general non-fiction

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Memo from David O. Selznick edited by Rudy Behlmer

This book provides a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of many classic movies via the memos of producer David O. Selznick.  A notorious micromanager, Selznick had plenty to say about casting, costumes, dialog and every other aspect of a film's creation.  Of course Gone with the Wind, his greatest success, is covered thoroughly, but there are plenty of other movies, including Rebecca, Duel in the Sun, David Copperfield, and people, Alfred Hitchcock, Jennifer Jones (his mistress then wife) that are given their due.

Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier

Have you ever been to nowhere?  Frazier has.  Travels in Siberia chronicles his several journeys to Siberia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Frazier provides us with both an enjoyable travelogue of his adventures across the bleak and barren tundra, and with more historical snippets about the role Siberia has played in the history of Russia.  Some of Frazier’s stories have you laughing out loud, while many others leave you scratching your head at the unbelievable, but true accounts of Siberia. 

Crazy U by Andrew Ferguson

If you're a parent with a high schooler headed for college, you really have to read this book. Ferguson makes you wince, groan and laugh out loud as he relates his family's journey from PSAT to college orientation day. Even more than a personal story, the book places today's competitive college admissions process in a historical, social and economic context that will help anxious parents keep things in perspective as they help their children navigate from secondary to higher ed.

Adventures Among Ants by Mark W. Moffett

Science writing at its best, myrmecologist Moffat shares his passion for a species adept at exploiting the most bizarre niches of the environment. Exquisitely illustrated with the author's color photographs we join a gigantic sortee of marauder ants in India, observe weaver ants spinning silk in order to bind leaves together to make a nest, and watch dumbfounded as a species in Brunei dives into pitcher plants to "fish" for drowned insects.

The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Faultline Between Christianity and Islam by Eliza Griswold

Griswold takes the reader on a journey along the tenth parallel--the line of latitude seven hundred miles north of the equator--where we find a geographical and ideological front line where Christianity and Islam collide. Religious conflicts are also conflicts about land, water, oil, and other natural resources, and that local and tribal issues are often shaped by religious ideas. A deeply personal account, Griswold also places the intersection in its historical and social context. A must read.

The View from Lazy Point by Carl Safina

Four season's worth of observations on a slim peninsula of land in New York's Long Island Sound provide the skeleton of a lyrical, intelligent exploration of the state of the planet. It's a grim picture but, unlike many of those who write on this topic, Safina does not leave us without hope. The author travels far from Lazy point (Southeast Alaska, Palau, Antarctica, Bonaire) to support his main point: the interconnectedness of life. Best savored slowly the book argues for a new social contract with the planet, one focused on an ethics of compassion. A beautifully written book.

Decoded by Jay-Z

A combination memoir, hip-hop homage and lyrical explication, Jay-Z's Decoded is a provocative read. The book itself feels like a coffee-table book—lots of images and a funkier layout—and is as fun to flip through as it is to read.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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