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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction’


Video Staff Picks – British TV and Getting the Body of a Werewolf

by Bond Drager on July 10th, 2014

Jason talks about a British mystery series you may have missed, and Melody shows that the library can teach you how to have the body of a werewolf.

Stories from the National September 11 Memorial Museum

by Heidi Lauritzen on June 17th, 2014
Stories from the National September 11 Memorial Museum Cover Image

I believe most of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when four planes were turned into weapons and crashed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania countryside.  I was already at work here at the Library when I became aware of a group of staff clustered around a television in our audiovisual services area.  When we realized the magnitude of what was happening we opened our big meeting room to the public, showing the ongoing news coverage on the big screen there.  In the Library’s annual report for that year, Director Susan Craig described what it was like:  “It was incredible to sit in the darkened room and watch the news with strangers, some in small groups, most just individuals.  When I was there no one actually spoke, but I felt a connection with everyone in the room.”

The Stories They Tell:  Artifacts from the National September 11 Memorial Museum reconnects us to the events that day and the long recovery process that followed.  The Museum is part of the September 11 memorial site where the Twin Towers once stood.  The pictures in this book are simple but evocative.  The essays which accompany them—more like letters to the reader—are written by staff members of the Museum.

Many of the artifacts in the Museum are from the crash sites; others include the transcripts from phone calls from people on the planes, missing-person posters that blanketed New York City, and the Memorial Urn, with the names of the 2,977 victims on it, created by ceramicist Tom Lane.

It is difficult to choose just one or two examples to tell you more about.  Should it be the recording of flight attendant Betty Ong’s hijack report?  Or Karyn’s flight attendant wings, or the Last Column at Ground Zero, or patrol dog Sirius’s leash, or the wreckage of Engine 21 of the Fire Department of New York?

Each story brought goose bumps or tears, and often both.  The professionalism of the flight attendants on the planes and the emergency responders on the ground, the many expressions of compassion and generosity during the tragedy and in its aftermath are unforgettable reminders of the prevailing goodness in humanity.  If you are unable to visit the Museum in person, this book is the next best way to witness that.

Memoirs

by Beth Fisher on April 16th, 2014
Memoirs Cover Image

Memoir is an area of non-fiction that often get lost in Library collections.   Memoirs are similar to biographies and autobiographies, but with one significant difference that sets them apart.

A Biography tells the true story of a person’s entire life.  Written by someone other than the subject, a biography tells a life story of from birth to death (or the present time) and all the events and facts in the story are verifiable.

An Autobiography is a biography written about the author’s own life.  They tell their own story.  Just as in a biography all the events and facts are verifiable, and they tell their complete life story – from birth to the current time.

A Memoir is most similar to an autobiography except its about a much smaller segment of time.  It tells the story of a specific event, story arc, or time period in the author’s life.   This is what makes memoirs so unique.  Its the true story story of how a person dealt with an event in their own life, and lived to tell the tale.  Memoirs can be found in just about anyplace in the Library’s collection, and on any topic.

We put up a new display of Memoirs on the 2nd floor today. Some of the titles include:

banishedBanished: surviving my years in the Westboro Baptist Church. by Lauren Drain with Lisa Pulitzer.

dan minivanDan gets a minivan: life at the intersection of dude and dad  by Dan Zevin.  Bring on the two kids, overweight pooch, and a wife with a great full time job and Dan morphs into one great stay at home dad.

escapeEscape by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer.  How a young woman, raised in an FLDS community, and married as a teenager to a man 32 years her senior eventually gets strong and finds a way out of the FLDS for herself and her 8 children.

family in parisA Family in Paris: stories of food, life and adventure by Jane Paech.  Stories from the six years this Australian family spent living in Paris.

it suckedIt sucked and then I cried:  how I had a baby, a breakdown, and a much needed margarita   by Heather B. Armstrong.

 

king peggyKing Peggy: an American secretary, her royal destiny, and the inspiring story of how she changed and African Village by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman.   How she went from a secretary in DC to King of a fishing village in Africa.

on the outsideOn the outside looking Indian: how my second childhood changed my life  by Rupinder Gill.   Describes Gill’s descision at the age of 30 to have the childhood she couldn’t growing up in a restrictive, traditional Indian household.

talking to girlsTalking to girls about Duran Duran: one young man’s quest for true love and a cooler haircut  by Rob Sheffield.  Being a teen ager in the 80′s meant the birth of MTV, John Hughes teen angst movies, and marking every step you took toward adulthood with pop culture references.

 

 

 

 

The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese

by Beth Fisher on April 6th, 2014
The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese Cover Image

Rarely do I read a nonfiction book and wish the author would write more.  Not necessarily more about the topic, just MORE because they are such an entertaining writer.  This book is definitely one of them.

Detroit News Finance Editor, and creator of the Funny Money blog, Brian O’Connor uses wit and self-deprecating humor to turn a book about personal finance into a fun read.  And not just basic personal finance, but “how to survive when times get really tough” budgeting.

“The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese”  started as a proposal from O’Connor to the editors at the Detroit News.  In 2009, as the economy in Michigan was tanking, O’Connor proposed a series of weekly articles on how to save $100 a week, and he offered to use his own family budget as the source for the story.

Budgeting is not a new concept, but O’Connor approached it with humor and honesty. He started where every budget program does,  by taking a serious look at how his family actually spent money. I’m not sure he was really shocked at where their money was going, but to lay it out for all of the world to see had to be a bit nerve-wracking.   He broke their budget for the former year down into categories and focused on the 10 that cost them the most each month, intent on saving $100 in each category.  He took on a new category each week, and at the end of the week wrote about his successes or failures in his newspaper column, which he turned into this book.

In the book he also approaches each category on three levels  – based on the three types of people he thought might need or want a book on budgeting: 1) “People who need to free up cash” so that they can increase their savings in case something bad happens,  2) “People who are having a hard time making ends meet” from pay check to pay check and  3) People who are “pinching pennies so hard that Lincoln is getting a headache.”

Seeing how O’Connor tackled each category in his own family’s budget, especially the challenges he encountered, turned what could have been a painfully dry subjects into a pretty fun read full of good information.

 

Lent and going without.

by Candice Smith on March 4th, 2014
Lent and going without. Cover Image

The beginning of Lent is near, and those who participate in this ritual of going without are preparing to give up something that is meaningful in some way. I know many people are inspired by this event; Christians and those holding other beliefs use this time to remind themselves of those who have less, to inspire deeper thought about possessions and luxuries and what things are important, and to offer up penitence in some way. I grew up in a Catholic home, and participated in Lent for many years…I believe I usually gave up chocolate or allowance, some very tangible thing that made a small impact in my life.

While the things that people choose to give up vary widely, I suspect that for a number of people it will be caffeine and/or coffee. It may seem trivial, but going without this chemical can have many effects; many are so used to having it in regular quantities every day, and to suddenly stop can bring on withdrawal symptoms, general crankiness, and maybe even a feeling of sadness at not having that ‘cup of comfort.’ It may or may not go deeper than that in terms of what going without might teach you, but I’m not here to judge. I’m here to offer a dispensation, of sorts…

Coffee With Jesus is a nice little compilation of the online comic of the same name. A little humor, a little iconic art, and more than a little thought go into each strip. It avoids heavy lessons in favor of quick but lingering suggestions…hey, think about this a bit. Reflect. And yes, Jesus is a main character here, but he is quite modern in view while at the same time being the old-school, accepting of everyone kind of guy. There’s no offense meant here, whatever your belief (or non-belief, in fact) is. And this little book just might help you find a different jolt of energy and comfort for the time being.

A cold, snowy, Russian mystery

by Candice Smith on February 12th, 2014
A cold, snowy, Russian mystery Cover Image

No, I’m not talking about the Sochi Olympics. I’m talking about Donnie Eichar’s book Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, which I recently finished. In fact, I finished it about 24 hours after checking it out…it was a very interesting, well-paced book that I didn’t want to put down until I knew what had happened.

This is a nonfiction book that investigates a decades-old mystery, one that I had never heard of and that is so remote and foreign to me (both in terms of locale and subject matter) that it actually imparted a sense of foreboding and discomfort. In late January of 1959, nine university students set out on a 160 mile hike in the Ural mountains, during their winter break. They were already highly accomplished hikers, and this hike was intended to give them the highest ranking in outdoorsmanship that would allow them to instruct others; their plans were meticulous, their route reviewed and approved by foresters, their bags and provisions adequately thought out.

They never returned. After missing the beginning of the semester, officials began to search for them. Their tent was found intact on a slope, with all their shoes, clothes and belongings neatly arranged inside, and food set out waiting to be eaten. Eventually their bodies were found within a mile of the tent but in different places, mostly barely clothed, with injuries ranging from a broken nose and scrapes to blunt force trauma to the head and chest. Several died from hypothermia. After autopsies and looking at the evidence, the case was closed with the determination that an “unknown compelling force” led to their deaths.

Donnie Eichar came across mention of the hikers in a random fashion, while researching something else, and their story simply would not let him go. The mystery of what might have happened to these healthy, incredibly bright and vivacious young people in the remote, snowy wilderness prompted Eichar to visit Russia twice; he not only interviews people who knew the hikers as well as those who investigated the incident, he also makes the long journey to where their lives ended. I will admit, what he finds there and afterwards is not an entirely tidy answer, and if he is right, it is an ironic and cruel one.

I highly recommend you read his book, and see for yourself.