Books

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Letters to a young scientist by E. O. Wilson

Pulitzer Prize-winning (for The Ants and On Human Nature) evolutionary biologist, naturalist and myrmecologist distills sixty years of teaching and research into 21 letters full of autobiographical anecdotes, self-effacing humor and wonder at both the bizarr

Once Upon a Flock by Laura Scheuer

Thinking about getting some chickens for your backyard? Before you build a coop and hatch some eggs, you might want to read this book written by Massachusetts resident and illustrator Laura Scheuer. Filled with fun anecdotes and observations, as well as many adorable photos and illustrations, this book tells the story of Scheuer's experiences as a proud owner of her own flock of chickens.

Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux

Few can grumble their way on a journey through the dark heart of a continent with such captivating personal  insight and descriptive power as the well-travelled and celebrated Theroux. At 70 this is his “valedictory [African] trip” from Cape Town north through Namibia and Botswana and finally to the “zone of irrationality” that is Luanda, Angola.

The Last Days of California: A Novel by Mary Miller

Fifteen year old Jess is headed for California to witness the apocalypse. Accompanied by her fundamentalist parents caught up in end-of-the-world fervor and a rebellious older sister this coming-of-age road trip captures the tortured conflict between a desire to believe in something bigger than oneself and the ubiquity of popular culture’s pull. Narrated with pitch perfect skill Miller captures the heart and heartbreak of adolescence.

Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman

A debut novel about a dissolute artist, Thomas Bayber, and his relationship with two sisters, Natalie and Alice Kessler. This is a fascinating art history story and also a satisfying chronicle of the central character’s family histories. The story takes place over three time periods, 1963, when the teenage sisters first meet and become infatuated with the older artist; 1972, when Thomas has a brief affair with Alice and she becomes pregnant; and 2007 when the now famous artist is dying.

Charles Dickens in Love by Robert Garnett

Charles Dickens was the “celebrity” of the Victorian era. Well loved for his family oriented stories and novels, his life was a combination of romantic subterfuge, financial constraints and familial duty. This biography highlights the three intensely romantic interests in his life other than his wife, the mother of his ten children. The most interesting relationship with Ellen Tiernan, twenty seven years his junior, lasts until his death.

Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler

As Canada and the USA move dangerously close to war, the entire planet stands poised on the brink of an environmental catastrophe caused by global warming and the energy crisis. And only Dirk Pitt and all the fascinating characters of the National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA) can save the day! As with all Pitt novels (20 and counting), Cussler begins his story with an actual past historic event--here it’s a 19th century attempt by two doomed sailing ships to traverse the Northwest Passage--and connects it to a present-day thrill ride.

Getting Stoned With Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost

Troost has a good job in Washington D.C. One that might even lead to a career. But he’s bored and feels trapped. So he and his wife pack their bags and return to the South Pacific (he’s chronicled an earlier stay on Kiribati in the equally hilarious Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific).

The Human Division by John Scalzi

Earth has recently discovered that the Colonial Union has become humanity’s home for super-soldiers and colonists. Earth is not amused and is exploring the possibility of aligning with the Conclave, a vast collection of alien races - which could spell disaster for the CU. Super soldier Harry Wilson and diplomatic corp officer Hart Schmidt do the heavy lifting in a fast-paced narrative full of wonderfully snarky characters.

Eating Aliens: One Man’s Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species by Jackson Landers

Faced with an environmental apocalypse created by the introduction of non-native creatures that devour our native flora and fauna Landers grabs his hunting gear, frying pan and a delightful sense of humor and instructs us on how we might all become responsible “invasivores.” Stalking everything from black spiny-tailed iguanas to Chinese Mystery Snails (and let’s not forget the culinary delights of the European Green Crab and Snakehead) we discover that devouring the enemy not only helps the environment. It tastes good, too!

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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