her daughter, her only child and son-in-law who soon are expecting a child. Bhima, whose marriage fell apart after her husband’s work injuries led to a downward spiral to alcoholism, raised her granddaughter Maya after her daughter and son-in-law died of AIDS. She lives one step above poverty but manages to carry on in hopes of seeing her pretty and intelligent granddaughter graduate college (paid for by Sera) and pull herself out of the lower class. Then tragedy strikes with the revelation that Maya is pregnant and refuses to name the father of the child. Sera arranges for an abortion for the reluctant Maya. From there the story unfolds until the unknown father’s identity is revealed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fashion for Women

With the approach of the fall season, women everywhere plan updates to their fall wardrobes. Here are two books that will help.

What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style, writer Kim Johnson Gross, a former model and the author of the Chic Simple fashion book series, addresses the fashion issues faced by all women as they age. Gross encourages the reader to recognize the different roles she plays in her life, and helps her recognize the styles, fabrics and colors that suit her best, leading to the creation of a “feel good closet”.

How to Never Look Fat Again: over 1,000 Ways to Dress Thinner – without Dieting!, is written by Charla Krupp, a magazine editor and fashion consultant on various national TV shows. In this book, Krupp demonstrates how the right styles, fabrics and colors can help you look thinner and younger. She offers tips on hiding figure problems such as arm flap, muffin top, back fat, Buddha belly, a big booty, and more.

Monday, August 30, 2010

September is Healthy Aging Month

September is Healthy Aging Month. Here are some books to celebrate.

Living Agelessly: Answers to your Most Common Questions about Aging Gracefully, is written by Linda Altoonian, the author of the “Dear Ageless” column from the AP Wire Service. Intended for the aging and their caregivers, the book focuses on enjoying life by taking care of health, nutrition, physical and mental fitness, and safety issues. Tips also are given on legal, social and spiritual concerns.

Younger (Thinner) You Diet: How Understanding Your Brain Chemistry Can Help You Lose Weight, Reverse Aging, and Fight Disease, written by Eric R. Braverman, M.D. is a guide to changing the brain’s chemistry in order to slow the aging process and lose weight. Dr. Braverman demonstrates how specific foods, nutrients, teas and spices will boost the body’s production of dopamine in order to burn fat, avoid the effects of aging organs and ameliorate certain health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis and more.

The Longevity Prescription: the 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life is written by Robert N. Butler, M.D., who founded the first department of geriatric medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital and was the founding director of the National Institute on Aging. Dr. Butler discusses the eight areas in which improvements can lead to a longer and healthier life. They are: nutrition, exercise, sleep, relaxation, medical care, mental vitality, love and intimacy, and community connections. He also advises on how to handle special health challenges such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Your Skin, Younger: New Science Secrets to Naturally Younger Skin is written by Mark G. Rubin and Phillip M. Levy. These two dermatologists present the natural approach to anti-aging the skin by lessening the impact of poor diet/nutrition, stress and intestinal function. The book includes healthy recipes and food preparation methods, relaxation techniques and exercises.

Beyond the Cleavage, written by former movie star Raquel Welch, presents her life story, personal philosophy and health and beauty advice in one package.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dog Days

Relax during the dog days of summer by reading one (or all three) of these books about man’s (and woman’s) best friend.

Last Dog on the Hill: the Extraordinary Life of Lou is written by Steve Duno, a pet behaviorist. After Duno rescued a Rottweiler mix feral puppy from a marijuana farm, the dog who he named Lou was trained to be a rehabilitation animal, working with hearing-impaired children, war veterans, gang members, Alzheimer patients, and others. A heartwarming story!

Marcus of Umbria: What an Italian Dog Taught an American Girl about Love is written by Justine van der Leun. This is a combination of love story, both male-female and human-dog, and travel book. An American woman vacations in Umbria, Italy, and falls in love with a native. She lives with him and his family for a year, in the meantime acquiring a mistreated dog as her pet. When the romance sours Justine continues her stay in Umbria with the dog.

One Dog at a Time: Saving the Strays of Afghanistan is written by Pen Farthing. In between frequent fighting against the Taliban in Now Zad, Afghanistan, Sergeant Farthing and his troop of Royal Marines rescue first one and then several stray dogs. They are kept in a makeshift pound on base. Eventually, when Farthing’s military assignment comes to an end, he develops a way to rescue thousands of homeless dogs.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July Birthdays/Biographies

Tom Cruise – July 3, 1962
Tom Cruise: an Unauthorized Biography, written by Andrew Morton, promises new revelations about the popular actor. The book describes his childhood, his three marriages, and his involvement with the Scientology religion. The reader will enjoy the photographs too.

George Steinbrenner – July 4, 1930
Steinbrenner: the Last Lion of Baseball, written by Bill Madden, was published shortly before the subject’s recent death. It chronicles the early career of Steinbrenner in the family shipping business before his purchase of the Yankees, then focuses on Steinbrenner’s strong control over team activities that led to the Yankees’ seven World Series titles and the hiring and firing of several managers. Author Madden’s thirty years experience as a sportswriter for the New York Daily News serves him well.

Dalai Lama – July 6, 1935
Dalai Lama: Man, Monk, Mystic, written by Mayank Chhaya, presents the biography of the reincarnated 14th Dalai Lama derived from a series of interviews. This political and religious leader of Tibet escaped capture by the Chinese and has been exiled in India since 1959. The author also describes the Buddhist traditions of Tibet along with the history of the Tibet-China conflict.

Alex Rodriguez – July 27, 1975
A-Rod: the Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez, written by Selena Roberts, gives the biographical details and more of this controversial baseball player. The youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs and a star for the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez also has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Afternoon Book Discussions

Join us once a month, on a Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 to 2:00 pm, to discuss a fiction or non-fiction book selection. Coffee, tea and cookies are served. Books are available at the Circulation Desk four weeks before the discussion date. Our schedule is:

July 21st
“The Space Between Us: A Novel” by Thrity N. Umrigar

August 18th
“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer

September 15th
“The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir” by Bill Bryson

October 20th
“Isaac’s Storm” by Erik Larson

November 17th
“Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy” by Carlos Eire

December 15th
“The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox” by Maggie O’Farrell.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

Here is the true story of a brave Polish couple: Jan and Antonina Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife. After surviving the German invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, and the slaughter and theft of their zoo animals by the Germans, they devoted themselves to covert operations against the Germans for the remainder of the war. These included the smuggling and hiding of hundreds of Polish Jews at their villa and in the empty animal cages, and such Polish Resistance activities as bomb making and hiding ammunition. Diane Ackerman presents us with a work of non-fiction written with suspense and lyrical quality; offering the reader an understanding of the account’s historical value.

Friday, June 4, 2010

More Barbecue Books

Here are some more books to inspire you at the grill!

Emeril at the Grill: a Cookbook for all Seasons, written by Emeril Lagasse, is not only a compilation of more than 150 recipes but also an entertaining read. Not content to present only the standards, Emeril is inspired by a variety of cuisines and foods. Recipes consist of those for grilled entrees, sides, salads, and desserts. Instructions for party cocktails and punches are included too.

America’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smoke Houses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses and Restaurants, written by Ardie A. Davis and Paul Kirk, offers techniques, tips and recipes from across the United States. Here they present ideas culled from some of the country’s experts, and from their own combined knowledge, for starters, main dishes, sides and desserts. An added bonus is a chapter on starting a barbecue business.

Grilling for all Seasons, by Rick Browne, the host of PBS’s
Barbecue America, offers guidelines for the novice and the experienced along with recipes and menus for winter, spring, summer and fall. Included with the traditional meat dishes are ideas for preparing fruits, vegetables, desserts and breads on the grill.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Barbecue Season Begins

Although barbecuing and grilling are year-round activities, it’s most popular during the summer. Here are some recent books to help improve your skills.

Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking, written by Adam Perry Lang, takes you from the basics to beyond when you are cooking all varieties of meat. Lang, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and haute cuisine chef-in-training took a career detour towards barbecue cuisine. The book features more than 130 recipes and color photos.

Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint written by Chris Lilly, great grandson-in-law of the original Big Bob, is a celebration of barbecue done Alabama-style. Included are recipes for the dry rubs, glazes, sauces and slathers for a variety of meats; tips on using different woods and creating the right heat also are given. Complete your meal with a selection of recipes for sides and desserts.

Wood-Fired Cooking: Techniques and Recipes for the Grill, Backyard Oven, Fireplace, and Campfire, written by Mary Karlin, is a compilation of more than 100 recipes originating from regions around the world such as India, Italy, the Mediterranean, the United States and North Africa. Karlin, a cooking school instructor in California, reviews the basics and then steers the reader to more complex dishes.

Grillin’ With Gas: 150 Mouthwatering Recipes for Great Grilled Food, written by Fred Thompson, features more than 150 recipes for a variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, sides and desserts. Learn the basics and the more advanced techniques for gas grilling and selection of ingredients.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gardening Books

Time-Saving Gardener: Tips and Essential Tasks, Season by Season by Carolyn Hutchinson. This book is for gardeners with only a few hours a week to spare, it is organized by season and task. It includes detailed instructions and illustrations, and an alphabetized directory of easy-care plants.

Front Yard Gardens: Growing More than Grass by Liz Primeau. Learn to plan, design and plant a mixed garden, consisting of flowering plants, shrubs and cacti. More than 200 color photographs are provided. Have a landscape that requires less watering and chemicals.

The Gardener’s Color Palette: Paint your Garden with 100 Extraordinary Flower Choices by Thomas Fischer. With 100 flower selections presented by color scheme, each entry in this book includes photographs and information on plant size at maturity, bloom time and hardiness zone. Recommendations are made on attractive pairings and controlling aggressive plants.

Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens by Barbara Pleasant. Enjoy flavorful vegetables and save money when growing one of these gardens. The text includes information on plants and materials required, planting instructions, maintenance tips for the season, and more.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Shadow of Your Smile

Here is another in a long line of light mystery/romance novels from writer Mary Higgins Clark. In this book, the potential announcement of a long-suppressed family secret threatens to disrupt two undertakings. One is the effort to achieve beatification for Sister Catherine, a now-deceased nun who possibly had brought about two medical miracles. Jeopardizing the success of this endeavor is the suspicion that Sister Catherine had given birth to a child out of wedlock in her youth; a child that subsequently was given up for adoption. The second undertaking is the survival of the Gannon Foundation, nearing bankruptcy because of mismanagement by greedy heirs. Pediatrician Monica Farrell unknowingly is involved with both of these situations. Is she also the granddaughter of Sister Catherine? The criminals eventually are exposed and romance is revealed. The plot moves along smoothly and the characters are likeable, except for the villains who are suitably corrupt.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Three Weissmanns of Westport

Author Cathleen Schine presents what has been called the modern version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. This novel depicts the lives of Betty, an elderly well-to-do woman and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie. Reality takes a calamitous turn when Joseph, the husband and father, announces that he wants a divorce after almost fifty years of marriage. Of course, another woman is involved. Left homeless while divorce proceedings plod on, Betty accepts an invitation from a wealthy friend to stay at an available property that he owns in Westport, Connecticut. Her daughters decide that they will temporarily live with their mother until she has adjusted to her situation. Together again, life as they know it takes a turn both humorous and stressful.

Ms. Schine’s razor-sharp assessments of the various characters that the three women meet and socialize with, and her satirical views on modern-day society, are worth the price of admission to this complicated world.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Half Broken Horses by Jeannette Walls

Half Broken Horses is the “true-life novel” version of Jeannette Walls grandmother’s life, Lily Casey Smith. Lily is the mother of Rosemary Smith Walls, the subject of Jeannette Walls earlier memoir, The Glass Castle. Lily Casey Smith is portrayed as a progressive woman, who was never conquered by anything life threw at her. The novel follows Lily from age 10 to Jeannette Walls’ birth. Lily leads an exciting life, traveling 500 miles on horse back at age 15 to take up teaching in Red Lake, Arizona with a pearl handled handgun in her bag. From this moment teaching is forever entwined with her life, taking her to various locations throughout the Southwest. Teaching allows her to meet her husband, Jim, who is the father of her two children, Rosemary and Little Jim. Lily survives a surprising amount of tragedy and strife throughout her life and the tough as nails gal manages to survive it all. This is a wonderful quick reading novel, which will never fail to surprise its reader.

About the Author: Jeannette Walls was born c. 1960 in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from Barnard College and was a NYC journalist for 20 years. She currently lives in rural Virginia with her husband John Taylor.


Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir by Shalom Auslander

Blue Skies, No Fences: A Memoir of Childhood and Family by Lynne V. Cheney

The Prodigal Daughter: Reclaiming An Unfinished Childhood by Margaret Gibson

Farmworker's Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America by Rose Castillo Guilbault

The Florist's Daughter by Patricia Hampl

Pamela L. Wells, Lindenhurst

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives

Humans are not the rational creatures we believe ourselves to be. Using a wide range of scientific and psychological studies, author Shankar Vedantam reveals that many of the decisions we make originate from outside of our conscious awareness. Although it may seem shocking, biases often rule our choices and evaluations.

Vedantam, also the author of the Washington Post’s “Department of Human
Behavior” column, describes how unconscious biases overtake knowledge and rational thinking, and helps the reader to understand why. He examines such situations as: why some World Trade Center victims rushed out of the building to safety while others felt it safer to remain inside; why women’s salaries are less than those of men, and transsexual men who become women earn less than transsexual women who become men; and the telescope effect in which news stories about one suffering individual garners more attention than stories about millions of genocide victims.

This is an enjoyable read for popular psychology buffs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Deception: An Alex Delaware Novel

Psychologist Alex Delaware and Police Lieutenant Milo Sturgis are at it again; that is, they’re in search of answers to a mystifying murder. Author Jonathan Kellerman recounts the tale of a young teacher who was murdered, and her body left preserved in a bathtub full of dry ice. The victim, who was employed by an exclusive preparatory academy, left behind a DVD accusing three fellow teachers of sexually abusing her. Is one of them the murderer?

Milo is assigned the case by his chief who has personal reasons for downplaying the murder; his son attends the academy and the chief fears that any scandal will ruin his son’s chances of getting into an Ivy League college. The Sturgis/Delaware team conducts their usual interviews, surveillances and computer investigations to bring the case to a satisfying close, but not until the murderer strikes again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Author Michael Pollan presents an examination of the four different types of meals that we Americans eat, and the consequences it has for our health and our ecosystem. Pollan is a journalist who has written several books and articles about food and agriculture, and now is a journalism professor at the University of California at Berkeley. For this book, he investigated the differences between the industrial corn-reliant agricultural system, the organic or alternative food system (both small and large-scaled), and food foraged through hunting and gathering. Pollan appeals to the reader’s interest with his eloquent, fact-based text and a full character assessment of each of the individuals he meets on his journeys. He also reflects upon the moral issues of eating meat.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Nanny

This is a fictional account of a true-to-life situation, written by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Our heroine actually is named Nanny, and she is looking to supplement her income while attending NYU as a child development major and sharing a minuscule Manhattan apartment. She has worked as a nanny before, and can describe the typical characteristics of the children and parents. But this job is different! The X family consists of three separate units that rarely interact: Grayer is the four-year-old son who is precocious, demanding and longing for maternal love; Mrs. X lives for herself and whatever benefit and bauble she can grab; Mr. X is involved in his business and an affair and has little or no time for his wife and son. We also get to examine relationships between the sexes as Nanny becomes romantically involved with Harvard Hottie.
This satire of the upper class and of life in the early years of the
21st century will amuse most readers. The book was made into a movie in 2007, and the book’s sequel, Nanny Returns, was recently published.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Senator's Wife

Author Sue Miller has written a timely novel about marriage and marital infidelity. Meri Fowler, a recently-married, pregnant woman in her mid-thirties moves with her husband Nathan into a New England townhouse adjacent to one owned by Delia and Tom Naughton, a couple in their seventies. Delia is the main occupant of the house; her husband Tom is a renowned liberal senator who also is a notorious philanderer. Although Delia and Tom have not lived together as man and wife for many years, they have not divorced and in fact periodically get together for a romantic rendezvous.

As neighbors, Meri and Delia become close confidantes. Delia provides the closeness Meri never received from her mother. As the plot unfolds, Meri endures disconcerting emotions after the birth of her son, and Delia experiences a new lease on life when she participates in the rehabilitation of Tom’s health after he suffers a stroke. Then, a disastrous event upsets it all.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"The Book of Night Women" by Marlon James

The Book of Night Women is the tale of a young slave coming of age in Jamaica at the turn of the 19th Century. The book is written as a slave narrative and chronicles the life of Lilith and the inhumane abuses that her and her fellow slaves were force to endure.

Lilith, at the verge of womanhood, finds herself exposed to the ugly truth of rape, murder and torture that plantation life as a slave has in store for her. After narrowly escaping rape at the hands of a fellow slave, Lilith is sheltered by the house slaves at the plantation, eventually being permanently assigned to the house by the plantation’s “master”. After a dire accident during a cocktail party, Lilith finds herself mercilessly whipped by her owners. This indignation fuels Lilith’s rage at the white slave owners which have control over her. Lilith joins a group of female slaves who call themselves “The Night Women,” who are all connected through their common parentage -- they are all the children of an abusive white slave driver. This group eventually orchestrates a slave revolt across several of Jamaica’s plantations -- a coup d’etat that has tragic results.


Beloved by Toni Morrison
Amistad by David Pesci
The Dark Sun Rises by Denise J. Williamson
The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts
The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

February is National Heart Awareness Month

Here are three recently published books that focus on various aspects of heart health.

American Heart Association Complete Guide to Women’s Heart Health: the Go Red for Women Way to Well-Being and Vitality. This book provides advice for maintaining heart health and keeping heart disease at bay, for women from their 20s through their 70s and beyond. Coverage includes information on a nutritious diet, beneficial exercise and control of risk factors. Also addressed are issues such as smoking, pregnancy, menopause and hormone therapy, aging, diabetes and other diseases.

American Heart Association Healthy Family Meals: 150 Recipes Everyone Will Love. The heart-healthy recipes in this book focus mainly on dinner entrees for the busy family, accompanied by side dishes of soup, salad, vegetables and grains. Dessert is not forgotten! Also offered are tips on grocery shopping and eating out.

Exercises for Heart Health: the Complete Plan for Heart Attack, Heart Surgery, and Cardiovascular Disease Recovery and Prevention. The book prescribes an easy-to-follow exercise plan for cardiac health and muscle strength. It includes a main section on the exercises, accompanied by many photos and detailed written instructions. It also has an overview of the causes of cardiac disease and recent clinical treatments for cardiac conditions.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolutions: Diet and Exercise

Here are three recent publications that can help you reach your goals for shaping up and slimming down.

Fitness after 40: How to Stay Strong at any Age, is written by Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon. Wright believes that it is a sedentary lifestyle, not biology that is the accelerant of aging. She imparts methods to achieve post-midlife fitness through the F.A.C.E. system of flexibility, aerobic exercise, load-bearing exercise and maximizing equilibrium and balance. The book includes exercise routines and an eating plan.

Joy’s Life Diet: Four Steps to Thin Forever, written by Today Show nutrition and health expert Joy Bauer, presents a weight-loss program based on her “Look Incredible, Feel Extraordinary” (L.I.F.E.) system. Bauer explains how to overcome unhealthy eating habits and satisfy cravings with low-calorie substitutes. She shares tips on staying motivated, exercising and working through plateaus. Sample menus, recipes and exercises are given also.

The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat Well, Enjoy Life, Lose Weight, written by the weight-loss experts at the Mayo Clinic, offers a two-part weight-loss program. The first part “Lose It!” is a two-week introduction that results in the loss of six to ten pounds, if the dieter adopts new good habits and drops the old bad habits. The second part “Live It!” is a continuation of weight loss of one to two pounds per week using the new habits. Topics such as meal planning, eating out, and stress reduction also are discussed.