Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible by Tim Gunn

Find in catalogTim Gunn’s Fashion Bible is a very engaging read. You might expect by the title that the book talks mostly about Tim’s fashion rules, but although it does sprinkle in his fashion rules and personal anecdotes, it’s mostly a very breezy gallop through the history of clothes. What did the wrap dress evolve from? (Togas.) Why did simple, empire-waist dressed emerge during the Regency? (A backlash to the ostentatious gowns of the French monarchy.) Did men ever wear corsets, or skirts? (Yes!) There’s a ton of information about the whys and wherefores of hemlines, bustles, designs, and designers, and a ton of great photos that perfectly complement the text, like a discussion of a Windsor knot, and then a photo (along with the tidbit that it was named for the Duke of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne.) Fun fashion history overview!

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Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Find in catalogA funny, poignant, and creative novel about a twelve-year-old boy who looks much older, the Willy-Wonka-esque selection of children for the inaugural spaceflight of a Chinese rocket, being stranded and alone in space, and the importance of being a dad.

My nine-year-old and I both liked it so much that I took it with me when out of town at a conference, and at one point read him a few chapters over the phone while walking along the streets at dusk. (The book is probably aimed at kids a few years older, but not much older.) Cosmic manages to be zany and thoughtful, and has a story that’s refreshingly unique – neither magically fantastical nor grittily realistic. It’s one of the best kids’ novels I’ve read in a while, and given its themes of “dadliness,” it’s a great book to read to one’s child! [Copied from my Goodreads review]

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Find in catalog‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is about one woman’s journey to self-discovery through the pursuit of pleasure, devotion, and balance. Liz travels to Italy, where she does nothing but explore and eat, to India, where she experiences oneness with God, and to Bali, where she finds true happiness with herself.

I was skeptical about reading this book, despite several recommendations, as I thought it was one of those self-help books about finding spirituality. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading about Liz’s year of travels. Anyone who has been to Italy will relate to her never-ending love of all things pasta and gelato, and this was actually my favourite third of the book. Her time in India was hard to relate to, unless you’ve been to an Ashram and have studied meditation. Finally, the third of the book set in Bali was powerful – directing the reader to find happiness for ourselves, by striving for it, and insisting upon it.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to those who love to travel, those who want to learn more about Yoga (with a capital Y), and those who like non-fiction books with ‘feel-good’ endings.

The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

Find in catalogNathanael West’s classic 1939 novel follows losers of various sorts chasing after success, fame, love, etc., in 1930s Hollywood. It’s dark, but often darkly funny. I was expecting a more obvious satire of the movie industry and the dreams it spurs, but the novel is much more subtle, so much so that one suspects that the tragedy of its characters would be the same in any other location. Overall, I recommend this short, intense novel.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Find in catalogThis story is uniquely written as a series of interviews and journal entries. It is a fantastic story that has me thinking about the value of life, global cooperation and hidden secrets of the universe. I recommend this book to anyone interested in technology and science fiction. My favorite part about the writing was its ability to keep me entertained and guessing, incorrectly at times, what might happen next- refreshing to find unpredictability in an easy read.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

Find in catalogThis is a fascinating account of the events that lead up to the worst man made ecological disaster in the United States. The story weaves together first person survivor narratives and news stories to illustrate the horror of living through “black blizzards” of dirt. I highly recommend this book. The library also has the excellent Ken Burns video “The Dust Bowl”, with lots of film taken during this time.

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

Find in catalogThe niece of Florence Nightingale is mysteriously murdered on a train (the real life murder was never solved). Sixteen year old Nancy Mitford and her nanny/friend get involved in solving the murder. The story is set in early 1920’s England and includes a lot of interesting details about life in that time. This is the being of a new series featuring the Mitford family. The audio version includes an author interview at the end.

The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel by Jess Walter

Find in catalogMatt Prior quits his job as a financial journalist to start a website that combines financial news and poetry. Not surprisingly, this is not a success and Matt and his family are on the verge of losing their home. A late night trip to the 7-11 presents a solution to Matt’s financial difficulties. This is very well written, and laugh out loud funny. Highly recommended.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Find in catalogIn our world, it’s easy to forget how important sleep is to our overall health and well-being.
This book will help you understand how important it is to overcome being sleep deprived.
Best of all, it’s okay to take an afternoon nap!

A World Without Whom by Emmy J. Favilla

Find in catalogI’m a long-time word nerd, but language changes so fast, and I’m not as up on internet slang and usage as I could be. Thanks to Emmy J. Favilla, Buzzfeed’s global copy chief, I’m a little more educated. She taught me the right way to pronounce the gender neutral terms Latinx (“Lat-een-ex”) and Mx. (“mix”), confirmed that “I’mma” is spelled that way, and clarified that SMH stands for “shaking my head”, not “so much hate” as I first thought when I saw it. She talks at length about “how not to be a jerk” when writing about sensitive issues like race and sexuality and how to write for a global audience (which includes a rollicking list of British swear words and how strong or mild they are). There’s plenty of memes, and plenty of texts with her fellow staff about pressing matters like is dog pile hyphenated or not. Underneath it all is a firm understanding and explanation of language and grammar. I enjoyed this irreverent yet rigorous guide!