Archive for March, 2011

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

March 30, 2011

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Author: Dale Carnegie
Title: How to Win Friends & Influence People
Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology
Publication Date: Original 1936; Revised, 1982
Number of Pages: 260
Geographical Setting: United States
Time Period: 20th Century

Plot Summary: This is the classic “how-to” book for understanding and improving communication between yourself and others, whether it be in the business world, or with a spouse.  Carnegie originally wrote this book at the end of the Great Depression, with intent to help inspire those he felt were bored by other ‘self-improvement’ books, and its last revision was in 1982.  With classic and timeless advice in dealing with difficult people and situations, persuading others with techniques to help you achieve success, the overall theme is reminding us to treat people with respect and courtesy. Carnegie provides countless examples of situations to illustrate his theories and offers real world advice on how people reading the book can use it in their lives.  Different sections include “Fundamental Techniques in Dealing with People,” “Six Ways to Make People Like You,” “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking,” and “Be a Leader.”  Following each section is a concise recap with key points to consider and remember.  An index at the end of the book allows the reader to quickly look up by name, a particular example.

Subject Headings: NonFiction; Success; Persuasion, Psychology; Leadership; Business Communication

Appeal: fast paced, conversational, practical, introspective, self-improvement, persuasive, inspiring, useful, realistic, communicative, straightforward, influential, educational, earnest, psychology, leadership, classic, timeless

3 terms that best describe this book: communication techniques, business advice, human behavior

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

  • Think Like a Champion by Donald Trump is a collection of Trump’s most profound essays on dealing with business challenges, life struggles and his view on how to achieve success through what is called an “informal education.”
  • Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in life) by Cathie Black; Black is the president of the Hearst Magazine empire, and through this motivational book, shares her secrets to success geared towards women in business.  She discusses negotiating and leadership while describing ways to better achieve balance at home and work.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, also the author of the bestseller, Blink.  In this book, he identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers with examples in business and popular culture.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  • Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra is a fictional account of the life of the Buddha, written for western readers, traces his spiritual journey while explaining how his experiences and teachings have changed the world and continue to influence every facet of life.
  • Playing With Boys by Alisa Valdes-Rodriquez is a story of three Latin-American women in their late twenties, including an actress, a suburban mother, and a music manager, and the tales of their success and failures of their relationships and business lives in Los Angeles.
  • Company by Max Barry is a fictional and humorous satire of the corporate world told from the perspective of Stephen Jones, who works at the the Zephyr Holding Building, and where he finds a company defined by its lack of clarity, a building numbered in reverse, and an invisible CEO.

–Jennifer Peterson

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

March 30, 2011

Author: Pierre Bayard, Translated by Jeffrey Mehlman

Title: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2007

Geographical Setting: Paris, France

Time Period: Contemporary

Summary: Pierre Bayard, a professor of Literature at a Paris University, wants to assuage the guilt associated with non-reading.  Believing the guilt to be part of a larger fear of culture, he attempts to build the confidence needed to discuss books that you have not read.  He offers advice on books “you don’t know”, “have skimmed”, and “heard of” in different confrontations and then delves into psychoanalytical advice on behavior and confidence.  Along the way he mentions characters and writers he has come across, with footnotes that label his level of non-reading for the particular book, who exemplify non-reading including Oscar Wilde, Paul Valery, and Michel de Montaigne.

Subject Headings: Literature-History and Criticism-Theory, Psychoanalysis, Books and Reading

Appeal: humorous, thought-provoking, insightful, literary, candid, frank, witty, informative, satirical, philosophical, tongue-in-cheek, practical, lucid, subtle

Three terms that best describe this book: Witty, thought-provoking, and satirical

Three relevant works of fiction:

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil: The man without qualities is a thirty-something who is not ambitious nor contemplative and is no longer passionate about the only aspect of life he once cared for, mathematics. The librarian, a proud non-reader, claims to never have read a single book in order to know about them all equally.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco: A post-modern take on a historical murder mystery set in a medieval Italian library that is based on Umberto Eco’s theory of Reader Response, similar to Bayard’s claims. The Inquisitionists are out to destroy a book that has the potential to ruin people’s lives.

Small World: An Academic Romance by David Lodge: Here is an entertaining look into the world of literary criticism.  Lodge’s characters, young academicians, try to find love at their yearly conferences, which are their break from work. An interesting look into the world of those who decide which books and acclaimed and which are not.

Three relevant works of non-fiction:

How to Read and Why by Harold Bloom: Bloom, also a Literature professor, promotes books and reading rather than satirically avoiding it like Bayard, but the subject matter and the authors opinions are the same: reading matters.

Literature and Psychoanalysis: The Question of Reading: Otherwise edited by Shoshana Felman: The definitive collection on the link between Literature and Psychoanalysis.

Falling into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature by David H. Richter: Richter examines why we read, what we read, and how we read.  He discussed these topics with students, critics, writers, and teachers and summarized his findings in this work.

-Mike Monahan

This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save the World

March 30, 2011

Author:  Marilyn Johnson

Title:  This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians can Save Us All

Genre:  Non-fiction

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  272

Geographical Setting:  N/A

Time Period:  Present Day

Plot Summary:  The library profession is one that is in a constant state of flux.  Embracing the plight of this profession in renaissance, Marilyn Johnson takes readers on a journey through the, “ranks of information professionals and readers on technology burn-out.”  This collection of twelve essays provides a look at the ups and downs of a profession that is comprised of a vast variety of different people: the obscene bloggers, the tattooed-children’s librarians and couples who quietly (but stoutly) fight the FBI for Intellectual Freedom.  Johnson speaks about taboo topics in a witty, almost lighthearted manner; she gracefully ponders what’s funny about finding poop in the drop box.  In the next essay, she writes about a town library that is considered to be the state’s wealth of historical information, yet it is run by one full time librarian.  Readers are given the opportunity to see library life across the genres: the real life inner workings of a library in a circulation system transfer (horror), special libraries (romance) and libraries without any walls (humor).  Whether you’re a library worker or a library patron, there is an essay for you in Johnson’s collection.

Subject Headings:  Libraries, Blogs, Cybrarians, Workplace, Nonfiction, Patriot Act, Librarians-Humor

Appeal:  compelling, easy, evocative, exuberant, inspiring, unpretentious, eccentric, observant, authentic, inspirational, issue-oriented, smart

3 terms that best describe this book: Eye-opening, Encompassing, Easy

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson:  A wry study of the cult and culture of the obituary challenges public interest in these unique and morbid human-interest stories.
  2. Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles: A history of how libraries began and grew beyond just a place to house books.
  3. A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel: In this major collection of his essays, Alberto Manguel, argues that the activity of reading, in its broadest sense, defines our species.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Day Job: A Workplace Reader for the Restless Age by Jonathan Baird:  This combination of text and illustrations in an unusual format, is guaranteed to furnish some insights, chuckles and a lesson or two about satisfaction in the job market.
  2. Death Loves a Messy Desk by Mary Jane Maffini:  When Charlotte Adams, a professional organizer and occasional sleuth, is hired by Fredelle Newhouse to organize a co-worker’s cluttered desk, she must solve an untidy mystery when the woman behind the mess goes missing, causing workplace tempers to explode.
  3. Allison Hewitt is Trapped: A Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux:  Maintaining a blog from inside a bookstore where she and five co-workers are trapped during the Zombie Apocalypse, Allison wryly documents the sensational adventures they share while carving their way through ranks of zombies and equally threatening humans.

Name:  Jennifer Hovanec

Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of a Man Who Dared to See

March 30, 2011

https://i1.wp.com/img.hotbooksale.com/books/9780812973686/1/Crashing-Through-The-Extraordinary-True-Story-of-the-Man-Who-Dared-to-See.jpgAuthor: Kurson, Robert

Title: Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of a Man Who Dared to See

Genre: Nonfiction/ Biography/ Inspirational

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 299

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: 1953 – present

Series: n/a

Plot Summary:

When Mike May was blinded at the age of 3 during a chemical explosion, his family was told he’d never see again.  As he grew up, May didn’t let vision loss stand in his way. He crashed through life, both literally and figuratively, from learning to ride a bicycle to driving his sister’s car down the middle of the street. May studied abroad in primitive conditions in Ghana, was hired as the first blind employee of the CIA, and won three gold medals in the Paralympics. At a routine ophthalmologist appointment Mike was offered the chance to see again.  Yet alongside this remarkable opportunity came enormous risks, including re-loss of vision and death.

Robert Kurson deftly captures Mike May’s amazing life story with a straightforward and candid approach. Alternating chapters of past and present paint a realistic and intimate look at May’s upbringing, failures and successes, marriage, family life, and life-changing decision. This inspirational story of adventure, courage, determination and loss is humorous, moving and bittersweet.

Subject Headings: Stem cell transplant, blindness, living with vision loss, living with a disabled family member, entrepreneur, science writing, skiing, Paralympics, vision restoration, life changing events, brain science, California

Appeal: Character centered, candid, inspirational, thought-provoking, humorous, upbeat, family oriented, engrossing, adventurous, well-drawn characters, informative, entertaining, detailed, candid and realistic portrayal of living with blindness

3 terms that best describe this book: inspirational, courage, vision restoration

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Armstrong, Lance—It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (descriptive, candid, overcoming medical odds, inspirational, adventurous, heartwarming, autobiography)

Callahan, John—Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot: The Autobiography of a Dangerous Man (inspirational, humorous, candid look at disability, autobiography)

Hockenberry, John—Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence (autobiography, adventurous, candid account of living with a disability, society’s reactions to a disability, entertaining)

Kuusisto, Stephen—Planet of the Blind (autobiography, blind persons, family reactions to impairment)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bray, Libba—Going Bovine (humorous, life changing events, adventurous, character centered)

Cowell, Alan—A Walking Guide (realistic depiction of disability, adventurous, well-drawn characters)

Deford, Frank—An American Summer (upbeat, bittersweet, character-driven, courage, humorous, acceptance of disability)

Name: Debbie Siegel

The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

March 30, 2011

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Author: Terri Cheney

Title: The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: March 1st, 2011

Number of Pages: 288 pages

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles, CA

Time Period: Late 1960’s – 1970’s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Terri Cheney chronicles her life as a young girl struggling with bipolar disorder while growing up in a suburban Los Angeles home in this engaging memoir.  She eloquently retells stories about her childhood and teen years, pulling the reader in with a sense of urgency through every incident.  Throughout the book, she is hiding a secret that she herself is too young to understand, even though on the outside she was a smart and successful student, beloved by her father.  Candid and straight-forward, Cheney doesn’t hide anything that happened to her as a child, nor does she make excuses for why she did those things, other than the fact that a force inside of her, whom she named as the “Black Beast”, drove her into this destructive, manic lifestyle.

Subject Headings: Bipolar Disorder, Childhood, Dysfunctional Families, Self-Discovery, Sexual Experimentation, Spirituality and Religion, Writing, Suburban Life

Appeal terms: Intense, dramatic, ominous, sexual, volatile, urgent, hostile, bittersweet, angst-ridden, complex, uneasy, evocative, candid, character-centered, morbid, bleak, angry

3 terms that best describes this book: Disturbing, intensely dramatic, emotional

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask by Hilary Smith

A funny and insightful book that dives deep into a difficult issue with humor only someone who has been there can truly write about.

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir by Kay Redfield Jamison

A psychiatrist opens up about her life struggles with depression, varying from her personal stories to scientific knowledge about the disease that both distraught and thrilled her.

Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? A Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder by Karen Winters Schwartz

The teenage daughter of a psychiatrist is bipolar, and every member of the family is affected by her behavior, though they handle it in different ways.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Written in free verse, this is the story of three psychologically troubled teens connecting after they are committed to a mental health facility after suicide attempts.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Largely seen as autobiographical, this is a fictional work about a young female writer in the 1950’s whose talent was overshadowed by her constant struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg

A young teenage girl struggling with schizophrenia has to fight for a way to live sanely and escape the torments of her fantasies.

Name: Lian Sze

The Big Short

March 30, 2011

The Big Short

Author: Michael Lewis

Title: The Big Short

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Geographical Setting:  The United States (mostly New York City)

Time Period: 2000s

Summary: When American financial markets collapsed in 2008 , most people didn’t (and still don’t) understand exactly what happened or how.  As government officials, bank executives and other supposed experts all claimed that the crash was unforeseeable, there were other voices getting less attention who were saying just the opposite; they claimed that not only was the collapse foreseeable, but that they had in fact foreseen it and had been warning others about it for years.  Some of them had even profited from the collapse through complicated financial products that in essence were bets against the market, primarily the sub-prime housing market.  The Big Short tells the story of the collapse through a litany of interesting characters, including an autistic trader with a glass eye and a variety of others who had been outcasts in the financial world, taking positions and making bets that few else understood and many criticized, until finally they were among the few left standing, finally vindicated while the rest of the financial industry crumbled around them.

Subject Headings: Economics, American History – Twenty-First Century, Stock Markets, Contemporary History

Appeal: Character-driven, compelling, engrossing, dramatic, philosophical, eccentric characters, strong language, contemporary setting, stock market jargon, journalistic, informal language, investigative, dark humor

Three terms that best describe this book: Eye-opening; sometimes difficult due to complex concepts and professional lingo; question-raising.

Three relevant works of fiction:

Vineyard Days by Gene Pisasale (A murder mystery set to the backdrop of the 2008 financial market collapse)

Moral Hazard: A Wall Street Thriller by Jyl Scislow (A tale about the dark side of Wall Street, and the great lengths that some people will go to for money)

Black Friday by James Patterson (A novel about stock market collapse and financial panic in the midst of a terrorist attack)

Three relevant works of non-fiction:

Crash Proof 2.0: How to Profit from the Economic Collapse by Peter D. Shiff (Outlines methods for guarding yourself against economic meltdown and how to preserve wealth even in difficult economic times)

The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street by Robert Scheer (A recent history of American economic policy and what led up to the 2008 collapse)

Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil, from Wall Street to Dubai by Ben Mezrich (The true story of an unlikely character making a big impact on the oil trading exchange)

Lee R. Sigman

The Warmth of Other Suns: by Isabel Wilkerson

March 30, 2011

Author: Isabel Wilkerson

Title: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Genre: Popular Narrative Non Fiction

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 640

Geographical Setting: The United States of America

Time Period: 20th Century (mostly from 1935 to 1999)

Plot Summary: This is the story of six million black Americans who courageously chose to leave, or escape, the Jim Crow South and live in Northern or Western parts of the U.S. It is a story of how many of these individuals thrived in the North despite barriers including widespread racism and competitive urban living. Moreover, it is the narrative of three such migrants and their detailed life histories . . . Ida Mae and her husband fled the South in the 1930’s and settled into a Chicago home where they balanced blue collar work, family, religion, and time for Southern cooking and hospitality. George escaped the South in the 1940’s and did his best to establish a home in Harlem with his family, but his work with the railroad required routine travel back to the South. Robert journeyed out of the South in the 1950’s and built his new life in Los Angeles as a family man, respected surgeon, and a hopeless gambler. As Ida Mae, George, and Robert tell their unique stories of life during the Great Migration, an underlying shared experience surfaces.

Subject Headings: Rural-urban Migration, Migration Internal, United States, History, 20th Century, African Americans, Black Americans, America’s Great Migration, Great Black Migration, Racism

Appeal: builds in intensity, folksy, candid, humorous, insightful, sobering, detailed, factual, multicultural characters, character-centered, multiple plots, socio-political issue-oriented, thought-provoking, hopeful, page-turner

3 terms that best describe this book: a story–that is comprehensive, yet intimate; that reads like fiction, but creatively draws the reader back to its unwavering reality; and that lives up to the title of being epic!

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (set during The Great Depression, The Joads, an Oklahoma farming family stricken by the Dust Bowl migrate to California, but are faced with further adversity)

To Help by Kathryn Stockett (explores racism in the South during the Jim Crow era and is humorous with likeable female characters whose situations at home, at work, and in the public arena are sobering)

The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puzo (a tale of an Italian immigrant woman in America who came with family, love of her homeland, and the courage to persevere as her traditional values are challenged)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a comprehensive, yet intimate history of Abraham Lincoln’s personal and political life in the context of friends, rivals, and an America divided by racism)

Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin (a biography focused on baseball’s Hall of Famer Branch Rickey and his recruit of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940’s—an act that defied racial norms)

Fly Away by Peter Rutkoff and William Scott (a 20th century history of how black Southerners who migrated North modernized and shaped American society while maintaining ancestral traditions)

–Jeanne Jesernik

Running in the Family, by Michael Ondaatje

March 30, 2011

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Author: Michael Ondaatje

Title: Running in the Family

Genre: Memoir, literary nonfiction

Publication Date: 1982

Number of Pages: 182

Geographical Setting: Sri Lanka

Time Period: Contemporary to writing

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:

Canadian poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje journeys from the chill of a Toronto winter to exotic Sri Lanka, the homeland he left at eleven.  The trip is a launching point for Ondaatje to revisit his family history; he describes many of his family members, such as his eccentric and memorable grandmother Lalla, and his father Mervyn, whom he lovingly describes as both a mischievous young man and an alchoholic father.  Woven in with Ondaatje’s family history are poetic interludes (a highlight is his poem “The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife”) and sensory-rich descriptions of Sri Lanka.  This slim and stylistically complex work gently draws readers’ imaginations into Ondaatje’s beloved homeland and his equally beloved but eccentric family.

Subject Headings: Alcoholism; Eccentric Families; Family Histories; Homecomings; Ondaatje, Michael, 1943 -; Sri Lanka; Travel

Appeal: descriptive, complex structure, lyrical, humorous, relaxed, literary, eccentric characters, contemplative, humorous, family-centered, exotic setting, lush

3 terms that best describe this book: lyrical, exotic setting, family history,

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Relative Merits: A Personal Memoir of the Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka, by Yasmine Gooneratne – Written around the same time as Running in the Family, this memoir of an aristocratic Sinhalese family gives another glimpse into life in Sri Lanka.

New Wind in a Dry Land, by Margaret Laurence – Another famous Canadian author’s memoir, this one also occurs in an exotic setting and has lush, atmospheric writing.

Living to Tell the Tale, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – another literary, stylistically complex memoir with lyrical writing.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Reef, by Romesh Gunesekera – those who like Booker Prize-winning novels (Ondaatje’s The English Patient received this award) may appreciate this novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Like Running in the Family, Reef is set in Sri Lanka and characterized by poetic, sensual language.

Who Occupies this House, by Kathleen Hill – This literary novel is a moving family saga with lyrical writing.

Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray – a funny, moving, stylistically complex literary novel dealing with family relationships, among other things.

-Noelle Nightingale

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

March 30, 2011

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Author: Powell, Julie

Title: Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen: how one girl risked her marriage, her job and her sanity to master the art of living (1st. ed.)

or

Julie and Julia: my year of cooking dangerously (pbk.)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Best Seller

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 309

Geographical Setting: New York City

Time Period: 2002-2003, shortly after 9/11

Series (If applicable): none

Plot Summary: Feeling the need for some kind of purpose or guidance in the wake of September 11th (and while working unhappily for a closely-related government agency), the author stumbles upon her mother’s old copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by PBS-staple Julia Child. Her husband introduces her to the blossoming world of blogs and she decides to chronicle her journey of cooking every recipe in the book over the course of a year. Soon she has dedicated blog followers, frustrating shopping lists, an exasperated mother, a mostly-patient husband, maggots in the kitchen and media attention.

Subject Headings: cooking, self-discovery, writing, food writing, blogs, New York City, Julia Child, French cooking, memoir, marriage, anecdotes

Appeal: easy, candid, humorous, sarcastic, flawed, quirky, domestic, episodic, strong language, contemporary, urban, accessible, candid, chatty, profanity, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: searching, food, humor

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste by Ayun Halliday.
Fans of the quirky humor Julie Powell bestowed on her food writing may really enjoy this tome, by a fellow New Yorker.

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, by Judith Jones.
The editor that brought Julia Child to the world also had a fascinating career herself, full of food, books and adventure. Readers who found Powell’s meal descriptions tantalizing may eat up this book.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon.
Many readers now picking up Julie and Julia have already seen the movie and may be disappointed by the book’s significant lack of “Julia time,” as compared to the film. This collection of letters flushes out the real-life friendship between Julia and Avis in a way Powell’s book can not.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Book of Other People, edited by Zadie Smith.
Fans of intelligent humor often cite McSweeney’s and The Believer as must-reads. Here, many of those writers are brought together for short character studies, just as delectable as Powell’s descriptions of her friends and co-workers.

Citizen Girl, by Emma McLaughlin
For those readers who can sympathize with Julie Powell’s frustrating work experiences and the desire to go further than the corporate world seems to allow. McLaughlin also wrote the popular Nanny Diaries books, prized for their humor and relatable heroine.

Secrets to Happiness, by Sarah Dunn
Marital discord can be funny and those who enjoyed peeking into Powell’s homelife alongside her foodlife may enjoy this story of a newly-divorced New Yorker playing therapist to her friends.

Name: Genevieve Grove

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

March 30, 2011

https://i2.wp.com/cineclubecovilha.com/image/screen/Under-the-Banner-of-Heaven--By-Jon-Krakauer.jpgAuthor: Jon Krakauer

Title: Under the Banner of Heaven:  A Story of Violent Faith

Genre: Non-fiction; True Crime; Spirituality and Religion

Publication Date: July 2003

Number of Pages: 399

Geographical Setting: Utah, Canada, New York, Illinois

Time Period: 1980s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: The book begins with a true story of two brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who on July 24, 1984 murdered Brenda and Erica Lafferty, their sister-in-law and niece. Their reasoning was that God ordered them to do so.  Both men are now serving time in prison for the murders.  Neither of the brothers denies killing Brenda and Erica, but claim that they did not commit any crime.  When asked how both could be true, Ron Lafferty says, “I was doing God’s will, which is not a crime.”

Both brothers are affiliated with the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), also known as Fundamentalist Mormonism.  Krakauer explores issues of polygamy and the strict guidelines surrounding the fundamentalist sect of Mormonism, and he discusses its negative connection to the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) or mainstream Mormons.  He also delves into the history and formation of modern-day Mormonism and its founder, Joseph Smith.  His compelling and engrossing book attempts to decipher extremist beliefs among FLDS members and its roots.

Subject Headings: true crime, spirituality and religion, child murder, Lafferty family, Mormon Church, Mormon fundamentalism, Murder, Murderers, Revelation (Mormon Church), Sects, 80s, 20th Century, Violence, Women murder victim, Joseph Smith

Appeal: disturbing, thought-provoking, compelling, engrossing, unsettling, investigative, historical details, tragic, well-developed, layered, accessible, informative, dark, enthralling

3 Terms that best describe this book: enthralling, disturbing, informative

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Joseph Smith:  Rough Stone Rolling by Richard L. Bushman – Biography of Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon faith), history writing, Mormons, well researched, Mormon experience, 19th century American life, Bushman is a Mormon, but attempts to provide an evenhanded view.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop – Autobiography of a woman forced into plural marriage as a teenager, Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS), struggles to survive outside the FLDS, escape, abusive relationship, spirituality and religion, family and relationships, true crime, polygamy, Utah.

Crazy for God: how I grew up as one of the elect, helped found the Religious Right, and lived to take all or almost all of it back by Frank Schaeffer – Autobiography, personal accounts of growing up and living within the religious right, Christian Evangelicals in America, Christian Fundamentalism, discusses family and relationships, spirituality and religion, candid storytelling, struggle with faith and beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Author

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff – Mormons, polygamy, Historical mystery, first person narrative, murder, Utah, present-day, fictional narrative of the real life “rebel” and nineteenth wife of Brigham Young.

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard – Mormons, family relationships, Utah, character-driven, compelling, moving, murder, forgiveness.

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall – Mormons, polygamy, Utah, male perspective, family, domestic fiction, middle-aged men, family secrets.

Name:  Jeannine Kropski