Friday, May 24, 2019

The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid

The Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid
By Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Joy Ang
Workman Publishing Co., Inc., 2018, 110 p., Youth Nonfiction

Children have fantastic imaginations and some can spend hours playing in worlds that they have made up. But sometimes the real world is just as incredible as the imaginary. If you have a kid who enjoys pretending adventures maybe they would like to "visit" some of these cool places. This book covers 47 countries and 100 amazing things to been seen. Children who enjoy learning facts about places, or traveling, or really weird but true things will enjoy this book. Grade school children will enjoy this book more then preschoolers.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


By Tara Westover
Random House, 2018. Biography. 334 p.
Tara is raised in a fundamentalist/ survivalist Mormon home.  Her paranoid father mistrusts anything having to do with the government so his children don't attend school, go to the doctor or even have birth certificates.  Their education as children mostly consists of long religious rants by their father.  As the children grow up, one of the brothers becomes increasingly abusive, while another decides to escape the family homestead and pursue an education.  Tara has to decide which path she will take, but leaving her mountain home, as caustic as it is, will take a huge emotional toll on her.  Only when she gets a real education does she begin to be able to separate her self-image from the unworthy way her family had treated her.

This is an incredibly heartrending and honest memoir that has been the top most requested e-book at the Highland Library for four months running.  The amazing thing about it is how the author is able to look back on the way her mind bent and twisted to try to justify and live through what was happening to her. The writing is masterful, but there is a hint that it is even yet hard for her to fully understand her earlier life objectively.  Part of her is still the abused, brainwashed teen on the mountain.  I think it is the vulnerability the author embraces that has made this a best seller.

Warning: this is adult literature.  It contains some really graphic and gritty scenes of violence and emotional abuse.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
By Douglas Adams
Harmony Books, 1979, 215 p., Fiction

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun." (pg. 1)
 Thus opens Douglas Adams humorous satire on life, politics, philosophy, science fiction, or anything that has a high improbability of appearing suddenly and disappearing. The story follows Arthur Dent, an unremarkable citizen of Earth, and Ford Prefect, an alien who has been stranded on Earth for fifteen years; as they traverse the Galaxy with the Zaphod Beeblebrox,who has two heads (though he is not any smarter than a perfectly normal person with one head), and Trillian, a beautiful and intelligent former citizen of Earth.

Adams hilarious novel was originally produced as a radio show by the BBC and only later was it turned into a five book trilogy (yes a trilogy that was composed of five books), a theater production, video game, TV series, and a movie. Though some may find his novel to mind boggling and say it makes no sense, (and perhaps nonsense is the point), Adams has a talent for arranging words in such a way that the reader may find themselves laughing even if they can't really understand what they just read. There are also moments when - if one really focus on a sentence and peeks beyond the humor - the reader will find something profound or universally true. In short, it is the language, the way that words are used, that makes this book great. This would be a great read for someone who wants a good laugh, loves outer space, is a Doctor Who fan, or has ever wondered what is the answer to the meaning of "Life, the Universe, and Everything." (pg. 170)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World

by Adam M Grant
Viking Press, 2016, 322 p. Nonfiction
Adam Grant is a social scientist who has studied people who are famous for being innovators and summarizes his finding in this interesting and readable offering.  Grant supports his main observations with both case studies and research results.  I was impressed with how often he referred to different studies.  He seems to have done a fairly extensive survey of the research in this area.  His examples about well known companies and individuals make the book engaging. This is a good choice for those who are looking for inspiration to step outside of the box. 

By Frank Herbert
Berkley Pub Group, 1965, 883 p., Science Fiction

"Arrakis - Dune - Desert Planet" (pg. 4)

Paul Atreides was born son of Leto Atreides, Duke of Caladan. But, when Paul is 15 his father is made Duke of Arrakis. Arrakis, the desolate planet where water is so scarce that the native people recycle their own bodily fluids to survive. Arrakis, where sands stretch across the planet and natural plants don't grow. Arrakis, the home of the spice. Arrakis, the home of the Fremen. The valuable and addictive spice can only be mined in the deserts of Arrakis where lack of water and giant sand worms threaten those who venture to find the spice. Yet, despite these the dangers the mysterious Fremen call the deep deserts of Arrakis their home. This is the world Paul has come to, the world he must conquer, before he is killed.

To those who are familiar with Herbert's work the word "Dune" echoes the sound of empty wind brushing against open desert sand. Herbert's book is considered a Sci-Fi masterpiece and the first book in a series. The characters and plot are certainly engaging, but it is the world of Arrakis that makes this novel great. Herbert has created a world that is both familiar and alien. Here is a novel were the landscape is as much a character as the actual people that inhabitant it. This is a slow paced novel, but every detail immerses the reader deeper and deeper into the sands of Herbert's planet. Filled with plots and plots within plots this book does contain violence. Adults who enjoy Science Fiction or who like to read to travel to a different place will enjoy being swept into Herbert's world of Dune.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy and Joy in a Low-Trust World
Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy and Joy in a Low-Trust World
By Steven M. R. Covey and Greg Link
Free Press, 2012, Adult Nonfiction, 296 p.
Covey's book, The Speed of Trust has sold over two million copies and the "Speed of Trust" program has been implemented in major companies throughout the world.  This book is a follow-up of that program.  Covey and Link begin with talking about the twin pitfalls of distrust and blind trust.  Then they discuss five elements of "Smart Trust" and give lots of interesting real-world examples of each one.  The principles are good and as I read the book the thought of how they could be applied not only in my work life, but in my personal life as well.  The book is best read in conjunction with the Speed of Trust program but also works fine on its own. Both informational and motivational, this is a good choice for those who would like to boost the level of trust in their important relationships.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Gris Grimly's Frankenstien

Gris Grimly's Frankenstein
By Gris Grimly adapted from the novel by Mary Shelly
Illustrated by Gris Grimly
Harper Collins Publishers, 2013, 193 p., Graphic Novel

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein captured readers when it was first published in 1818 and it continues to do so today. It debates idea's of human nature, creation of man, morality, affection, and science. Readers may feel both sympathy and disgust towards the two central characters, Victor Frankenstein and his Monster. This story, though over two hundred years old, has inspired numerous adaptations and Grimly's is certainly noteworthy.His illustrations have a distinctly Tim Burton/ Punk Rock feel to them. Some may find that his illustrations are disturbing, but I would argue this is perhaps one reason why he was perfect for the job - readers in the 19th century were meant to be disturbed by the story. In today's visual world perhaps a standard text does not convey the horror readers are meant to feel. Grimly's adaptation restores that while still remaining true to the original text. Another bonus towards Grimly's work is that he has helped make this classic accessible to a new generation. 19th century novels can be difficult to read, but Grimly's version removes much of the difficultly that may be intimidating. This would be a great read for both teens and adults who enjoy Graphic Novels whether or not they are familiar with Mary Shelly's classic work.