Some of our favorite non-fiction books of 2012:
Some of our favorite non-fiction books of 2012:
A list of some of our favorite reads of 2012.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple. When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her in this new novel from the author of This One is Mine.
Since I began working at CCPL this year, I managed to expand my already mile-long reading list to one I may never fully catch up with. While finding time to read everything has been a challenge, each book has been an adventure. Here are some of my favorites for the year.
I caught up on some of the latest crazes, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Hunger Games. I relished The Phantom Tollbooth and its delightful wordplay. I even indulged my inner child with some Fancy Nancy and Eloise books.
I read a slew of graphic novels and manga. Of the new arrivals to the library, I most enjoyed Kimi ni Todoke, Kamisama Kiss, and Pandora Hearts. I also enjoyed re-reading MARS and YuYu Hakusho, while impatiently waiting for more D. Gray-man and Black Butler.
Americapedia:Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom gives a review of how American government works, and also a quick, easy-to-understand rundown of many of the issues we’ve been dealing with for the past few decades–the stuff they don’t talk about in school. It does a pretty good job of keeping a neutral stance through it all, even though it covers many controversial issues. Even better, as you probably guessed from the title, they do it all with a sense of humor.
Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure is a woman’s chronicle of her time spent living in India. While laughing at her hilarious accounts of her adventures in traveling the country and experiencing different aspects of India’s many religious groups, I sympathized with her struggles with culture shock and homesickness. Her stories reminded me of similar experiences I had while living in Japan. A great read for anyone who has traveled abroad or hopes to someday.
Kate Locke’s God Save the Queen is a heady blend of some of my favorite things: steampunk, feisty heroines and non-sparkly vampires. It’s an action-packed mystery story set in an alternate version of Victorian England that has been taken over by vampires and werewolves. Bonus points to the author for making the evolution of supernatural beings sound science-y and plausible. I’m looking forward to the next book!
I’m currently working on Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible, which talks about the history of American clothes and fashion, while also giving fashion advice and plenty of examples of different iconic styles through the decades. Next up is Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language, which is bound to wrap up my reading adventures of 2012 with a bang.
In the new book from Ned Vizzini, The Other Normals, we discover the world of Creatures and Caverns, an RPG (roll playing game, for those of you not in the know) with magical beings who carry out adventures set throughout Earth’s history. Perry Eckert is a geeky 15 year old who is obsessed with C&C. Suffice it to say, he doesn’t exactly have a social life and he’s interacted with girls about as much as he has with his divorced parents. Finally, Perry’s parents decide to take matters into their own hands and send him to summer camp to force him to interact with other people. Perry is prepared to spend the summer in misery when he spots a creature running into the woods, a creature that looks eerily familiar.
Perry is plunged into the world of C&C in ways he could never have imagined and forced to socialize in ways his parents could never have imagined. He must decide if he is going to become the hero and save the girl or continue to play his game alone.
This book is amazing. The language is a bit strong, but it’s funny, its engaging, it grabs you and will not let go. The chapters are short and the action is furious. A great read for anyone who likes D&D or RPGs or just a good adventure.
Our Best Bites by Sara Wells & Kate Jones is the first cookbook by this popular blogging duo. Meeting my number one requirement for cookbooks, this one features great photos of every dish. Recipes are clearly written and offer brief descriptions. Chapters include: Appetizers and Drinks; Breads; Condiments, Spreads, and Garnishes; Breakfast and Brunch; Salads; Soups and Chilis; Meats; Pizza and Pasta; Side Dishes; and Desserts. A nice feature of the book is its index of rollover ingredients, which will help keep you from wasting some of those less common ingredients such as blue cheese, buttermilk, and sour cream. I’ve tried several recipes from this cookbook, but particularly enjoyed my dinner of Chili-Lime Steak and Stuffed Blue Cheese Potatoes. Our Best Bites fans should check out Sara and Kate’s recently released sophomore effort, Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites.
For the rub, combine spices in a small bowl. Add lime juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Place the steak in a shallow dish. Pour the spice mixture over the steak and then rub it in with your hands. Allow the steak to stand for 15 minutes. While the meat is standing, preheat your grill. Place the steak on the grill over medium-high heat and cook for 5-7 minutes per side or until desired doneness is reached. Remove from grill and allow to stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
Stuffed Blue Cheese Potatoes
Preheat over to 400F. Wash and dry potatoes. Rub them lightly with a bit of shortening or vegetable oil and place directly on oven rack. Bake for one hour. Remove potatoes and allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut each potato in half to make 8 servings. Scoop out the insides and place in a bowl. Mash, and add butter, sour cream, blue cheese, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy. Carefully spoon mixture back into potato shells. Place in a baking dish. Return the potatoes to the hot oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove, sprinkle bacon and cheddar cheese over each potato, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Does anybody use a dictionary anymore? I mean the book, where you have to open the pages and have some semblance of the alphabetical order and maybe a slight grasp of how to spell the word you are looking up. You can’t replace the good old ink-and-paper, handy dandy dictionary (some aren’t so handy dandy; Webster has gotten a little bloated). Sure, you can now use the internet to look up the word you want (try dictionary.com). Most computer programs, if not all, have spell check. Even Words with Friends tells you that mess of letters you tried to play is not an acceptable word. So, I guess the good old dictionary is being replaced. I mean, I don’t own one.
Upon further review, it seems as though the dictionary is branching out. Trying new things. Exploring new concepts. Gradually sneaking up on you until all of the sudden you notice it again. Like an old friend that never really left your side even though you made new friends like the computer or spell check. Lo and behold, It’s not just for words anymore…..
Okay, so there are a lot of dictionaries out there. Plus, dictionaries are smart to diversify from just defining words and whatever else they were doing (balancing tables). So, head on out to the library and check out latest fad…dictionaries. That’s right, it’s a thing now.
When professional journalist Jennifer Reese lost her job, she felt inspired to begin economizing and turned her eye to food. Which items are cheaper to buy and which are cheaper to make? When is the homemade version of a food healthier and tastier than the store bought version? Is a store bought product ever superior to a homemade one? Soon Reese’s curiosity morphed into a series of large scale undertakings, attempting new recipes and making forays into animal husbandry. After a few years of experimentation, Reese was able to write Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch – Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is a fun read, even if you have no desire to make your own peanut butter, marshmallows, pastrami, or ginger ale. Reese’s humor shines through as she describes her efforts to raise chickens, keep bees, and make cheese. When analyzing each “make it yourself” endeavor, Reese gives a recommendation on whether she thinks the item is better to make or buy, indicates how much hassle is involved in the production process, and does a cost comparison taking in both the outlay of supplies and time.
Not sure you’re up for any of these projects? Don’t worry about feeling guilty! Reese is never preachy and fully recognizes that making your own food staples is not going to solve anyone’s financial problems. In her introduction, she states that these projects are best left to people who enjoy “messing around in the kitchen.” If that’s you, or if you wish that was you, you’ll likely find Make the Bread, Buy the Butter to be an amusing, enlightening read.
It’s the season where you read about pumpkins, scarecrows and leaves. One of my favorite titles. I found that I love along with my nephews, revolves around bats. I know, yikes! Bats–Too scary! Not this one. It isn’t a Halloween book, it is just a wonderfully entertaining children’s story written and illustrated by Brian Lies called, Bats at the Library. These adorable characters discover an open window at the library and find a whole new world filled with books for everyone’s reading taste. The illustrations are kid-friendly and the story just might inspire your own little ones to explore their library!
Many books have been turned into Oscar-nominated films; I’ve just read a few of them. I found one exception; the children’s book, “Cinderella Penguin, or The Little Glass Flipper” by Janet Perlman was adapted from her 1981 Best Animated Short Film nominee, “The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin”.
For wonderful children’s books made into Oscar-winning animated shorts, check out: “The Ugly Duckling“, Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale; “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf, about a bull who didn’t want to fight matadors; and “Gerald McBoing-Boing” by Dr. Seuss, about a boy who only speaks in sound effects.
One of my top 5 favorite films, “To Kill a Mockingbird“ (based on Harper Lee’s only published work), won the Oscar in 1963 for Best Adapted Screenplay. I decided to listen to the audiobook. This classic tells about small-town life, prejudice, and a controversial rape trial in 1935 Alabama. The portions of the book that didn’t make it into the screenplay lent fascinating depth to life in Maycomb County and the people who lived there, but none of it was necessary to the film’s narrative. I think the movie is a near-perfect distillation of the novel, and I couldn’t imagine any other voices than those of the actors in the film.
For two other excellent film adaptations of complex novels, I recommend “Gone with the Wind“, winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, based on Margaret Mitchell’s epic, and “Mystic River“, adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel , and nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
My son and I had another fun month of reading books together. He has his favorite books that he loves for me to read to him over and over. It is so much fun to see how excited he gets when he hears a book he likes. Here are some of his favorites:
Baby beep! beep! – a lift-the-flap book to discover different vehicles.
Brush, Brush, Brush - a book about brushing and caring for your teeth.
My Truck is Stuck - a book about different vehicles trying to pull out a truck that is stuck.
Caillou, It’s Me - a lift-the-flap book that discovers different parts of the body.
Each of his favorite books has rhyming or flaps that reveal a surprise underneath. Toddlers like books they can touch and books that rhyme. By reading his favorite stories over and over, he gets familiar with the book and knows what is going to happen next. (He already tells me when I skip a page).
If you would like tips on reading to your toddler, check out the Ready to Read Guide on the website.
399 books previously read + 65 books read this month = 464 books read
1,000 books before Kindergarten – 464 books read = 536 books left to read