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December 2007

Librarians’ Choice 2007 · Nonfiction

cover of The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story
Diane Ackerman
Poland, 1939: the Nazi blitzkrieg virtually destroys the city of Warsaw, including its zoo. The zookeeper and his wife survive and manage to create a secret refuge for Jews who were courageously led out of the infamous Warsaw Ghetto. Diane Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses) offers readers a moving and powerful testimonial to the endurance of the human spirit under extreme circumstances.

cover of 50 Hikes in Ohio 50 Hikes in Ohio
Backcountry Publications
This brand-new edition of Ralph Ramey’s guidebook features day hikes (generally five miles or less) through some of the Buckeye State’s gorgeous natural scenery. If you’re interested in hitting the trails in other states, be sure to check out some other titles in the 50 Hikes series

cover of The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between
Peter Berley
If you’re the cook, accomodating the dietary preference of your dinner table guests can make your head spin. Berley comes to the rescue with a cookbook that offers recipes that can be adapted for veggies and meat-eaters. For example: “Lemon-Thyme Chicken”can be turned into “Lemon-Thyme Tofu,” or savory lentils can be served with baked fish or ricotta dumplings. Arranged seasonally, these menus will have everyone at your table eating—and enjoying—healthy fare.

cover of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosphy Through Jokes Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosphy Through Jokes
Thomas Cathcart
Cathcart and Klein, who met a Harvard as philosphy students, use comedy to explain the basic concepts, methods, and great thinkers of the study of philosophy. A vey funny treatment for your mind and body problem.

cover of Clapton: The Autobiography Clapton: The Autobiography
Eric Clapton
He was born in rural England and raised by his grandparents. He is a relatively quiet and humble person who is also an absolute icon among guitarists and recognized around the world. He writes songs that reach into your heart and don’t let go. He has stories to tell. This is the autobiography of Eric Clapton.

cover of Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker
Stacy A. Cordery
The lovely and willful Alice Roosevelt—Teddy’s oldest child—was a source of endless fascination to the Washington D.C. establishment. After she married Speaker of the House Nick Longworth, a Cincinnati millionaire, their publicly tempestuous relationship fueled Alice’s reputation as intelligent, rebellious, and highly outspoken. This biography has been hailed as a fascinating look at the life of a very “high-spirited” woman.

cover of At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays
Anne Fadiman
This collection of insightful essay covers a broad range of issues, from large intellectual concerns to the author’s small difficulty in achieving a good night’s sleep. Fadiman’s humorous and keenly perceptive treatises argue the important contribution the essay provides in contemporary society.

cover of Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe
Nancy Bazelon Goldstone
If only these sisters were alive today, the paparazzi would have a field day. Back in the 13th century, all four daughters of the Count and Countess of Provence grew up to become crowned heads of Europe. Of course, this was during the days when royal marriages were arranged to achieve political objectives, but these ladies were apparently up to the challenges that came with the throne. Author Nancy Goldstone (Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World) celebrates the fascinating lives and times of four remarkable women.

cover of A Skating Life: My Story A Skating Life: My Story
Dorothy Hamill with Deborah Amelon
Anyone enchanted with figure skating will love this book. What a charmed life Dorothy Hamill seemed to lead—winning Olympic gold, marrying Dean Martin’s son. What we never saw were the hours of grueling training, the financial drain on her family, and the depression her parents battled. Hamill is a survivor, though, and her story will inspire.

cover of Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives from the StoryCorps Project Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives from the StoryCorps Project
Edited by Dave Isay
StoryCorps is a documentary project to record the lives of “everyday Americans.” Here, the project founder offers moving samples of those interviews, in which people reveal their happiest and saddest moments, triumphs and tragedies with resilience, humor, and honesty. Isay also includes StoryCorps history and how the project affects the lives of those involved.

cover of unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation
Brooks Jackson
When it comes to news, the line that separates “information” from “opinion” becomes a little fuzzier every day. Once an idea is posted, printed, or aired, it often takes on a life of its own, regardless of its validity. How to tell the difference between fact and fiction? Two political campaigns reporters have some tips to help you unravel the “spun” from the “unspun.”

cover of Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the Great Depression Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the Great Depression
Mildred Armstrong Kalish
I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp.—Mildred Kalish
The New York Times Book Review editors picked this charming, warm-hearted memoir about Kalish’s childhood as one of their favorites from 2007. We heartily second their recommendation!

cover of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver
After a couple of years of severe drought, the writer Barbara Kingsolver and her family moved from Arizona to a small farm in Virginia. Kingsolver, also a trained biologist, chronicles the result of their decision to eat only foods produced by themselves or individuals in their community. Supported with editorial contributions from Kingsolver’s husband and daughter, this fascinating book takes a clear-eyed look at the challenges of opting out of the “corporate agri-business” model. Food for thought!

cover of One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dreams With the Help of a Simple Office Supply One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dreams With the Help of a Simple Office Supply
Kyle MacDonald
Inspired by a childhood swapping/bartering game, MacDonald put an ad on Craigslist offering to trade a paperclip for something just a little better. Fourteen trades later, MacDonald had a new house. During the year-long process, he started a blog, which was noticed by book publishers, which was then noticed by the film industry, and before you know it, he has a house, a book deal, and a movie contract with Dreamworks!

cover of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution
Thomas McNamee
As you wheel your shopping cart through the organic food aisles in the grocery store or tuck into a goat cheese salad in a neighborhood bistro, you may not realize that the quality and variety of choices on the shelves and the menu stem from one woman’s revolutionary influence on the American culinary scene. McNamee's new biography is a fascinating chronicle of the extraordinary story of Alice Waters and her groundbreaking restaurant, Chez Panisse. A must for foodies!

cover of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir
Bich Minh Nguyen
Imagine fleeing Vietnam with your family, leaving behind all of your possessions, and trying to make a new life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Challenging, yes, and if you were a teenager from a family who insisted on eating only Vietnamese food, nothing could be more compelling than American “junk food.” Growing up in the 1980’s, Ms. Nguyen thought that she could fit into her surroundings if only she could pack a lunch like the other kids at school. This revealing memoir presents an interesting perspective on the immigrant experience.

cover of Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil
Deborah Rodriguez
Shortly after the fall of the Taliban, Michigan native Deborah Rodriguez joined a volunteer relief team in Afghanistan. Ms. Rodriguez, a hairdresser by trade, soon discovered that a good haircut was highly sought after by both Afghanis and foreign aide workers. She went to work setting up a beauty school which would give young women the opportunity to learn a marketable skill for the first time in their lives. The resulting story is simply amazing, as is the fortitude and ingenuity of a beautician who made a difference in a community halfway around the world.

cover of The World Without Us The World Without Us
Alan Weisman
Alan Weisman’s exhaustively researched book examines what might happen to the earth if humans disappeared tomorrow. Most of the outcomes would be good, at least for the remaining flora and fauna, but nuclear waste, chemical and oil fires, and the literally expanding sea of plastic (aka the Pacific Ocean) could cause trouble for millennia to come. This is the book that will convince you to make your own cloth grocery bags for trips to Kroger’s.