The joy of swimming : a celebration of our love for getting in the water, by Lisa Congdon

Find in catalogThis is a sweet little book that should find purchase with readers of all ages. Congdon is a Portland artist and life-long swimmer. She chronicles the evolution of swimming and swimming pools with obvious love. Her prose is supported by lots of historical and interesting images. If you love to swim and appreciate a different approach to storytelling, then this book is for you.

Once Upon A Time In Russia by Ben Mezrich

Find in catalogMy friend, Maureen, recommended this book to me as a “rip snorter”. In it, author Ben Mezrich follows the politics and the money in post-Soviet Russia from Galsnost to Perestroika to the Oligarchs. This fascinating tale is based on truth and reads like a thriller. Maureen was right! Highly recommended.

The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson

Find in catalogThe author makes a science-based case for the physical underpinnings of emotions which he categorizes in six emotional styles. To the extent that our brains drive our emotions, neuro-plasticity means we aren’t stuck with the personality we’re born with. There is hope that through cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation we can change. Read the book..then think yourself to an emotionally balanced life. Highly recommended!

Beneath the Surface by John Hargrove

beneath surfaceThis book expands on the film, Blackfish, telling the sad tale of the lives of Orcas at Seaworld. The author was a senior trainer there for almost two decades. It makes us think deeply about the negative impacts of captivity on these magnificent wild marine mammals. Good intentions are not enough.  Save the whales!

Edward Abbey: A Life by James Cahalan

Find in catalogIf you love Cactus Ed, you’ll love this biography.  It’s presented chronologically, from Abbey’s birth in 1927 to his death in 1989.  Ed’s bones may be buried somewhere in the Arizona desert, but his words live on.

Shout! The Beatles In Their Generation by Philip Norman

Find in catalogReally great Beatles bio.  Carl Woideck teaches a course at the UO and Learning In Retirement based on this book.  All you need is love.

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

Find in catalogThis is a timely and engrossing story about rape culture at the University of Montana told through the lived experiences of several of its victims. It is a call for reflection on our legal procedures, cultural values, and higher education priorities, as well as a call for action.

Torch by Cheryl Strayed

TorchI read the author’s second book first.  “Wild” is a memoir of Strayed’s trek and search for identity along the Pacific Crest Trail. “Torch” is her first book, a novel about the early death of a mother and her family’s reaction to the tragedy.  Although it is a fictional accounting, “Torch” is rooted in some of Strayed’s real life experiences.  Like “Wild”, “Torch” is deep and real.  It’s an engrossing read.

Reviewed by Gus

Gulp by Mary Roach

GulpDon’t be put off by Gulp’s subtitle: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. Mary Roach follows her curiosity into places – some dark – few are brave enough to go. She writes with a scientific understanding, but translates it with wit, humor, and accessibility into something that you and I can understand too. Go along with her for the ride. You won’t be sorry.

Reviewed by Gus

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe LivingThis is an update of a book written 15 years ago when the author was heading up a stress clinic in a major hospital.  It follows the eight-week hospital program, which is based on mindful meditation. Dr. Kabat-Zinn, who also wrote “Wherever You Go There You Are”, offers powerful lessons that I found helpful in negotiating full catastrophe living (which is the life we all face).  Small factoid:  Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the son-in-law of the great historian and progressive thinker (now deceased), Howard Zinn.  Try it – it may change your life.

Reviewed by Gus