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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America

            Author Bob Herbert was formerly an opinion columnist for the New York Times and is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, a public policy think tank. He presents his argument for the need to rebuild the economic structure of America. Herbert’s suggestions on alleviating the financial woes of the middle class and poor that have escalated during the past forty years are decidedly influenced by his liberal views.
            Herbert’s examination of what he sees as problems are divided into chapters focusing on various social ills, including: a shortage of well-paying jobs, insufficient training for the jobs of the future, perpetual wars and their financial and human tolls on us, public vs. charter schools in education, and our country’s infrastructure (transportation, communication, etc.) and how it has worsened due to neglect and natural disasters. Herbert accompanies the description of each problem with anecdotal reports about its victims, and offers recommendations on improving these situations.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March is Women's History Month

            This is the month to celebrate contributions made by women in all walks of life, whether  their accomplishments are great or conventional. Here are some books written by and/or        
about political leaders and activists.
            Bella Abzug was a lawyer, U.S. Representative (1971-1978), social activist and a leader of the Women’s Movement. Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook up Politics along the Way: an Oral History, is written by Suzanne Levine.

            Betty Friedan was an American writer, activist, and feminist. She wrote The Feminine Mystique, considered an important book of the American Feminist Movement of the 1960s. Friedan also was the first president of the National Organization for Women. Friedan’s autobiography is entitled Life so Far.

            Kirsten Gillibrand currently is a United States senator from New York State (since 2009). Her book Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World is both a biography detailing her youth and her political career, and an appeal for more women to become politically active.

            Condoleezza Rice is the former Secretary of State (2005 – 2009) and currently is a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has written the book Condoleezza Rice: a Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me, which details her childhood in segregated Birmingham, Alabama and her road to politics.

            Margaret Sanger was a nurse who became a sex educator and birth control advocate during the early and middle twentieth century. She established organizations that eventually became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. You can read The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger, written by her. Also, The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, written by Jonathan Eig describes Sanger’s contributions along with those of three other individuals in developing what was the first birth control pill.

            Sonia Sotomayor is currently an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (2009 - ). Her book My Beloved World describes her journey as a Hispanic-American lawyer who progressed through the ranks as a district attorney to an appointment as a judge in the U.S. District Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals and finally the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New Ideas in Gardening

            Each year brings new book selections on gardens and gardening. This year is no different – ideas on plant selection, layout, care and garden building projects can be yours with these titles.
            Plant this Instead!: Better Plant choices – Prettier – Hardier – Blooms Longer – New Colors – Less Work – Drought-Tolerant – Native is written by Troy B. Marden. Here, the reader is introduced to the recently developed plants and cultivars that will add excitement to your garden. Each selection is accompanied by planting requirements, product trademarks, and color photos
            Cultivating Garden Style: Inspired Ideas and Practical Advice to Unleash Your Garden Personality is written by Rochelle Greayer. Your garden can be a decorating statement! Just leaf through this book to see the many gardens dreamed up and developed by artists, designers, and homeowners the world over.  Craft projects and outdoor accessory ideas are included. Color photos abound.
            Gardens in Detail: 100 Contemporary Designs is written by Emma Reuss. Visit the gardens of the wealthy from around the world, all lovingly described through text and color photos. Designer, year completed and location are given for each garden.
            The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects is written by Spike Carlsen. It features 76 projects, arranged in chapters with such themes as garden tools, harvesting and food prep items, storage and workspaces, and more. Each project is presented with a list of required materials, detailed instructions and drawings
            Backyard Building: Treehouses, Sheds, Arbors, Gates and other Garden Projects is written by Jeanie and David Stiles. From the basic (picnic table, gates), to the playful (treehouses and playhouses), to the advanced (artist’s studio) – each project is accompanied by color photos, detailed drawings, and comprehensive instructions.