Archive for March, 2012

Homer’s Odyssey

March 28, 2012

Author: Gwen Cooper

Title: Homer’s Odyssey

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication Date: 2009

Number of pages: 299

Geographical Setting: Miami, FL; Manhattan, NY

Time Period: 1990s – 2000s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Gwen Cooper, a writer currently residing in New York, tells the story of one special cat named Homer and how he changed (and continues to change) her life in endless manners. Homer had a raging eye infection at just two weeks of age that nearly took his life, but one committed veterinarian saw the true potential in him and therefore, performed a surgery to remove his eyes and thus, save his life. Gwen adopted Homer when so many refused and he has been there for her (and countless others) in so many unspoken and spoken (or “meowed”) ways. Cooper once stated in her memoir that she is his eyes, and he is her heart (283). Homer taught her about love, loss, commitment, responsibility and generosity, and Gwen clearly and beautifully writes of all of this in her book. For example, Homer saved her from a burglar; taught her how to love unconditionally; and provided her with hours and weeks and years of humor, entertainment, and inspiration. This is a true masterpiece of a memoir about one woman and her “blind wonder cat.”

Subject Headings: Cats – Nonfiction; Blind cats; Miami, FL; Manhattan, NY; Memoirs; Writers; Families; Love relationships; Friendships; Marriage; 9/11/01; Terrorists

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, detailed (characters), intriguing secondary (characters), well-developed (characters), gentle, inspirational, resolved ending, thought-provoking, heartwarming, graceful, nostalgic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engrossing, inspirational, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.) 9/11: The World Speaks by Tribute WTC Visitor Center – This book is a collection of stories, comments, photos and drawings left at the WTC Visitor Center in New York from persons from across the globe. Readers who would like to learn more about international personal accounts regarding the events of 9/11 would very much appreciate this text.

2.) Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa – This book details the life of a cat named Oscar who has a gift of being able to point out who is on their way to the next world (a.k.a. – Heaven). Dosa’s text is as much about cats and their remarkable abilities, and listening and showing compassionate care for others.

3.) Soul Mates: Honoring the Mystery of Love and Relationship by Thomas Moore – Moore has here created a text which discusses relationships between partners, spouses, friends and others and draws upon history, philosophy and spirituality. Readers may enjoy reading his suggestions for honoring all of the relationships in our lives, whether with humans or animals.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

3.) May the Road Rise Up to Meet You: A Novel by Peter Troy – Troy’s novel tells the story of four individuals (many whom are immigrants) during the nineteenth century in America. This is an engrossing novel that, in the end, brings together the lives of all four persons as well as two love relationships.

1.) Those Christmas Angels by Debbie Macomber – This novel focuses on Macomber’s familiar, recurring angels named Shirley, Goodness and Mercy who are, in fact, matchmaking angels. They are working together in this novel to help two individuals to find love during the holiday season. This book will hit home for readers who enjoy heartwarming tales.

2.) Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho – Coelho’s novel is about a young woman who, after a failed suicide attempt, ends up in an asylum. Once there, Veronika eventually finds that life is so much more than what she had previously thought and that every moment here is truly precious. An inspirational read.

Name: Melissa

The Hidden Reality

March 28, 2012

Author: Brian Greene

Title: The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

Genre: Non-Fiction, Popular Science, Science Writing

Publication Date: January, 2011

Number of Pages: 384

Geographical Setting: The Cosmos

Time Period: Present

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Physicist and popular science writer Brian Greene successfully takes ideas and theories on the cutting-edge of modern-day physics and makes them accessible to a wide audience in The Hidden Reality.  The purpose of the writing is to introduce the scientific theories in physics that allow for parallel universes and to explain how scientists came to them.  Greene demonstrates how, rather than seeking out any possible scientific excuse to talk about alternate realities, scientists came to these various theories reluctantly. According to Greene, while trying to make mathematical sense of strange phenomena uncovered in quantum physics and cosmology, scientific theories that allowed for parallel universes began to emerge.

To accomplish the goal of the book, Greene reviews, in accessible language, the chains of scientific discoveries in math and physics from the 19th century to the present day.  The ever growing complexities of the scientific findings he outlines are sure to challenge most readers.  Greene takes great care, however, to shield the reader with poignant analogies and simple language.  For the more mathematically adept, he includes the formulas behind the theories he references in the notes section.  Once he is satisfied the reader has the requisite understanding of the questions and gaps in scientific understanding, he introduces readers to the exotic theories scientists have come up with to explain and fill those gaps.  Finally, Greene brings the reader up to speed on the current debates and experiments in physics and cosmology.  He explains what discoveries scientists, working at CERN and elsewhere, may uncover that could advance or dispel confidence in the various theories in The Hidden Reality.

Subject Headings: Physics, Theoretical Physics, Cosmology, Quantum Physics, General Relativity, Astronomy

Appeal: fascinating, compelling, educational, scientific, well-researched, challenging, engaging, thought provoking, scientific theory, accessible, analogous writing, academic, complex, awe-inspiring, mysterious

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: challenging, scientific writing, thought provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Grand Design (2010) by Stephen Hawking

Hawking takes the concepts of multiple universes and string theory and explains how scientists are using them to create a unified theory on why the universe exists the way it does.

Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions (2005) by Lisa Randall

This book is also a popular physics book that uses analogies to explain the current theories in quantum physics.  Randall focuses on string theory and its multiple hidden dimensions, a large topic in Greene’s book.

– Decoding Reality: The Universe as Quantum Information (2010) by Vlatko Vedral

This popular science book explores the theory that the mysteries of quantum physics can be better understood through the idea that information is physical and is the basic building block of the universe.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Spin (2005) by Robert Charles Wilson

This science fiction book runs wild with the theory of general relativity with a plot that involves aliens suspending the entire planet Earth in time.  It also deals with cosmologically ideas on the eventual death of our solar system and galaxy.

Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal and Quantum Physics (2000) by Rebecca Goldstein

One of the gaps in modern physics that Greene outlines in his book is the failure of scientists to link general relativity with quantum mechanics.  The characters in this literary fiction novel attempt to do just that.

The Light of Other Days (2000) by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter

This science fiction novel expands on the current understanding of quantum physics. The story involves scientists with an advanced knowledge of quantum physics who can create wormholes. The wormholes can bridge distant points, even into the past.

Name: Noel M.

In the presence of mine enemies

March 28, 2012

Author: Harry Turtledove

Title: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Genre: Science Fiction (Alternative Histories)

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 454p.

Geographical Setting: Berlin*

Time Period: Present-day (-ish)*

*In the Presence of My Enemies is a work of fictional alternate history wherein Germany has won the 2nd and 3rd World Wars (the 3rd resulting in the nuclear destruction of all significant American cities, and a new capital in Omaha, in case you were wondering about the home team) and has exterminated (to their satisfaction, at least—think slave labor) the world’s population of Slavs, Jews, Blacks, and a plethora of other racial, ethnic, and nationalist groups.  They are cozy with the Japanese Empire.

Series (If applicable): Not yet.

Plot Summary:  A small community of Jews, loosely allied by family and friendship, struggle to raise families, work, continue the Jewish faith, and survive clandestinely in “present day” Berlin as good “Germans” alongside their unknowing, yet legitimately Aryan, German friends and colleagues.  Adding to their many daily trials, the Reich has been hurled into a new and uncertain direction toward “reform” that leaves the Empire, and especially Berlin, in a heightened state of political and national unrest, boldness, and uncertainty, by the appointment of a progressive new Fuhrer and the political emergence of an enigmatic Party rabble-rouser (think Gorbachev and Yeltsin!).

Subject Headings: Nazi Party (Germany), Jews—German, World War 2, 21st century, Jewish families, Middle class families, Secrets, Secret identity, Identity (Psychology), Political upheaval, Political demonstration, Secret police, Police state, Fascism, Adolf Hitler, Revenge, Genetics, Germany—Politics and government, Genocide, Adultery.

Appeal: plot-driven, dark, surreal, steady, bleak, candid, claustrophobic, foreboding, melancholy, menacing atmosphere, paranoid, suspenseful, detailed, authentic, imaginative, intense, tense/anxious, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, political, urban, concise, straightforward, ominous.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: plot-driven, dark, thought-provoking.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

While the suggestion of reading this book might seem as appealing to a reader as stabbing themselves in the eye with a fork, it does merit consideration as Turtledove’s Nazi Empire is wholly dependent on it as both their Constitution and their Bible.  While the plot line of radical reformists calling for adherence to the more democratic-minded first edition of Mein Kampf in order to extend freedoms, liberties, and self-determination to the citizens and conquered nations of the Reich is clever and ironic, the real shivers happen as it becomes clear that Hitler has achieved God-like infallibility and reverence in Turtledove’s nightmare world.

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany by Eric A. Johnson

Can genocide become an everyday facet of society? Apparently so, the author would argue.  Over 3,000 Germans of the era (Jews and non-Jews, victims and perpetrators) took part in the research for this book.  The conclusion: the average German lived not in fear of the Gestapo or anything else for most of Hitler’s reign, but existed rather comfortably and prosperous.  The estimated 1/3 of Germany that knew of what was happening in the concentration camps, chose to ignore what was going on in their backyards, as well as those citizens that knew of the extermination through rumor.  By the time of Turtledove’s Reich, the extermination of millions (billions?) of people around the globe is viewed simply as historical fact and a privilege of the victors.  This book is a well-deserved kidney punch to German ambiguity and nostalgia when it comes to the pre-War years, as well as to those who think a movement like the Nazis could never threaten the globe again.

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion A. Kaplan

This book attempts to answer the age-old question of why the Jews didn’t leave Nazi Germany en masse.  The author uses interviews, diaries, letters, and other first person accounts to portray a Jewish population as confused as they were frightened as the Nazis slowly stole freedom and property until they were trapped in a hostile country, completely deprived and isolated.  This book puts the machinations of genocide into motion with enough momentum to be a fully realized institution for the Jewish families in “Presence”, who know fully well any disclosure of their true identities would result in immediate execution.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Legendary and iconic sci-fi author Dick gives his version of a world in which the Germans and Japanese won the 2nd World War.  Almost a companion piece to In the Presence of Mine Enemies in depicting the goings-on on the other side of the globe, Dick portrays a 1960’s United States that is German-Japanese occupied and has reinstated slavery.  What few Jews who survived live hidden under the cloak of assumed identities.  Sound familiar?

1945: A Novel by Robert Conroy

This is another WW2 based alternate history.  The twist here is that instead of surrendering after the dropping of the atomic bombs, military extremists assume control of the nation, vowing never to surrender.  The ensuing U.S. invasion of the home island unleashes death and carnage in apocalyptic proportion.  This is all the more disturbing given the fact that in reality the Emperor being deposed in a coup by hardline generals vowing to fight to the last man, woman, and child was a very real possibility, narrowly escaped.

Into the Storm: Destroyermen, Book One by Taylor Anderson.

Again, WW2 is the stepping off point for this first book in an on-going series.  In the heat of battle the bloodies and battered destroyer USS Walker seeks escape from faster, deadlier Japanese boats by heading directly into a massive, otherworldly looking squall.  As the storm subsides, the Captain and colorful crew notice that while geographically things look familiar, everything else in the parallel Earth they find themselves trapped in is very, very different.  In no time at all, Walker is tossed into the middle of a genocidal (and carnivorous) war begun by the Grik (human sized vicious, but mindless, lizards) against the Lemurians (human sized noble and peace-loving lemurs).  As this New Earth is technologically somewhere in the 18th century, the allegiance, modern armament, and know-how of Walker and its crew may prove decisive to the fate of this world.

Name: Bill S.

Tender At The Bone

March 28, 2012

Author: Ruth Reichel

Title: Tender At The Bone

Genre: Nonfiction, Food Writing, Memoir

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York, Montreal, California

Time Period: 1960’s-1970’s.

Plot Summary: Future food critic and editor of Gourmet magazine, Ruth Reichel, writes a memoir about growing up as a budding gourmet and daughter of The Queen of Mold, a woman with an iron stomach who routinely poisons her guests. Reichel writes lovingly about attending a French school in Montreal, having a wild phase in high school, and living in an organic, vegetarian commune in her 20’s. All of her stories relate to her education in good food, such as her best friend’s father who taught her the wonders of French cooking, or the cook who taught her how to make her father’s favorite weiner schnitzel. Every chapter is punctuated with a recipe, which is good because when Reichel describes food, she goes into mouth-watering detail.

Subject Headings: Cooking, Growing Up, Food Habits, Recipes

Appeal: eccentric, intriguing, family-centered, details of cooking, lush, descriptive, colorful, engaging, witty.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Eccentric, lush, witty.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

When Julie Powell is about to have a nervous break down from her drab life, she saves herself by taking on a project where she cooks every single recipe from Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” in a year and blogging about it. Powell’s writing is sharp and witty, and also ends every chapter with a recipe.

Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste by Ayun Halliday

Although this is a similar food memoir in which Ayun Halliday writes about her connection to food from an early age and how her tastes expanded while growing up, Halliday is the polar opposite of Reichel. Halliday was an extremely picky eater as a child who didn’t discover her love of food until her first bite of spanikopita, when she discovered her innate love of ethnic cuisine. Halliday’s own cooking is more similar to Reichel’s mother, as Halliday also has an iron stomach and thinks nothing of eating something that fell on the ground, much to the chagrin of her family.

French Lessons: Adventures With Knife, Fork And Corkscrew by Peter Mayle

Mayle takes the reader on a culinary tour of France, in which he imparts the French’s enthusiasm for truly good food in a charming and lighthearted way.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

At nine-years-old Rose Edelstein discovers that when she bites into food, she can taste the emotions of the cook who made it. Her mother’s lemon cake tastes of “despair and desperation.”

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Tita De La Garza is the youngest daughter in her family and forbidden to marry because she has to take care of her mother. She falls in love with someone anyway, and he falls for her from the magical way that she cooks. He marries her sister to stay close to her, and they keep their passion at a low ebb until circumstances throw them together again.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

This book follows eight students who gather for cooking lessons at Lillian’s Kitchen every Monday. The stories of what they really want is woven in between sumptuous descriptions of the food that they make.

Name: Jessica DiMaio

Sin in the Second City

March 28, 2012


Author:  Karen Abbott

Title:  Sin in the Second City:  Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America’s Soul

Genre:  Nonfiction, history

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  360

Geographical Setting:  Chicago

Time Period: 1900-1911

Series (If applicable):  n/a

Plot Summary:  Sin in the Second City details the rise and fall of Chicago’s most famous and well-respected brothel, the Everleigh Club.  Run by sisters Minna and Ada Everleigh, the club was the jewel of the south side Levee district, as the sisters strove to create an upscale business where only the best would do—the best customers, the best ladies, and the plushest décor.  The Everleigh Club boasted 50 rooms filled with perfume fountains, walls of mirrors, Oriental rugs, fine artwork, a library, and a gold leafed piano.  As the most prominent brothel of the vice district, the Everleigh Club was often the target for religious reformers and government agencies who were determined to stop white slavery—the kidnapping and selling of girls into a life of prostitution.  The reformers and the brothel owners clash for years, and this resulting story is candid, authoritative and will appeal to readers with an interest in Chicago history or in the “seedy underbelly” of American society.

Subject Headings:

Prostitution — Illinois — Chicago.

Brothels — Illinois — Chicago.

Everleigh Club.

Everleigh, Ada.

Everleigh, Minna.

Appeal:  leisurely-paced, candid, intriguing characters, layered, evocative, historical details, well-researched, straightforward, polished, atmospheric, eccentric characters, a few steamy scenes

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  historical details, eccentric characters, well-researched

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Devil in the White City—Erik Larson:  Both books are about the dark side of life in Chicago around the turn of the century.

The Outfit—Gus Russo:  Looks at corruption and crime within Chicago, without explicit violence.

Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern—Joshua Zeitz:  Both books explore the existence of women who didn’t conform to society’s standards during the early part of the century.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Jungle—Upton Sinclair:  A classic book about the underbelly of Chicago society.

The Coast of Chicago—Stuart Dybek:  This collection of fictional stories provides glimpses into the lives of eccentric Chicago residents.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores—Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  Has a prostitution theme, but the protagonist is a customer, instead of a professional.

Name:  Amanda

Open by Jenny Block

March 28, 2012

Author: Jenny Block

Title: Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage

Genre: Popular Nonfiction

Publication Date: June 2009

Number of Pages: 276

Geographical Setting: The south

Time Period: Present

Series: No

Plot Summary:

Open is a provocative memoir exploring the writer’s experience being in an open marriage. Jenny Block leads readers through her first experiences constructing and deconstructing gender and sexuality to her gradual realization that she was miserable in a monogamous marriage. The book offers a fascinating glimpse into the author’s experience in an open marriage and how she believes monogamy is ultimately the exception and not the rule to human happiness.

Subject Headings: Family and Relationships, Communication in marriage, Marriage, Men/Women Relationships, Open Marriage

Appeal: streamlined plot, engaging, provocative, character driven, deliberate, easy, introspective, contemporary, political, conversational, direct, thoughtful, meticulous, persuasive, unusual, argumentative

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: thoughtful, conversational, provocative

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Why Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Minds and Hearts of People in Two Relationships, by Mira Kirshenbaum.

Block has an affair with another woman which serves as a catalyst to opening up her marriage. Kirshenbaum’s book explores why people have affairs and how they can reconcile what they did with what they want for their lives and relationships.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

People who enjoy Block’s honest, conversational exploration of what marriage is might also enjoy Committed.  Gilbert is a divorcee who is basically forced to marry her boyfriend in order to keep him from being deported. She interviews people from a number of different cultures about marriage in order to come to a place where she can enter marriage again.

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Tristan Taormino.

Block has to learn as she goes when it comes to creating an open marriage. For readers who are personally interested in the idea or simply want to read more accounts of how open relationships can thrive, Taormino’s book is a guide to open relationships and descriptions of different open relationships from interviewees.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Say When, by Elizabeth Berg

Beyond a small afterword by Chris, many readers may wonder about a husband’s perspective when his wife has an affair. Berg’s novel follows a husband whose wife has shocked him by having an affair and asking for a divorce. The novel keeps a light tone while it explores what it means to try and rebuild a marriage after an affair.

Journey to a Woman, by Ann Bannon

A bisexual woman realizes she made the wrong choice marrying her husband and sets out to reunite with the woman who stole her heart years ago. The book is bittersweet and quick-paced, keeping a realistic tone despite being an older entry into the pulp fiction genre.

Between Lovers, by Eric Jerome Dickey

This witty, character-driven novel explores the consequences of a woman requesting an open relationship with her ex-male lover and current girlfriend. The novel explores an open relationship in an honest way as the characters try to make sense of what they are doing.

Heaven is for Real

March 28, 2012

Author: Todd Burpo

Title: Heaven is for Real

Genre: Spirituality and Religion

Publication Date: November 2, 2010

Number of Pages: 163

Geographical Setting: Nebraska

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Heaven is for Real tells Colton Burpo’s story of experiencing Heaven during an emergency appendectomy.  It all started as a bad case of the flu in which Colton, three years old at the time, could not stop throwing-up.  When Colton’s symptoms had not pass within 48 hours, Todd and his wife Sonja knew it had to be something more serious.  They rushed their son to the hospital and after many tests discovered that Colton was suffering from a burst appendix, causing a steady leak of acid into his small body.  Months after his surgery, Colton mentions to his parents that he remembers the angels singing to him at the hospital, and this is only the beginning of what he experienced.  Heartwarming and compelling, it is hard not to fall in love with Colton Burpo, but more importantly this book will leave you wondering if Heaven is for real.

Subject Headings: Burpo, Colton, 1999-; Four-year-old boys — Nebraska — Biography; Heaven (Christianity); Near-death experience — Religious aspects — Christianity; Christian life — Nebraska; Eschatology, Christian

Appeal: compelling, heartwarming, inspirational, thought-provoking, fast-paced, humorous, engaging, best-seller, small-town, conversational, emotional, captivating

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, inspirational, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  1. Just Who Will You Be?, Maria Shriver.  Philosophical and inspirational, Shriver has a similar writing style to that of Todd Burpo.  This book is about her experience of giving up her job at NBC and discovering what is most important about oneself.
  2. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Mary Roach.  Engaging and humorous, this quirky read is the perfect blend of skepticism and a sincere desire to know about life after death.
  3. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan.  This book provides an argument for the role of scientific thought in our society and how it competes with spirituality.

3 Fiction Works and Authors

  1. The Ice Queen: A Novel, Alice Hoffman.  After surviving a near-death experience, a small town librarian finds herself in a love affair with a most unlikely partner.
  2. A Bend in the Road, Nicholas Sparks.  Heartwarming and homespun, this story is about finding happiness after the loss of a loved one.
  3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom.  Inspirational and psychological, this book explains the meaning of Eddie’s life through his encounters with five people in heaven.

Name: Erin Shinneman

Into Thin Air

March 28, 2012

Author:  Jon Krakauer

Title: Into Thin Air:  A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 332

Geographical Setting: Mount Everest (The border between China and Nepal)

Time Period:  1996

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The story begins when journalist Jon Krakauer is asked by Outside magazine to report on the booming popularity of high-altitude climbing.  At the time, mountaineering had become a fad.  People wanted to pay to climb Everest, but they lacked one essential thing: the skills required to survive the climb.  Many ill-prepared men and women accompanied Krakauer on his ascent, and as a result the expedition ended up being the most deadly in Everest’s history.  This is the story of exactly what went wrong.

In this reflective and haunting book, Krakauer provides a first person account of the disaster.  In addition to great detail about the actual climb, he provides plenty of background information about previous Everest expeditions, as well as the history of the indigenous men, Sherpas, who assist Westerners in their climb.  As informative as it is thrilling, this book is sure to have readers on the edge of their seat.

Subject Headings: Adventure; Expeditions; Extreme Sports; Krakauer, Jon; Mount Everest Expedition 1996; Mountaineering; Mountaineering Accidents; Mountaineers

Appeal: Haunting, Suspenseful, Informative, Reflective, Detailed, Historical Details, Journalistic, Thoughtful, Plot-Driven, Chilling, Claustrophobic, Atmospheric, Well Developed

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book: Suspenseful, Chilling, Informative

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (by Aron Ralston): This is the shocking memoir of an adventurer who’s hike through the Utah canyons took a turn for the worse when a boulder fell and trapped him, by the arm, in the middle of a canyon.  The book will appeal to readers intrigued by an adventure gone totally wrong.

Climbing Self Rescue:  Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations (by Mike Clelland): This resource helps readers learn self rescue procedures that are effective for rock, snow, and ice climbers alike.  Including 40 different rescue scenarios, this book helps climbers learn how to get themselves out of a jam using typical climbing gear and common sense.  This book will appeal to readers interested in the rock climbing aspect of Into Thin Air.

Touching My Father’s Soul:  A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest (by Jamling Tenzing Norgay):  The author, a local man who makes a living assisting tourists in their climb up Everest, describes his experiences.  In addition to providing stories of his time on Everest, he also narrates the story of his father, the first Sherpa to reach the peak of Everest.  He provides background information about the society of the Sherpa, and the Tibetan Buddhists who assist Western climbers in their ascent.  This book will appeal to readers who were intrigued by the local culture surrounding Mount Everest.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

A Change in Altitude (by Anita Shreve): This reflective and psychological work involves a woman coming to terms with a tragic accident that takes place while on a climbing expedition.  Readers who enjoyed Into Thin Air but wish for a fictionalized account of a climbing accident may enjoy this book.

Life of Pi (by Yann Martle): This haunting and suspenseful novel is about a zookeeper’s son who is en route to America when his ship sinks.  He finds himself on a lifeboat with various animals, completely lost at sea and struggling to survive.  Readers who enjoyed the fight-for-survival aspect of Into Thin Air may enjoy this bestselling work.

The Ascent (by Jeff Long):  In this novel, ten men and two women attempt to ascend the most dangerous side of Mount Everest.  Readers who are interested in a fictitious account of an attempt at Everest’s peak will likely enjoy this work.

Name: Katie Midgley

Stephen Fry in America

March 27, 2012

Author: Stephen Fry

Title: Stephen Fry in America

Genre: Nonfiction, Travel Memoir, Essays

Publication Date: November 3, 2009

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Various places throughout the United States

Time Period: Present Day

Plot Summary: Actor, writer, comedian and British national treasure Stephen Fry travels around the United States in a black cab in order to discover the hidden gems that shape the United States into a multicultural society. Fry visits all 50 states and includes interesting facts about each, as well as photographs of him performing tasks in every area.

Subject Headings:

United States – Description and Travel

Fry, Stephen – 1957, Travel

British – Travel – United States

United States – Foreign public opinion, British

Appeal: Amusing, engaging, informative, charming, witty, insightful, knowledgeable, refreshing, heartwarming, poignant, upbeat, conversational

Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Amusing, insightful, charming.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Sex Lives of Cannibals – Martin Troost

The author and his girlfriend decide to move to a remote South Pacific island for two years in the hopes of discovering a romantic paradise. Rather than romance, the couple find themselves in one misadventure after another and an unforgiving environment. This is a travel memoir about what happens when a good trip goes bad.

Mental Floss History of the United States – Erik Sass

This book is a spin off from the satirical and informative magazine, Mental Floss, and discusses some of the most famous stories concerning the history of the United States. It takes a satirical but historically correct spin on the history of the US and points out facts that we may have been taught in school, but were not entirely factual.

Around the World in 80 Days – Michael Palin

Palin, part of the legendary comedy group Monty Python, tries to pay homage to the original Around the World in 80 Days by traveling the globe without the use of an airplane for 80 days. He visits the same places as the original but adds in more information regarding the specific areas, and a substantial bit of humor.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gulliver’s travels – Jonathan Swift

This novel is the classic travel story. An Englishman voyages away from home and finds himself in a world entirely unlike his own.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

A strange choice perhaps, but this novel is a fish-out-of-water story where our main character is moved from his life on Earth to one in space. Fry and Adams have a similar sense of humor and attention to detail.

Freddy and Fredericka – Mark Helprin

Prince of Wales Freddy and his wife, Fredericka, are sent to colonize the barbaric land of America after being ridiculed by the press. They set off to hide among Americans and try to reconquer the country. During their time in America they find themselves accidentally in misadventure after misadventure

Name: Courtney Rose

Unbroken

March 27, 2012

Author: Laura Hillenbrand

Title: Unbroken: a World War II airman’s story of survival, resilience and redemption

Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Publication Date: November 16th, 2010

Number of Pages: 496

Geographical Setting: United States, Japan

Time Period: 1943

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary: As a teenager, Louis Zamperini was a juvenile delinquent; stealing food from neighbors’s houses and making homemade explosives. It wasn’t until his older brother Louie encouraged him to try out for track in high school that Louie found his true calling; running. In fact he competed in the 1936 Olympics and dreamed of attending the Berlin Olympics a few years later. World War II broke out and Louie joined the air corps as a lieutenant. While overseas on a rescue mission, an engine died and Zamperini along with with men plummet towards the Pacific Ocean. For 47 days Louie and 3 other men attempt to survive and are rescued and thrown into a typhoon in Japan. Subjected to starvation, slave labor and unimaginable torture, Louie learns how to preserve his dignity in the most extreme circumstances.

Subject Headings: Auto-Biography, World War II, Biography, Japanese POW,

Appeal: Bravery, Strength, Track, Dignity, Hope, World War II, Redemption, Family, Courage, Loss, Plane, 42nd Bombardment Squadron, Green Hornet, Naoetsu, Travel, Long Distance Runners, History, Triumph

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Defiance, World War II and Survival

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Ghost Soliders: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission by Hampton Sides. Ghost Soldiers is a story of what the human spirit can endure and what good men are willing to do for men they’ve never met. Hand selected US tropps slip behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Heir mission is to rescue 513 POWs and some of the last survivors of the infamous Bataaan Death March. The book is full of first-hand accounts and quotes from the prisoners and the men who rescued them. This is a great book about a remarkable moment in American history. It shows, in a very dramatic way, how much suffering a man can endure, and the lengths that soldiers will go to do the right thing.

Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller. A riveting account of courageous men and boys who became victims of World War II in Europe. Miller discusses the experience using oral history interview of surviving airman and civilians as well as letters and unpublished diaries to tell this compelling novel. Readers will enjoy the first hand accounts of the stories both told from the air and on the ground.

Escape from Davao: The Forgotten Story of a Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War by John D. Lukacs. This novel is a fast pace, real life story told through the eyes of the man who experienced the heartbreak, anguish and devastating effects a soldier endures as a POW during World War II. The book is emotionally taxing leaving you to question  your own  fortitude and courage should you ever have to face such a personal crisis.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Wings: a novel of World War II fly girls by Karl Friedrich. Based on true events during World War II this novel tells the story of America’s first female military pilots. Following a young Texas woman named Sally Ketchum, this historical book shares her triumphs, her loses and the friendships she has along the way of fulfilling her duties as a service pilot. She also becomes involved with her flight instructor who seems to offer everything her heart could desire. This novel will grab your attention from beginning to end and will make you feel proud to be a woman in the service.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Sisters pearl Chin and May live in Shanghai and are among the prettiest woman in their city. Both girls are married but refuse to leave with their husbands to a California. Suddenly Shanghai is bombed and their father is nowhere to be found. The girls and their mother join several other refugees but along the way to Hong Kong devastating things happen including the loss of their mother. Realizing that the United States may be their only option, the girls are reunited with their spouses and try to blend among the Chinese district in Los Angeles.

  Strenght in What Remains by Tracy Kidder. A young man from Burundi is running for his life. For the last 6 months he has been trying to escape the violence in his country before running to the United States. Once he arrives in New York City, he only has $200 and doesn’t speak a word of English. Attempting to survive a new cultural as he tries to make sense of his harrowing escape, he makes the US his new home by graduating from Columbia University and becoming an American citizen. This gripping story of survival will leave its reader on the edge of their seat, holding their breath at every page turn and the hope and determination that one man had to be the best citizen he could be.

Name: Caitlin