Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Non-Fiction Picks for the Week

Both of these books offer food for thought ---- author, nurse, humanitarian and school builder Greg Mortenson is back with more stories on using education as a tool for peace and understanding in STONES INTO SCHOOLS. His simple message and good works will open your check book as well your heart when you read  the words of his continuing story. This tale  has been written by many helping hands from across the country who believe in his vision. (Be sure and also buy the children's versions of his books and don't forget to take a minute and send in a check to make educational opportunities a reality.  I still cherish a postcard I have from his organization with a young girl wearing a headscarf reading the Dr. Seuss classic  IF I RAN THE CIRCUS. The  Central Asia Society is a top ten any day and Mortenson's books always make my favorite's list.)  An upbeat book, an inspiring message and an author you can feel good about supporting. It's worth reading and a great book to share with a friend.

Waste, Uncovering the Global Food Scandal,   uses dumpster diving as a starting point for explaining what happens to left-over foods from our grocery stores. While it is based in the UK the author makes the effort to include information on US chains (yes, even Kroger and Walmart get mentions), as he traces the often sad story of unsold food. It is at times sickening, sometimes depressing but ALWAYS informative. And you thought you knew about expiration dates?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Two historical fiction books to read

Family life in 13th century Europe comes to life in this beautifully written book by author Michelle Cameron. Jewish customs, tradition, and daily routines are shared along with the daily tribulation of life in a world filled with suspicion over heresy and an increasingly intolerant Catholic church. You'll appreciate the title character and her life's journey from cherished daughter through her marriage and then motherhood. Based on Cameron's own relative it is a fascinating look at a time period that is often shrouded more in myth than in history. Great read.

Edward Rutherfurd's saga of New York from the Dutch founding of New Amsterdam on the site of an Indian fishing village, through  9/11. It may begin with Dutch but the book spends time sharing the story of the British during the Revolutionary War of American Independence as well as the upstart American patriots, it proceeds through through the Civil War and the slavery issue to the industrial revolution, the influx of immigrants, New York's constantly changing population, Tammany Hall politics, and an ebb and flow that shows how repetitive history can be  and how patterns are there for students to see if they just happen to pay attention!
The tragedy of 9/11 and the evolving stories of families in their daily struggle to find hope, happiness , love and success in New York are just part of Rutherfurd's latest sweeping tale of a city that never sleeps and a place that has become famous for bright lights, Broadway and plenty of characters many of whom you will find between the pages of this tome. As with any book of this nature the complaint is that you want more information about some of the characters (both real and imagined) but unless volumes are added it would be impossible for the author to do this - the book is big enough as is - unless you put it on your KINDLE!)