(Non-fiction) Friday: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

“Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.” Imagine living in a place where you are utterly dependent on rain to grow food or having a 7-kilometer walk to buy kerosene just to light your house after dark. That is the world of William Kamkwamba as well as most of the African country of Malawi. Yet despite these obstacles the resourceful young Kamkwamba built a windmill from salvaged material to generate electricity for his family. In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind Kamkwamba and co-author Bryan Mealer record the history…continue reading →

Beach Reads 2012

Looking for something to read by the pool or on the sand? The John Tyler libraries have got you covered. Kick back with these recent releases: 11th Hour: The Women’s Murder club back for the –you guessed it – 11th installment. Art of Fielding: Not just a baseball novel but also a coming-of-age story about friendship and family—perfect for reading before or after your visits to the ballpark. Dead Locked: Book 12 in the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series, Sookie and Bill investigate yet another murder. Family Fang: When your parents involve you in…continue reading →

(Non) Fiction Friday: The Story of English in 100 Words

Ever wonder why lawyers use two words such as “have and hold” or “cease and desist” when one word would do? Or why there is a “b” in debt and a “p” in receipt? Those and other strange quirks of English are explained in The Story of English in 100 Words. From roe (a deer) in the 5th century to Twittersphere in the 21st author David Crystal describes the constantly evolving English language. Interesting details from the book: Captain John Smith made the first stab at spelling the Powhatan word Rahaughcum.  Today spelled…continue reading →

Fiction Friday: The Orphan Master’s Son

Hopefully, Pak Jun Do (phonetically, John Doe) is not the North Korean everyman. From his start in a North Korean orphanage selecting which orphans get food to his stint in the tunnels beneath the DMZ fighting in the dark to kidnapping Japanese citizens to mining uranium in Prison 33 Jun Do manages to survive the brutal, dystopian regime. Evoking George Orwell’s 1984, author Adam Johnson illuminates the struggle ordinary citizens endure to stay alive.  Moving quickly from one harrowing episode to another, the hero seems destined to outlast even the Dear Leader (Kim…continue reading →

Fiction Fridays: The Time In Between

The Time In Between Abandoned and pregnant in a foreign country by her swindler lover, seamstress Sira Quiroga reinvents herself as an haute couturier in 1930s Morocco. Her clients are the wives and girlfriends of the political elite—a situation not lost on the British military secret service. Recruited by MI6, Sira undertakes the dangerous work of learning the plans of the Nazi authorities in Spain and Portugal. Part Nancy Drew, part George Smiley, Sira intrepidly gathers intelligence through wit and charm while dodging both bullets and bad guys.continue reading →

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Poor Madison Spencer! Daughter of Hollywood legends she is now dead at 13 from marijuana overdose. Always good and upright...how could Maddy be stuck in hell with the underworld version of The Breakfast Club? Traversing a Hell containing mountains of toenail clippings, rivers of hot vomit and valleys of used disposable diapers Madison goes straight to Satan to get her answer. But first she must man the phone banks—you knew that worthless telemarketing comes from hell, right? And technology? It’s strictly dial-up and dot-matrix printers. But as Maddy says, “Even if the Bible…continue reading →

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Think history is boring?  Think again.  In Lies My Teacher Told Me, the author explores American history textbooks for the omissions, myths, and inaccuracies taught to school children every year...including YOU!  Columbus discovered the new world right?  Wrong!  Many expeditions had landed in the Americas before his 1492 “discovery.” Three times as many tons of explosives were dropped on Vietnam as dropped in all WWII theaters, including the two atomic bombs released over Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Loewen's research says probably not! Loewen’s book includes all the bits forgotten by textbook authors. Hailed for shedding…continue reading →

The Passage by Justin Cronin

What happens when a literary author goes renegade and rewrites the vampire novel playbook? With The Passage, Justin Cronin leaves the literary arena behind (he won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the Stephen Crane Prize for his past novels) and leaps (bat like!) into the world of speculative fiction. But this is no teenage love story, or southern waitress’s adventure. Cronin’s world of vampires is monstrous, terrifying, and more than plausible. In Cronin’s near future gas is $13/gallon, the FBI works illegally and without accountability, California secedes from the union, and Jenna Bush…continue reading →

Annie Leibovitz: At Work

Part memoir, part biopic, At Work allows the photographer Annie Leibovitz to speak through and about her work...simultaneously. Instead of separating photography from commentary, the artist from the art, At Work allows both to tell their tale. At Work follows a straight biographical timeline, and pairs Leibovitz's photographs with her own words and interpretations-which reads like watching/listening to the director's commentary version of a film. The book begins with Leibovitz's first subjects (her family, including grandmother), through her tour with the Rolling Stones, then her work FOR Rolling Stone magazine and Gap. Many of…continue reading →