Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Offbeat and Coming Soon

One hazard of working in a library is having your free time attacked by books that were previously unknown to you. Just this morning I was going through a cart of books, getting them ready for the new books shelves, and I came across not one, not two, but four books that made me think, "aw, come on, I don't have time to read everything that sounds interesting!" I figured that I shouldn't be the only one to suffer an abundance of attention-grabbing books, and so I'm sharing them with you.

Rowan Jacobsen's Fruitless Fall: the Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis considers the danger of pesticides to our health from an interesting angle--pesticides kill the same bees who are largely responsible for pollination, and therefore the production of our fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Jacobsen documents colony collapse disorder, examines its effects on our food supply, points out ways in which we have contributed to this problem, and suggests solutions. This isn't a topic I've much thought about, but now that it's been introduced to me, my curiosity is piqued. Save the bees!

J. Bryne Myphy's Le Deal: How a Young American in Business, in Love, and in Over his Head, Kick-started a Mulitbillion-dollar Industry in Europe doesn't seem like the type of book I normally read, but the blurb really sells the story. Murphy risked much in moving to Paris where he struggled to create an American-style outlet clothing store selling major brands out of season. While he does succeed in this effort, backlash from European governments and Murphy's ignorance of European business customs make it hard-earned. It's this aspect of the story, that of the bumbling foreigner and the humorous and/or uncomfortable situations that arise, that most attracts me to this story.

The Magician's Book: a Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia is several stories. To some degree, it's Laura Miller's memoir, where she considers the first books she grew attached to as a child, and then felt betrayed by as a teen when she learned of their religious themes. Now an adult, she wants to experience Narnia again as she did as a child, but aims to do so with knowledge. Toward this goal, she learns about Lewis's life and beliefs from his writing, visiting his home, and discussing him with other writers and reviewers, which makes this book something of a biography of Lewis. Having had a similar experience with the Narnia books, I can relate to what Miller is trying to do and am interested in reading about her experience.

The last book to really jump out at me today was a novel called Nose Down, Eyes Up by Merrill Markoe. This is the fictional story of 47-year-old Gil, who makes a living house sitting the summer homes of wealthy folks, and his four dogs who he is able to understand. Gil's smartest dog is Jimmy, who is shocked when he learns that he's adopted and that his adopted father isn't even the same species he is. Jimmy wants to meet his birth mother, who, unfortunately for Gil, lives with Gil's ex-wife. Absurd, check. Funny, check. Want to read, check.

As I mentioned at the start of this list, I don't have time to read everything, so if you happen to read and really enjoy any of these, swing by the reference desk and tell me about it.

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