In 2008, comedian Mike Birbiglia wrote a one-man off-broadway play about his experiences with rapid eye movement behavior disorder, which causes him to act out his dreams and sleepwalk. His symptoms are exacerbated the longer he goes without expressing himself and dealing with his stress, resulting in him performing increasingly dangerous acts in his sleep. Including a time when he ran out of a second-story window of a Walla Walla, Washington hotel room, resulting in 33 stitches in his leg.
Birbiglia’s one man show Sleepwalk with Me, has become the defining story of his career and has been translated to a segment on the NPR show This American Life, a book, a stand-up cd, and a movie staring Birbiglia as himself and Lauren Ambrose as his girlfriend. Birbiglia isn’t a big personality and could best be described as a sad sack, but his wit and honesty make this absurd story feel relatable. The film, book, and stand-up cd all have similar content and are all available at the Davenport Public Library. I would recommend any of the three, but the film is especially fantastic. Any fans of comedians Patton Oslwalt and Marc Maron and the show This American Life that somehow haven’t heard Birbiglia’s story need to check it out asap.
Soul Food is an insightful and eclectic history, where Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition.
Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish – such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and “red drinks” – Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity. Miller argues that the story is more complex and surprising than commonly thought. Four centuries in the making, and fusing European, Native American, and West African cuisines, soul food – in all its fried, pork-infused, and sugary glory – is but one aspect of African American culinary heritage. Miller discusses how soul food has become incorporated into American culture and explores its connections to identity politics, bad health raps, and healthier alternatives.
This refreshing look at one of America’s most celebrated, mythologized, and maligned cuisines is enriched by spirited sidebars, photographs, and 22 recipes. (description by publisher)
If you’re anything like me, you spend an exorbitant amount of time on Pinterest pinning projects that you’ll never finish (who am I kidding, never even start). Of course you have all the best intentions to create that mason jar vase or handmade soaps, but last time you created something it should have ended up on Pinterest Fail. And while many of my own Pinterest mishaps are purely the result of my impatience or inability to follow directions correctly, some are simply because I’m following the directions of another novice that lacks an editor.
Austin-based fabric designer, Laurie Wisbrun‘s book Embellish Me removes that amateur obstacle. A professional fabric designer, Wisbrun brings expertise to the world of DIY. As a visual person, I found Wisbrun’s step-by-step photography easy to follow and the directions complete. The instructions make clear the tools and materials that will be needed for each project, and the interviews with other professional fabric artists were interesting and it was a treat to see their lovely works.
With a mix of instruction, ideas, and artist introductions — this is a book for crafting rookies and experts alike.
In 1958, the pacifist organization Fellowship of Reconciliation released a comic book to help promote the bus boycott and recruit new activists called Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. The comic book introduced potential protesters to the Montgomery Method, a method of resistance that was adapted from the peaceful protest methods of Mahatma Gandhi and focused on taking the moral and spiritual high ground in every encounter.
With this important comic book as inspiration, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, along with congressional aide Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell (The Silence of Our Friends), has produced a stunning and important introduction to the civil rights movement and the Montgomery method. March Book One is the first book in a three part series that highlights the remarkable life of a man that was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington.
Powell’s black and white pen illustrations are fluid, easy to follow, and highlight the importance in the text. Powell has a real talent in using light and shadow to convey mood, and his style feels modern while still hinting at the classic comic book style in Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. The comic book format lends itself to Lewis’ talent for oral storytelling, and would make a great introduction to a civil rights movement icon for young people and adults.
In Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, writer Elizabeth Cline manages to educate the reader on the current state of the worldwide garment industry and to make it a page-turner. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. Cline covers the history of America’s Department Stores, the complicated ethics of a global garment industry, a trip to China’s factories for an experiment in fashion manufacturing, the effect of cheap clothes on the secondhand stores and charitable causes, and the role of social media in the “fast fashion” environment–all while unintentionally evolving herself into a “slow fashion” activist.
This is not a see-how-I’m-better-than-you-because-I-only-wear-handsewn-fair-trade-organic-cotton manifesto, but rather a conversation with a super smart friend who’s motto is I-used-to-shop-mostly-at-Forever-21-and-then-I-learned-some-stuff-and-now-prefer-not-to-shop-there. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book is when Cline admits that only a few years before she began researching the book by sifting through her closet of cheap clothes from H&M, Target & Forever 21, she had participated in protests against her college for using sweatshops to produce their merch. If you were to ask me “Hey, are you against sweatshops and unfair labor practices?” I would say “Duh. Of course.” But then I would sheepishly look down at my clothing and have absolutley no idea how or where anything was made. It takes a lot of work not to buy cheap fasthion, and only Cline’s complete honesty, curiosity, and empathy could produce a book that could convince me to shop (a little bit) less at Target.
I highly recommend Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline to nonfiction readers, fashionistas, and fans of the slow lifestyle movement.
Whether it is a family member that lives across the country, or a loved one away on business, attending college, or stationed abroad in the military, everyone loves to get a treat in the mail that says “thinking of you.” It would be even more meaningful if that treat could be homemade, or is a number of different snacks, sweets, and tastes of home to make someone living far away feel closer.
Shirley Fan’s The Flying Brownie is the first and only book devoted to making, packing, and adding creative, homemade touches for food gifts that can be shipped a long distance. It features 100 recipes for baked goods and other snacks and treats, each with precise storage instructions and storage times. The book also offers plenty of guidance in navigating the various rules and restrictions of postal services, customs, and even secure military installations.
Separate chapters are devoted to brownies and bars, cookies, candies and confections, breads and quick breads, extra-light items for inexpensive shipping, savory foods, and mixes to be assembled upon delivery. From a veteran of the Food Network Kitchens and a registered dietitian, this is a reliable and inspiring guide that is sure to bring those families and friends who live apart closer together through the very same thing that unites them when they live together: good food. (description from publisher)
Author Lily Koppel reveals for the first time the stories and secrets of America’s unsung heroes – the wives of our original astronauts in The Astronaut Wives Club.
As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons. Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK’s favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night. As their celebrity rose – and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives – they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. This is the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history. (description from publisher)
The Secret Rescue by Cate Lineberry is the compelling untold story of a group of stranded U.S. Army nurses and medics fighting to escape Nazi-occupied Europe.
When 26 Army nurses and medics-part of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron-boarded a cargo plane for transport in November 1943, they never anticipated the crash landing in Nazi-occupied Albania that would lead to their months-long struggle for survival. The group and its flight crew dodged bullets and battled blinding winter storms as they climbed mountains and fought to survive, aided by courageous villagers who risked death at Nazi hands to help them.
A mesmerizing tale of the courage and heroism of ordinary people, The Secret Rescue tells not only a new story of struggle and endurance, but also one of the daring rescue attempts by clandestine American and British organizations amid the tumultuous landscape of the war. (description from publisher)
James is a street musician struggling to make ends meet. Bob is a stray cat looking for somewhere warm to sleep. When James and Bob meet, they forge a never-to-be-forgotten friendship that has been charming readers from Thailand to Turkey. A Street Cat Named Bob is an international sensation, landing on the bestseller list in England for 52 consecutive weeks and selling in 26 countries around the world. Now, James and Bob are ready to share their true story with the U.S. in this tale unlike any you’ve ever read of a cat who possesses some kind of magic.
When street musician James Bowen found an injured cat curled up in the hallway of his apartment building, he had no idea how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London, barely making enough money to feed himself and the last thing he needed was a pet. Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent but very sick animal, whom he named Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining that he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.
Perfect for fans of Marley & Me and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat, this instant classic about the power of love between man and animal has taken the world by storm and is guaranteed to be a huge hit with American fans as well. (description from publisher)
Based on the author’s twenty-five years of experience as a veterinarian and veterinary behaviorist, The Soul of All Living Creatures delves into the inner lives of animals – from whales, wolves, and leopards to mice, dogs, and cats – and explores the relationships we forge with them.
As an emergency room clinician four years out of veterinary school, Dr. Vint Virga had a life-changing experience: he witnessed the power of simple human contact and compassion to affect the recovery of a dog struggling to survive after being hit by a car. Observing firsthand the remarkably strong connection between humans and animals inspired him to explore the world from the viewpoint of animals and taught him to respect the kinship that connects us. With The Soul of All Living Creatures, Virga draws from his decades in veterinary practice to reveal how, by striving to perceive the world as animals do, we can enrich our own appreciation of life, enhance our character, nurture our relationships, improve our communication with others, reorder our values, and deepen our grasp of spirituality. Virga discerningly illuminates basic traits shared by both humans and animals and makes animal behavior meaningful, relevant, and easy to understand.
Insightful and eloquent, The Soul of All Living Creatures offers an intimate journey into the lives of our fellow creatures and a thought-provoking promise of what we can learn from spending time with them. (description from publisher)