Favorite Quotes

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read."


— Groucho Marx

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Browsing all posts tagged 'non-fiction'

Clarity and wit

Pawn Structure Chess

Title: Pawn Structure Chess
By: Andy Soltis

In 1749, Philidor called pawns "the soul of chess." Andy Soltis heeded this wisdom and organized his book not around the bewildering variety of openings, but around the handful of pawn structures that the openings reach at the mid-game. Here are archetypal positions to suit many temperaments: pugilist, assassin, architect, ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

A helluva summer

One summer: America, 1927

Title: One summer: America, 1927
By: Bill Bryson

Bryson has done it again; a masterpiece of research and fun. One Summer: America 1927 doesn't have the belly laughs of A Walk in the Woods, but with his wry communication of the delightfully absurd, nonsensical, or totally awesome, he brings four months in our history under the microscope and ... [Read more]


non-fiction
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Matter matters

Stuff Matters: exploring the marvelous materials that shape our man-made world

Title: Stuff Matters: exploring the marvelous materials that shape our man-made world
By: Mark Miodownik

Materialism’s redeemed in this polished tour de stuff. For Miodownik, remembrance of things past isn’t evoked by food or scent, but by the steel of a mugger’s knife. Why did the steel blade cut the way it did? What is steel, anyway? Why doesn’t a stainless steel spoon retain the ... [Read more]


non-fiction
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Otherworld of the imagination

The Love-charm of Bombs: restless lives in the Second World War

Title: The Love-charm of Bombs: restless lives in the Second World War
By: Lara Feigel

Lara Feigel investigates the lives of five writers based in and out of London during WW II: Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macauley, Hilde Spiel, and Henry Yorke (writing as Henry Green). She begins with a bombing raid in London on September 1940 and continues through the war to postwar ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

On the continuum

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking

Title: Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking
By: Susan Cain

It is intriguing to read about one’s own traits in a book, especially when the author finds positive value in those traits we find difficult to accept in ourselves. Yet I can’t help thinking that all of us have "introvert" sensitivities and tendencies at least some of the time during ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Tenderness

The best American science and nature writing 2013

Title: The best American science and nature writing 2013
By: Siddartha Mukherjee (ed.)

I have a lot of trouble reading articles in magazines even though there are so many good ones. Fortunately, Best American Science and Nature Writing is annually, and 2013 is an especially good year. Editor Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee (author of Emperor of All Maladies) prefaces the selections with a beautifully ... [Read more]


non-fiction
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Telling Tales

The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths

Title: The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths
By: Jean-Pierre Vernant

Vernant, a Classics professor, used to tell his grandson Greek legends as bedtime stories—and he'd really tell them, not read them. He also told some of the same stories, in the same fashion, to friends who forced him to promise to write down what he'd told them. To Vernant, the ... [Read more]


non-fiction
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Pure ecstasy

Verdi

Title: Verdi
By: Renato Castellani

If you already know everything about Verdi and his operas, check out Berlin Concert* instead. If not, you'll certainly enjoy this 4 disc set dramatizing the life and musical evolution of probably the world's most beloved opera composer. I already knew I loved the great Rigoletto, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, ... [Read more]


non-fiction, video
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Lifting the burdens

What it is like to go to war (audiobook)

Title: What it is like to go to war (audiobook)
By: Karl Marlantes

A work of courage and intelligence that challenges us to consider issues most of us would rather avoid. Karl Marlantes has thought deeply about the psychological impacts and lifelong burdens of killing in war, based on his experiences in Viet Nam and subsequent self-examination. He bravely exposes his own feelings ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
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A tempestuous personality

River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the technological wild west

Title: River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the technological wild west
By: Rebecca Solnit

Instead of utilizing the traditional biographical format, Rebecca Solnit has chosen to delineate this remarkable man through his many self-taught accomplishments and innovations. British born in 1830, he left his homeland early on to set off to America to explore his interests and opportunities, working on the docks of New ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
0 Comments

Color Mania

Mauve:  how one man invented a color that changed the world

Title: Mauve: how one man invented a color that changed the world
By: Simon Garfield

Has anyone heard of William Perkin and mauve? We have heard of tulipmania, but what of color mania? In 1858, Empress Eugenie, the single most influential woman in the world of fashion, decided that mauve was a color that matched her eyes.The extent of mauve mania was documented well in ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Ineluctable

Wave

Title: Wave
By: Sonali Deraniyagala

Estragon: I can't go on like this. Vladimir: That's what you think. --Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. I wasn't sure whether I'd review it. I didn't trust myself to "judge" it. I was right to read it. It deals with a ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
0 Comments

Basically delicious

Ken Hom's Top 100 Stir-fry Recipes

Title: Ken Hom's Top 100 Stir-fry Recipes
By: Ken Hom

Ken Hom knows his business. In this wonderful book there are many great recipes, both the usual and unusual, all with excellent pictures. I've tried over a dozen, and they're all terrific. But the best thing about the book isn't any of the 100 recipes; it’s the "basics" section at ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

In the name of science and self-glory

The Brother Gardeners: botany, empire, and the birth of an obsession

Title: The Brother Gardeners: botany, empire, and the birth of an obsession
By: Andrea Wulf

The 18th century was an inquisitive and busy time in the world’s history. Darwin was discovering how we evolve, and an egomaniacal Linneaus was making sense of the botanical world with his classification system as well as enraging his fellow botanists and his Holiness the Pope. Explorers like Captain Cook ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Evergreen

Green thoughts: a writer in the garden

Title: Green thoughts: a writer in the garden
By: Eleanor Perényi

"Read this." "I'm not a gardener." "Read it anyway." "Read this." "I’m a California gardener, and she lived in Connecticut." "Read it anyway." "Read this." "Why?” “Because it's delightful!" Witty, elegant, earthy; pragmatic, romantic, fantastic: Perényi runs the gamut. Keep this by your bedside for a nightly nip, or gulp ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Only in America

Follow the money: a month in the life of a ten-dollar bill

Title: Follow the money: a month in the life of a ten-dollar bill
By: Steve Boggan

I laughed out loud. I don't do that often reading a book unless it's Bill Bryson. A crazy Brit freelance journalist decides to hop the pond and follow a marked $10 bill for one month. Where to start? Obviously, the geographic center of the U.S.--Lebanon, Kansas, pop 300. He meets ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Gentle cicerone

A Romantic in Spain

Title: A Romantic in Spain
By: Théophile Gautier

Awww, Spain…I remember 1975, waking up early a.m. in the night train from Paris to Madrid, realizing I was now in the land of poor befuddled Don Quixote and the exquisite Alhambra, and feeling an amorphous affinity for the country and its people. And here in this book in the ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
0 Comments

Tipping pointers

Heads in Beds: a reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality

Title: Heads in Beds: a reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality
By: Jacob Tomsky

Living in our beautiful town, we have all been affected (infected?) by the tourism industry, voluntarily or involuntarily, for better or for worse. Maybe you've given a lost soul directions to the Boardwalk one too many times, or been late for work because you forgot about the Beach Train. Enter ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
0 Comments

Savor the wisdom

A Calendar of Wisdom: daily thoughts to nourish the soul

Title: A Calendar of Wisdom: daily thoughts to nourish the soul
By: Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy spent 15 years researching and “collecting the wisdom of the centuries” to create his Calendar of Wisdom, which was first published in 1904. He enjoyed reading it every day until the end of his life in 1910. After the Russian Revolution, publication of the book was forbidden because ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Marvelous invention

My Invented Country

Title: My Invented Country
By: Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s moving memoir about the country she loved and left is read so perfectly by Cristine McMurdo-Wallis that I almost want to say: Don’t read this book; you must listen to it! The many voices of Allende’s writing -- irony, tenderness, humor and harshly honest journalistic modes -- are ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, audiobook
0 Comments

Tartine Bread

Tartine Bread

Title: Tartine Bread
By: Chad Robertson

A visually pleasing cookbook, and collection of recipes focusing on bread, especially of Tartine Bakery in San Fransisco. Fun to read, inspiring and tasty! [Read more]


non-fiction
1 Comment

My Life in France

My Life in France

Title: My Life in France
By: Julia Child

Part autobiography, part cookbook, that reads like a fiction novel, which is both inspiring and very funny. [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Finely woven

Silk Road: a new history

Title: Silk Road: a new history
By: Valerie Hansen

History compiled from back-of-the envelope scribbles? Hansen snares one's attention immediately by noting that much of what we surmise about the Silk Road has been pieced together from writing on recycled scraps of paper. She organizes what might have been confusingly episodic material around six key sites, creating a coherent ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Dude, where's my data?

Tubes: a journey to the center of the Internet

Title: Tubes: a journey to the center of the Internet
By: Andrew Blum

2012 was a good year for offbeat travelogues. (See the review of Andrew Blackwell’s "Visit Sunny Chernobyl" elsewhere in our staff picks.) Tubes is a delightful surprise. Blum begins by tripping over a router cable at home, and ends up, after international gallivanting, with an enlightened perspective on domestic digital ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Watch where he steps

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: and other adventures in the world's most polluted places

Title: Visit Sunny Chernobyl: and other adventures in the world's most polluted places
By: Andrew Blackwell

"Visit Sunny Chernobyl" sounds like an invitation you'd happily refuse. Amazingly, Blackwell manages to make this travelogue of the gruesome darkly entertaining. He neither trivializes horror nor wallows in it. He makes it bearable to consider these sites, and, in so doing, discourages despair. It's a fine fury that drives ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

An Everyday and Special Occasion Handbook

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Title: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
By: Martha Stewart

This is a beautiful book full of baking inspiration. There are basic recipes for brownies, tarts, and pies, as well as special occasion treats such as Banana-Caramel Cake. The photographs of the desserts and the baking equipment are a treat themselves. Don't miss the Carrot-Ginger Layer Cake with Mini Marzipan ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Farmer's Market Will Never Look the Same After

Blithe Tomato

Title: Blithe Tomato
By: Mike Marshall

Digs below the trendy, glossy surface of contemporary small scale farming, uncovering rich soil beneath. Unlikely ever to enjoy wide distribution, but remarkably insightful and delightfully well written. Set in California's Central Valley, will amply reward serendipitous discovery in library stacks. [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
0 Comments

The Yarn Harlot Writes Again

All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin

Title: All Wound Up: The Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin
By: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Popular knitting blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has released another charming collection of essays. Her simple but amusing tales range from addictive properties of yarn to the unfortunate demise of household appliances and family battles over closet space. While her stories focus largely on knitting, her humor can be appreciated by almost ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Light in the tunnel

London Under

Title: London Under
By: Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd's "votive offering to the gods who lie beneath London" is also an artifice -- or should that be an edifice? -- of eccentric pedagogy. Like the ever-so-slightly unsettling vicars of period British mysteries whose obsessively detailed leaflets are strewn about churchyards where murder lurks, Ackroyd's no man to ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

A font of fonts

Just My Type

Title: Just My Type
By: Simon Garfield

Delectable. For those who relish font variety but cringe at typographic promiscuity, here's a tonic. Garfield has a gift for pedagogy without pedantry; his book conveys a great deal of information without bogging down. The book's design supports his text admirably. The illustrations are crisp, and detailed discussions of a ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Music Lessons Remembered

The Leila Fletcher piano course. Book one.

Title: The Leila Fletcher piano course. Book one.
By: Leila Fletcher

I saw this book on a cart and the memories of my first piano lessons over 50 years ago came flooding back. Sitting up straight, feet dangling down, my mom or piano teacher sitting beside me. It is the same book with the same red cover that I used to ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Bittersweet

A Bittersweet Season

Title: A Bittersweet Season
By: Jane Gross

My father, in his 90s, lives on the opposite coast. I worry about his health, his safety, his security -- and my own. Over the past few years, searching for advice, I’ve tossed out countless newspaper and magazine articles and returned piles of library books half-read. I hesitated before checking ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

But Wait! There's More!

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.

Title: Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.
By: Harriet Elinor Smith, Editor.

Dear Mr. Clemens, So nice to hear from you! As always, I enjoyed reading your recollections of work as a cub pilot on the Mississippi, and the amusing stories of life on the never ending lecture circuit. I’m so sorry about your daughter Suzy passing away; she sounds like such ... [Read more]


fiction, non-fiction, history, biography, travel
0 Comments

Finding Happiness at Work

The Art of Happiness at Work

Title: The Art of Happiness at Work
By: Dalai Lama XIV

The Art of Happiness at Work (2003) is the second collaboration by His Holiness Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard C. Cutler, an American psychiatrist, following their The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (1988). It focuses on finding happiness at work, a topic touching the lives of the majority ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Early Language Learning

How Babies Talk:  The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life

Title: How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life
By: Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D.

I found the book fascinating! The authors discuss language development in children beginning before birth. Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a particular age range and within each chapter various language studies are discussed. They talk about how the studies were conducted, what was learned, and they also ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Get walking!

The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture.

Title: The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture.
By: John Leighton Chase

There's definitely a lot of "here" here in Santa Cruz. With its easy to read maps and charming photographs, "The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture" has been satisfying the curiosity of thousands of gawkers and walkers since first published in 1975. The 3rd edition (published in 2005) is edited ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, photography, travel
0 Comments

Tips for Family Togetherness

The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time

Title: The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time
By: Laurie David

This book is full of great ideas for family togetherness at mealtime, including kid friendly preparation ideas, conversation topics, fun place settings, and even some great recipes. Featured along the way are tidbits of advice from Nora Ephron, Maya Angelou, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Jonathan Safran Foer, and many others. ... [Read more]


non-fiction
1 Comment

Oasis

The anthropology of turquoise: reflections on desert, sea, stone, and sky

Title: The anthropology of turquoise: reflections on desert, sea, stone, and sky
By: Ellen Meloy

Warning: when you discover that Ellen Meloy died suddenly in 2004, you may feel bereft. "I was just getting to know her; how could she disappear?" The consolation is her books. Call them naturalist's memoirs or personalized landscapes or eco-history or (as she did) anthropology, they add up to a ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
0 Comments

A Softer Side of Patti

Just Kids

Title: Just Kids
By: Patti Smith

What do artists mean when they refer to having “a breakthrough” and from that point, go on to create their own unique style of expression? This autobiography describes the working conditions of the poet and punk rock star Patti Smith, and her friend, the late avant garde photographer Robert Mapplethorpe ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography, poetry, photography, art
0 Comments

From a newsman's point of view

Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City

Title: Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City
By: Jed Horne

Like Goya's signature remark "Yo lo vi, I saw it…," Jed Horne, the metro editor of New Orleans' own excellent newspaper, 'The Times-Picayune', tells it like it really was, firsthand. He and his fellow news staff continued to report the news and serve the city residents in the middle of ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
0 Comments

Surmountable

Summit Fever

Title: Summit Fever
By: Andrew Greig

Most mountaineering writers are mountaineers first. Poet and novelist Andrew Greig did it the opposite way: he joined an attempt on the “unclimbable” Mustagh Tower as expedition scribe, and emerged a mountaineer. His account of that expedition is an idiosyncratic classic. Greig may have driven his companions crazy with his ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
1 Comment

Strength in What Remains

Strength in What Remains

Title: Strength in What Remains
By: Tracy Kidder

At once heartwarming and tearjerking, Kidder tells the story of Deo who arrives in New York City with $200 in his pocket after a harrowing escape from civil war and genocide in Burundi. This is a story of hope and survival in the face of man’s inhumanity to man. Deo’s ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
0 Comments

How a special cat helps people at the end of their lives

Making rounds with Oscar

Title: Making rounds with Oscar
By: David Dosa

This is a remarkable book about a very ordinary, yet extraordinary cat. The story is set in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an Alzheimer’s nursing home facility in Providence, Rhode Island. The cast of characters include the nursing home staff, residents, and six cats. In this tale of ... [Read more]


non-fiction
1 Comment

The Petty Bringing Down the Great

Hellhound on his Trail

Title: Hellhound on his Trail
By: Hampton Sides

I am not one to read history for pleasure, but I found reading "Hellhound on his Trail" is like reading a thickly plotted novel. This engrossing tale is all the more interesting because it is based on true events. Hampton Sides shows us the little known, gritty bits about Martin ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography
0 Comments

The Making of Modern Paris, or, the demolition of prime real estate?

Haussmann, His Life and Times, and the Making of Modern Paris

Title: Haussmann, His Life and Times, and the Making of Modern Paris
By: Michel Carmona

This is a critical biography of the ultimate urban planner, Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann. A re-evaluation of the controversial urbanization of Paris, Dr. Carmona (professor of Urban Studies at the Sorbonne) does a fantastic job of laying out the truly hideous public hygiene problem, famously described as "a choleric swamp", and ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography, art, travel
0 Comments

Mountain skills

Homeowner's Complete Guide to the Chainsaw

Title: Homeowner's Complete Guide to the Chainsaw
By: Brian Ruth

For the weekend lumberjack, details all the common uses of the chainsaw: cutting firewood, felling, limbing downed trees, even turning logs to lumber with chainsaw milling attachments. A chapter on splitting and stacking firewood is a bonus. Every procedure is amply illustrated, step by step – everything is there in ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Let the forces be with you

What it feels like to be a building

Title: What it feels like to be a building
By: Forrest Wilson

What does it feel like to be a load-bearing wall? A pitched roof? A door? Forrest Wilson's figures hunch (I am compacted; I am strong), stretch (be careful what you dump on top of that skinny guy), twist (ouch! torque hurts), and cluster (it takes a village to keep a ... [Read more]


non-fiction
1 Comment

The Tarahumara Ultrarunners

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen

Title: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen
By: Christopher McDougall

McDougall shares his journey in tracking down and meeting some of the greatest ultrarunners in the world, the Tarahumara Indians. The Tarahumara live in the rugged Copper Canyons of Mexico and keep themselves isolated from the rest of the world. They can run incredible distances with nothing but strips of ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
2 Comments

The cookbook classic: Why it is still the best reference.

Mastering The Art of French Cooking:

Title: Mastering The Art of French Cooking:
By: Julia Child

Do we only consult this book when faced with a special occasion? Or can we read it, un-rushed, for sheer pleasure? I highly recommend adding to your nightstand, the classic cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Written with her co-authors, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, Volume One was first ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
1 Comment

Natural genius

Planting the natural garden

Title: Planting the natural garden
By: Piet Oudolf

Piet Oudolf is the genius behind extraordinary gardens at Chicago’s Millenium Park & New York’s Battery and just-opened (2009) High Line parks. His characteristic swathes of grasses and indigenous perennials are a perfect fit for “natural” landscape designs, including so-called green roofs. This is the rare gardening/landscape design book that ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

I can't wait to visit a salt mine!

Salt: A World History.

Title: Salt: A World History.
By: Mark Kurlansky

Thanks to Mark Kurlansky, who always makes history come alive - I learned that simple salt has not always been simple, in fact, man's need for salt and its manufacturing process helped shape civilization. He writes about how salt influenced trade routes, dynasties, and empires, from ancient Egypt, to China, ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
0 Comments

Revenge technology

Why things bite back: technology and the revenge of unintended consequences

Title: Why things bite back: technology and the revenge of unintended consequences
By: Edward Tenner

If the words “we’re upgrading our phone system” make you go “uh-oh,” you’re ready for this book. Tenner is no technophobe. But his scientific bent leads him to wonder whether the claims made for various time- and labor-saving gizmos are accurate. Do devices free us, or complicate our lives? Do ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

"Trust me, this is an interesting place"

In a Sunburned Country

Title: In a Sunburned Country
By: Bill Bryson

Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. This fact has stuck with me ever since I read In a Sunburned Country several years ago. "Of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed ... [Read more]


non-fiction, travel
1 Comment

Chronic Pain

Pain-Free for Life: The 6-Week Cure for Chronic Pain- Without Surgery or Drugs

Title: Pain-Free for Life: The 6-Week Cure for Chronic Pain- Without Surgery or Drugs
By: Scott Brady

Scott Brady, M.D. is the founder and director of the Brady Institute of Health in Florida. He discusses, in great detail, a program for ending chronic pain such as migraine headaches, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and sciatica. The author suffered from headaches, back pain, and irritable bowel syndrome himself ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Gone But Not Forgotten

Davenport Cement Centennial

Title: Davenport Cement Centennial
By: Alverda Orlando & Robert Piwarzyk

Librarian Alverda Orlando has been an authoritative historian on Davenport, California for decades. This is the first time she has collaborated with Robert Piwarzyk, a limestone expert/engineer, to compile a complete history of Davenport Cement Plant, one of the few cement plants existing in California. It will be of even ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
0 Comments

This House of Sky

This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind

Title: This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind
By: Ivan Doig

Doig captures a dramatic time in the history of his people settling the wilds of Montana, where growing up, he coped with the death of his mother and relied upon the hard-scrabble genius of his father. "My father had a humor unusual in a tense man, a casual gift of ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography
0 Comments

The funniest travelogue ever?

Into the heart of Borneo

Title: Into the heart of Borneo
By: Redmond O'Hanlon

Possibly the funniest travel memoir ever written, as well as an unexpected gold mine of accurate scientific information. When O'Hanlon invited his Borneo travel companion, the poet James Fenton, on a succeeding journey, the answer was an earbreaking NO! Would most readers want to accompany O'Hanlon? Probably not. But a ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
2 Comments

Friends Forever

The Girls from Ames

Title: The Girls from Ames
By: Jeffrey Zaslow

Imagine a group of friends that you have known literally all your life. You grew up in the same small town, knew each others' families, attended the same schools, went to the same parties, went off to different colleges and jobs, moved to different parts of the country, married, had ... [Read more]


non-fiction, audiobook
0 Comments

Worth unearthing

A unit of water, a unit of time: Joel White's last boat

Title: A unit of water, a unit of time: Joel White's last boat
By: Douglas Whynott

You’re not likely to stumble upon this gem unless you’re given to browsing technical tomes on boat construction. But oh, how lucky you’d be! This engrossing portrait of a cranky, brilliant craftsman racing against terminal illness is also a family saga: master wooden boat builder Joel White was the son ... [Read more]


non-fiction
0 Comments

Redemption of Criminal Youth

Last Chance In Texas

Title: Last Chance In Texas
By: John Hubner

The most violent criminal youth find hope in an unlikely place, "punish-'em-hard" Texas, The Giddings School, where all-day, one-on-one and group therapy sessions led by dedicated professionals teach the juvenile offenders to take responsibility for their crimes and to develop empathy and compassion for others. Instead of coming back into ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, teen fiction
3 Comments

It's A Long Drive Down Interstate 5, or that's a lot of cotton!

The King of California, J.G. Boswell and The Making of A Secret American Empire.

Title: The King of California, J.G. Boswell and The Making of A Secret American Empire.
By: Mark Arax

This book dovetails perfectly if you happen to be reading John Steinbeck, or studying the photographs of Dorothea Lange. A biography which examines the life of a very powerful farmer (at one point owning over 200,000 acres of rich farmland) used to driving bargains across bar stools and shaking down ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography
0 Comments

Journeys of a Passionate Traveller

A Year in the World

Title: A Year in the World
By: Frances Mayes

Mayes' most well-known work Under the Tuscan Sun and its offshoots never appealed to me so I was surprised and delighted when I discovered her more recent memoir, A Year in the World. In her day job Mayes was a writing instructor, and here she shows her craft in top ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
0 Comments

From Frito Pie to Pho

Take Big Bites: adventures around the world and across the table

Title: Take Big Bites: adventures around the world and across the table
By: Linda Ellerbee

Longtime reporter, producer, TV host, and author, Linda Ellerbee calls herself "a recovering journalist who's traveled and eaten her way around the planet and lived to tell some tales." In Take Big Bites she has written a witty, sassy book about food that's also a blend of autobiography, travelogue and ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography, travel
2 Comments

Pathways to Santa Cruz County & Its People

Pathways to the Past: Adventures in Santa Cruz County History

Title: Pathways to the Past: Adventures in Santa Cruz County History
By: Alverda Orlando and 21 others

Pathways to the Past is not the first book on the history of Santa Cruz County. As a matter of fact, at the time of this writing, our library catalog alone shows 135 titles on its history from early ones like Illustrations of Santa Cruz County, California, with historical sketch ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography
1 Comment

Reflections from the Land of Fire and Ice

The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland

Title: The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland
By: Bill Holm

Perhaps because I have never been there, I have always had a strange fascination with Iceland: the medieval sagas, the stark yet beautiful landscape, those small horses.... So when I heard poet and essayist Bill Holm being interviewed on NPR about this book, I immediately added it to my list. ... [Read more]


non-fiction, poetry, travel
0 Comments

Learning to Fly

The Complete Guide to Flight Instruction

Title: The Complete Guide to Flight Instruction
By: Gregory Penglis

This Bay area flight instructor has taught flying to hundreds of students for more than fifteen years. He recounts his experiences at age 16 learning to fly. He then writes about his challenges teaching student pilots and the state of flying instruction in the United States. While the book is ... [Read more]


non-fiction
2 Comments

Endearing biography of Doris Day

Doris Day: the untold story of the girl next door

Title: Doris Day: the untold story of the girl next door
By: David Kaufman

Are you a "Dayniac" too? This biography is so much more than just the usual tell-all book about America's sweetheart Doris Day with the superb voice and acting career. This book will give you the real low-down on her smarmy manager/husband, Marty Melcher. Miss Day was one of the biggest ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography
1 Comment

Lime Kilns in the Limelight

Lime Kiln Legacies

Title: Lime Kiln Legacies
By: Frank A. Perry, and others

Lime Kiln Legacies is the first complete history of the lime industry in Santa Cruz County. The rise and fall of the lime industry in Santa Cruz County coincides with the developing history of California. In the first half of the 1800s, only small amounts of lime began to be ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
3 Comments

The Happiest Places in the World

The Geography of Bliss: One grump's search for the happiest places in the world

Title: The Geography of Bliss: One grump's search for the happiest places in the world
By: Eric Weiner

Part travelogue, part memoir, part twisted self-help guide, this humorous ramble takes the reader around the world in search of the happiest places to live. NPR correspondent Eric Weiner discovers some surprises as he blends travel, psychology, science, and humor to ask not what happiness is, but where it is. ... [Read more]


non-fiction, travel
0 Comments

Something to Make You Think

Principles of Uncertainty

Title: Principles of Uncertainty
By: Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman is a wonderful whimsical artist who has drawn many colorful covers for the New Yorker and has written several slightly wacky delightful children's books including Ooh-La-La (Max in Love), Smartypants, and Fireboat, an excellent 9-11 children's book. You don't have to have seen her art or read her ... [Read more]


non-fiction, biography
0 Comments

Watching The Oscars Will Never Be The Same.

The Big Show : High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards

Title: The Big Show : High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards
By: Steve Pond

All the in-fighting and back-stabbing and shocking shenanigans of Hollywood and the behind-the-scenes gossip of the biggest show we all love to watch! Written by an observer extraordinaire who loves juicy gossip as much as we do. Now I know just how quirky the hosts can be, and it's the ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
0 Comments

A Colorful History

Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Title: Color: A Natural History of the Palette
By: Victoria Finlay

Doesn't this sound like something that would be assigned in a dry history class? If you think so, you'd be wrong! Victoria Finlay, an excellent writer, has given us a history of the development of color in paint that is actually a page-turner. Extensively researched, we learn that each hue ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography, art
0 Comments

French wine makers in WWII: an inspiring story!

Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure.

Title: Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure.
By: Don and Petrie Kladstrup

The authors interviewed several members of five prominent wine making families in France. Very interesting stories of how they personally hid Jewish refugees in wine caves and smuggled members of the Resistance in wine barrels! We read of grape harvests ruined because of the shortage of horses, sulfur dust and ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
1 Comment

Friends in the Kitchen

M.F.K. Fisher and Me: A memoir of Food and Friendship

Title: M.F.K. Fisher and Me: A memoir of Food and Friendship
By: Jeannette Ferrary

If only it were my kitchen! I would prove to both Jeannette and Mary Frances that when I scramble eggs, or sear a pork chop, it was their advice that helped me make them turn out so "right." What serendipity! Jeannette is a cookbook writer and writes M.F.K. a fan ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history, biography
0 Comments

History You Can't Put Down

The Great Bridge

Title: The Great Bridge
By: David McCullough

Part biography, part engineering study, and part political history, The Great Bridge tells the story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Popular historian David McCullough brings history to life in this book, which has all of the interest, characters and plot of a good novel. Even those (like myself) ... [Read more]


non-fiction, history
0 Comments

Book Kits

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