December 31, 2005

End of the Spear by Steve Saint

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 3:14 pm

It made the headlines in 1956: the spearing deaths of five American missionaries in Ecuador by Auca Indians. Steve Saint was only four-years-old at the time his own father became one of these victims and he was taken to be raised by the tribe. Saint developed a strong familial bond with with father’s assassin, coming to learn that Auca, a derogatory term given by outsiders that means naked savage, is not the name of the tribe at all. They are called the Waodani, and though Saint does not dispute the fact they were vicious killers before their conversion to Christianity soon after Saint’s father’s death, he strives to get his readers’ to understand the Waodani’s worldview and why they did what they did. Most of this book takes place in recent times when Saint returns to the Waodani with his wife and children to live among them again. End of the Spear is a heartfelt, forgiving memoir written in a humble and sincere voice by a man who had an extraordinary life.

December 30, 2005

Harvest For Hope by Jane Goodall

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 11:57 am

Jane Goodall, best known for her work with chimpanzees and baboons, is ready to turn to social significance in her book Harvest For Hope. Goodall takes us throug a brief history of agriculture and laments the single-crop farming of today, warning readers about the hazards of genetically modified foods and the disappearance of seed diversity. Goodall also expresses her unhappiness with inhumane animal farms and unclean fish farms. But what rescues this book from being just another diatribe from the environmentally conscious are the small but effective things, Goodall says, us readers can do. Goodall recommends that we become vegetarians,

December 27, 2005

A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition by Bill Bryson

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 11:44 am

It’s not easy to tell the history of the universe, but somehow, Billy Bryson does so in an entertaining and informative style in the new special illustrated edition of A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson is not a scientist, but rather a curious denizen who realized several years ago that there was a lot to the universe he simply didn’t know, and set out to rectify that situation. The result of his labors is a story that not only tells us what we know but how we know it, from the first experiments to find out how much the earth weighs to today’s ongoing efforts in trying to explain the universe’s origins itself. Science is not an answer, Bryson shows us, but a neverending process of discovery. Peppered throughout the book are often humorous and interesting anecdotes about the men and women who have contributed to our knowledge of our ultimate origins, whose intellects sometimes were only outrivaled by their lack of civility.

Read a review of this book here and here.

December 25, 2005

Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You’ll Love by Nate Berkus

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 5:29 pm

Nate Berkus is both a nationally renown home decorator and contributing editor to O Magazine, who has made several appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show helping everyday people turn their houses into homes. Now, in his first book, Home Rules, Berkus shares some of his innovative style tips to love the place you live in, no matter what your budget is. Since he was a young boy, Berkus has always had a passion for interior design, constantly rearranging his own room and helping his mother and neighbors rearrange theirs. His passion only grew as he became older until he founded his own award-winning design firm, catering to an elite roster of clients. However, it wasn’t until Oprah Winfrey gave Berkus a chance of a lifetime that Berkus realized his true dreams: to have the chance to go into millions of people’s homes around the world and help them to change their lives.

December 24, 2005

Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror by Richard Miniter

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 7:18 pm

Are al Qaeda terrorists likely to cross the Mexican border? Is there such a thing as suitcase nuclear weapons? Was there really no connection between Sadam Hussein and al Qaeda? When myth is presented as fact and facts are trying to be downplayed as myths, veteran investigative reporter Richard Miniter is ready to debunk twenty-two media-perpetuated legends that have arisen from America’s War on Terror in his latest book, Disinformation. Sifting through written records, talking with high-level officials, and traveling around the globe to get down to the real truth of the matter, Miniter explains things like why racial profiling won’t work, why Iraq is not another Vietnam, why poverty does not create terrorism, and why Osama bin Laden is not a wealthy criminal mastermind, nor was he funded or trained by the CIA. Don’t just accept untruths by those who mindlessly repeat them, arm yourself with the real truth starting here.

Read more about this book here.

December 19, 2005

Why Do I Love These People? by Po Bronson

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 12:44 am

Too many of us are constantly comparing the myth of the perfect family to our own and coming away disappointed. In his new book Why Do I Love These People?, Po Bronson profiles 19 real-life families rife with dysfunction: messy divorces, infelities, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and plain old intergenerational estrangement. Through a poignant narrative storytelling, Bronson catalogues how these families attempt to reconnect with one another to achieve happiness — sometimes achieving it through letting each other go. Bronson has an unromantic view of relationships and family life: foundations don’e lie in soul-bonding or dramatic emotional catharsis, but through steady, realistic expecations of hard work and compromise.

Visit Po Bronson’s Official Website.

December 12, 2005

Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 1:06 pm

Fresh off the immense success of her powerful book, Bushworld, the ever-controversial Maureen Dowd returns with a something of lighter but no less astounding fare in Are Men Necessary?, which is not nearly as man-hating feminist as the title sounds. Dowd’s wit and candour work well here in discussing, analyzing, and embracing the differences between the sexes. She gives plenty of anecdotes, from gender bias in the media (Elizabeth Vargas, anyone?) to her own experiences with men refusing to date her for having more power and money than them. While Dowd took a more direct, slash and burn approach with politics, here, her tone is conversational, ultimately giving the reader the impression that yes, perhaps men are necessary after all. While readers know how the journey is going to end, the real enjoyment is in the funny and insightful trip iteself.

December 9, 2005

Driven from Within by Michael Jordan and Mark Vancil

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 1:46 pm

Basketball star Michael Jordan has achieved a level of rare success that has expanded far beyond the court. As a global icon for sports, fashion, business, and marketing, Michael Jordan now shares the key to his success in his book Driven from Within, and hint: the title has something to do with it. “It all started with an appetite to prove. Whether it was competing with my siblings or trying to get attention from my parents, I wanted to show what I could do, what I was capable of accomplishing. I wanted results, and I was driven to find out the best way to get them.” Jordan’s skill, work ethic, competitiveness, philosophy, and personal style has affected every aspect of his life, whether it’s producing six MBA Championships for the Chicago Bulls or pushing Nike’s Air Jordan shoe into nearly $500 million in sales.

December 4, 2005

The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 2:16 pm

Bill Belichick has been one of the NFL’s most successful coaches, having led the New England Patriots to Superbowl victory three times in 2002, 2004, and 2005. Now Pulitzer-winning journalist David Halberstam explores Belichick’s life and uncovers the roots of his success that began with his father’s mentoring in The Education of a Coach. Belichick’s father was a teacher and college football coach who taught Bill how to scout players and form teams and instructed him on how to watch watch films of player at the age of nine. This early learning prepared Bill for his “football first” credo working as an assistant coach with Bill Parcell’s New York Giants in the 1980s and eventually crowning achievement with the Patriots. Halberstam brings his vast knowledge of football to his seventh sports book while also demonstrating his firm understanding of effective team leadership, the systematic roles of players, and an astute psychological profile of Belicheck himself as both a man and a coach.

December 1, 2005

Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember by John McCain and Mark Salter

Filed under: Non-fiction — Jen @ 1:26 pm

Arizona Senator John McCain returns with his latest book, Character Is Destiny, an inspiring biography of some of history’s most notable (and some not-so-memorable) figures whose lives embodied virtuous qualities, whether they were curious, honest, loyal, or even just enthusiastic. At the root of them all, McCain writess, is a willingness to stay true to one’s convictions against all challenges. Such figures come from a wide specture of times, places, and backgrounds, including Thomas More, Joan of Arc, Edith Cavell, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Eisenhower, and Aung San Suu Kyi. McCain writes from the heart, in a language that is accessible to everyone without being condescending. And while McCain does touch briefly on his own experience in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, he focuses on the kindness a Vietnamese soldier showed to him instead of using his book as a pedestal to push political agendas.

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