Posts Tagged ‘academic’

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

August 15, 2012

Author: McClure, Wendy

Title: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 336 p.

Geographical Setting: Multiple locations throughout the United States

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Author and children’s book editor, Wendy McClure, takes readers on a humorous, reflective, and contemporary journey to revisit her favorite children’s books, the series of Little House on the Prairie.  In each chapter, McClure shares with readers her research into the history of the books along with her visits to several of the historical sites in the United States where Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie, lived.  McClure even goes to festivals dedicated to the books and tries to camp out and cook as in the 19th century.  However, what adds even more depth to this novel is that McClure learns as much about herself throughout this journey as she does about her favorite series.  McClure leads this novel with a relatable, introspective, and self-deprecating voice. She describes situations and characters in a detailed, vivid, and generally sympathetic style with accessible and conversational language.  Also, while much of the novel is character-centered and informative, numerous funny adventures occur during the course of McClure’s trips.  This novel is an engaging and thought-provoking novel about one person’s relationship with the books that she loves.

Subject Headings: Books and Reading; Arts and Entertainment; Frontier and Pioneer Life; Frontier and Pioneer Life in Literature; Home; Women’s Studies; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Appreciation; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Homes and Haunts; Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1867-1957 – Little House on the Prairie; 19th Century; Autobiographies (Adult Literature); Humor Writing;

Appeal: leisurely-paced, relaxed, steady, bittersweet, candid, contemplative, gentle, humorous, introspective, moving, nostalgic, poignant, unpretentious, closely observed, detailed, engaging, familiar, quirky, realistic, and vivid primary and secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, episodic, layered, literary references, thought-provoking, accurate, contemporary, historical details, rural, academic, accessible, conversational, descriptive, engaging, informal, informative, thoughtful, well-researched

3 Terms that Best Describe This Book: humorous, bittersweet, historical details

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrimwill appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another autobiographical novel that highlights a different perspective ofLittle House on the PrairieSimilar toThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is a funny, character-centered, conversational, and contemporary book about how her real life differed from the mean character that she played on the famous television show.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim is more about the life of the actress beyond the series while McClure’s novel is a nostalgic and academic return to the past.

Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another humorous novel about a man who tries to live a simpler life in the country and discovers it is more difficult than he initially expected.  Similar to The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Forty Acres and a Fool: How to Live in the Country and Still Keep Your Sanity by Roger Welsch is a character-centered, chatty, and contemporary book, but unlike McClure, Welsch’s adventures take place in Nebraska.  Also, he continues to live in rural areas despite its hardships.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that itis another autobiographical story about a woman, who reads a book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and decides to change her contemporary life and relationships because of it.  Like McClure, Powell describes the challenges and triumphs of trying to replicate recipes from a famous book in a reflective, conversational, and engaging style.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell is set in New York and focuses solely on cooking while McClure’s journey is in multiple locations and involves many different types of 19th century activities.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is anotherhistorical novel about a strong woman, Meg Mambry, who is investigating the truth regarding a diary from her great-grandmother in the 19th century. UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook is more serious and psychological in tone and takes place in New Mexico.  However, like The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has humorous moments and focuses on women’s lives and relationships.

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another compilation of stories that include subjects, such as homesteading and living on the frontier.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx is set in Wyoming and contains more serious and dark stories in a more literary style.  Nonetheless, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx has humorous moments and focuses on family relationships as well.

An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland will appeal to readers ofThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in that it is another historical novel based on the true story of Nancy Kelsey who is the first woman to travel to California in the 19th century.  UnlikeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure,An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland is a more serious adventure story of survival.  However, likeThe Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, An Ordinary Woman: A Dramatized Biography of Nancy Kelsey by Cecelia Holland has well-researched historical details and focuses on strong women.

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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.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

March 26, 2012

Author: Chua, Amy

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 237

Geographical Setting: America

Time Period: Current

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A story of a Chinese born American mother exercising extreme parenting. Amy Chua is married to a Caucasian husband and has two daughters. She raises them the “Chinese” way because she believes the Western way of parenting would not prepare them enough for the future. She has her children playing violin and piano, and makes them work hard to become number one. A few things she lists in her book that she does not allow her daughters to do are:

  • Have a playdate
  • Be in a school play
  • Complain about not being in a school play
  • Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • Not play the piano or violin

This book shows the difference between the stereotypical way of Eastern and Western parenting. This book is dramatic, full of bittersweet relationships between mother and daughters, and is also heartwarming. This is a memoir of a competitive, prideful Chinese mother raising her children the “Chinese” way, and should not be taken as a sort of parenting guide.

Subject Headings:Chua, Amy.
Mothers United States Biography.
Chinese American women Biography.
Mothers and daughters China.
Mothers and daughters United States.

Appeal: moderately-paced, bittersweet, compassionate, dramatic, heartwarming, moving, inspiring, intriguing, realistic, sympathetic, family-centered, academic, ambitious, prideful, funny, and well-written.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Bittersweet, dramatic, and heartwarming

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Tung, May Pao-may – Chinese Americans and Their Immigrant Parents: conflict, identity, and values (Book about dilemmas the younger and older Chinese generations must face in American Society as well as the differences between the two cultures)

Loh, Sandra Tsing – Aliens in America (A struggle of a girl and her parents, a German mother and a Chinese father, in America)

Mah, Adeline Yen – Falling Leaves: the true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter (The journey of a young Chinese girl as she searches for acceptance, love, and understanding)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Bates, Judy Fong – Midnight at the Dragon Café (Story of a Chinese mother and daughter living in Ontario in the 1950s, trying to forge their lives in a foreign land)

Carter, Forrest – The Education of Little Tree (Childhood remembrance of an orphaned American Indian boy living in Tennessee with his Cherokee grandparents)

Tan, Amy – The Joy Luck Club (Story of two generations of Chinese American women and their daughters)

Name: Jun Yoon

River of Doubt

November 9, 2011

Author: Candice Millard (Narrated by Paul Michael)

Title: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 353 pages (10 audio discs)

Geographical Setting: Amazon River Basin

Time Period: 1912-1914

Plot Summary:   After a defeat in his run for a third Presidential term, Theodore Roosevelt decides to explore an uncharted river in the Amazon river basin with his son Kermit, and a cast of American participants, some who ultimately end up risking the success of the expedition.  The Brazilian government assigns an experienced explorer, Candido Rondon, to navigate and accompany the American group. This expedition faces a myriad of challenges from the Amazon rainforest itself, as well as indigenous Brazilian Indian tribes, lack of proper boats, food and medicine.  The narrator of the audio version does a good job of bringing the different characters to life, including the Spanish/Portugese accents and moving us through the details of this very complex story.

Subject Headings: Natural history; Presidents; Rain forests; Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919; Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition (1913-1914)

Appeal: adventurous, atmospheric, exotic, accessible, informative, engaging, suspenseful, graphic, vivid, moving, optimistic, academic, steady pacing

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: detailed setting, well-researched, compelling

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

This book chronicles the search for the lost adventurer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared on an expedition in the Amazon basin in search of the fabled Lost City of Z.  This is a richly detailed book that illustrates the dangers of the Amazon and is partially based on diaries, like the River of Doubt. This is also a New York Times Notable book like the River of Doubt.

When Trumpets Call by Patricia O’Toole.

This book chronicles the complete ten years after Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, including his adventures on the River of Doubt and the African safari he went on with his son Kermit prior to his Amazon expedition. This book illustrates that Teddy Roosevelt does not recede in the background after his Presidential term is over and not only is an adventurer and a naturalist, but still remains active in political life.

Fordlania by Greg Grandin

The author, a NYU professor of Latin American History, tells the true yet unbelievable story of Henry Ford in his attempts to transform part of Brazil’s Amazon River basin into small-town America in order to produce rubber for car tires. Until now, the colossal failure of this project had not been well documented, and this Top 10 Business Book of 2009 shows what happens when a capitalist visionary ignores cultures, politics and nature.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This compelling, richly detailed and atmospheric novel set in the Amazon basin, and specifically near  Manaus ( the end of Roosevelt’s expedition), is character centered with interesting characters, similar pacing as the River of Doubt  and a sense of unease and danger lurking around every page.

The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes-Peebles

This work of historical fiction in 1920’s and 1930’s Brazil, follows two impoverished sisters, who share excellent sewing skills, into their adult lives with the backdrop of the populist revolt of 1930.  This sweeping novel describes the political instability that affected Brazil at this time, while the attention to detail provides a vivid sense of place and a good characterization of the sisters’ relationship.

The Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage

This debut novel follows a Brazilian Chief Inspector Mario Silva as he attempts to solve the murder of a bishop while navigating the politically charged local battle between wealthy Brazilian landowners and the landless poor. The author, who lived in Brazil for many years, builds a fascinating character in Mario Silva, vividly evokes a contemporary sense of Brazil’s social and political problems and sets the stage for two additional Mario Silva novels.

Name:Cheryl

Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

November 8, 2011

Author: Fatima Bhutto

Title: Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir

Genre: Biography, World History

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 470

Geographical Setting: Pakistan

Time Period: 1933-present

Series (If applicable):
n/a

Plot Summary: The Bhutto family is a politically powerful yet tragic Pakistani family. Fatima is only 14 years old when her father, a Member of Parliament of Pakistan, is murdered outside her family home in a controversial police encounter. Her father’s murder is just one of the many tragedies that haunt her family. Her grandfather, Zulkifar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first freely elected Prime Minister, is overthrown in a coup d’état and executed under the military dictatorship in 1979. Her aunt, Benazir Bhutto,
twice elected and first female Prime Minister was assassinated in 2007. Fatima provides a candid account into her family’s history beginning as feudal landowners to powerful politicians. Fatima searches the globe for friends, acquaintances and others who knew her family to learn more about her family. Songs of Blood and Sword also provides a political history of Pakistan from its formation and independence to present day.

Subject Headings: Pakistan-politics and government, Bhutto family, assassinations, coup d’état, fathers and daughters, Muslim women, international relations

Appeal: Densely written, political, historical details, academic, introspective, candid, descriptive, family-centered, tragic, evocative, authoritative, intimate, dramatic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Political, densely written, candid

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1.Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an unexpected life by Queen Noor. Born into a distinguished Arab-American
family and raised among privilege, Lisa Halaby never dreamt she would become Queen of Jordan.  This is her journey as the wife of a moderate, Arab monarch and her new-found role in the political
limelight.  Like Fatima Bhutto, Queen Noor is a strong female who takes on an unexpected political role in an Islamic country.

2.Daughters of the East by Benazir Bhutto. The autobiography of Pakistan’s first female Prime Minister. It is the dramatic story of Bhutto’s upbringing, her ties to the tumultuous political history of her country, and her triumph of becoming one of the most powerful, influential world leaders. Fatima Bhutto’s aunt’s autobiography provides more memoirs of the political family.

3.Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven. Provides an account on 21st Century Pakistan
including the history, politics, environment issues, and government of the country. Pakistan has an important role in Asia with its relationship with the West and fighting against terror, as the most powerful and strongest army with a nuclear power in the region, and a burgeoning population. For those who want to learn more about present day Pakistan.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1.A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif. Hanif reimagines the conspiracies and coincidences that led to the plane crash that killed dictator General Zia ul-Hag, the man who orchestrated the coup d’état and execution of Fatima’s grandfather, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

2.In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: Connected stories by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Stories of intertwined lives of landowners and their servants and managers, providing a vivid account of feudal Pakistan. The Bhutto’s have long been a prominent family due to their feudal landlord history so this book may provide more of an insight in feudalism in Pakistan.

3. Sadika’s Way: A Novel of Pakistan and America by Hina Haq. Sadika is forced into an arranged marriage to an American first-cousin; however Sadika is picked over for her younger sister to become the man’s wife. Sadika’s failed marriage ruins her and her family’s reputation and her hopes of finding a suitable husband. Sadika chooses to travel to U.S. alone in hopes of escaping the regimented gender roles of her homeland. This first novel provides an insight in expectations of Pakistani women and their culture.

Name: Noelle Swanson

 

The Lost Symbol

July 25, 2011

Author:  Dan Brown

Title:  The Lost Symbol

Genre:  Suspense

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  509

Geographical Setting:  Washington, D.C.

Time Period:  Present day

Series (If applicable):  Same main character (Robert Langdon) as his novels The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons

Plot Summary:  Robert Langdon is pulled into yet another quest for answers in Dan Brown’s latest novel.  This time set in Washington D.C., only Langdon has the knowledge to solve the latest hunt for one of the biggest secrets in American history.  Langdon and this new cast of friends, law enforcement, and enemies race through our nation’s capitol on a suspenseful quest to protect the Masons longest-kept and most precious secret.

Subject Headings:  Suspense fiction; Washington, D.C.; Freemasonry

Appeal:  Fast-paced, engrossing, austere, suspenseful, detailed characters, multiple points of view, series character, well-drawn characters, action-oriented, cinematic, layered, detailed setting, academic, complex, well-crafted, well-researched

3 terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, well-researched, suspenseful

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

–       Paul Naudon’s The Secret History of Freemasonry: Its Origins and Connection to the Knights Templar – for anyone interested in learning more about the history of the Freemasons that are discussed so much in this novel

–       Scott W. Berg’s Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington D.C. – discusses Pierre L’Enfant’s role in designing the architecture of Washington, D.C. as discussed in the novel

–       Robert Hieronimus & Laura Cortner’s Founding Fathers, Secret Societies: Freemasons, Illuminati, Rosicrucians, and the Decoding of the Great Seal – for readers interested in learning more about America’s secret societies

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

–       Daniel Silva’s Portrait of a Spy – recently published suspense spy novel with a similar fast-paced, suspenseful, and intricately plotted story

–       Robert Ludlum’s The Icarus Agenda – a fast-paced, suspenseful spy story involving the government

–       Jonathan Rabb’s The Book of Q – suspense story centered around centuries-old secrets and conspiracies, similar to Brown’s stories

Name:  Julie Foote

Fahrenheit 451

March 17, 2010



Author:  Ray Bradbury

Title:  Fahrenheit 451

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: 1953

Number of Pages: 167

Geographical Setting: Future America

Time Period: In the future

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Guy Montag is a firefighter. This book is all about how firefighters are the people who start the fires. They burn the home of people who possess books whether they are in them or not. Books are highly dangerous because they make people think. Montag secretly hides the books that he should be burning and the action really starts when people find out what he has done. He must then decide what is worth fighting for and if books truly are that important?

Subject Headings: Book burning, Science fiction, Political fiction, Totalitarianism, Satire, Censorship, State-sponsored terrorism

Appeal: engrossing, intriguing, insightful, complex, literary references, thought-provoking, political, bittersweet, dangerous, nightmare, academic, classic, smart, sophisticated, well-crafted

3 terms that best describes this book: Dystopia, submission, censorship

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

  • Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction by Rebecca Knuth. It is about preserving our world’s cultural, intellectual and artistic heritage.
  • Television: Technology and Cultural form by Raymond Williams. It is about how television has become a part of everyday society.
  • Television and American Culture by Jason Mittel. It is about how American culture is influenced by television.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It is about a utopian world state in which everyone is provided for and the people are all drugged to make it easier to rule them.
  • 1984 by George Orwell. It is about a future of totalitarianism in which one man attempts to find individuality.
  • Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. It is about a Harlem teenager who joins the service after not getting into college and his attempt to find virtue as he wonders why blacks are given the most dangerous missions in the Vietnam War.

Name: Emily

Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends

November 11, 2009

Author: David Wilton
Title: Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Number of Pages: 240
Geographical Setting: NA
Time Period: NA
Series: no
Plot Summary:
This book will come in handy as a conversation starter. The author does a great job of exposing some of the most popular “word myths”, such as; Ring Around the Rosie refers to the Black Death, that Eskimos have 10,000 words for snow, or that Posh is an acronym for “Port Out, Starboard Home.” Each chapter is a brief history of the linguistic urban legend, and when possible tells the true tale of how a word or phrase came to be. In this book you will discover the true story behind popular words and expressions such as “rule of thumb,” “the whole nine yards,” “hot dog,” “raining cats and dogs,” “chew the fat,” “AWOL,” “under the weather,” “in like Flynn,” “Dixie,” “son of a gun,” “tinker’s damn,” to name a few. I also learned that SOS was not originally an acronym for “Save Our Ship” or “Save Our Souls,” but was chosen because the Morse code signal (3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots) was easy to send and recognize. Also, “let the cat out of the bag” does not refer to the whip (the “cat”) used to punish sailors aboard ship. The term “upset” (to defeat unexpectedly) does not date from the horse race when the heavily favored Man O’ War was beaten by a nag named Upset (Upset was the only horse ever to defeat Man O’ War, but the word predates the race by half a century). And Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet, nor do the words “crap” or “crapper” derive from his name. It is fun to set the record straight when these urban word myths pop up at parties or over the holiday dinners…

Subject Headings: Linguistics, Urban legends, Language, True History, Trivia, and Etymology.
Appeal: accessible, detailed, historic details, fact, engaging, engrossing, humorous, quirky, intriguing, witty, language, nonfiction, academic, authoritative, fast paced.
3 terms that best describes this book: Etymology, Myth, History
Similar Authors and Works
Non-Fiction:
• Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages by Mark Abley-A travel guide through some of the regions where language is literally disappearing.
• Word Histories and Mysteries: From Abracadabra to Zeus byAmerican Heritage Dictionaries- Uncovers the origins of five hundred everyday English words.
• Word Origins And How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone by Anatoly Lieberman- insights into how our language has evolved, mutated and otherwise morphed over thousands of years
Fiction:
• Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn- the English language is being eroded one letter at a time, will it stop, how will we communicate?
• The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker by Eric Liu-The struggle that comes with losing your language, heritage, and culture.
• The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco-the story of a breakdown in communication between a married couple.
Name: Laura Bartnik

For Her Own Good

November 11, 2009

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

Title: For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 2005 (orig. 1978)

Number of Pages: 410

Geographical Setting: United States

Time Period: Modern – written about 19th and 20th century

Series: No

Plot Summary: Ehrenreich (author of “Nickel and Dimed”) examines the role of women in 19th and 20th century America. In the first section of the book, she looks at the decline of patriarchy. First, she clarifies that her use of the term “patriarchy” throughout the book is not to mean male dominance in general, but to “refer to a specific historical organization of family and social life.” So when she uses the phrase “decline of patriarchy,” she is not “suggesting that male dominance has declined – only that it has taken a different historical form.”  She first focuses on women as healers/midwives/wisewomen and the way in which male-dominated medical institutions sought to override and abolish that role. In fact, upper and middle-class women at this point literally find that there is nothing left for them to do (nor are they allowed to do anything but their wifely duties and reproduce) with the rise of industrialization. Where they once made food from scratch (off of their own self-sustaining farms), soap, candles, etc…they now have nothing to do. A trend of sickness begins where the women lay in bed and gentleman doctors visit them. Occurring simultaneously is the rise of the “experts” and their varieties of interesting advice for women. Among some of this advice are these nuggets: lay off of all that unnecessary thinking and rest up in bed, “live as domestic a life as possible” “have your child with you all the time” “have but two hours of intellectual life a day” and “never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live” “higher education would cause women’s uteruses to atrophy!” I am sticking with the kinder, ungraphic ones here. So called “medical advice” soon turned to the psychoanalysis movement and “hysteria” is a sweeping diagnosis for all of women’s problems – since (as the reasoning goes) all problems are caused by uterus and that a woman is defined only by the fact that she possesses one – “as if the Almighty, in creating the female sex, had taken the uterus and built up a woman around it.” With the turn of the century, a new era begins. Women leave the malingering behind and become active again. House-keeping now becomes a full-time profession and a science along with child-raising. The middle-class seeks to “save the home” as industrialization is now in full swing. The book moves through each kind of era of new advice for women after setting up the context for that time. Ehrenreich does a great job of analyzing these historical documents and calling to our attention some very interesting ideologies.

Subject headings: Women – history – United States. | Ethics, Medical – history – United States. | History, 19th Century – United States. | History, 20th Century – United States. | Maternal Health Services – history – United States. | Women’s Health Services – history – United States. | Women’s Rights – history – United States. | Women – United States – Social conditions. | Maternal and infant welfare – United States – History. | Women’s health services – Social aspects – United States – History. | Medical ethics – United States – History. | Women’s rights – United States – History.

Appeal: densely written, measured, closely observed, detailed, intriguing, well-developed, complex, investigative, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, historical details, political, chilling, academic, frank.

Three terms/phrases that best describe this book: does not make one romantically long for the days of yore, sometimes shockingly funny, sometimes evokes disgust.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Woman who gave Birth to Rabbits: Stories by Emma Donoghue (Consists of historical pieces such as surgical case notes, theological pamphlets, engravings, family letters, and legal documents.  These stories were half-truths at the time and turned into sensations, these are outrageous stories about women from the 19th century and good for those who like to look back on absurdities of the past and laugh at them).

Conditions of Faith by Alex Miller (This is a story set in the 1920s about a woman who felt stifled and restless by her conventional, socially acceptable life. She eventually finds herself in a place of potential fulfillment, but faces the dilemma of making an important life choice).

Grange House by Sarah Blake (A turn-of-the century story about a how a particular young woman wants to aspire to more than is encouraged by Victorian society (with its social restrictions). Contains a lot of historical information about the mores, language, and class distinction of this era and has a ghost story mixed into the plot as well).

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The first sex: the natural talents of women and how they are changing the world by Helen E. Fisher (Anthropologist, Fisher writes about the modern role of women in the global capitalist economy. It states that though women have been held back historically, they are finally achieving their equally positions and having their natural talents [highlighted in this book] recognized). Now bring on the equal pay!

In our Time: Memoir of a Revolution by Susan Brownmiller (Feminist activist Brownmiller discusses what it was like to grow up before legalized abortion and rape and crisis centers. She also goes in-depth into the women’s movement and familiarizes us with the key figures involved).

America’s Women: Four hundred years of dolls, drudges, helpmates, and heroines by Gail Collins (Collin’s work fits perfectly alongside Ehrenreich’s. In this text, she examines the role of women from the birth of America to modern times. She calls great attention to the ambivalence women face in regards to wanting to be in the home and also wanting out of it. Collins has a very objective voice, and does not seek to place blame [while still giving us all of the facts, she speaks with a very positive voice] on either gender for the roles that women filled throughout time in this country.)

Name: Susan