Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons

Find in catalogThe author’s sarcastic and often hilarious account of working at an internet marketing startup, which he joins after being fired from a journalism job at Newsweek. The new company is populated by clueless, enthusiastic, young people (almost all about half the age of the author), who eagerly swallow the vapid instructions from the higher-ups to be “awesome” and transform the world. The author is at times a jerk (especially near the end of the book), but a lot of his complaints, especially about the few at the top enriching themselves at the expense of many, are thoughtful. Also, the book provides excellent contrasts between the marketing driven, get-rich-quick approach of companies like this and the actual technological substance and worker-driven culture of pioneering companies like Microsoft.

Wild Things by Bruce Handy

Find in catalogIt IS a joy to read children’s literature as an adult, as the book’s subtitles states. Some of the joy is nostalgia (“Oh, I loved this book as a kid!”), some is seeing the world through a kid’s eyes again (“Sit here for the present. Yeah, I would’ve expected a gift, too!”), some is new understanding (“Wow, C.S. Lewis must’ve had some real hangups to treat Susan so terribly.”) It was also a joy to revisit beloved pictures books (Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny), early readers (The Cat in the Hat,), and novels (Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, the Oz books), and learn more about their philosophical, psychological, literary, and biographical underpinnings.

This book was such a pleasure! What fun to reminisce about Frances the badger (originally imagined as a vole), Ramona Quimby (Oregon-born and bred!), and Charlotte (who in the book’s drawings was mostly shown from a distance, because the illustrator “struggled to invent a loveable spider”)! What fun (and sometimes not fun) to discover new things about old favorites. (Yeah, Laura’s Ma was plenty racist.)

I especially appreciated the breadth of Bruce Handy’s research. The book was littered with interdisciplinary facts. Dr. Seuss was a screenwriter and worked on on early treatment of Rebel without a Cause! To Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street is written in anapestic rhyme, which Byron and Shelley also used! His asides and footnotes are engaging and funny. “Children’s literature bleeds absent parents, but few are missing because they became dinner. Aside from Mr. Rabbit, there are the parents from James and the Giant Peach, who are eaten by a rhinocerous. Does Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother count?” “Ramona thumping her feet against the wall, thinking wild fierce thoughts reminds me of Max stewing supperless in Where the Wild Things are. Perhaps someday the two could have a playdate.”

He might step on some toes with his opinions on cherished books (thinking The Magician’s Nephew was weak–though I definitely agree with him that it’s not the Narnia book to start with, despite how the publishers now order them, or that A Wrinkle in Time is preachy [well, he does have a point]). He may also open some eyes to books they hadn’t considered. After all, he opened his own. (“There’s a lot of “boy stuff” in the Little House books, lots of hunting and hammering, sawing, and shooting. Delighted and transfixed–cooties be damned–I breezed through all nine in the series.”) You may find yourself breezing through some long- forgotten or long-loved classic, too.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

Find in catalogThis slim volume about going through your belongings before you die so your loved ones don’t have to is a quick read with not too much new information for this reader of minimalism books. I wonder if it’s an international bestseller because, like Marie Kondo, the author is a non-American declutterer with a hook? (Though there’s nothing in this book as hooky as Kondo’s “spark joy.”) My main take-homes (except don’t take things home–they’ll cause clutter!) for the “cleaning” part of death cleaning were “take part in all your house has to offer,” “get rid of the big stuff, like furniture, first,” and “if you can’t keep track of your things, you have too many.” The main “death” part were “don’t ever imagine anyone will want to–or be able to–take off time to take care of what you didn’t bother to take care of yourself” and “death is not the time to be overly concerned with material things.” She also gives good tips on having a conversation with older people, like your parents, about what they plan to do with all their stuff and how to help them death clean.

The author’s personality comes through clearly, and she’s a bit wacky. (So was Marie Kondo!) Highlights include her throwing unwanted paintings on the fire, wearing a wok as a hat, and going skiing in a bikini. She’s not shy about mentioning dildos, even at “age 80 to 100,” (her self-proclaimed age) or throwing shade on her grandchildren for not writing thank you notes. She also has quirky illustrations (hmm, so does Kondo) but in this case, she drew them herself.

Bottom line: if you’re looking for useful decluttering advice, and you’ve already read Kondo’s books, skip this, and if you haven’t read Kondo’s books, read those instead, unless you specifically want to know more about this Swedish artist/author. I would only buy this book to give to an older person to help prompt them to consider death cleaning, and even then it’s delicate.

Under the Stars by Dan White

Find in catalogSummer is the season for camping. To put you in the mood, read “Under the Stars,” a book that spans camping history. The author backpacked extensively in his 20s (hiking the PCT). Now in his 50s, he writes from the perspective of a middle aged man taking his daughter to the outdoors. Filled with fun trivia, “Under the Stars” also includes laugh-out-loud stories about White’s experiences renting an RV and connecting with fellow campers. This book is really a mash-up of Dave Barry humor meets well-narrated history. “Under the Stars” is a perfect book to take camping or just on your chaise lounge this summer!

Adventures Beyond the Body by William Buhlman

Find in catalogAdventures Beyond the Body, by William Buhlman, is part journal of unusual experiences, part theoretical speculation and part how-to manual for those who want to explore.

Out of body experiences have been around as long as humans, and accounts of them appear in all cultures. In our times, mental health and medical personnel report that they are very commonly reported by many patients. Buhlman shares some of his own journeys, and his methods for reaching the state. He also speculates on what this state of being might imply about the nature of our world.

This book makes a good complement to the writings of Robert Monroe. Buhlman offers a slightly different take on the nature of the experience, and some other methods for going there. In Fact Buhlman and Monroe worked closely together.

If you are in the mood for an expanding, thought-provoking exploration of the nature of us and our universe, this book is a great start.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Find in catalogMarie Kondo’s book “Spark Joy” is a companion book to her best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I chose to read this book because I am still in the process of tidying up a couple of rooms in my house that were never really organized when I moved into my house two years ago. I’ve wanted to put them in order for a long time, but I’ve procrastinated, and I thought this book would inspire me to tackle this project. It has inspired me not only to organize those rooms, but also other parts of my house. I can’t wait to get started! I recommend this book to people who want to learn simple ways to go through their belongings so that they keep the items that really matter to them.

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!

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 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.

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!