February is the time of year when our country recognizes the past presidents of the United States. Since this is an election year, the U.S. presidency is on the mind of Americans even more so than usual. I thought it would be a good time to highlight new nonfiction books about the U.S. presidency and presidents.

let the people ruleThe primaries have started in the U.S., and many Americans are left baffled with how the process works, not to mention how a caucus fits in to everything. Primaries are how the people are given a say in which candidate they want to represent their political party in the presidential election. But we didn’t always get a say in this. Geoffrey Cowan’s book Let the People Rule is about the 1912 race for the Republican nomination between Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. It was the first time in American history that primaries were held. It is a great story to read, and also a keen insight into the history of the U.S. primaries.

 

 

a just and generous nationFebruary is also known for being the birth month of one of the nation’s most beloved presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Countless books and movies have been made not only telling the storing of his life, but honoring his work while president of the United States. Lincoln is known as the President that ended slavery in the U.S., but is it possible there was more to his plan to end slavery? Historian Harold Holzer has written A Just and Generous Nation; a book that brings a new account as to why the 16th president sought to end slavery. Holzer writes that Lincoln’s true motivations lie in allowing every American the opportunity to better their stations in life.

 

 

 

the residenceEver wonder what really goes on in the White House? Kate Anderson Brower, a former White House news reporter has compiled a book dedicated to telling the behind the scenes stories within the White House. The point of views are taken from the White House staff that work to maintain the six floor mansion. The Residence is full of anecdotes that reveal the intimate relationship that exits not only between the first family and staff but among the staff themselves. Also featured are first hand accounts of what was happening in the White House during some of America’s most historical events.

 

 

the american odysseyAs President Obama’s time in the White House comes to an end, Americans are once again asking themselves what they want to see out of the next American presidency. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham offers insight into the modern day presidency and life of George H.W. Bush. The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush chronicles the former president’s amazing life using both he and his wife’s personal diaries.

 

 

 

one man against the world

Nothing screams scandal like the presidency of Richard Nixon. Much has been said about his presidency and his premature exit from office, but only recently have the recorded conversations and stunning information been made public. Award winning journalist Tim Weiner writes One Man Against the Worldcovering all of Nixon’s declassified tapes and documents. The result is a calamitous depiction of a tormented man that saw himself as a world leader as much as he saw himself as leader of the United States.

 

 

 

a full lifeBeing president of the United States is generally the culmination of a life’s work. But some presidents, such as Jimmy Carter, have made careers for themselves after leaving the White House. A Full Life:Reflections at Ninety, the autobiography of Jimmy Carter, pretty much sums it all up with that title. Carter looks back at his life, remarking on events with refreshing frankness. From humble beginnings in rural Georgia to winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, Carter tells the story of what has been his happy and full life.

AtlantisMeet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City by Mark Adams

The Lost City of Atlantis.  One of the Western World’s most famous tales.  Many people dismiss the story as a myth.  But what is interesting about the story of Atlantis is that it was recorded by the great philosopher Plato and that he is the only written source on this story.  The debate over whether or not Atlantis is real or fiction stretches back to Plato’s death back in 347 BC!  Plato claimed that the story was true and the he heard the story from reputable sources.  However, even Plato’s famous student Aristotle expressed doubts about Atlantis being a real place with the quote, “He who invented Atlantis also destroyed it”.

Follow Mark Adams around the world as he interviews people that have studied the lost city of Atlantis.  Some people insist that Atlantis is a legitimate place and that they know the precise location of it.  Other people that speak with Mark Adams are scholars and are less inclined to believe that Atlantis was a real location.  Whether you personally believe in Atlantis or not, you cannot help but be fascinated by the theories that people come up with.

Mark Adams travels to various locations, being shown evidence and possibly proof, that Atlantis existed.  You may think this sounds tedious, but Adams is able to make his journey sound like an exciting adventure.  Much more exciting than Indiana Jones!  One of the first places that he visits is Ireland, home of the Atlantipedia.  The Atlantipedia is similar to Wikipedia, except in this case, the entire web site is devoted to information on Atlantis.  Of course, Mark eventually travels to the Mediterranean and to Greece, home of Plato.  On the way to Greece, he stops at the Straits of Gibraltar.  Many people believe that this is Plato’s site for the Pillars of Heracles.  And yet, some have placed the Pillars of Heracles in North America!

Even if the Lost City of Atlantis is not something that usually captures your attention, you will find yourself engrossed in this story.  After all, the city of Troy has been discovered.  PerhAtlantis2aps Atlantis really existed.  Maybe someone will uncover it.  Or, perhaps it has already been found but we need to find the evidence that links it to Plato’s story.  Anyone that loves the Classics, Greek Mythology, Archaeology, and/or adventure will enjoy this book.

Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City is available in print and in audiobook.

 

the age of adalineHave you ever seen a preview and told yourself you would never watch the movie? That’s how I felt with The Age of Adaline. The premise seemed unbelievable and the whole idea far-fetched. One day, however, someone told me I should really check it out because the movie was better than what the preview presented. Thus begins my falling in adoration of The Age of Adaline.

The Age of Adaline follows the life of young Adaline Bowman and her decades long endeavor to keep her real identity hidden from everyone. This necessitates having to move every decade and to change her identity. Adaline Bowman was in a near-death car crash when she was 29 that left her unable to age. Having remained 29 for almost eighty decades, Adaline has managed to keep her identity a secret by following a set of rules she has written for herself. She steers away from love, chooses friends wisely, and never tells anyone her real name – well except for one person, but that was years in the past.

In present day, Adaline manages to keep all of her promises until she meets Ellis Jones, a philanthropist who works his way fully into her life. Adaline soon finds herself having to deal with the clashing of her past and her present when a weekend trip to his parents’ house brings up memories that she would like to leave behind. This trip changes her life forever and forces her to come face-to-face with her destiny, whatever she chooses it to be.

 

 

Oscar BlogThe Academy Award nominations were announced early on January 14, and the ceremony will take place on February 28. The Academy Awards are widely known as the ultimate acknowledgement in the film industry. Unlike most film awards, the Academy Awards focus on every aspect of film making from Best Production Design to Best Supporting Actor to Best Film of the Year. While it may be the most coveted of all film awards, the actual event is probably the least exciting of any movie award show. Usually they open up with some fun awards, but the middle has a bunch of awards the general public doesn’t really care about that are won by a bunch of people we’ve never heard of. I LOVE this award show, but when the award for Best Sound Editing comes up I take a bathroom break. This is where I stop and thank my DVR for all of the wonderful things it does! 

Coincidentally my favorite Oscar moment occurred during the longest ever Oscar ceremony. Of course this particular year I was watching it live and remember it well. In 2002 Whoopi Goldberg hosted the ceremony that would last 263 minutes. That is 1 hour and 23 minutes over the 3 hour allotted time slot. But it was well worth the wait as my second favorite actor of all time finally took home the Best Actor Oscar for his roll in Training Day. Fourteen years later Denzel Washington continues to be a standard in acting as he was awarded the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement award at the Golden Globes on January 10.

This year is a big year for me as a fan, probably the biggest year in my 20 years of watching the Oscars. Despite everything I just said about the award shows being a bit boring in the middle, I am definitely watching it live this year! My favorite actor of all time is up for Best Actor and he is a shoe in to win. He is one of the few Hollywood acting elite that have yet to take home an Oscar. To earn the nomination, Leonardo DiCaprio was the lead actor for the film The RevenantFor those of you that have not heard by now, the cast and crew had to endure excruciating filming conditions. The weather was was often far below zero and there were multiple set backs and difficulties. Only when temperatures reached -40 degrees did production halt for five weeks. DiCaprio pulls out all the stops for this film, including eating a raw bison liver. Leo is not the only cast member being honored, the film leads the Oscar pack with a total of 12 nominations.

Another highlight of this year’s Academy Awards will be host Chris Rock. Chris Rock previously hosted the award ceremony in 2005. There has been some push for the actor to drop out of hosting the awards due to the lack of diversity of the nominees this year. But as of right now, the actor is standing by the Academy. Rock leaves me laughing every time and I think this show will be no exception.

For more Oscar fun, see below.

Complete List of Nominees

33 Fascinating Academy Awards Statistics

Academy Awards Trivia Quiz

50 Greatest Oscar Moments

how to talkIf you have ever felt like the words you speak are falling on deaf ears, you may want to check out How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

The book is addressed to parents, mostly, but I have found the suggestions presented are useful in many other contexts, too. Teachers will no doubt find them useful, as well as anyone who wants to work on their communication skills or has ever had to deal with difficult people.

The authors learned many of their principles of effective communication from their teacher, Dr. Haim Ginnott, of Columbia University. They went on to hone their approach over many years through their experiences as parents and teachers.

The following principles are taken from Dr. Ginnott’s approach:

  • Never deny or ignore a [person’s] feelings.
  • Only behavior is treated as unacceptable, not the [person].
  • Depersonalize negative interactions by mentioning only the problem. “I see a [broken lightbulb].”
  • Attach rules to things, e.g., “[People] are not for hitting.”
  • Dependence breeds hostility. Let [people] do for themselves what they can.
  • Limit criticism to a specific event—don’t say “never”, “always”, as in: “You never listen,” “You always manage to break things”, etc.
  • Refrain from using words that you would not want [anyone] to repeat.
  • Ignore irrelevant behavior.

The book presents these ideas using amusing vignettes of common scenarios and how best to handle them. If you like this book, you may also be interested in the following by the same authors:

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too  

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children

Between Brothers & Sisters: A Celebration of Life’s Most Enduring Relationship

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 

the knickCinemax has put together a splendid fictional drama based on the medical field and goings on at the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York. In this show called The Knick,  surgeons, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff and benefactors, deal with the ins and outs of running a hospital in downtown New York in 1900. The star of this show is the new chief of surgery, Dr. Thackeray, having just inherited this position after the suicide of his predecessor.

Dr. Thackeray and the rest of his team are forced to deal with changes due to poor finances and increased competition between the other hospitals when all of their wealthy patients leave. In order to keep the place afloat, viewers will see the administrators wheedling for money, extorting patients, selling bodies, all the while telling people things are going okay.

The Knick is a fairly bloody and graphic show, which one must expect considering it is a medical drama. This show deals with complicated subject matter, like drug addiction amongst the doctors, racial and gender prejudice when Dr. Thackeray is forced to work with his new Deputy Chief of Surgery who just happens to be a black doctor, while all the while dealing with a typhoid outbreak (HELLO Typhoid Mary!) and trying to come up with and perform new surgeries to save their patient’s lives.

I found this show to be riveting and personally can’t wait for the second season to come to DVD, so I can check up on Dr. Thackeray and friends to see how they are all fairing!

Featured new additions to DPL’s Philosophy and Psychology collections! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.


where-we-belong-9781476752426_hrWhere We Belong: Journeys That Show Us the Way by Hoda Kotb – In this incredible collection of stories, Hoda Kotb writes about individuals who realized their path in life was either veering off in a completely new direction or was getting too far off course from where they knew they belonged. By following their passions, their gut, and their heart, these people learned how fulfilling life could truly feel. From the investment banker who became a minister after years of working on Wall Street, to the young woman from a blue-collar background whose passion took her to Harvard Medical School,  the stories in Where We Belong come from an array of ordinary individuals who have discovered the power of embracing change or fighting for a dream.


10165Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher – First published in 1992, Helen Fisher’s Anatomy of Love quickly became a classic. Since then, Fisher has conducted pioneering brain research on lust, romantic love, and attachment; gathered data on more than 80,000 people to explain why you love who you love; and collected information on more than 30,000 men and women on sexting, hooking up, friends with benefits, and other current trends in courtship and marriage. And she presents a new, scientifically based and optimistic perspective on relationships in our digital age―what she calls “slow love.”


untitledInventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World by Pagan Kennedy – A father cleans up after his toddler and imagines a cup that won’t spill. An engineer watches people using walkie-talkies and has an idea. A doctor figures out how to deliver patients to the operating room before they die.  By studying inventions like these — the sippy cup, the cell phone, and an ingenious hospital bed — we can learn how people imagine their way around “impossible” problems to discover groundbreaking answers. Pagan Kennedy reports on how these enduring methods can be adapted to the twenty-first century, as millions of us deploy tools like crowdfunding, big data, and 3-D printing to find hidden opportunities


9780241201954Calm by Michael Acton Smith – Achieving mindfulness doesn’t require a huge lifestyle shift or special training. It’s about mastering simple habits that work with the demands of your busy life. It uses the abilities you’re born with: creativity, spontaneity, and awareness of the world around you. There are no rules to follow or break. Everyone can achieve calm. In Calm, Michael Acton Smith combines fascinating neurological research, ancient wisdom, and real-life experiences to demystify meditation and show you the many simple ways to be mindful everyday.

 


the-geography-of-genius-9781451691658_hrThe Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley by Eric Weiner – In The Geography of Genius, acclaimed travel writer Weiner sets out to examine the connection between our surroundings and our most innovative ideas. He explores the history of places, like Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, and Silicon Valley, to show how certain urban settings are conducive to ingenuity. And, with his trademark insightful humor, he walks the same paths as the geniuses who flourished in these settings to see if the spirit of what inspired figures like Socrates, Michelangelo, and Leonardo remains. In these places, Weiner asks, “What was in the air, and can we bottle it?”


717sH-KWi5L__SL1500_The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times by A.C. Grayling – A. C. Grayling’s lucid and stimulating books, based on the idea that philosophy should engage with the world and make itself useful, invariably cause discussion. In describing and exposing the dark side of things, he also explores ways out of the habits and prejudices of mind that would otherwise trap us forever in the deadly impasses of conflicts of all kinds.Whether he is writing about the First World War and its legacy, free speech, the advantages of an atheist prime minister or the role of science in the arts, his essays are always enlightening, enlivening, and hopeful.

ReadingChallengeBWHere we go folks! Welcome to the first month of the Davenport Library Online Reading Challenge!

This month’s theme is Journeys. How you define “journey” is entirely up to you. The most obvious interpretations are travel memoirs, but there are also journeys of the mind and spirit. The best books combine a bit of both – interesting locations and new awareness from the writer. The Merriam-Webster definition of journey is:

1 : an act or instance of traveling from one place to another : trip. 2 chiefly dialect : a day’s travel. 3 : something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another <the journey from youth to maturity> <a journey through time>

Journeys, big or small, long or short, have the potential to fundamentally change how you see the world and traveling alongside someone on their journey is the next best thing (plus, you get to do it from the comfort of your own chair!)

Here are a few titles to get you started. Remember, you don’t have to read any of these from the list – you are free to pick anything that fits the theme of Journey.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – Tramp along the Appalachian Trail with local boy Bill Bryson (he grew up in Des Moines) and his crazy friend Stephen Katz as they set out to conquer this classic American journey. This book is very, very funny, (although the chapter about bears might make you think twice about walking anywhere less settled than Eldridge), but it is also full of insights about the beauty of nature, the oddity of human beings and the rewards of perseverance. Bryson has written several books about travel, all excellent, but this is the best (so far)

Miles from Nowhere by Barbara Savage – This is the book that woke up the wanderlust in me. A young couple sell everything and spend two years bicycling around the world. Their adventures and mishaps make for can’t-put-down reading and their journey is a testament to how far dreams and determination can take you.

Wild by Cheryl Strayd – After the death of her mother and after making multiple poor life choices, Cheryl decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. What she learns about herself along the way – to trust yourself and your own strengths, to ask for help from others, to believe in the healing power of the outdoors, to put one foot in front of the other again and again, are both life lessons and travel memoir.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner – In search of the happiest place on Earth, Eric Weiner travels the globe. Each chapter focuses on a new location, with many witty insights into the culture of each place. Some psychology, a dash of science and lots of travel and humor make for an engaging read. And maybe a few ideas for your next travel destination!

This is just a tiny sample of the many books about journeys that are out there. I’ve picked fairly recently published titles; the motif of a journey in literature is nearly as old as storytelling (The Odyssey anyone?), and has been used many times – Huckleberry Finn, Travels with Charley, On the Road. The possibilities are nearly endless.

My choice for this month is The Road to Little Dribbling, Bill Bryson’s newest travel book. He is back in England, moving from south to north, exploring and observing as only he can. What about you? What will you be reading? Tell us in the comments!

Look for Online Reading Challenge bookmarks at each of the library buildings in a few days – they’re designed to be a handy way keep track of the books you’ve read as part of the 2016 Challenge. We’ll put them out as soon as they’re available.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to report on my progress and to check up on how you’re doing.  Have fun and Happy Reading!

Check here if you need to more information about the Online Reading Challenge.

 

 

Featured new additions to DPL’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.


All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders – Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families. But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.


81JLIh6bQCLMorning Star by Pierce Brown – The conclusion of the Red Rising trilogy, Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within. Finally, the time has come.

 


91VUYTvyFOLBarsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen – In the future, humans have vanished; what remains are the anthropomorphic animals from the former Earth, who have spread throughout the universe bringing with them their own cultures and prejudices. The exiled Fants (elephants) on Barsk are even more separated than the other animal species. Their only contact is through the trade of koph, a special plant that gives certain creatures the ability to speak with the dead. It is this plant that is at the heart of the conflict that will test the resolve of two Fants as they uncover a shameful truth that the most powerful in the universe will do anything to keep secret.


81HKI8ZoecLThe Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson – Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight. The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive. The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.


the-wildings-original-imadkvejnmzzmfbuThe Wildings by Roy Nilanjana – In the labyrinthine alleys and ruins of Nizamuddin, an old neighborhood in Delhi, India, lives a small band of cats. Miao, the clan elder, a wise, grave Siamese; Katar, loved by his followers and feared by his enemies; Hulo, the great warrior tom; Beraal, the beautiful queen, swift and deadly when challenged; Southpaw, the kitten whose curiosity can always be counted on to get him into trouble. Unfettered and wild, these and the other members of the tribe fear no one, go where they will, and do as they please. Until one day, a terrified orange-colored kitten with monsoon green eyes and remarkable powers lands in their midst–the first in a series of extraordinary events that threatens to annihilate them and everything they hold dear.


81Ete5lFP2LOversight by Thomas Claburn – Disgraced detective Sam Crane would do anything to help his comatose daughter recover. But when he’s told to turn a blind eye to the murder of a reclusive scientist, he refuses, seeing his resolve as atonement for failing his family and his colleagues. Sam’s determination to persevere endangers his friends, even as it reveals a secret sought by a deluded advertising magnate, a set of look-alike terrorists, and government agents: a way to alter the visible world. If only he could have seen the truth through his own eyes. Confronting a deceptive, hyper-commercial world amid a pandemic of blindness, Sam realizes he must embrace the artifice he resents to maintain his integrity. He plays his adversaries against each other in a gamble that puts his investigation at risk but offers a way to mend his fractured life-if he can survive.


9780802124647The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo –  Finlandia Award-winning author  Johanna Sinisalo’s reputation as a master of literary speculative fiction and of her country’s unique take on it, dubbed “Finnish weird.” Set in an alternative historical present, in a “eusistocracy”–an extreme welfare state–that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.

The-Martian-2015-movie-posterThe Martian

Just looking at the title, one would assume that this movie is just about space, presumably Mars.  But you would be wrong.  The Martian is a story of survival that just happens to take place on Mars.

Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon, is accidentally left behind on Mars after his crew mates erroneously presumed that he was dead.  Watney must figure out how he is going to survive with some meager supplies.  Surviving in the wilderness on Earth can be quite challenging in itself.  One must find food and clean water as well as have shelter from predators and the elements.  Imagine having all of these problems plus needing to have a supply of oxygen and protect one self from the hostile environment on Mars.

“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab beaches, I’ll just kind of implode. If none of those things happen. I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah.” – Mark Watney

And yet, Mark Watney manages to find a way to stay alive.  And he does so with a sense of humor.  Even in  a tense situation, while you are sitting on the edge of your seat, Watney will figure out a way to make you laugh as he himself laughs at danger.  He makes contact with NASA and finds out that it will take a very long time for them to rescue him.  The question becomes, will Mark Watney be able to stay alive long enough so that he can be rescued?

Nominated for Best Picture and for Best Actor, Matt Damon.  The Martian won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical and for Best Actor, Matt Damon, in a Comedy of Musical.  Do not let the Golden Globe Awards fool you.  Even though The Martian has funny moments, it is not a comedy.

martian bookThe Martian is based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir which is also available at the Davenport Public Library.